Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Post by Blake Crouch

THE MOST INTRIGUING EBOOK MARKET IN THE WORLD

Blake sez: I've just returned from a five day trip to China, where I was invited by a Chinese digital publishing company called Cloudary Corporation to speak at the Beijing International Book Fair.

The trip was an extraordinary experience, and not only culturally where I benefited from a surplus of generosity from my hosts, but from the standpoint of catching a snapshot of the current state of Chinese publishing.

The comparison to American publishing could not be more apt.

Without oversimplifying a complex situation, the Chinese are experiencing almost identical tension between traditional publishing and the advent of the ebook as we are here in America.
They even call their old-school publishers "traditional publishers."

At the forum where I presented, I was involved in a discussion with an American publishing consultant, and three Chinese writers who publish digitally.

I could've just as well been sitting on a publishing panel in America. Different language, same bullet points.

My Chinese counterparts are passionate about all the things American ebook writers are excited about: fair royalty rates, the ability to release books faster, getting paid in a timely manner, and most importantly: creative control.

The audience I spoke to was filled with traditional Chinese publishing stalwarts, who expressed....wait for it...concerns about "gatekeepers" disappearing. In other words, who would bring work of quality to the Chinese readers if there wasn't an elite coterie to separate the good from the bad.

The most classic moment was when Robert Baensch, an exceptionally impressive publishing expert of fifty years who has worked and consulted at all levels of Big 6 publishing told these Chinese legacy publishers that if they don't adapt to the new model afforded them by digital publishing, then "someone will come in, take your job, and do it for you."

Sound familiar? Denial is not just domestic.

On a quick side note, Baensch sees the refusal of publishers across the world to properly embrace and exploit ebooks as an epic "managing" fail.

Here was my second, bigger surprise....the Chinese don't just share our enthusiasm of ebooks. They are beating us in not only volume but creativity.

In China, there are numerous ereaders available, but most of the digital reading public reads on their 780,000,000 mobile phones.

As a writer, what I found most fascinating was the publishing model of Cloudary Corporation, the company that invited me to China.

Cloudary is the largest online community-driven literary platform in China. But they operate in a vastly different manner than Amazon, BN, or Smashwords. Instead of one platform populated by complete books, they aggregate content from a variety of websites, each tailored to a specific genre. And the most popular, most famous, richest Chinese digital writers release content as they write it. They author long, ongoing works, thousands of pages in length, and most popular is a genre of time-travel/fantasy in which young adults go back in time to visit historical moments in Chinese history where they play an integral role in fixing or changing something.

Getting back to the Cloudary model, the Cloudary writers publish portions of their "active" books on a daily basis to ravenous fans, who, if the writer is too slow in releasing the next installment, harangue them on public forums for the next chapter. If the writers don't release new content quickly enough, the fans desert them.

Cloudary has six writers earning more than $1,000,000 RMB/year, (about $200,000 US).

Of course, not everyone is successful. But anyone can begin the process of uploading their work. It's essentially a competition and the readers decide who wins, voting with their pocketbook, with page-views. Readers establish an account, which is docked based upon how many pages they read. When a certain book becomes popular, and heavily-viewed, Cloudary steps in on a partnership basis, where the royalty split is in the ball-park of 50/50. At this level, Cloudary plugs these popular books into various print and film channels to exploit additional sub rights.

But the thing is...digital is the big money earner in the most populous, most literate country in the world.

In addition, the mobile phone companies distribute a percentage of the content. Imagine if AT&T or Verizon hosted content and paid us as writers. That's the comparison.

I'm still processing the head-spinning information overload, but I was thrilled and humbled to witness firsthand to what level the largest market in the world has taken ebooks.

What this implies for us non-Chinese speaking writers, I'm still not sure, and I am not encouraging anyone to go pay to have their works translated, so we can skip all the hysterical tweets.

The complexities and challenges of bringing ebooks to such a diverse marketplace will be great.

To say things are different in China is the understatement of the year.

When the Kindle debuts in China, it will be interesting to see how and if it can compete with Cloudary.

Different culture. Different digital reading model.

But the point is they're having the same conversations we are, they're more innovative, they've got a lot more readers, and we would be fools not to begin actively looking for ways to export our work.

Joe sez: I've been blogging about the potential inherent in a world market for a while now. Not just a world ebook sales market, but also a world library market.

There are almost 7 billion people on earth. One billion of them speak English. The other 6 billion can be reached via translation. The worldwide standard of living is constantly going up, giving more and more access to cheap electronics such as ereaders and cell phones.

Authors don't have access to all of those people...yet. But we will. And if we can sell to the smallest fraction of the global market, we'll be making a very nice living.

Soon, Amazon will release a Kindle in India, which has the second largest English-speaking population in the world. And they won't stop there.

It is true that we can't know what new technologies are on the horizon, or what new formats ebooks will take. But the cat is out of the bag. Ebooks are here to stay, in one form or another, and they are going to go global the same way wrist watches, cars, radio, TV, microwaves, and mp3 players did.

There has never been a better time to be a writer.

66 comments:

Chris said...

"Denial is not just domestic."

Love it. There's something comforting in knowing that "the man" is being toppled on several continents and in many languages all at once. I love the idea of the ongoing, real-time book writing. I guess it's like polished blogging.

Thanks for the great post!

Jill James said...

These are exciting and scary times we live in, right now. So glad to have my small piece of it.

Coral Russell said...

I am SO JEALOUS that you got to take that trip.

I don't know if you realize it, but books are so much more expensive in other countries and I really see eBooks as a way to PUT books into 7 billion people's hands.

:)

Sean McCartney said...

Do self-pubbed books get translation to other languages or does the author need to do a separate deal?

Sean McCartney

zomba said...

Some more information about Publishing in China – Freemium fiction, is available here http://blog.publishingtechnology.com/digital-solutions/freemiumfiction/

Jonas Saul said...

Wow, overwhelming.

Jonas

DVshooter said...

Just re-read this post for a fourth time, drinking it in. So much to wrap your head around.

If you "hit it big" or not, the next 5-10 years are going to be amazing to watch.

Back to revising, need a finished product to bounce off translation services.

Stephen Knight said...

Since I'm in and out of China with some regularity, I understand completely what you're talking about.

Want to make money in the Chinese ebook market? Write about ghosts and supernatural badness. But no zombies, vampires, or monsters. They don't sell there. But paranormal? Yowza. That's the ticket. But the story beats are very, very different there than here in the West; external forces aren't as present in their dramatic content, but internal struggles--like am I going mad, or am I actually being haunted?--that kind of stuff is what people love in the Middle Kingdom.

Thanks for the update, Blake.

TK Kenyon said...

Wow, y yowza.

Et Nii-how.

Absolutely fascinating. Great post, Blake.

TK Kenyon

J. R. Tomlin said...

I have to envy that trip, and that China is so far into the ebook revolution is fascinating. Do you really think they'll skip ereaders? I don't like reading on a small screen so I'm always baffled at people who do it.

Whatever happens, exciting times. Thanks for sharing.

Blake Crouch said...

"Do you really think they'll skip ereaders?"

They haven't skipped e-readers...There's a ton of them over there (far more models than we have), most famous of which is probably the Bambook. Reading on mobile phones is just more popular.

Maureen Noel said...

Just the mention of readers consuming a work as it's written appeals greatly to me. Of course, it has a long literary tradition. Something like magazine subscriptions on Apple's devices seems like a great fit. Purchase a subscription to a work and get it as it's being written. I'd have loved to have done that with Nightworld, and I'd love to be able to do that with a follow-up book.

Tara Maya said...

Time travel stories are the most popular... No wonder China decided to make them illegal. With laws like that, who needs gatekeepers?

Tara Maya
Initiate in France... soon in India?!

Gary Ponzo said...

Great post, Blake. As writers it's so important to hear what's going on out there. Sometimes I feel like a subversive working with an underground network of artists who are banned from the literary community, only to be given safe passage through an Amazon portal.

Adele Cosgrove-Bray said...

The idea of a bunch of readers eagerly awaiting the next installment of an on-going story reminds me of my old message board RPG days. It sounds like a similar idea, but taken to a whole new level. Fun, in other words.

Remember, also, how magazines would run serialised stories at one time? If it worked then, why not now in a new format?

Thanks for sharing your findings. We live in interesting times...! :)

Paul Andrew Russell said...

It sounds like we are coming full circle. Charles Dickens released his most popular works in serial fashion. It certainly didn't do his writing career any harm.

Blake Crouch said...

I think the American audience is too spoiled for serialized release. We want our content complete so we can watch or read however we want.

Rebecca M. Senese said...

Fascinating and exciting post! I believe we are at the beginning of a renaissance of reading across the world. It's not just Amazon moving, I get statements from my work selling on Apple in Australia, Germany, the UK. The pie isn't just getting bigger, it's exploding!

Adele Cosgrove-Bray said...

Don't Americans buy comics/graphic novels in serialised form? Here in the UK, we have shops dedicated just to this type of publication - and they're shipped in from America (and Japan). It's just a thought...

Christopher John Chater said...

Did they talk about how the Chinese don't recognize copyright or intellectual property rights?

Jessica L. Buike said...

I think this is a very interesting topic, and one that has been debated all over the world! :) I posted a link to this post on my blog at: http://authorjess.blogspot.com/2011/10/whats-up-wednesday-recap.html

Anonymous said...

This site remains the most interesting place to land in the strange world of present-day publishing. I keep wondering how things have gone for Boyd Morrison. I see The Ark is hovering at around #66,000 on Amazon lists right now. I assume his legacy deal came with a confidentiality agreement, but, since he was the prototype for being picked up from his SP start by a legacy publisher, I would surely love to know what kind of advance or payment he might have gotten, and if he did in hindsight make the best agreement for the long-term future of his novel. I never see any ads for the book. Any useful rumors out there someone might share with the rest of us? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

All right, Rebecca Senese. I see you are publishing what seem to be shorter novels of the sort that the Chinese reportedly love, in foreign markets. Would you be willing to tell us how you are doing this, and if all of your work is still in English, or if some of it has been translated? Are readers in other countries simply pulling it from Amazon sites? Best of luck in your writing career!

Jude Hardin said...

Great post, Blake. Very interesting.

I'm wondering how an American private investigator would do in that market. Any precedents you know of?

Adam Pepper said...

Enough with the shop talk. How was the food?

Mike Fook said...

What about censorship? Are Chinese citizens allowed to create books and upload them for national distribution on a whim? I thought they were heavily censored for anything - news, websites, books they write, etc.

DVshooter said...

Enough with the shop talk. How was the food?

Adam..friend from my last job was over there during the last olympics for an adoption. He sent a couple dozen pics from a street market.

General Tso's Chicken: No

Giant mutant insects on sticks: Yes

Lynn Dean said...

Interesting!

Several anime (graphic novel) writers release their work online as they write it, and they garner huge followings in their niche markets. Not so different from historical writers like Dickens, Alcott, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who released their stories chapter by chapter in newspapers and magazines. Everything old is new again, and e-readers provide a great format for the latest twist!

W. Dean said...

Sounds like an interesting experience.

I’d be skeptical of the value of the Chinese market, however, unless you’re going in under the aegis of a Western firm like Amazon. The Chinese are notorious for their Machiavellian dealings, even with international corporations.

I’m not just talking about censorship either. The Chinese government has been known to dangle access to its markets to high-tech and engineering firms on condition that they turn over proprietary information about their products; once it’s provided, however, the government turns it over to their own firms and breaks the contract. When you’re the government, you see, it’s not stealing.

Obviously, the analogy with ebooks isn’t perfect. But the example goes to the kind of ethos you’d be dealing with.

George MacDonald said...

Thank you for a fascinating post. Question, how do readers pay for serialized fiction? Do they subscribe to the delivery platform, subscribe to the series, or do they pay for each section of the story individually?

Alan Cramer said...

In the U.S. at least in the new york metro area, many of the readers read ebooks on ipods and cell phones for years. I have been reading ebooks for years and do not own a kindle, nook or ipad.

In certain demographics, people can't afford these readers, but almost everyone has a phone. And there is a kindle app for the most popular phones.


If yyou ride the B46 bus in Brooklyn you will see some guy reading a book on his phone. In certain hoods it's still not popular for a 'cool' guy to be seen holding a kindle, but if he's looking at his phone, no one pays him any mind.

Once the public school system starts handing out low cost readers with the required text books on them, legacy publisher are dead.

Long live the king.

Blake Crouch said...

"I’d be skeptical of the value of the Chinese market, however, unless you’re going in under the aegis of a Western firm like Amazon. The Chinese are notorious for their Machiavellian dealings, even with international corporations."

Piracy and disregard for IP is pretty rampant. On the other hand, if you think the Chinese gov't is going to let someone like Amazon just roll in and run the show, they aren't. China wants China to succeed, not some foreign company. I imagine Amazon will face brutal competition. It's not going to be they release the Kindle and suddenly own the market. So my goal will be to align myself with as reputable a Chinese corporate partner as possible, who has the best understanding of this complex market, and go from there. There is huge value in the China market. It's just a lot tougher to get at.

W. Dean said...

Blake,

No dispute about where Amazon will rank in the Chinese hierarchy. I was looking at things from the standpoint of getting paid. Amazon is unlikely to breach its contract, if only because it can be sued in the US.

But a Chinese firm with state connections can offer you a 99.9% royalty to be paid in diamond encrusted gold bars without ever worrying about actually paying you (or continuing to pay you after some nice gestures). Which is another way of saying that the toughest part I see is finding that “reputable…Chinese corporate partner.”

I'm not saying you won't find such a partner or that I have the answer for finding one. I just think it's important that everyone remember that we can't count on the legal protections we take for granted on this side of the Pacific.

Archangel said...

fascinating Blake, thanks. My Chinese publishers are some of the nicest, and I know that they are anticipating much from digital. And W. Dean is also correct: there may be flimflam. Just sold second book into Chinese, first one in Tawain, this one in mainland, and we will see. I will say this, if one is pub'd successfully in China, various will invite you to come to China from various avenues, depending on your genrer. Many many many readers. Many. Enthusiasm sky high. Love of story. I love the Chinese people I have met. Good luck Blake!

thanks
dr.cpe

WiseMóna said...

I think you are right on the money Joe. The time to write is now. Excellent and very informative post as always.

Pat Mullan said...

Great trip and great report, Blake. I live in Ireland these days and I have a four novels, short stories, poetry, and some non-fiction shorts on Amazon Kindle. They are selling in the US and here in Europe (Ireland and the UK).

And Joe, I'm looking at the potential in India. One of my most ardent reviewers and fans is a Lawyer in India. He has posted some good reviews on my books on Amazon. I am already in conversation with him and I expect his support as Amazon moves into India. It's still all about networking.

Thanks again Blake,
Cheers, Pat.

DVshooter said...

Dr. Cpe, Blake

I think you gents just perked some ears, those of us looking to put work out would love to hear more about these 'great, reputable trustworthy' companies.

Thanks

Merrill Heath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Merrill Heath said...

I love the idea of the serialized novel and have a couple of ideas I'm really anxious to try. But, as Blake said, I'm not sure it would sell that well in the US. You'd think that with all the TV shows that are serials, the popularity would carry over to ebooks as well. But you don't see many serial novels that are doing well. In fact, I don't know of any.

I have ideas for a 6-part serial novel that would be published monthly, and a 16-part serial novel that would be published weekly. For the monthly serial each episode would be approximately 50 pages and about 20 pages for each of the weekly episodes.

Maybe when I finish my current WIP I'll try writing a few "episodes" to see how it would work.

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

Bella Andre said...

Blake,

Fantastic report from China! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm heading to Copenhagen in two weeks where I've been invited to do a keynote on ebooks and the future of digital publishing at the Scandanavian Executive Publishers annual conference - and it will be interesting to see if my experiences match yours. I'll be sure to send Joe my report for the blog upon my return.

best,
Bella Andre

DVshooter said...

Merrill

Got to Dave Gaughran's blog right now! He has a huge, detailed guest post by a writing pair that have a serial out. They detailed their whole process.

There are definitely some challenges that they mention but they seem to be doing very well with it.

Blake Crouch said...

Since the concept serialization has come up, I'll share a recent thread I started on Kindleboards regarding this very topic. I asked readers what their thoughts, concerns, etc. were for serialized content. Because is this something I was considering for my new release....based partly upon the responses I got, and conversations with other writers, I've decided not to do it. I think the chances of it being successful are quite slim...here's a link to the thread:

http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,87159.0.html

Merrill Heath said...

Thanks DVshooter and Blake. I'll check out those links.

Griffin Hayes said...

As a new author I'm not nearly as worried about Chinese piracy (go ahead, take my book. Lend it to a friend while you're at it), but the censorship issue concerns me.

Rebecca M. Senese said...

Hello anonymous at 6:52: Thank you for the best wishes! I use Smashwords to distribute around the world through Kobo, Apple, etc. Currently my work is only available in English. I have not done any translations yet. I know a lot of people are primarily focused on Amazon & Kindle but I believe in multiple channels of distribution. Why not take advantage of all the opportunities?

Thanks again for the best wishes! :)

Selena Kitt said...

China! Cool!

I read on my iPhone ALL the time. Far more than I ever thought I would. It's so small and easy. Far easier than getting my Kindle or iPad out. (Or carrying those around for that matter). I never thought I'd be a phone reader, but there it is!

As for serializing things... you may be wrong about Americans not liking it. In my genre, the most popular free story site online (Literotica) posts a ton of serials. Many of the books I've published were once serials, and believe me, there were a ton of fans waiting for the next installment (and ready to spank me if it wasn't ready yet!)

Granted, it was free. And it may be specific to the erotica genre, but I doubt it. I think if there was a large, generalized place people could go to check out new material, they would.

I know I would check out serials by Stephen King, for example. In fact, I was one of the suckers who bought the Green Mile in paperback serial form.

There may be more of an audience for it than you think.

Who wants to make a website? :))

Jeff Mariotte said...

Writers releasing their own content immediately seems like the best technique to combat the IP piracy that we all know is omnipresent in China. I don't imagine the Chinese government protects the rights of the average Chinese writer or publisher any more strenuously than it does foreign writers or publishers--so if a publisher can get some immediate response/micropayment from readers, it beats taking the time to put out a print book, only to find that there are multiple editions of that work on sale shortly thereafter.

I am also--having worked in comic book publishing for a long time--intrigued by the idea of serial fiction. I'll read your KB thread, Blake. And maybe you're right, and American audiences aren't yet ready for it. We tend to like instant gratification, and maybe having to wait an extended period between the first installment and the end is too much to ask. But there might be a limited audience for such a work, and that limited audience could be enough to create a self-financing mechanism--a way, in other words, to earn an "advance" on the overall work by parceling it out on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Selena Kitt said...

Because is this something I was considering for my new release....based partly upon the responses I got, and conversations with other writers, I've decided not to do it. I think the chances of it being successful are quite slim.

I think if you were doing it on your own, you're right. But if there was one centralized site where you could put your stuff out, and other authors could too... it might be more successful!

Merrill Heath said...

DVshooter and Blake, I read David's blog and the discussion over on KB. Both are interesting and bring up some of the same points.

Another option, as Selena mentioned, is to offer the serials free of charge via a blog or website. But I'd only offer it free for a limited time. When the series is complete, then I'd put out a print compilation and remove access to the free episodes. That way you develop a readership with the free stuff that could carry over to the print material you sell - not only the serial compilation but the other materials you have available.

The only way I'd do it would be to get it all completed first, then publish it in installments. Otherwise I'd be facing a weekly and/or monthly deadline and I don't want that aggravation.

I do like the concept of producing new material every few weeks rather than 1 long novel a year. But it doesn't necessarily have to be serialized.

Merrill Heath
Alec Stover Mysteries

Deb Maher said...

"Soon, Amazon will release a Kindle in India, which has the second largest English-speaking population in the world. And they won't stop there." Fascinating article, Blake! Thank you!

Todd Trumpet said...

The thing that caught my eye was the following:

"In China, there are numerous ereaders available, but most of the digital reading public reads on their 780,000,000 mobile phones."

I wonder if this is aided by the fact that Chinese characters are written/read in vertical columns?

I'm curious because, having just used the Kindle Previewer to check an eBook layout on various devices, including an iPhone, it struck me that narrow handheld devices are not particularly conducive to reading.

At least, in English.

I.e., in rows.

Then again, I prefer a 26 letter system to 4000 pictographs!

Todd
"THE TELLING OF MY MARCHING BAND STORY"
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Yuwanda Black said...

Imagine if AT&T or Verizon hosted content and paid us as writers.

Joe has mentioned this type of thing (eg, paid ads in books) -- and he's dead on.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a phone card company wanting to "sponsor" my ebook on living and working from the Caribbean. They even went so far as to offer several options.

I haven't responded yet, but will soon.

So Joe, you can chalk another one of your predictions up as "one that came true."

Mikaela said...

@Bella Andre: As a Swede I am very curious about a your thoughts about the Scandinavian e-book market.

@Blake:
Thank you for an interesting post.

Stephen T. Harper said...

Blake Crouch said "I think the American audience is too spoiled for serialized release. We want our content complete so we can watch or read however we want."

A lot of it also has to do variety of content. If you want serialized stories, you can watch TV or read comic books, which are still carefully and unhurriedly produced.

Western tastes in reading favor meticulous, flawless production over speed.

I say this after several months of experimenting with my novel as a serial. People who bought the 100 page books loved them (all the cliffhangers inside made serialization easy and fun). But the idea of serialized content for 99 cents was definitely confusing and no doubt seemed gimmicky to many. The book is doing better now as a novel.

DVshooter said...

I've decided not to do it. I think the chances of it being successful are quite slim

Blake

Don't blame you at all, right now it would be a gamble as the format is simply not a big seller. When you're consistently putting up top 100, 50, 20 Kindle sellers...why f&@k with your system and your readership.

That said I think the format does have a future, and not only overseas. As the guest bloggers on D. Gaughran's site mention; I remember the "Green Mile" Serial, and I too thought we would see a lot more of them in sci-fi and horror.

Of course, we didn't. One problem with the print serialization, was that chasing down your next issue WAS NOT the exhilerating and triumphant quest that finding your latest, favorite comic was as a 12 yr old on your bike...it was just a giant pain in the ass! And it ended up being a lot more expensive than a single hardback.

'The King' pulled it off and walked away with a movie deal with his buddy Darabont, cuz...he's 'The King'. Anyone else? Nah.

E-readers, clearly, alleviate a lot of those logistical shortcomings and the preferences for short, easy reads will, I think, can make them a popular choice. Particularly with younger readers, provided quality, consistent work is available.

I'll definitely keep my eye on serials and would consider it in the future.

I.J.Parker said...

Thank you, Blake: Fascinating and inspiring. I come here for the upbeat attitude of the posts. God, knows most of us need the encouragement to hang in there.

Blake Crouch said...

"I say this after several months of experimenting with my novel as a serial. People who bought the 100 page books loved them (all the cliffhangers inside made serialization easy and fun). But the idea of serialized content for 99 cents was definitely confusing and no doubt seemed gimmicky to many. The book is doing better now as a novel."

Yep....I think writers like the idea of serialized content because it's a faster way to get your work to readers. But unless you have an amazing idea, flawlessly executed, and probably a name like Stephen King, I think it won't work. If anyone reading this has had real success (as in selling not giving away) please share. It still intrigues me, but I think too many readers would be turned off and confused.

DVshooter said...

But unless you have an amazing idea, flawlessly executed,

But that's always the caveat to sucessful short work, serialized or not. You have to do everything a full length work does but do it QUICKLY...and wrap it all up with cliffhangers that aren't hamfisted.

I definitely see how readers might view it solely as promotional gimmickery, and in some cases they're probably right.

In a lot of way though serials are already in use without being called serials. Almost everyone is writing a "series" and the lengths tend to be on the shorter side. As Mrs. Kitt said, they're also very prominent in the erotica genre.

Like you said, I'm very interested in following them and seeing where they go in mainstream genre's.

Stephen T. Harper said...

Blake said "It still intrigues me, but I think too many readers would be turned off and confused."

Confusing is the key word. At this stage in the game, you are talking about re-educating consumers about what to expect in books and the value of 99 cents. It's a lot to bite off, especially if you aren't brining a big name to the table. Like i said before, those that bought episodes of my serial really liked it. And ebooks were an excellent delivery system (don't have to go to the store for the next installment). But it just looked weird in the presentation, as in... "wait, what is this now? Will I get an ending..."

Another issue for Indie's is the expense to produce. My original thought was that the ability to price at 99 cents made the whole thing viable in ebook form, even if you don't put out 100 page paperbacks at the same time. But... what about cover art? I have an original oil painting for my cover. But I don't have 4 of them. When you buy the next installment of your favorite comic book, you get a new and exciting cover every time. If you are going for a high-quality product all around, new covers simply cost too much to keep doing for something designed to sell at 99 cents. But readers expect fresh covers, and they should.

Serializing is possible, and someone will do it well here eventually. Maybe someone with a giant web presence like "Pottermore." But for now, an Indie author's best bet is probably to "give 'em what the want" and not worry about re-writing the game from the ground floor just yet.

Craftdrawer said...

How exciting. It sounds like such a great venture !!!
http://www.writingdrawer.com/2011/10/publishing-on-kindle-step-by-step-guide.html

Casey Moreton said...

I think writers like the idea of serialized content because it's a faster way to get your work to readers. But unless you have an amazing idea, flawlessly executed, and probably a name like Stephen King, I think it won't work.

This is one case where I think having a fan base of devoted readers would be essential. And I can just see all the bad reviews after the first installment, "What a rip-off, this isn't even a full novel!!!!"

Blake Crouch said...

I heard that the successful Chinese writers were a little stressed and overworked by this system of new content everyday. Don't wish for it.

Basil Sands said...

Interesting you bring this up. My next book (or next next I guess, since there's another WIP in front of the one I'm talking about) is mostly based in China. During the Mongolian Empire. I wonder what it takes to get a translator to take on something like that to build an audience in China?

Gonna have to do some research into that I think.

On serialized content I'm going to agree with what Blake said re: American's want complete products. I've podcasted all of my novels to this point, giving them away for free in serialized format at Podiobooks.com. While there were several hundred subscribers downloading as the episodes came out each week, that number jumped to thousands once the story was completely uploaded. People do indeed seem to like complete sets rather than waiting from week to week to download a thirty minute bite.

Once those same stories hit kindle and audible.com it worked even better.

yup...I like this business.

www.basilsands.com

Andre Cruz said...

It is indeed very exciting times for writers. I cannot wait to see how the Kindle does in India and China.

Shel Delisle said...

A fascinating post!

I love the idea of serialization and know of an author testing this right now in the U.S. It will be interesting to see if a market for that type of product can be developed here and how readers will want it delivered in terms of price/frequency, etc.

Donna Carrick said...

Thanks for the outstanding post on such a hot topic.

On Thursday I was on a panel at the monthly Toronto Chapter Sisters in Crime meeting discussing exactly this subject.

The point I want to bring home to all writers is that there currently exists a level of opportunity that has never before been imagined.

Writers have the freedom to become what they have always aspired: thinkers and creative expressors of the public experience. We no longer have to fit into formulas and budgets.

There has never been a better time to be an author. We can become our own "gatekeepers", strive within ourselves for quality and let the reading public decide.

What could be more exhilarating?

Donna Carrick
Carrick Publishing