Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Recent Reading

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Thumbing back through my Kindle to review what I’ve been reading, or contemplating reading, lately reveals an odd mix. I’ve been interested in shorter work, so I’ve enjoyed Lawrence Block’s collection The Night and the Music, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s The Retrieval Artist, some of Book View Café’s anthology Beyond Grimm, and some online stories, especially at Lightspeed Magazine (check out Tim Pratt’s Cup and Table).

I’ve sampled several novels, and have a lot more lined up. I was really intrigued by Brian Evenson’s Immobility, and I went to buy it, but was put off by the price, which I think was $13 at the time. It’s not that I think an ebook can’t be worth $13, but I charge only five or six dollars for my own books. So in one of those twisted psychological moves, it feels like I’m implying my books are rubbish if I’m willing to pay more than twice their cost for a book I know little about, by an author unfamiliar to me. I think this leaves Richard Kadrey’s Aloha From Hell as the most expensive e-novel I’ve ever bought, at eleven or twelve dollars—but that was the third book in a series that I’ve really enjoyed.

The two novels I’ve finished most recently are Greg Egan’s Incandescence, and Alastair Reynolds’ House of Suns, both of which engaged in galaxy-spanning cultures, and technologies existing across vast spans of time. Both are fascinating, and recommended.

Do you have a book to recommend? I’d love to hear about it. All genres welcome.

What’s An Ebook Worth?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I don’t pay close attention to new releases, but lately I’ve had the feeling that the price of ebooks from traditional publishers is going up–or maybe it’s just the prices of particular books? I presume this is the result of agency pricing, but I’m okay with that.

I think I’ve mentioned here and there that I’m not averse to paying $7.99 for a novel that I really want to read and I’ve bought several in this price range. I even bought one or two for $9.99 when I first got my Kindle in the fall of 2010. I think prices dropped for a time after that, and I didn’t think I’d ever be lured into paying more than $9.99 for a novel.

But I was wrong.

Yesterday I set aside my principles on ebook pricing and paid $10.99 for the third Sandman Slim novel, Aloha From Hell, because I really wanted to read this book now. And you know what? The author, Richard Kadrey, deserves to make some real money on this series. I hope he’s doing just that.

I would have felt better paying less, and I suspect there aren’t very many books that I have to have right now — but as I’ve said before, when it comes to reading, it’s my time that’s the limiting factor. If I have to pay more to read the books I really want to read in the time I have available, well, evidently I will.

Goddesses @ 99¢

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Let the price experiments begin!

Ninety-nine cents is the lowest price allowed by Amazon and Barnes & Noble for an ebook.** For a novel, 99¢ is basically a giveaway price, a means to try to move a lot of copies in the hope that a book’s ranking will improve and that the author will develop a fan base, but–given that the author gets only 35% minus a penny or two for a transaction fee–it’s no way to make a living.

(Full disclosure: ebooks priced at $2.99 and higher pay 70% to the author, which is why you rarely see anything priced between rock bottom and $2.99–you’re either giving it away or you’re not.)

For a short story though, especially a reprint, 99¢ is a reasonable price from a reader’s perspective, and useful to the author if a sample of a higher-priced work is bundled with the short story.

Short stories have a word count up to 7,500, according to standards set by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. My story Goddesses is not short. In fact, it’s a 30,000 word novella, but it still makes a good subject for this price experiment. I’ve had it at $2.99 for most of the year, to take advantage of the 70% royalty, but yesterday I dropped it to 99¢ just to see if it makes any difference at all. Frankly, I’m not expecting much, but if anyone is interested in the statistics let me know and I’ll try to remember to post them here as time goes by.

So if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Nebula-award-winning novella Goddesses–just 99¢ and available from these vendors:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon USA

Prices may have not filtered through to Amazon’s non-USA markets just yet, but here are the links:
Amazon UK
Amazon DE
Amazon FR

** Yes, there are free ebooks, but an author can’t set the price to free. The only way to do it is to figure out how to sell the ebook for free somewhere else and hope Amazon’s search engines find out. Then Amazon will automatically reduce the price of the book to match.

Blog Roundup

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I saw three great blog posts this week on writers and publishing.

First, Tobias Buckell explains why writers are crazy, and makes a few suggestions on how to hold on to what sanity remains to us.

This failure to pay attention to what we can control as authors and what we can’t leads to a form of Cargo Cult neuroses in writers out of a desire to recreate milestone successes that were never in their primary power to recreate.

If you’re a struggling writer (and how many of us aren’t struggling?), read this post. It will give you an entirely new way to look at things.

Second, Chuck Wendig has some very useful thoughts on social media.

You are not a brand. Social media is not your platform… see it instead as a place where you can bring all the crazy and compelling facets of your personality to bear on an unsuspecting populace your audience. People want to follow other people. People don’t want to follow brands.

I’ve come to this conclusion too, mostly because there’s no way I can “act” as a “brand” no matter what social media gurus tell us we should do. Read the rest of the post if you have a chance. We all need to do self-promotion, and Chuck has a lot of suggestions that make sense to me.

And finally…

A few people have asked what I think about the “agency model.” This refers to a requirement by certain large publishers that their ebooks shall not be discounted by retailers such as Amazon. So if a publisher specifies that a new ebook by a big name author shall be priced at $14.99, that ebook will be sold for $14.99 and not a penny less.

So what do I think of the agency model? I love it! Because it’s surely helping to keep ebook prices from dropping through the floor. Mike Shatzkin feels the same way. Here’s part of what he has to say on the subject:

All writers, whether they’re among the fortunate ones that have a publisher pushing them or whether they’re trying to do it themselves, should be grateful that publishers are doing their damnedest to maintain prices and the perception of value for writers’ work.

Very, very few writers will ever make a living selling 99-cent ebooks. Personally, I want to make a living writing so I can keep writing–and the agency model makes my books a really good deal, while still allowing me a reasonable profit on each sale, as well as “a perception of value.”