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Comment: Re:Struggling to sell on Amazon (Score 1) 290

by SpectreHiro (#35581002) Attached to: Best-Selling Author Refuses $500k; Self-Publishes Instead

I've daydreamed up some similar website concepts, but just haven't had the motivation to make it happen. There's already Goodreads.com, but I find it a little disorganized for my taste, and I've also had Shelfari.com suggested to me, but haven't checked it out yet.

The part that seems really important to me, which none of these sites seem to get, is browsing. It should be easy and convenient for a reader to burrow down into a specific genre or style of book, and start leafing through titles and short summaries. Instead, they give me ungainly lists based on broad distinctions, or user generated my favorite whatever lists, and I can't be bothered to sort through either.

Ultimately, the right sort of site will pop up, but I think it'll have to be the authors themselves who start it because they're the ones with something at stake. The ebook market is turning them all into entrepreneurs, and their business depends entirely on being able to find and connect with an audience. Once they realize that no one else will do it for them, and that nobody else has their well-being in mind, they'll find a way to band together and make it happen. I think.

Well... I can dream, right?

Comment: Re:Struggling to sell on Amazon (Score 1) 290

by SpectreHiro (#35580816) Attached to: Best-Selling Author Refuses $500k; Self-Publishes Instead

I think it's always been a challenge deciding which books to purchase; everybody's taste differs, and what I love reading may not mesh with your own preferences. Even with print, your average bookstore stocks tens of thousands of titles with new ones coming in everyday, and the staff is at best familiar with a very small percentage of them. That's why the bulk of customers find a section that interests them and start looking at covers, reading backs and sampling pages. The purchase was always a leap of faith.

I think it's interesting that with digital stores, we're actually beginning to have a lot more information to base purchases on. Besides samples (which on Amazon are 15% of the book, I believe), you now also have access to user reviews in the same page, lists of other books bought by this book's customers, and links back to the author's other works. That's a pretty reasonable amount of info to work with, I think.

I still think there's a discoverability problem right now, especially for new and unknown writers like myself, but I expect that further marketplace innovations will eventually offer some remedy for that. For instance, Amazon's bookstore currently does a lot to reinforce the popularity of a work by making it more visible, but it doesn't have any mechanisms to promote new and undiscovered works. Something as simple as a Fresh Reading box, showcasing books that have very low downloads and few reviews, would help to start leveling out the field.

Comment: Re:Fun Interview, If a Bit Long (Score 1) 290

by SpectreHiro (#35580664) Attached to: Best-Selling Author Refuses $500k; Self-Publishes Instead

A lot of indies are offering POD versions right now, but when I took a look at the options, I was disappointed in both the quality of the printing and the price. The idea of offering my customers an overpriced, junky book didn't exactly get me excited. That said, I'm keeping an open mind right now. I've heard some great things about Lightning Source recently, and I intend to give them a closer look when I get a chance. All of my work is also released under a Creative Commons license, and you can feel absolutely free to print out copies if you desire.

Sorry, I know it's not quite the answer you were looking for, but my approach to the business is still evolving.

Comment: Re:Fun Interview, If a Bit Long (Score 1) 290

by SpectreHiro (#35580584) Attached to: Best-Selling Author Refuses $500k; Self-Publishes Instead
Hey, thanks for taking a look, either way. I hope you find it interesting enough to purchase, of course, but it's hard enough just getting folks to nibble at this stage. As for geographical restrictions, I don't believe there are any (at least, it seems like folks outside of the US have been able to purchase it), but if there are, you can find alternate methods for obtaining a copy at my blog.

Comment: Fun Interview, If a Bit Long (Score 3, Interesting) 290

by SpectreHiro (#35568728) Attached to: Best-Selling Author Refuses $500k; Self-Publishes Instead

Hmmmm... Slashdot appears to have eaten my original comment. I hope my comment was yummy and filling, Slashdot.

Anyway... I read the interview earlier today and it's a pretty good read, if a bit long at somewhere over 13,000 words. Konrath is preaching his usual gospel, but it was nice to get Eisler's perspectives on the publishing industry and its inner workings. He drops a few entertaining links as well; one chronicles his struggles with a French publisher who bought the rights to one of his books. They went to the hassle of translating the book, only to put a cover on it that depicted a chartreuse garage door with a security camera. I have no idea what sort of through process led to that decision, but I'd kind of like to know.

I'm actually pleased as punch to see Barry Eisler doing so well, and doubly pleased that he's shifting to self-publishing and being so vocal about it. I met him back in 2003 shortly after his first book, Rain Fall, came out. I was working at a bookstore a few miles from his house, and he'd drop through to sign copies and urge us to sell more. I got the impression he was just a genuinely nice guy, and he even humored me when I asked for advice in getting an agent.

That said, I'm more than a bit jealous, too. He released a short story on Kindle this year, and it's apparently on track to make $30,000, while I'm struggling to sell a dozen copies of my sci-fi novel a month. He's a really good guy, though, and I wish him the absolute best as he dives head first into the self-publishing world.

Comment: Fun Interview, If a Tad Long (Score 1) 1

by SpectreHiro (#35568628) Attached to: Best Seller Refuses $500k; Self-Publishes Instead

I read this earlier today, and although the interview is a bit long (~13,000 words), there's a lot of really good information in there. Of course, Konrath is preaching the same gospel he's been at for more than a year now, but it was nice to get Eisler's perspective on a lot of the inner workings of the publishing industry. He also drops a few links that chronicle some of the (rather hilarious) struggles he's been through; one in particular concerned a thriller of his which a French publisher bought the rights to, translated, and wished to publish... with a cover depicting a chartreuse garage door and security camera. Riveting. Man, I would love to have been a fly on the wall during some of those meetings.

Anyway, I'm glad to see how successful Barry Eisler's become, and doubly glad he's shifting to self-publishing and being so vocal about it. I met him a few times shortly after the release of his first book, Rain Fall, back in 2003. At the time, I was working at a book store near his home and he would pop in every now and again to sign copies and motivate us to upsell his book. I got the impression that he's just a genuinely nice guy. He even humored me when I asked for tips on getting an agent, and he gave me a detailed and well thought out answer, no less.

On the other hand, I'm more than a tiny bit jealous, too. He's on track to make $30,000 from a short story he released on Kindle this year, while I'm struggling to sell a dozen copies a month. Still, he's a good guy, and I wish him the best as he dives head first into the self-publishing world.

Comment: Re:You could always get my book on the list.... (Score 2) 32

by SpectreHiro (#35183080) Attached to: Ebooks Finally Included On the NYT BestSeller List

Comment: Direct Sponsorship (Score 2, Interesting) 194

by SpectreHiro (#34034670) Attached to: Free E-Books, With a Catch — Advertising

It seems most folks here are pretty disgusted at the idea of advertising in books, but how would you feel about direct corporate sponsorships conducted in a tasteful manner? Let's say your favorite sci-fi author's books were all released as Intel Presents or AMD Presents, similar to the old anthology shows from the '50s & '60s such as The Alcoa Hour, Kraft Television Theater, and the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse; would that inspire the same level of disgust?

I'm very interested in finding a way to distribute fiction for free without DRM, thus maximizing the value to readers, while at the same time raising some profit for the writer. Advertising seems to be the optimal way to get it done. The other leading contender would be the Ransom Model, but that has some inherent weaknesses that are rather difficult to work around. If you have other ideas, I'm absolutely all ears.

Comment: Re:Eh, you say a LOT about yourself (Score 1) 85

by SpectreHiro (#25499397) Attached to: Bioshock 2 Trailer Released, Platform Information Revealed

You aren't missing out on a "whole lot": You end up being about 80 ADAM down per 3 little sisters, or 320 in the whole game. I'm sure there are 320 atom worth of useless upgrades you don't need to buy in return for some pretty cool bonuses.

This is true... and hell, having saved all the precious little things, I still had a surplus of a few hundred ADAM when the credits rolled. It's not like I was being unduly stingy, either; fights with Big Daddies usually lasted about 10 seconds, and the final boss went down like a chunky street-walker.

The penalty for saving the little sisters really is negligible, and as a bonus, I didn't have to murder a dozen screaming little girls. I consider that a pretty good deal, although I imagine everyone's mileage varies there.

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