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E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:21 am
by Falchion Wielder
So, Ortho... have you given any thought to upgrading this website to support e-commerce?

Writing is about money as much as it is about creativity. So if publishing houses are being stodgy, and they are as at least two authors to my direct knowledge, Chris and one other, are having issues getting published.

As we have heard in discussions on this and other sites, the electronic houses are becoming an alternative. The downside is that these sites skim some of the profit; not their fault, just capitalism in action. Another issue is that no one knows the product is there and available and no one is driving them there. We go to book stores to find books. Many sales in bookstores are 'drive bys' where folks pick it up whilst walking the shelves and get interested. Hard to do on just any old website. Not a ripe environment for sales.

This leaves me with the thought that existing electronic publishing will likely result in dribbles of money and a great disincentive for writing. We need for Chris to support himself in his dotage. And, oh by the way, provide us with more stories so...

1) Make this an author specific e-commerce website where Chris can peddle his wares.
2) Join together with other authors having websites for a mutual advertising and support effort to gather momentum on e-commerce sales of their wares.
3) Amazon sells e-books in various formats. A potential for outsourcing the money end of it. Just go direct! Hmm. Little to no inventory cost, no production cost, a little shipping cost, and some bookkeeping. Chris' work shows on any search for our favorite titles, characters, etc. Slam dunk! If they'll do it. If not, Ebay?


Chris has a decided leg up on other authors, he has us... a following, fans, fanatics, and whatever I am! There is demand! What we need to do is get the demand married up to the supply with the product that we know Chris can 'grind out by the yard,' (To quote a famous fictional character about another author. 25 magic points if you can provide character, book, and situation without looking them up!)

Then, find a way to bring e-commerce to this site or sublet that part out to Amazon, B&N, whomever. Get an editor or one of us (me!) to help edit. Someone (Ortho?) has to know how to save into one or more of the e-book formats. Microsoft has one that I pretty sure I converted to Kindle once upon a time. This is not brain science! This is not rocket surgery! This does not even seem to be a stupendously huge undertaking! (Famous last words.) Except for the product. How many yards are ready to put in the hopper?

Assuming Amazon or some other book website isn't or can't be used, the next issue is to let the demand know that the supply is present and how to put the two together. I have only the foggiest notion of just how to make that happen. I know there are conventions, author's websites, publishers websites, reader groups, fanzines, etc. But, while I have no 'in', I am sure some on this group do! Can we make this happen?

Sorry about the length of this missive, but I am tired of seeing the same old titles for Chris' work in the bookstores. I need a new read!

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:31 pm
by Ortho the Frank
Wow, thanks for the suggestions. I'd always assumed people wanting electronic versions of the books would raid the internet for illegal bootleg copies - why pay for it when you can get it free with a little effort?

But, apparently, I forgot about the "iTunes Effect" - that when people are given a legal alternative to downloading pirated music, a surprising number of them will go with the legal option, even if it costs more.

Well, there's both demand and a market, so this is definitely something we should explore! The first step will be to have Chris contact his agent and figure out which of his books he still owns the rights to, and go from there.

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:58 pm
by Falchion Wielder
Hey, don't forget NEW material. NEW is what the fan base is after. And, oh by the way, filling up the Kindle.

Chris hasn't sold the rights to his future work, has he? If he has give me the name of his agent as I have some novel ideas about getting money for nothing, and chicks for free. Uh, I mean, selling unwritten novels.

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:55 am
by kf6eml
I've mentioned and the demonstrated results from offering free copies as a promotional item, and I've mentioned bootleg copies/hassle factor. I should probably mention where I read about all of that stuff. The reading is a bit long, but here are the links:

As for the iTunes effect; It is not entirely about people wanting to do the right thing. It is about exposure for the artist and ease of use by the consumer.
I mostly use free software for the things I do. The reason for that is that I usually do not need the capabilities that the professional versions offer. Once in a while, I do, so I will buy the product.
Likewise, I often download individual tunes because I need or want them for a particular purpose. When I like an artist, I usually buy whole albums of their music, even when the same music is available for download!
Many times, I learn about an artist by downloading a song or two that catches my attention. I would not pay $20 to buy an album just to see whether I like it, but when I download a bootleg mp3 and find that I like the artist, I am more apt to pay the $20 to hear the rest of the songs.

The other thing is what I mentioned in another post. Download sites pose risks. I registered with one site and whaddayaknow? The email account I created for the purpose suddenly got hundreds of emails per day wanting to make some of my body parts bigger or smaller or give me more hair here or less there or heybuddydoyouwannabuyawatch? Other sites want you to install things or pay a "small fee" to register...

iTunes is free to register and charges $.99 per song. You don't have to buy a whole album for $20 just to experiment, and they don't spam or infect you. It is less about being legal than it is about avoiding headaches.
Plus, you can download album art and everything is cataloged just like a real music store. What's not to like?

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:33 pm
by cstasheff
Sounds good, Kf6eml -- you've got us both excited about the idea. At the moment, we're only planning on the first chapter of each new book, as an appetizer and hopefully attracting those who want the full meal. Stay with us!

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:25 am
by Ortho the Frank
I think we've got at least two new books from Chris, possibly four, and two from his friend Pete D'Alessio that we plan to put up. Once we've got the first 2-3 chapters for each of them out, we'll see which ones the fans want us to continue posting. Who knows? We might even do one from each author.

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:08 am
by kf6eml
I'll stick around. You've been in my personal library for about 20 years now, and if a new book is coming out soon, I want to know about it ;)

I am a soldier in the US Army, and have no financial interests in any publishing house, nor do I know any "published authors" (as the term is commonly understood) personally.

I say that because I do not want you to think that I am trying to sell you anything or get you to give up any of your interests, whether they be financial, intellectual, or whatever, and I am not working for "the competition" :)

The thing is, I like science fiction. Tell me, honestly, have you ever known a bibliophile who can restrain himself from sharing his favorite literature, once he senses a helpless victim... er... that is... a fellow connoisseur of said literature? Just mention to a sci-fi/fantasy buff (we seem to be particularly prone to this behavior) that you like to read, and he's already writing down six of his favorite authors, though only three series by each one, because he wouldn't want to overload you right away, and you'll find the rest on your own once you startreadinghisworkandoh,here'sonethat'snotinaseries.....

I like to see my favorite authors do well because for one, knowing that they are appreciated encourages them to write more books for me to enjoy, and two, if they are financially successful at it, there is less chance that they will abandon writing and go into selling Andalusian pottery door-to-door because the pay is better. (That seems to be the most common gripe from authors)

Count on good old-fashioned self interest to make me want to help you you succeed!

Now on to publishing:

I am glad you're excited about e-publishing, but without trying to rain on the parade, I would advise caution here. E-publishing, particularly by an independent author, however well known and liked, will not make a fortune for you. Stephen King tried it, and it went fairly well, but nowhere near as well as his traditionally published work... and he is a huge name in literature, and publicized what he was doing. I would not advise you not to do it, just not to expect it to be an overnight financial success.

I read a piece (not really an article and not really a story) just this morning about digital versus paper book sales and the trends in the industry a couple years ago. The digital reader market is tiny at the moment, compared to paper publishing, and it is not showing signs that it will ever replace that market entirely. There's just something about kicking back in a chair or on a beach and turning over pages that is eminently appealing. Then too, it is satisfying to see progress being made as the "used" pages stack up and the new ones dwindle. I think it also heightens anticipation when you know that the end is imminent. (eminent and imminent in the same post - I've never done that before :ugeek: )

But I digress. I do that entirely too often. Just ask my wife.

The piece was about Digital Rights Management and the adverse effects it has on the electronic publishing market. The reason I brought up Baen publishing in previous posts is that their official policy is that they will not use DRM to protect themselves from "theft" of their material.
On one hand, I can see why people would be worried about it: When loaning out a paper copy, as a library does, or handing a book around between friends, there is wear and tear. Eventually, the book will be too damaged to be worth keeping, and either a new one must be bought or the story is just lost. With a digital book, an unlimited number of copies can be passed around with no degradation of quality. That can be scary, especially if you depend on charging for your work to make your living.

The thing is, Baen has consistently shown a pretty good profit by selling unencrypted digital books, and the authors have actually seen the sales in their paper books rise.

The other thing the piece mentioned was that other publishers were charging regular hardcover prices for new books and regular paperback prices for older work. Baen charges between $2 and $5 for new digital books, and author royalties are considerably higher, both percentage-wise and absolutely, due to significantly higher sales. (It was my own logic that led me to post, earlier, that higher royalties can be made by selling eBooks cheaper than paper due to lower overhead, though it was not mentioned in this piece) That last is why I mentioned in the other thread that prices should reflect the medium. People just aren't usually willing to pay as much for digital books, and there is no real reason to price them the same.

In short, I would predict that you will not make a whole lot of money just from selling eBooks. You may see a "trickle," but nothing like you're used to seeing from traditional publishing. Where most authors have reported seeing a rise in income is in sales of their older titles, as people get hooked and try to flesh out the series. Some have put up free digital books with Baen, and seen paper titles offered by an entirely different publisher rise in response. Obviously, this only helps titles that are still in print, although if a new wave of demand for an OOP series is seen, the publisher may dust it off for another run.

Finally, and this goes back to my earlier digression, paper books have a sensual appeal that eBooks lack, you can usually flip through and search them more easily than a digital book, and when the power goes out, you can still read by sun or candle light. Digital books are great when you are on an airplane or train, when you are in a foreign country and there are no bookstores for your language(s), or when you need a 5,000 page set of technical and parts manuals in a format that you can carry around with you. (I work on the army's helicopters; I know whereof I speak!) But I have serious doubts that eBooks will ever even reach half of the market for novels and literature.

Whew. For a post that started out as offering the traditional 2 cents, I must have spent a buck and a half. Is there any cure for logorrhea?

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:26 am
by kf6eml
P.S. Ortho, I sent an email a few days ago. Did it get through okay?

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:20 am
by kf6eml
Headed back to the States for a couple weeks. See y'all in a while!

Re: E-Commerce and making it happen!

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:11 pm
by Ortho the Frank
Alex Hudson and MSEIF,

I appreciate the offers, but I strongly suspect these posts are spam. On the off chance either of you guys are actually fans offering to help, how much would you charge for helping us set up an e-commerce site?

If I don't get a reply from you guys within a week (Nov. 11 deadline), I'm afraid I'll have to delete both these posts. Sorry!