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View Diary: A Kossack's Guide to Book Publishing - part 12 [updated] (30 comments)

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  •  certainly (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Swordsmith

    I once read an SF novel, The Far Edge of Darkness that finally got me to the point where I cared about the characters.

    She ended the book by sending the "good guy" characters over a cliff in a car and literally ending the story in mid-air. I presume she had in mind our buying the sequel, which is unavailable. In fact, I couldn't find any indication via Google that she ever intended to write it.

    Perhaps she ran out of ideas at that point? The real mystery, of course, is why a publisher bought and published it in that shape. 1 or 2 chapters would have been enough to provide a reasonable ending.

    Needless to say, I have no intention of ever buying any books which authored or co-wrote ever again.

    I'm pointing people at the Amazon reviews not because I recommend the book, but to give writers an idea of how people react when a writer starts a book, doesn't finish it, and it gets published anyway. If it's part of a series already contracted for and labeled as such, then people expect to buy the next book to find out what happens next.

    If it had been my first exposure to that publisher, Baen Books,   I would have avoided any books by that publisher in the future.

    I strongly recommend the publisher despite this, they sell DRM-free SF e-books in a variety of formats, one of which is for the Palm PDA I use for most of my leisure reading. Their track record is good enough that I can forgive an occasional mistake.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 03:54:34 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  it is unfortunate when that happens (0+ / 0-)

      There are a variety of reasons, none of them good and some of them pretty surreal. Especially long stories are often split into two or more books. However, if the first book doesn't sell well enough, the others may never get published.

      An older reason, not really a factor now, was the strict length limits imposed by serialized novels, and that when your book was being published in pieces as you wrote it, you couldn't go back and revise if you wrote yourself into a corner. Take, for instance, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, in which she writes her characters into a huge emotional mess which she only has about 30 pages to resolve. Result: The river rises up and drowns all of them. Most unsatisfying ending ever.

      I know of at least one case (not involving Baen) where an embittered editor deliberately bought several really awful books out of revenge on the publisher he was about to leave.

      In the case of this particular book, I don't know the circumstances and, having been warned, will steer clear of the book.

      Jim Baen died recently, btw. He was a controversial figure in many ways, but he certainly helped shape the field, and was responsible for a ton of good books and terrific writers (along with a few dogs, yeah).

      Economic -5.00 Social -5.49 http://politicalcompass.org/

      by Swordsmith on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 08:50:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, I regret his death, too (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KMc, Swordsmith

        It's a little hard for a regular customer of Baen Books not to be aware of Jim Baen's death, given how long his obit sat on the home page. I'm not complaining about this, of course.

        His biggest contribution to the field of literature, IMHO, was his allowing Eric Flynt to demonstrate that consumer-friendly e-book publication and using the backlist as a marketing tool rather than letting it sit and rot is the path to profit, rather than using DRM to tie a book to a specific machine and use Congress to delete the concept of "fair use" as something practically accessible to customers.

        Of course, it'll probably take a couple of generations for the lesson that a lot more people WILL buy online if the product isn't made to be a pain in the ass to use to propagate through the rest of the industry.

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 05:52:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  even when I was publishing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KMc, alizard

          I thought the changes in copyright law, destruction of fair use, and general covetousness regarding electronic rights were incredibly shortsighted and counterproductive. (Basically, the new laws create incredible impediments for all but the largest publishers; they're a pain for everyone else, including most publishers.) Jim Baen had a lot of flaws as a businessman - letting his right wing political views rather than his sense of what was commercial dictate some of his acquisitions, for instance - but he let his libertarianism dictate a lot of his marketing decisions, and did very well by it.

          I liked the Bibliobytes model - giving away books on an ad-driven website, and paying authors royalties based on page views - but the timing was off and the model never quite caught on.

          Other publishers have slowly and cautiously followed Baen's lead - and the way he used his backlist to generate new frontlist readers was brilliant. I'm afraid that without Jim Baen to drive those decisions, some of that cautious progress may well be undone.

          Economic -5.00 Social -5.49 http://politicalcompass.org/

          by Swordsmith on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 07:04:02 PM PDT

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          •  well, hopefully. . . (0+ / 0-)

            Baen Books will continue what has worked for them, and smart publishers will watch them to find out how to make money with e-book content.

            Actually, the "free content to drive sales" model started with the music / broadcast industry. I've even seen complaints from the music industry about "why are we giving content away to the public?"

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 01:29:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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