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E-Books, Kindle, and The economics of writing.

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Mike 03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:36 PM
Original message
E-Books, Kindle, and The economics of writing.
Edited on Sat May-02-09 07:40 PM by Mike 03
Some well-meaning people don't understand why ebooks hurt the ability of writers to adequately profit from their work. (And I'm guessing this would apply to artists of all forms--filmmakers whose work winds up pirated on YouTube, musicians, even fine artists whose canvases are reproduced online without their permission.)

I know there are many writers here at DU. Correct me if I'm wrong. When you produce a manuscript that is published in hard copy, you get more money from each unit sold. And books, generally speaking, cost more. You don't make a fortune, but you make--depending on your contract--a few cents to a few dollars.

If your book is an ebook, it sells for half or less what it would sell for in hard copy, and what do you make, percentage-wise, from the sale of your manuscript in e-form?

If you were to spend five or six years researching, writing and publishing a book that would only be available by ebook, for less than ten dollars, and you would extract from that a percentage that would not feed you or your family, would that hinder your desire to do this for a living?

Another question, on edit: Which publishers are going to provide suitable advances to authors if they know the work will ultimately be provided on line, where it is a simple matter to pirate, reproduce and provide it for free.

Everything a writer does will be on spec.



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Tangerine LaBamba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. Anyone who takes up writing
thinking they're going to make money is nuts.

When you sell a ms to a publisher, you first have to sell enough copies of your book, when it is published, to make back the advance. In most cases, this never happens. There are exceptions, but the rule is, more often than not, that the money made by book sales won't match the advance. So, generally, the only $$$ the author will see is the advance, of which the agent (at least mine) gets fifteen percent.

As for ebooks, I have no idea how that works. My agent knows all about it, but we haven't yet had to deal with it.
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YDogg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:37 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. what's this "advance" you speak of?
never got one of those.
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Tangerine LaBamba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:26 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. You need a new agent .........
Somebody's not selling you right ...................
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janx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:41 PM
Response to Original message
2. Writers profit from their work?
:rofl:

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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Well there is that too
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Tangerine LaBamba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #2
14. Isn't that amazing?
When my books are checked out of public libraries in Great Britain, France, The Netherlands, and Australia, I get paid a royalty each time.

It's kind of astonishing that such a system doesn't exist in the United States, but, I have to admit, I love the notion of people being able to read pretty much whatever they want, even if the authors aren't profiting from it. It's just good ....................
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janx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. It doesn't matter much to me, and I'm probably a one-trick pony, etc.
I never did it for money.
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:42 PM
Response to Original message
3. Well it's gotten to the point that
I know E=BOOKS are the way to go... as the cost of producing the paper product is way too high

And the royalties are not that high

So I self publish using e-books and I do count they will be pilfered

But paper, there are scanners and that happens anyway
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stray cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:46 PM
Response to Original message
5. If you plan on being a creative writer plan on a back up job to live on
Edited on Sat May-02-09 07:47 PM by stray cat
whether ebooks are around or not. Being a writer means you are at the mercy of those who decide whether its worth paying to read what you write and if so how much its worth.
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janx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:54 PM
Response to Original message
6. This argument has been going on for at least the last decade.
E-books or self-published books won't hurt those of us who write not for money, but for the art of it. We don't make any money anyway; there are living poets and fiction writers who are very good at what they do who make little or no money from the sales of their books, even though their manuscripts may be archived at universities. Some of the best writers in this country have had their books published by small and university presses. Money? Nope. But be assured that in the decades to come, whether or not the writers are still alive, people will rediscover them. A couple of literary writers I can think of--a mentor and a student in particular--have made the transition to screenplays and have had great success with this. The movies I'm talking about are The Cider House Rules and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

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DianeG5385 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
7. I'm all for e-publishing
It means you don't need a publishing house to get your book out. Many Many potentially great books never get published because they are rejected by the big boys. More people can afford your work. Plus, if you're clever and your "book" does well, you can market the movie rights yourself!
In addition, it's harder for someone to steal your idea and write up their own book and/or script since it's on the net.
Plus, I just bought a Kindle and just love it! I probably bought more books in the last week than I have in the last year and it's great for business travel of which I've been doing alot lately. I bought the Kindle because I love to read but I'm sick of lugging a bunch of books around, also think it's environmentally ok.
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whistler162 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:07 PM
Response to Original message
8. One of the great benefits of ebooks is that
any Joe or Jane Schmoe can publish their epic book with little or no backing and present it to the public for consideration.

Sites like http://www.lulu.com/index.php offer authors who might never be published or even seen by a publisher a chance to publish their book.
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anigbrowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. This is also one of the great disavantages
As far as e-books go, I think there's a possibility of selling more copies electronically than in print. On the other hand, if you're not satisfied with the amount that's on offer, reject it and make a counter offer. Anyone who just takes what their publisher says to be 'the industry standard' at face value is nuts. They wouldn't be offering to buy your work if they didn't expect to pofit from it, and their goal is to make money for themselves first, and the writer second.
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FarCenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:42 PM
Response to Original message
10. Google "author royalties kindle" to find some discussions of this
But it looks like the answer depends on your contract for print and digital rights with your publisher, if you have one. Otherwise, it depends on your contract with Amazon.

It appears that the author can get the same royalty per book for Kindle as for a paper copy. While the price to the reader is less, the production, printing, shipping, wholesaler and bookstore markup, etc costs are also a lot smaller for the ebook. Therefore, the author's income per unit sold can be the same.
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Tangerine LaBamba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:31 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. That's good to know..........
I never read my contracts, since I trust my agent that much - yeah, she's that good and trustworthy - but I got a Kindle as a gift from - of all entities - my publisher this past Christmas. It came loaded up with lots of books, but, so far, I only use it when I'm away from home, and, I have to admit, the reading experience isn't quite as rewarding with the device. It's a great little thing, but I realized that reading for me is also tactile, the feeling of the book in my hand, the turning of the pages, the weight of how much I've read as opposed to how much is left.

I'm a bookie, I guess.

But it's good to know the royalty situation. Usually I just get statements quarterly and give them but a cursory glance. So far, so good.......................
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rucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:53 PM
Response to Original message
15. Anyone can publish and self-distribute.
This is a good thing for writers.
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 10:20 PM
Response to Original message
17. I completely understand that if you artificially inflate the the price, the seller gets more...
Edited on Sat May-02-09 10:21 PM by BlooInBloo
I just don't care. If it can be done cheaper, I want it cheaper. Otherwise, the odds of me buying it decrease rapidly. All else being equal, naturally.

EDIT: One may as well try to hold back the Gutenberg Press, on the grounds that it would put scribes out of work. Fuck that. Let the scribes adapt.
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Tangerine LaBamba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 11:29 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. As a published author,
the old, traditional kind - I'm one of them, the dinosaurs - the one review you really, really want when your book comes out is a good one from Library Journal.

Good sales to libraries are so important. Consider the number of libraries in this world .........................
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 11:31 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. I can believe that.
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