Sunday, January 23, 2011

My writing week 4 (4)

Hi all,

I was very busy with writing activities last week: my next article for Divine, my blog and my novella. I spent a lot of time researching such things as ebooks, authors with disabilities, skinhead clothing and the Indian language.

By the end of the week I had had enough. I began thinking about taking a break when I finish my next Divine article; a break where I don’t turn on the computer for a couple of weeks. It would be nice to go somewhere near the sea and swim, fish and wander the beaches.

Until I take that holiday, I’ve decided to treat my weekends more like weekends and leave the computer off on Saturday or Sunday, perhaps both. I left if off on Saturday and did nothing writing related when I turned it on yesterday, and I feel mentally revived today.

Will Ebooks Dumb Reading Down?

I finished reading the ebook Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut last week. I found it very hard to remember the definitions of some of his made up terminology. Maybe my memory is going. Maybe I should have made a list of definitions. Maybe it would have been easier to read in paperback where I could have highlighted the meanings. I only wish I had discovered the Wikipedia page on Vonnegut’s made up Bokonon religion before I finished the book, I could have printed it out and referred to it as I read.

Helen Venn mentioned on her blog an article that had some relevance to my inability to remember what a Karass was. The article Nick Collins in The Telegraph said that ebooks might make reading too easy and therefore more forgettable. If I struggle when reading a sentence or paragraph, I know that once I understand it, I am more likely to remember it. So, in the future might more complicated works be purchased only in print form and ebooks left for simply plotted romance and adventure stories? Hard science fiction might not be suited to ebooks, whereas space operas might. Or might the domination of ebooks lead to hard science fiction and novels with complicated plots no longer being published?

Where are all the Ebooks?

Once I finished reading Cat’s Cradle I had no more ebooks. It was time to download a new one. I had enjoyed reading Souls in the Great Machine, by Sean McMullen, book one in a series set in the future in North-east Victoria, where I live. Last time I had checked, Sean McMullen’s books weren’t published in Australia, so I felt okay about buying it as an ebook on Amazon. Problem was, it wasn’t there. None of his books were available as Kindle books. One of the great plusses of ebooks is supposed to be that backlist books would be available forever. Obviously this is yet to come.

I then went looking for Cory Doctorow, but none of his books were listed as Kindle ebooks on Amazon. Amazing for the champion of future publishing. I eventually found a link on website to Little Brother as a free Kindle download. As I had already purchased a signed print version at Aussiecon I did not have any qualms about downloading the free ebook.

After much messy around, I finally managed to get an ebook not purchased through Amazon to work on my Kindle.

Further on My Last Post About Cheap ebooks Destroying the Publishing Industry.

Some of you who read my last weekly post may have noted the resulting comments between Vicki Tyley (who has sold 35,000 copies of her mystery ebook Thin Blood) and myself. In it she mentions an article by J A Konrath which lists 28 authors whose ebooks are selling very well. For those who don’t know, J A Konrath is a huge cheerleader for ebook. But Helen Venn on her blog mentioned an article by Jim C Hines that questions the accuracy of JA Konrath’s data. I also questioned the usefulness of his data in my debate with Vicki Tyley.

I reckon Patty Jansen has got it right. She is selling her 11,000 word ebook novella My Name in Lights, for $1.99 on Smashwords. I think that is a reasonable price for a novella, not a novel.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention. I think pricing should be structured to respect the work of the author. I once read a very interesting piece of research by a marketing guru (it was an ebook before ebooks were even talked about as such, and went the way of the dodo when my HD crashed some years back. I can't remember either title or author).

The research went something like this: if you charge shit, then people expect shit. Not only that, they'll often think of it as shit, because obviously the creator didn't value his or her work either.

If I were to go into a shop where they sell items of a certain price, and one is suddenly much cheaper, I'd go 'what's wrong with it?'

Graham Clements said...

Patty, I agree with you that if something is cheap, I ask why. A lot of the time when I buy the cheapest whatever, it breaks quickly. I think an author should charge a reasonable price for their work, one where they get a reasonable return. For short stories and novella and novelettes this could be on a sliding scale according to the word count starting at say 20 cents for a piece of flash fiction, up to a $1 for something around 5000 words and $3 or $4 for something around 40,000 to 50,000 words.