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Last Stage to Vipub August 18, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in Chain story, e-books, ideas, iPad, VIPub, westerns, writing.

I just posted this to the members of the Western Fictioneers. OMG, I am beginning to sound like Mike Stackpole. Maybe some of the e-tide will flow through the western fiction market. Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve been up to my ham hocks in work and just now have a second to
breathe. Wanted to put in a few words about e-publishing. A while back
I coined the term VIPub–Vertically Integrated Publishing–to reflect
how the world has changed. Livia is right that there are ebook thieves
out there but you simply cannot stop them. And for the most part, they
don’t really count. You have the ones that want to “collect the entire
set” and never read the books. Then there are those who will steal it
to read but probably wouldn’t have bought any of your books anyway.
Think of the stolen book as advertising. maybe they’ll buy something of
yours later (but probably not).

Part of this can be gotten around by sampling. Post the first few
chapters or have them available for free on your website or somewhere.
This works fairly well and those inclined to buy can browse, decide and
likely give you a few bucks.

Dusty, you’re right about publishers being able to steal us blind with
ebooks. There is a lot of ink (well, electrons) spent discussing this.
And the publishers can be cheated by the sellers easily, too. If
Amazon doesn’t report sales to Berkley, who’s to know? Not like you can
count the units, after all. There has to be some trust involved at that
level (I remember 40 yrs ago when Ace published books by authors and
never even told them! Only a SFWA audit revealed how AA Wynn was
ripping off everyone.)

Here is where the world shifts on its axis. VIPub. We have to write
the books, edit them, get covers for them, publish them, market them,
sell them and then do all the accounting. We as authors have to do it
all since nobody else is going to have our interest in our work–and our
money. Sell an ebook off your own website and you know the sales count
is honest. I do this. I also deal with a Canadian publisher for iTunes
and iPad (and Kobobooks) who has shown he’s a decent guy and an honest
one. I put my own books up on Kindle (which is a constant battle with
Amazon). The difference in doing this is pretty substantial with their
70% royalty to the author (only 50% from iTunes/iPad). Compare that to
the 17.5% of the *net* you get from a print publisher selling your ebooks.

I also do some POD books. It might not be the cheapest but I’ve had
good luck with Lighting Source (which is owned by Ingrams) since this
puts my books out on Espresso Book Machines as well as on Amazon and
into the Ingrams catalog. If I were so inclined, I could let LS do the
ebooks, too, but they take a big cut just like a major publisher.

At this point nobody’s going to get rich off ebooks (well, some claim
they are) but the way I look at it if I make $20 a month, that’s found
money. the books I have up on iPad and Kindle and elsewhere are all
reverted and would be gathering dust or cosmic rays otherwise. It’s
like seeing a dollar bill on the sidewalk. Do you pick it up or let the
wind blow it away? Your call. I’ll pick it up every time since I’ll be
a dollar richer.

The publicity part is hardest (well, so is getting a cover–artists are
a tricky bunch to work with. You’d think they were writers or
something. 😎 ) In sf there are a lot of ways of approaching it but
I’m not sure any would work well with westerns. How many western
readers have e-readers? I think Dorchester going e will be a major
boost since they do so many romances–the rom readers will have to use
e-readers if they want their fix of boy meets girl (or vampire meets
girl). This expands the base for ebooks and lowers e-reader costs.

One scheme that has worked in sf is the Chain Story project
http://chainstory.stormwolf.com Give away stories with the intent of
driving readers to your website. Scavange other writers’ readers and
hope to convert them to your work, too. The CSP is getting 30k unique
hits a month and is growing about 5% a month. It’s upped unique visits
to my sf website by 2x.

The future–actually, the present–for VIPub is electronic, do our own
work, keep the bulk of the (admittedly lesser) money ourselves and use
POD to add print copies, if necessary. (Another schema is to do e, then
a limited edition print, say 100 copies. Collectors are a strange breed
and apart from mere readers.)

In the sf arena we’ve been kicking all this around for close to 2 years
so there’s a huge amount of arguments to be made and things to be
discussed, but the upshot is we’ve got to do it.

My 2 cents.



1. Susan Kelly - March 25, 2011

Heh. Times have changed since you wrote this. The VIPub larger point still stands, though. Although I can see an industry growing up around supplying the needs of independent, individual e-book publishers

bobv451 - March 25, 2011

These are truly sea-change times and everything is in constant flux. A couple years ago who would have thought Borders *and* Barnes and Noble would both be on the rocks. The iPad is a game changer. And something equally as game-changey will happen any day now. Who knows what it is.

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