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Addendum One: A Poll Re: The Dry Salvages

Er...let's try this again. The first time I posted it, I accidentally set it so that only mutual friends could vote. Dumb nixar that I am. Sorry.

So, Bill Shafer at Subterranean Press has been encouraging me to make my sf novella, The Dry Salvages, available as a free downloadable PDF via the subpress website. At first, I thought sure, cool, why not, let's give it a try. Then Spooky, who minds the eBay inventory, pointed out that we presently have 13 copies of the trade edition and 19 copies of the limited edition in stock and offering the book as a free PDF could lose us a minimum of $1,085 dollars in potential eBay sales. I mentioned this to Bill, and he believes that people would still buy the book, even though it was available for free, and he points to similar successful examples by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross as evidence. But I remain skeptical. I do very much like the idea of making the book available as a free PDF. It seems like a great way to get a lot of people to read my sf who never have. But I really can't afford to eat over a thousand dollars in lost eBay revenue. So, I'm dithering as to whether I should offer the book a a PDF now or wait a few more months, allowing additional time to sell our remaining copies of the book.

Hence, this poll. Please do not lie. I can tell when you lie, even over the internet, and flying monkeys with rusty corkscrews will be dispatched to make you sorry. And if you've already bought the book, don't bother answering. Thanks.

Poll #719478 Addendum One: A Poll Re: The Dry Salvages

If a free PDF of The Dry Salvages were available, I'd:

download it and also buy a copy of the book.
download only.
down it and buy a copy only if I liked the book a great deal.


( 26 comments — Have your say! )
Apr. 29th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
Spooky sounds like a record company exec. :-\ I'm in the camp that thinks it wouldn't make much difference either way, plus it could at least get you into the hands (hardrives?) and expand your audience.
Apr. 29th, 2006 10:42 pm (UTC)
Full disclosure: I already own (and love) TDS.

I chose down & buy. I'd want "the real thing". However, having the download might cause me to *put off* buying the hard copy.

flying monkeys with rusty corkscrews will be dispatched to make you sorry

That's still better than what I dreamed last night.
Apr. 29th, 2006 10:55 pm (UTC)
It's scary (but in a good way) that I pulled out my copy of The Dry Salvages an hour ago, thinking it was time to give it a reread.

If I didn't have it already, I think I might vote for the third choice. In fact, I wouldn't mind having a digital copy of it so I could use the Find command to search through the text, since I'm considering doing a paper on it (if that's okay).

And if I was utterly selfish, I'd ask you to make the chapbook that came with the Limited available instead, since I only have the Trade.

My sense of consideration for others prevailed however, since doing that probably wouldn't serve your purpose of getting people interested in your SF: if the descriptions of the chapbook that I've been told are accurate, it doesn't seem like it would appeal as much to those who haven't read the novella itself.

Of course, I would cheer if it were to happen anyway. But I'm not getting closer to the point with this line of thinking...

Now since I do have The Dry Salvages and absolutely utterly adore it, I'd encourage you to make it available, as it can theoretically fulfill your purpose of getting more people exposed to your SF. They could be people already familiar with your non-SF work, though I'm thinking more of those who have never read your work before, perhaps because they only read "explicitly-marketed-as-SF" authors.

I hope you don't consider this ass-kissing, but my love for this book is getting in the way of actually coming up with a suggestion. The Dry Salvages is definitely good enough for the hardcore SF reader, and that could set you up with a great and loyal fanbase than you already have now.

Still, there might be certain considerations to keep in mind. The most immediate, and this assumption may of course change depending on the poll results, is that I'm not entirely sure how successful it would be, given that The Dry Salvages might be too long to read as a PDF. Is it an option to make available some of your shorter SF instead?

Then again, maybe the length will work to your advantage, since if people start reading it and like it, it might encourage them to buy a physical copy to have a more comfortable reading experience, which I think might have helped Doctorow and Stross with sales of their works. I can't be certain of that, though, and if only an excerpt was made available, it could be frustrating, too. I wouldn't recommend that.

I hope this somehow proves helpful.
Apr. 29th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
I think you're thinking about it the wrong way. I think that while yes, you may have 1000 people who download the thing, if you don't have the exposure that the 1000 people give you, then you won't get the attention of the 32 people who'll buy the tangible copy. I'll lay you at least even odds that if you do it, you'll sell your eBay stock faster than without it.
Apr. 29th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
Doctorow and Stross are not the only ones who do this. The publisher, Bean Books makes books available free, and when they do, they routinly see a jump in sales.

And to be perfectly frank, as someone who's worked in a bookstore for 10 years... If someone was going to buy an expensive hardcover/singed limited edition... they would do so, even if it was available for free... you definately won't lose sales. And you may gain some, because even though its free, most people don't like reading an entire novel online electronically. People who otherwise would never consider taking a chance with your work because its so damn expensive might end up hooked, and come in and buy the book. I've had at least 5 people come into borderlands and buy charlie stross's accelerando, IN HARDCOVER, AFTER they had started reading the free electronic download.

Also, as someone who has a cellphone full of ebooks, because its easer then dragging around a backpack... Make sure that if you make an ebook out of this, make it available as a Portible device ebook, like a plucker document.

If you or Bill want any help in creating a portible friendly ebook document, feel free to drop me an email.

-Jeremy Lassen
Night Shade Books
-Jeremy Lassen
Apr. 29th, 2006 11:07 pm (UTC)
Another telling question would be: of those who have not bought it how many would be willing to buy it sight unread and how many would only buy it having read the first chapter or so in the store?

I mean, given the option I'll always prefer to sample first, but allowing readers to do so means you lose the money you would have made from people willing to buy the book without having read it AND who wouldn't have liked it enough to buy it had they been able to read it first.

As long as there are a greater number of readers willing to both download it free AND who will like it AND who will then buy it then it's worth it.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 29th, 2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
Couple of thoughts
1. I've confessed to routinely bootlegging digital comics; I have a hard drive with just about every Marvel comic ever published, one with every DC comic of the last twenty years, one with every Vertigo...

...and yet, I still spend hundreds a month on comics, mostly nice hardcverand trade reprints. I'll pay for a hard copy of anything I love. And there have been books that I wouldn't buy if I hadn't sampled them digitally first.

2. I buy every Cory Doctorow book because of his digital program; I wouldn't have bought his books without it.

3. If it was *me*, and only me, I'd gamble the potential $1000 loss versus the chance to get a new, wider audience. And TDS is the book to do it with. Heck, you sent me a free proof copy, and I still bought the signed limited hardcover. TDS is your most accessible work, and I think you'd do well with it out in the open. (But again, this is *me* who didn't sweat and toil and write and rewrite the book. It's your baby, not my call, and I won't be rude enough to assume you'd do anything just because lil' ol' me said so. I'm a consumer of writing, not a writer. BIG difference.)

4. DON'T just release a PDF. Release a PDA-friendly format too, like .lit or .txt or something. When I read books electronically, I use my PDA, and PDFs don't play friendly on that format. I'd look up what Cory did and duplicate that, honestly.

5. Cory's got a license attached to his digital works that you'd probably consider. It protects his copyright while making it easy to share the work.

6. Someone asked about Sirenia Digest. I have the SDs on my private web space, but it's inaccessible to anyone who doesn't know the site and the password (which means not even my wife has it). I do that so I can read it if I'm at work. I'd be happy to forward a copy to anyone you'd authorize it too, and even host one of the files for short-term sharing if you were doing a publicity stunt (as long as I don't blow up my bandwidth), but I'd never ever ever ever share it with anyone without your permission. I'm not in the habit of stealing food from authors I like.

On a totally different note, if anyone would be kind enough to put up a few good thoughts for my cat, Dewey, who's in a cat hospital recovering from emergency stomach surgery, I'd sure appreciate it. He's doing well, and will come home Monday, but I won't feel good until I get his little kitty paws back home.
Apr. 30th, 2006 05:31 am (UTC)
Re: Couple of thoughts
Best of luck with Dewey. You've had a hard year with hospitals and medical care. The Glowpig shines for your family tonight.
Apr. 29th, 2006 11:40 pm (UTC)
If you do decide to release it as a pdf on the Web, it could really help sales of Alabaster, or Daughter of Hounds, depending on when it gets online. I'd bet that the mention of the free book in print ads for either would be enough to attract more readers... Another possibility to consider along these lines might be releasing it as a free add-on to Alabaster, or Daughter of Hounds.
Apr. 30th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
I think it would be a good advertising for you in general.

People who like your work would be able to link to it and word could be spread.
Apr. 30th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC)
By the way, can you link to your ebay auctions? I might want to pick up one of the Dry Salavages as I don't have it yet.
Apr. 30th, 2006 12:17 am (UTC)
Honestly? I voted download and buy only because I buy all your books; if I were new to reading you, absolutely download and buy only if I liked it a great deal. I'd say hold off for awhile longer.
Apr. 30th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
I didn't vote in the poll, because I already own a copy of The Dry Salvages, but my feeling is that if you offer the book as a free download and people enjoy reading it, it may increase the sales of your other books even if they choose not to buy a hard copy of The Dry Salvages.

I generally want to own hard copies of books that are written by authors that I admire, but if I were unfamiliar with an author and s/he offered a free download of a book, I might not end up buying that particular book since I'd have already read it, but if I appreciated the work, I'd certainly want to purchase other books by the author.
Apr. 30th, 2006 01:57 am (UTC)
The only reason I wouldn't download it is because I bought it in pre-release.
I say release a chapter or two as a teaser.
Apr. 30th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
Unfortunately my budget is nonexistent at this time and has been for the past few months, so I checked "download only".

With luck in six months I'd choose download and buy.

Apr. 30th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
I chose #3, but I'd also like to add that if I really really liked it, not only would I buy it, but I would also track down and buy everything else of yours. In theory, anyway, because I am already slowly doing that in fact.
Apr. 30th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC)
Is it sold out? If so, you can wager that there are a fair number of people that would love a hard copy that cannot get one except at your auctions, and I think that's enough to generate the revenue you're looking for from the (presumably signed) auction copies. If I have more of a budget I'll consider buying one of the limited ones, and I already own the trade.
Apr. 30th, 2006 04:56 am (UTC)
I'd have to vote for download and buy. I already have a lovely copy from eBay. I like PDFs, but I also like owning physical books. I like seeing them on the shelves and the tactile experience of holding books, the feel and sound of the turning page.
Apr. 30th, 2006 05:29 am (UTC)
I'm a Scab.
Well, I picked #2, but that's because I'm constantly broke and there was no button for: no, don't do it (or not now). I've actually wanted to get TDS for a while and just haven't done it. I'm actually with the person above who said that they would DL it now, but maybe in six months buy an official copy so I could get rid of the large stack of printer paper that was clipped together to make a book (I hate reading on the computer for any length of time, I need a physical copy).

Anyway. One more opinion.
Apr. 30th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC)
no voting in the poll for me, as i also purchased a copy pre-release. not being able to speak for the integrity of "netizens" at all, i can't say whether or not people would buy a hardcopy if the story were available for free. i know i would, but that's me. hell, a friend and i sent a check to pat briggs when we downloaded psychotica's never-released album.
however, the pdf WILL encourage wider exposure, and possibly subpress could link from the pdf of TDS to SD and encourage more subscribers.
you've also got to consider the crossing of the beams (or lack thereof): how many people cruising ebay and coming aross TDS are also regularly poking around on subpress's website?
i'd say do it, but maybe wait a bit, sell some of your copies first, just to be on the safe side. the teaser idea is a good one, too. the first taste is always free.
Apr. 30th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
Downloads/Yes or No?
In this case, my opinion is affected somewhat by the facts that I've already bought the Dry Salvages, and that I also just had to restore my entire system because I was dumb enough to buy an e-book that screwed it up somehow. But...yes, thsi seems to be A) a good-faith gesture your fans and potential fans might enjoy and B) the way of the future. Haave you talked to Doug Clegg about pros and cons? He and Cory are the download kings.
Apr. 30th, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC)
What I wanted to say was that of course I would still buy the book because it is, after all, a Good Thing to support one's favorite writers. If I'm being honest, though, I know me, and once I'd read the story for free, it would probably be bumped to the bottom of my lists of books to buy, simply because some of the satisfaction of having a new book to read would have been lost by already having read the story. I'm sure that I would mean to buy the book...eventually...but who can say when I'd actually get around to it.

To play devil's advocate, hasn't The Dry Salvages been around for a good while? It seems to me that if people were serious about buying it, they would already own it. Are the people who have waited this long and who download it for free really likely to have purchased a copy from eBay anyway?

If its an issue of profit versus loss, and Sub Press just wants a good sample of your work on the site, could you maybe offer up a story from, say, Sirenia?
Apr. 30th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC)
I didn't vote, as I bought TDS pre-release, but I thought I'd chime in with my thoughts also. I'm one of those who needs to have the physical object in hand. I've read a few teaser chapters or the beginnings of whole books that I've gotten electronically (Cory's stuff among others), but rarely have read a complete work. I dislike long-term reading on the computer - it isn't as easy as a book, especially with the widescreen trend in laptops, which is running counter to most book dimensions. Computer screens are not tall enough, too wide (I hate the excess space to the side of the PDF text), and what does one do with one's hands while reading on the computer, without a book to hold onto? However, as more and more people grow up reading off of computer screens, I suspect that these views will be increasingly relegated to the minority.

I'd recommend releasing at least the first three chapters electronically, in as many formats as you can. That's enough content to either hook a reader, or let them know that your stuff isn't for them. I suspect that blind buys are not a huge percentage of your sales, so the gain in new readers should more than offset the loss of the blind buys. Add links at the end of the book, or the chapter set, whichever you release, back to Subpress, Sirenia, and your author listing on Amazon. If they are hooked, they'll immediately follow a link, and you'll have a sale.
Apr. 30th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)
Just for the record, none of the above. Can't stand electronic format for reading anything longer than a couple of pages and I really don't feel like printing out anything book-length just so I can read it if I know there will be a printed form of it already in existence.

So just mark me down as "when I have funds, I purchase the print version".
May. 1st, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
I'll get in contact with Bill and tell him he can include the Nyarlathotep tracks from the Self-contemplating shadow EP along with the PDF. That would be pretty cool, actually: you could get the novella *and* the soundtrack for it at the same time. :) Of course, if you guys have any remaining copies of the EP, perhaps keeping it as a "hardcover-only" exlusive would provide more incentive for folks to pick up the actual printed volume in addition to the PDF (which I do all the time: I read Charles Stross' Accelerando as a Creative-Commons-licensed PDF and the second the hardcover came out I went out and bought that too, just because the book was so effin' good I thought the author deserved my money. I think a lot of people operate that way. Folks who appreciate good writing can and will use free stuff to whet their appetites and then buy up everything in sight by an author if they really that that author's work.
( 26 comments — Have your say! )

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