Subscription Based Serial Fiction (Direct to Reader): Has the Time Come?

iphone-ereaderThe Holy Grail (for some) seems nearer to hand than ever before. The time is ripe, the technology is there. Storytellers since the beginning of time have been drawn to episodic narrative. Great characters demand repeat stories be told of them. And the audience loves to keep coming back for more.

Subscription and the Written Word

The most cunning and successful model for monetizing serial fiction has always been subscription. In recent history this was most evident in newspaper and magazine. The upfront promise of payment by consumers made the publication of the story possible, while the routine and regularity of the media delivered tantalizing snippets in a convenient manner. It was a win/win.

The times have changed. The desire to tell and enjoy good stories hasn’t. Television, and more recently platforms such as Netflix and Hulu, continue to emphasize our love of serialized and episodic story. When it comes to visual media, we consumers receive the best of both worlds–we can allow the storyteller to tease us along on a weekly basis, or we can gorge at the trough of story by watching multiple episodes until our bleary eyes explode.

But what about the written story? Web fiction has quietly been popular in small circles of readers for a decade. The Kindle Store created an epic shift in the digital storytelling landscape by breaking down the gates and trampling the gatekeepers. Now readers have more direct access to writers than ever before.

In 2012, the inevitable finally came to fruition when Amazon created an online store specifically for serial fiction. It became possible for consumers to pay a small upfront cost and then receive regular installments/episodes of serial fiction delivered directly to their kindle ereading devices or apps.

Amazon: The New Gatekeepers [Read more...]

Amazon Does it Again (Why Can’t Anyone Else?)

kindlecountdowndeal_hauntedhouse1_560I soiled myself this afternoon, just a little. And it wasn’t from the pizza I left out overnight (again). The afore stated befoulment happened after skimming an email I received from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

I always read these emails close enough to see if for some magical reason Amazon has selected me to be the next instant rags-to-riches self-pubbed author. (I have delusions, okay?) This time, I quickly realized the email was about the Kindle Countdown Deals I learned of this morning (from another blog I follow).

The Kindle Countdown Deals Go Beyond Cute

I hadn’t looked too closely into the “countdown deals,” instead dismissing it as another nifty Amazon strategy to suck authors and publishers into exclusivity with KDP (via KDP Select). I decided a year ago that KDP wasn’t really for me. The benefit of being able to easily “pulse” scheduled promotions of my titles didn’t override my desire to spread my content far and wide.

I don’t like to be tied down. One committed relationship in my life is enough. I’m a child of Generation X, dagnabbit. The man’s constantly trying to get me down, and I don’t even know who the man is! (Oh, it’s Amazon, that’s right.)

Anyway, so back to the reason I had to bidet my backside. On the surface, the Countdown Deal allows the author/publisher to run a promotion on Amazon which displays an actual countdown timer revealing when the promotional deal will expire.

Clever, right? Now the first thing to catch the reader’s eye will be an inanimate salesperson tapping the reader’s shoulder and saying, “This deal is for a limited time only! Get it now, or forever regret your lack of fortitude, you gutless wonder! Don’t shop around! Buy, buy, buy!”

While clever, this is by no means enough to drag me back to KDP Select and its exclusive demands. Then I read the next bullet point in the email I received:

  • Retain a 70% royalty rate – You will earn royalties based on your regular royalty rate and the promotional price. As a result, if you are using the 70% royalty option, you’ll earn 70% even if the price is below $2.99.

What the crap!? Did I read that right? I mean, son of a–[deep breaths]–

You had me at, ‘$$$.’ [Read more...]

99 Authors, 99 Books, 99 Cents

99 Books, 99 authors, 99 centsThis promotional contains some really great books by both well known authors and some lessor so (like me). For anyone looking to add a few more worthy titles to their holiday reading, or anyone looking for some ebook gift ideas for other readers they know, have a look around: (feel free to spread the word!)

The sale is for December 21st only!!!

The promotional is also giving away nearly a $1000 worth of prizes, so that’s not such a bad thing either. (Note: this is a Kindle store promotion.)

Some of the titles I recommend:

breaking SteeleCadaver Blues

Lonely MilePentecostPyxisArsonThe Austin Job



Kobo Books: Kitten or Lion?

Kobo's Top 50 RankingsI’ve tracked for five weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

  • rankings
  • recommending reading lists
  • search and sort capabilities
  • customer service
  • the writing life platform
  • the app, the eReader, etc.

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author.

I’ll do my best to breakdown each of the above bullet points in a series of four posts. I’ll provide my observations/data and give my personal opinion whether Kobo is currently taking a kitten stance, or lion. Today we’ll deal with Kobo’s rankings.

The Results: Rankings

Kobo appears to have two sets of connected rankings. From any product page consumers are given rankings for said product for each of the product’s listed genres (the Writing Life platform allows publishers to select up to three). These rankings are slow to change and only reflect the general rank rather than exact.

By clicking on the actual genre, Men’s Adventure in this case, you will be directed to the Men’s Adventure genre list sorted according to “Best Sellers” (you can also sort by price, rating and title). If a product is rated #83 on the product page this indicates that the product will be specifically ranked somewhere below #83 and above whatever the next selected breakpoint may be (possibly somewhere around #120). Once the product slips below #120 it would then be ranked #120 on the product page. [Read more...]

My Plan for Kobo Books

Kobo eReader device w/wifiWhat the world needs now is an online version of the neighborhood book store, for eBooks. Kobo, I say it should be you.

It appears inevitable that the Department of Justice will soon dish out a top-rope body slam to the world of traditional publishing. For those who haven’t been following the matter like so much O.J. carnivality let me explain. No, there’s no time. I’ll sum up. “Colluding” major publishers will no longer be able to dictate the price of eBooks. Thus online retailers (ie. Amazon) will be able to affectively sell major titles for whatever price they want (without suffering a year end loss).

Bad News for Readers

Alas, I am feared this heralds bad news for both writers like me and readers like you. “How do you figure?” you might ask. Well, gentle reader, even though eBook prices on some of the most popular titles will most certainly fall (good for readers) the end result of this could be a loss of diversity for the written word (bad for readers unless you only want to read vampire romance and legal thrillers).

Crap man, and just when the eBook revolution was cracking the market open for all sorts of original (some terrible, some terrific) creations of fiction. Now it appears inevitable that lower prices on major titles will squeeze indie authors out of a job. If The Hunger Games and the latest Tom Clancy thriller are available at $7.99 (or less) how many readers will continue to take risks on unknown authors for $4.99?

Enter Kobo Books (or any other eBook retailer with the gonads to step up). [Read more...]

Kobo Vs. Amazon: It’s Bibliocal!

Writing LifeFirst there was David versus Goliath. We all know how that ended up. But could this be DVs.GII? All I know is this time it’s indeed bibliocal as Kobo attempts to stand toe to toe with Kindle via their new publishing platform, Writing Life.

For those of you asking, “What’s a Kobo?” let’s start with a little history lesson. Once upon a time (2009) a bunch of Canucks formed a company with the idea of not only producing an e-reader (device) but partnering it with a retail eBook website and a multi-platform application with powerful social media integration. “Read Freely” became their motto, and epub (the standard, nonproprietary eBook format) became their format.

As of January 2012 the majority of Kobo, Inc. was bought by a Japanese Company, and just maybe those laid-back Canadians have acquired some Samurai soul in the exchange (maybe they had it in them all along, but we’ll see).

In 2010 their Kobo reader was part of the reason the highly priced (at the time) Kindle slashed their price tag by over 50%. After the Kindle muscled the Kobo from it’s affordability niche, Kobo upgraded features like wi-fi and 3G. Now its Kobo Vox is priced at $179 in a standoff with the Kindle Fire at $199. But has the lowballing, rough and tumble Kobo really returned? Will the Japanese slap down the jelly donut and deliver the heat?

I’m a believer. Let me tell you the two main reasons why. [Read more...] eBook Start-up Only Dreaming?

Only IndieI’ve uploaded my geeky, pulp-western novel, Fistful of Reefer, to a half dozen new eBook retailing platforms over the last couple of months. Let’s see. Off of the top of my head I can remember Bilbary, Bublish and Snugnugget.

I figure if a group of forward thinking nerds are crazy enough to launch a new ebook-fangled website on a latte and a dream then I’ll spend twenty minutes decoding their scheme and tossing so many of my ingenious 1’s and 0’s at them.

(See bottom of post to help me with my experiment before you go…)

The latest eBook store I’ve discovered is Only Indie ( I have to admit the name itself grabbed my more than the others. (What’s a snugnugget? And does Bilbary refer to Bilbo Baggins personal library?) [Read more...]