Thursday, December 23, 2010

Books in the Cloud !

Most ebooks resellers that I know of work with one of 2 kinds of delivery models :
1) they send you / give you access to a link (or list of links) where you can download the book in a "limited fashion" (time, number of downloads ...). This induces almost necessarily the use of a PC to download and manage the ebooks collection.

2) they keep the bought ebooks in a "library" section of their site, where you can download the book "at will". This allows you to remove the ebook from your reader, (archiving), without losing access forever to it. It also allows you to manage your ebooks collection without any other device (PC for example).

The "major resellers"  (Amazon, Google, B&N, Smashwords...), and some others (Webscription for example) all  work on that second model.
This also allows them to develop a model where you don't even need to download the entire ebook to your device, but use a specific browser to access it on their server as with the "PC version" of the Google EBooks reader. The Book is kept "in the cloud" for you in "eternity", or ... as long as the reseller keeps the ebook at your disposition ...
There have been incidents whrere bought ebooks where removed from the "Library" as well as from the "device" !

So while the Library is that (a Library), we should not consider them "Safe" : the "librarian" can "at will" change the content of that library, either by adding/removing books, but also by "corecting" them the way they choose without our knowing...

If we want to have a more "long-lasting" library, I think we need to maintain our own "library" in addition to the reseller's ones. In our own library, we should have a copy of each and every ebook we have bought, if possible without DRM so that we also will be able to convert them to other future-proof format ... How to set up such a library is left as an exercice to the reader... but I guess you should backup it the same way you do your digital photographs (you DO backup your photos right ?)

This does in NO way mean say that we should NOT use the reseller's library facility (in some way, if our own library goes down, we will be most happy to use theirs as a backup :) ), but we should NOT trust them the same way we would a Safe in a bank.

There is even one comment on mobileread about kindle DRM :
Originally Posted by abookreader
Unless something has changed recently that I am not aware of - If the only copy of an eBook you have is one DRM'd for a Kindle with a firmware 2.5 or higher and the books are no longer available to you to re-download from the archives, as of right now you would not be able to strip the DRM.
 This means that if you want to get rid of the DRM, do it ASAP !

Friday, December 3, 2010

Self-Publishing, Self-Editing, Self-Reselling, Self-...

I've been an avid fan of C.J. Cherryh's work since my first read of her's "Cyteen" book when I was a teenager. A few years ago I found out what later became her "Blog" and a forum of fellow "worshippers". Since I'm not a native english speaker (and don't feel at ease enough) I've only written a few posts there (not under this handle though), but I should say I'm one of the "silent lurkers" who follows her adventures.

One of the many points of interests which leads me back to her blog is her recent adventure in self-publishing, with her two friends Lynn Abbey, and Jane Fancher. They opened up an e-store  (Closed Circle) where they sell among other things e-books either of new works, or of back-listed books.

Here is a copy of a post I put on Jane's blog this evening :

Dear Closed Circle authors,
This post is an answer to Jane's "Facebook ads and publishers" blog.

I hope my comment doesn't sound harsh, and if it does please take it not as something I want to express, but put it on my insufficiently fluent english.

Regarding your Closed Circle results, I think there are a few problems :
The first one is that even though you put MUCH love and time on the e-shop, it still is NOT on par with "commercial" ones.

The second one is that even with 3 authors, your volume is WAY under critical mass. By that, I mean that the site has not yet attained a volume that enables it to attract new potential readers. By you three, you are not able to provide sufficient "new" meat to have more than a few visits a year, and since you write MUCH more interesting things about your writing on your blogs (as well as the announcements), I (and maybe a lot of others) only go there to buy a book at the occasion of such an announcement. I should mention that if you did NOT do announce the news on your blogs first, I wouldn't even go to CC (except once or twice a year)...

Last one, taking and maintaining the CC takes (or has taken) you a lot of  energy which may have better been used elsewhere... Your last attempt  with your FB add seems to me one of such diversions.

In my opinion, you took with the Closed Circle the right turn, but followed it a little bit too far : instead of going from Author to Author/Agent/Editor/Publisher/Reseller, you should have stopped at the Publisher step, and left the reselling to specialized companies such as Amazon and/or B&N. Of course it forces you to leave the reseller a part of the pie, but if they do the hard work and allow you to assemble a larger pie (ie more sells) it may be worth it. (But you're right, read the little lines of the contract, there may be people there quite as devious as Tabini).

Of course, you NEED to attract new readers, and as such to advertise your work, but I think a better way to do that would be to "open up" to a new crowd instead of limiting yourself to readers already familiar with your work.

One way to do that is indeed to publish at least one of your work on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Webscription and/or other "e-resellers". I woudn't recommend putting that work for free since it's not always seen as a sign of quality, but rather at a low price. That first step would increase your visibility. You most probably would receive there good reviews, links to/from authors or related books, which will link your network with other author's in a much more visible way than through your blogroll alone ...

I think you also need to advertize your work on general science fiction forums/blogs, at least when publishing a new book, and maybe also between publications.

Yeah, that advertizing is a publisher's work, but you're "self-publishing" so I guess it has become YOUR work too.

Do you know about Joe Konrath ?  He's a
thriller author who went from "big publishing" to "Self-Published" in
a year with outstanding results. He documented his experience and
results on his blog ( ), and I think
you may find interesting ideas in his blogs, (comments as well).

All in all I hope my post was not too disheartening, and wish you'll find the best way to sell lots of your great books to lots of happy readers, and keep going !