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The Land of Do-As-You-Please

Just putting this up because it’s interesting the number of emails I’ve received—given that I don’t sell a lot of books therefore don’t have a lot of readers therefore do not, generally speaking, receive a lot of emails—concerning the evils of Amazon exclusivity and DRM and so on.

None of my books are DRMed, but there is a certain bound-to-Amazon quality about them. I mean you can take them off your Kindle and shove them into whatever else you’ve got, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that, but should my books suddenly and without warning vanish from Amazon, and if your Kindle exploded, and if you had no backup, they’d be gone.

Alternately, you might just have a problem with Amazon. Or not own a Kindle. Or just not have any money. Or have money, but don’t particularly want to spend it on my books.

So, this is me saying that if you ever want any of my books for whatever reason, just ask for them. I can convert to epub fairly easily (although I can’t guarantee the quality, they SEEM fine but I’ve never actually looked at them on an epub device because all I have is an increasingly creaky Kindle 3) (I like buttons) or possibly to other formats? I haven’t looked into it, but if you’ve got something that uses a format other than mobi or epub I’ll certainly investigate the possibility of conversion.

In a soonish kind of timeframe I’ll be putting my books up for download in a centralish kind of location, most likely cloverisland.co.nz. Until then (and even afterwards) the quickest way to reach me is probably Twitter, @BJKWhite, or you can email me at theauthorperson@cloverisland.co.nz.

So yes. If you want my books, you can buy them on Amazon. Or just ask me for them. Or fairly soon just go and download them. This does mean that I’ve had to take them out of the KDP program, so they’re no longer available to borrow. (In Amazon country you follow Amazon rules.) I’ll also be slapping a creative commons license on them (non-commercial share alike etc etc details to follow) so do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law (although don’t pretend you wrote them or sell them or anything obviously).

One other thing, in light of recent TPPA-ish issues. I’m kind of a big believer in, what to call it, guiltless influence? Freedom of ideas? Like if you read one of my books and you think “That was okay but I could do way more with that concept” then you totally should. Take whatever you want from anything I’ve made. Use it however you like. Ideas are important but only doing matters. You can’t take my finished books and put your name on them or sell them. But you can take the ideas I used and create your own things from them, and put your name on those, and sell them if you want.

So that’s it. Feel free to share my books, pinch anything you like from them for your own stuff, go forth, create, fill the world with stories.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in Of Writing

 

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Amazon Exclusivity: Well, Maybe

It would seem to be an easy question to answer; would I, in exchange for several juicy benefits, give Amazon exclusive rights to distribute my book? Given that I don’t use Smashwords due to quality control issues and given also that every major distributor except Amazon hates us dirty foreigners/indies/dirty foreign indies all to heck, why wouldn’t I go with Amazon exclusivity?

Well, for one, because exclusivity often leads to complications. In a certain sense it’s a bet; Amazon is currently the biggest name in e-book distribution, but will that continue? What if something changes? What if the KDP terms are altered (pray I do not alter them further), what if royalties are cut in half? I don’t personally see Amazon coming out behind in any e-retail fight, but who knows what the future holds—and what they might decide to do should they achieve that elusive monopoly. I have a certain amount of trust in Amazon (or, to be more specific, in Amazon’s business sense; they know not to mess with a good, profitable thing), but things could always change.

Right now I certainly can’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to exclusivity because this is all still very much speculation based on rumour, although it’s a pretty solid one as far as rumours go. I don’t know the details of the contract involved or what Amazon might offer, and so a lot of questions are raised. Would this exclusivity be for a set length of time, or could one ‘opt out’ with a certain amount of notice? What, exactly, are they offering—the ability to make your books free whenever you want (attractive), the option to make a product page for your books before they’re released and take pre-orders (very attractive)? What if (as is rumoured) some manner of special promotional options were included (extremely attractive)? Does exclusivity extend only to other retailers, or would it prohibit selling through my website—or even giving away books for free? What if I offered ePub versions of my books through my website as a free download with a donate button nearby (as I have tentative plans to do), would that conflict with ‘exclusivity’? What if a situation came up like I had earlier this year, with Power Play not being available to buy (for two freaking months), would I be allowed to offer it as a free download, as I did then?

Lots of questions, but of course no answers. As mentioned, this is all based on speculation which is in turn based on rumour. Pointless? Well, I believe it’s good to start thinking about these things early. It’d be a big decision to make, perhaps one of the biggest as an indie author; do I want to trust Amazon to be my sole distributor?

As things stand I think my answer could be ‘yes’, but it really does depend on the terms of the exclusivity contract and the bonuses offered. With that said I feel that the benefits for myself could easily (and heavily) outweigh any negative points. There’s another aspect to this too, one I mentioned right at the start; as things stand, Amazon really is the only major distributor that does us indies any favours at all—from the ease of use and openness of KDP to the mysterious Amazon algorithms working in our favour (without ‘also boughts’ I doubt I’d have even the few sales I enjoy), there is the sense that they have a certain amount of respect for us (or at least for the money we bring in). I do feel an odd sort of loyalty to The Mighty Zon for that; for the opportunities Amazon has given me.

Although with that said if this does all come to be and I am faced with this choice, my decision will be based on reason rather than emotion. I’ll read the contract, consider the benefits, consult with my learned peers, think things over, and only THEN will I click “YES YES TAKE MY INDIE SOUL GIVE ME THE SHINY TOYS YES”.

As a final thought, pairing this rumour with ANOTHER rumour, that Amazon may allow formats other than Mobi (most importantly ePub) to be sold through the Kindle store, well … that would make things look even more attractive. In any case it looks like 2012 is going to be a very interesting year. Very interesting indeed.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Good, Good, Good

I had rather a pleasant time this evening fiddling around on TVTropes, making/updating pages for a few of my books. Apparently it’s fine to make a page for your own work just as long as you don’t get possessive, which won’t be a problem for me at all. The toughest part was getting over the slightly cringy ‘ooh troping my own work feels a bit off’ factor, which to be honest is still there a little. But anyway, I think it’s good to have a starting point at least, so that perhaps sometime in the future others may add to the pages.

Aside from that, Power Play (along with the first Miya Black and Resonance books, just for fun) is still available free here:

Secret GET!

I’ve already had a few downloads and donations, which is really just … it’s lovely, is what it is. My fans are, like, the BEST fans. Eventually I think this is the direction I’ll go in, offer all of my books on a ‘pay if you feel like it’ basis. Amazon.com is great for distribution (well, when it works), but it’d be nice to do things my own way. The biggest downside is that Amazon’s magic syncing thing won’t work, and you can’t read the books on the cloud reader.

This song just came on, I must have listened to this about a hundred times and watched the video at least a dozen, it still always makes me smile:

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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So You Say You Want A Revolution

Lately I’ve noticed a trend, of sorts, towards downplaying the changes in the current state of publishing–that is, a lot of people are saying ‘this is not revolutionary, self-publishing has been around forever, all that has changed is the number of people self-publishing’.

To me this seems wrong, because I see a clear revolution–removing the cost of printing and distribution is a huge change that opens the world to anyone with an Internet connection. Instant, near-zero cost replication and delivery, how is that NOT a revolution? And not just for self-publishing but for traditional publishers also–recent developments have exposed the flaws in their systems, which is why a lot of traditional publishers (and bookstores) are now struggling. Well, that and the fact that hardly anyone reads any more–but I think that this, too, is changing.

Actually, let me talk about that for a moment. It’s common knowledge that the state of literacy in the Western World is pretty dire. Yes, there are still people who read, but compared to other activities reading is pretty much bottom-rung, especially if you’re talking about fiction rather than newspapers or magazines. Even for me, I read far less these days than I did growing up, and part of the reason for that is when I was around twelve or so I ran out of books. I’d read everything I wanted to at the local library, and whenever I heard about a new book that sounded interesting, it was never available–or if it was, it was too expensive for me to take a chance on. So I settled into a groove, only reading my most favourite, trusted authors, and I spent more time with games and TV and movies and so forth. I still read, of course, but less than I had when younger.

However. If the Kindle had been around at that time, it’s probable that a lot more of my time would’ve been spent reading–I remember spending hours going through Amazon, looking at all the books I wanted to read, but the barrier of ‘shipping cost’ prevented me from buying all but those I most wanted. (Which were mostly RPG rulebooks and comics, come to think of it.)

So, my optimistic prediction for the future is that slowly but surely reading is going to crawl its way back up. More and more people are going to embrace e-readers (or reading on their phones), e-books will become mainstream, prices will come down, and the world will be a slightly better place for it. This will, of course, also be great for indie authors, because people will get used to the idea of searching out new books, and websites and so on will spring up to cater to this. We’re seeing some of this now, but my feeling is that The Big Idea hasn’t hit us yet.

In any case, as I’ve said before and will say again, it’s the best time in the history of the world to be a writer of any kind, and things are just getting started.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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