This could probably have gone into the "sel-promotion" thread IJ started now that the convesation has gone to JA Konrath and selling e-books, but I thought maybe it couuld be its own thread.

Like JA Konrath, Cory Doctorow has been doing a lot of alternatives to big publishers to sell books, and now like JA, he's going to start giving up some numbes on what he's making.

It's worth a read here.

It's interesting, he's never worried about piracy, he gives away the e-books for free and sees that as simply advertising or spreading the word. He puts them out as .pdf or .txt files and lets people convert them to whatever they want.

Now, instead of relying on a publisher to sell 'hard copies' he's going to do that himself through

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Next year looks to be the one that the ebook revolution begins. Google Editions is launching and a number manufacturers and software companies are coming out with readers and reader software for existing hardware (smart-phones).

I'm not a fan of free giveaways unless they're temporary. Even then, why make it that easy to pirate? I suppose it works more for a tech/geek demographic but I prefer the low-price/high volume/low overheads approach. Not that I've made any money or even done it, but it's just my feeling.

Looks to me like the publishing industry will further polarise into The Big 5 and indy groups. I imagine authors and indy publishers will have to go for similar business models to the music industry.
definitely reminds me of the music industry.
The only problem with that is that the only way for performers to make money in the music industry now is through live performance--the paradigm has totally reversed itself in the last twenty years. Used to be the tour was promotion for the CD, now the CD promotes the tour. This can actually work out pretty well for bands that like to perform live and that draw consistently; the recording end of the industry is damaged beyond repair, though, a shadow of its former self. I know a few writers who make big money for live appearances, but only a very few--the most I've ever been paid to read is a few hundred bucks. So if we're giving the books away for free, or virtually free, where's the business model that allows writers to actually make money?
The live appearance for writers is in front of a classroom.

And the music situation you describe looks like a recent, and short-lived situation. For most musicians most of their income has always come through performance. Up until at least the late 60's it would have been very rare for a musician to make money selling records (and even then, most didn't ever actually get that money, did they?) It's true, that tiny percentage that made money of recorded sales may now become an even smaller percentage.

So now rock stars have to go back to being like classical musicians.

For writers not much changes. Writing fiction has only ever made mony for a very small percentage of the people who do it, writrs have always had to supplement their income.

One thing that makes writing different from music is most musicians are very good in their twenties but not many writers get any good till they're in their forties. By then we've usually found some way to make a living besides writing so when we start to sell something we don't rely on it completely.
The live appearance for writers is in front of a classroom.

Oh, right--the big money. I forgot. Heh.
Well, you know, to do a statistical analysis you always have to leave out the very top and the very bottom.

So, yeah, there's more money being a creative writing professor than playing in a bar band.

The really big money is only for the very best in both fields - Brittney Spears and Dan Brown. But we knew that when we started...
I'm not sure that is altogether true. It's become an accepted fact that poets have had a hard time of it, but in the field of prose fiction things were never as bad as they are now. A man or woman could actually make a living from this. True, there were always some who were struggling, but today we have this enormous number of people being published who will never recoup their expenditure of time or talent, let alone live on the proceeds, while a very few become multi-millionnaires. See Sarah Weinman's recent blog on Patricia Cornwell's money woes. The entire publishing industry is too much focused on making the quick buck and paying court to the big money makers.
I think it will be very interesting to see the impact the Espresso Book Machine will have on the industry also. I've read they have lowered the price and have made it very approachable now for smaller bookshops.
I'm coming in a bit late on this discussion, but think this stuff is really interesting. Cory Doctorow (to explain the 10k commission) is a pretty big name in YA--and I think this does play into the numbers. It's a bit of a chicken/egg question: do Doctorow and Konrath have high e-book sales because of clever promotion, or because they already had a name from their print success?

The argument I think Doctorow makes is that free giveaways fuel book sales. Be interesting to see how this plays out (he's keeping a monthly blog about it PW).
Ah, yes. That might make a difference. Note also the Harry Potter books. Not sure how this plays in Europe, but I have a distinct feeling that Americans will buy books for their kids, feeling strongly about their parental duties in encouraging reading, but the only thing they'll do for their own adult brains is to buy non-fiction self-improvement books.
I'm hoping the interest in reading with teens will translate into more fiction reading as adults, but who knows. Maybe it'll be all vampires :-)
Why is it that the Baptist church hasn't said anything against vampire books yet? They were up in arms about Harry Potter.


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