Friday, August 27, 2010

On Beyond Ebooks

I'm loving the ebook revolution.

Obviously, I enjoy the money I'm making (close to $500 a day).

But it's more than that. I'm able to do things I never could have done in the traditional publishing world.

Not only can I release ebooks when they're finished (rather than waiting a year), and have much greater control over the content, cover, and title, but I can also play with the format and do new, interesting things.

With TRAPPED, I released two different versions of the novel in the same ebook download. The author's version and the uncut version. It's pretty cool to show fans all the stuff that was cut, added, and changed, and let them decide for themselves which one they prefer.

With SHAKEN, coming out in October, Amazon is also releasing a dual ebook. SHAKEN takes place during 1989, 2007, and 2010, and jumps around in time. I had a ball writing it, and showing Jack at various stages in her career while she chases the same bad guy over the course of twenty years. But along with the author's preferred version, the SHAKEN ebook will also come with a linear version. If people want to read the book chronologically, rather than go back and forth in time, they can. And even cooler, it reads well in both versions.

Eager to romp in this new digital playground, I have two more projects that will be released in September.

One is secret, and I'm not going to mention the title or the subject yet. But I will say it is a horror novel. And I will say I'm writing it with three of my peers. Those peers are F. Paul Wilson, Jeff Strand, and Blake Crouch.

When I was working on TRAPPED and ENDURANCE, I followed the same formula as AFRAID. In nutshell, I took a handful of characters and dropped them into a terrifying situation, then followed each of their journeys as they fought an insurmountable evil. No chapter breaks--just direct cuts from POV to POV.

It occurred to me that I could write a book in this style with other authors, and it would be a snap. Instead of me writing every character on my own, each of us could control a character, and the book will follow each storyline until they all converge. It's the exact same formula as AFRAID, TRAPPED, and ENDURANCE, except we can write it in 1/4 of the time, and it will benefit from four unique inputs.

I've worked with Paul, Jeff, and Blake on projects before. We're all having a blast putting our heads together and writing this outrageous, horrifying, over-the-top horror epic.

The thing is, this couldn't have happened in the print world. We would have had to get all of our current print publisher's approval (because of no-compete and first look clauses), had to have found a buyer, and had to have toned down some of the violence (this sucker is violent!) But doing this on our own, we have complete control, don't have to answer to anybody, and can write a novel just for the sheer joy of it. Then we can release it immediately after completion, and get the lion's share of the royalties.

I also am playing with the ebook format in another way. Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure novels from the 80's?

I wrote one with Harry McGlade (from the Jack Daniels series) as the hapless hero.

At the end of each section, you decide where Harry goes next. This results in hundreds of variations, and over a dozen different endings. This interactive format is perfectly suited to ebooks, where clicking on a link and being instantly transported to it is easier than flipping through a dead tree book, looking at page numbers.

The book is ridiculously entertaining to read, and I don't think I've ever had more fun writing something. Because the humor is so offensive, I never would have been able to sell this to a traditional publisher.

But with Kindle, I can really utilize the format to do things that publishers can't, and won't, do.

It's beyond liberating. As a friend of mine said, "Joe, you're finally unbridled." Which is what it actually feels like. I can run free, do what I want, and connect with readers on my own terms. I'm not restricted by anything, including my imagination.

Ebooks are more than just putting your run-of-the-mill stories into a digital format. They can actually do more than print books, and offer artists new, exciting opportunities. And we haven't even broached on the "enriched ebook" possibilities with audio and video.

I'm thrilled to be a writer in 2010. It's too cool.


Summer Ross said...

Your level of enthusiasm is really terrific. I don't even own a kindle- cost to much for me on a college students grants, lol. But it is neat how much easier it can make things. I prefer paper back usually but I wouldn't turn down an e-book either.

Jude Hardin said...

Cool stuff, Joe. It will be interesting to see customer reviews on some of these experiments, especially the Harry McGlade book.

Barb said...

You made a salient point, Joe. I've seen so much hand-wringing over the drek that's being published or sure to be published with no "gatekeepers" to protect us but these nattering nabobs of negativity never address the freedom writers (professional/real/serious/competent/whatever) are suddenly enjoying.

My current project was turned down by everyone in the business because it's too politically incorrect. I've been hearing the word no for so many years, no from people who don't know how to create a turkey sandwich let alone a novel, that to be able to say yes to anywhere my imagination takes me is incredibly exhilarating.

Digital is a reward for sticking with this for so long.

(Thanks for turning off the anon comments.)

Ruth Francisco, author said...

I agree, Joe. It opens up writing in a whole new way.

I've been toying with the idea of doing another "Blog Novel," but this time with another writer, each taking a part--the detective and the killer. The writers would exchange entries, building on a vague outline. I think this would be incredibly fun for readers. Then at the end, it could be edited for a Kindle book. That's how I wrote "Amsterdam 2012", but now I see there are so many variations and opportunities for creativity.

Moses Siregar III said...

I love the choose-your-own-adventure idea, but then some of my earliest reading experiences were with those types of D&D books. But you're right, that is really well-suited for an ebook.

You know what? Everything you said *does* sound like fun, the way it should be.

I also just did something with my book that couldn't have happened in the old print world. I took 15 of my novel's 85 chapters, organized them so that they told a a story with a satisfactory ending, and created a (99 cent) novella that serves as an introduction to my novel.

The result? 7 reviews so far, with so far everyone saying things like they want to read the full novel now, and the most common response is like this one: "My problem with this novella is probably mainly that it is a novella, not a novel ... I enjoyed reading it, and my main fault with it was that there wasn't enough. I look forward to the complete novel!"

So effectively, I'm able to start promoting the novel roughly 9 months before it comes out, and I even have something I can send to reviewers now. And even if I decide to try for a good publishing contract, I have something that demonstrates that people already like and want to read the book. It's a brave new world, perhaps with too much emphasis on the "brave" in this case LOL!

Thomas Brookside said...

Even something as basic as a preview of another work is utterly different in an ebook environment.

In the print world other books are "previewed" by having a catalog listing or a mail order form at the end of the book. Maybe there's a paragraph or two of blurb content from another book, or a page or two of material from the next book in a series.

But because it doesn't really matter how large an ebook file is, I was able to add the first 80 pages of my second book as a preview appended to the end of my first book. So now every reader who buys a copy of De Bello Lemures is also getting almost half of The Last Days of Jericho.

In theory there's no reason you couldn't add 50 page previews of 5 or 10 books to the end of every full work, with TOC links to let readers check them out if they want, and buy links at the end of each preview.

The cost to do this would be miniscule - basically a few more pennies in download charges from Amazon if you're on the 70% plan.

L.J. Sellers said...

I agree! It's very liberating to take charge of one's own writing career. I haven't started experimenting with format yet, but I'm getting my stories directly to readers, and I love it.

Rex Kusler said...

Some days I feel like it's a little scary relying on myself for everything. My ghost story has had five covers. Lately, as soon as Amazon lets me back into my books, I go in there and change the price again. Every two days. I keep expecting an email from them telling me to take a hike. The other day I had one of my detectives call another detective to get some help, and he asked him how it was hanging. The next day I had a real struggle with myself over that bit of dialogue (I took it out). Luckily it didn't turn into a fist fight.

This morning I went into my software to work on my novel, and it was gone. All of the files were gone. They were all gone from the flash drive, too. All of my files for my last novel were also gone. How could this happen? I decided the bastard who had been changing the spelling of my name on Amazon had reached down into my computer through the internet and deleted everything.

Then I realized I was in Excel.

JA Konrath said...

Then I realized I was in Excel.

That same thing happens to me at least eight times a day.

Gary Ponzo said...

Congrats Joe. I would've never had the guts to publish a Kindle novel without your openness about the success you've had. Without actually seeing your sales numbers I would still be holding onto the traditional publishing model--Which meant my manuscript would've collected dust instead of awards. Thanks!

Ty said...

The freedom of e-publishing really dawned on me a few weeks ago. I was unpacking some boxes from the last move and came across a bunch of my short stories that are so old they were written on my Smith Corona typewriter 20+ years ago. I was wondering what I could do with all these old stories, when it occurred to me I could take the ones that had sold (or hadn't sold, for that matter) and type them into my PC and publish them online. Then I got to thinking about a novella I'd been working on a while back, a story which I knew no publisher would be interested in.

Then the floodgates opened. All kinds of ideas popped into my head. Ideas which I knew no one would ever publish, or weren't likely to publish.

Now I've suddenly got too many projects!

JA Konrath said...

and type them into my PC and publish them online.

OCR software is much easier. Most new printers come with it. Here are some free versions:

Anonymous said...

Joe, your enthusiasm is infectious. The new royalty structure just kicked in on my single e-book, and the royalty is double this month from the previous month. It was enough to go out to a nice dinner.

My pbooks are still my biggest income earners, but finally, I can give up all my inventory next year, because I found a company that will host my audiobook as a digital download. No more inventory for me! Thank god for POD and MP3. I'm so happy I could write a song about it, if I had any musical talent, that is.

wannabuy said...


Chose your own adventure is back?!?

As a kid I loved those! I thought video games had killed off the genre. It is excellent to hear about the e-book form of them. :)

Christy said:
Joe, your enthusiasm is infectious.
Yes it is! I'm loving reading about the game changing strategies on e-book authoring. My excitement is 'filling out' the long tail of retail on Amazon.

Good luck to all the indie authors.
Its obvious that without the 'gatekeepers' we're going to get better variety.


Ty said...

Joe, thanks for the reminder about OCR. But I think I'll stick with re-typing. Call me old fashioned. Most importantly, it allows me to do some editing while typing.

JA Konrath said...

Chose your own adventure is back?!?

It will be once I publish Banana Hammock.

Selena Kitt said...

God knows I wouldn't have been published by anyone traditional. I never even bothered submitting. Way too controversial for their tastes...even the already-pushing-the-boundaries-of-convention erotic e-publishers.

Their loss. They could have been making a lot of money off of me. And I, for one, am glad they aren't. ;) I recently got my rights back to several works pubbed elsewhere and they're finally back in my own control. Ahhhh. It's a good feeling!

Rex Kusler said...

Figures. As soon as I posted that comment, they changed the spelling of my name again.

Real funny, guys. Hahahahaha...

David Tanner said...

Joe, both of these sound amazing. I really love what you've been doing and am totally excited about the collaboration. I like all the other writers and yourself of course, BUT F. Paul Wilson is one of my favorite writers. So this is great news. Also, like a lot of others here, I grew up on the Choose Your Own Adventure Novels, so that's awesome too.

Any idea on when you'll be able to tell us about the secret project?

Jacob Maraia said...

I've wanted to write a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novel for years! I'm definitely on board for Banana Hammock! Thanks for realizing that books can be fun, man. Can't to see how many ways I can kill off the main character by making bad decisions! Yay!

Thriller Lover said...

Cool to see the return of Choose Your Own Adventure. I'm about Joe's age, and when I was a kid in the early 1980s, those were important gateway books that motivated me to read more fiction. I also remember all the imitations, like the Which Way titles, the D&D titles, and the Time Machine books. I loved all of them.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

I'm not sure I would enjoy reading a lot of deleted scenes. I rarely enjoy watching those on movie DVDs.

But it would be cool to read an alternate ending, assuming both endings were really good and very different. For example, the alternate ending for the 2001 movie, "Joy Ride" was well worth watching.

But you're right, Joe, there are all kinds of exciting possibilities.

Linda Acaster said...

In this eagerness to step around gatekeepers, give added value, add in alternate story threads and video clips, can I draw the reins in for a breather and mention stuff like... copyright breaches, or being sued for, I dunno... distress / whatever... when a buyer pays for and downloads an ebook to find that it isn't just gruesome but, say, includes 'real' videoclips, or is a thinly veiled racist diatribe, or...

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but if we return to the gatekeepers for a minute, anything iffy that was liable to bring this sort of heat would be bounced back as a rejection, and anything borderline would in any case be covered by those clauses in the publishers' contracts which say 'the writer undertakes...' etc.

With neither of these in place in indie authoring, what should *we* have in place as a personal protection in case someone decides to take his/her exception to our work through the courts. Little Jimmy aged 12 downloaded our books and...

We have insurance on our houses, their contents, our vehicles, in case some hoodlum singles us out, either by accident or design. But what about us and our work. Joe's $500 a day won't go far defending a lawsuit. It'll only take one to be splashed all over the news and indie authors will be seen as easy pickings. And we are not just selling to our home countries but to scam artists around the world.

Am I getting paranoid or is this something to be considered?

Archangel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archangel said...

@linda; interesting question. Have a scenario in mind? LIke Palladin press, for instance, sued for publishing book on 'how to' do misdeeds (failed), or publisher of The Turner Diaries (also failed suit I believe) ...or?

I guess given what we see at Coalition Against Censorship re print books being banned, likely the day ebooks are banned or an attempt made on author legally for corruption of minor or some such... the time is likely at hand already

Concerned writers can likely join up the National Writers Union perhaps; they have low cost ins. and have history of defending authors wrongly treated by various.


Linda Acaster said...

@ Archangel: no particular scenario in mind, just general musings.

We here might be cool about not using other people's copyrighted words / photos - don't do it to them, they won't do it to us - but through ignorance or deceit this does happen. And we can make mistakes. How about writing about, say, a service station in a real street in in a real town (or a thinly veiled one) and the named attendant is doing X in the novel. Book published, great reviews, lots of sales... then up pops an ex attendant of a service station in the next road in the same town who *was* charged with the same crime but found not guilty, accusing you of trying to undermine his innocence, etc. Pick any scenario you like, you get the idea. To say nothing of corruption of minor allegations for reading the text, following the links, viewing the embedded videos.

Here in the UK I belong to the Society of Authors which looks out for us against agent/publisher etc infringements, but I don't know about them taking on a case such as this. At the moment there is a big push for us to be 'insured' when going into schools/youth groups, to say nothing of needing to be criminal records checked.

Archangel said...

@Linda: Understand. Thank you. UK law is actually (just speaking only with a brush with law school a few years back; my author friends who ARE lawyers tried to talk me out of it, far more strict about slander than here in US, and your points are well taken.

My sense is Joe K will get around to this subject too as soon as it's in the news again. There have been many cases of authors being sued by whomever... accused of lifting someone else's storyline etc from an unpub'd ms, for instance.


EFKelley said...

I daresay that banana is out of the hammock, and loving every minute of it.

Salud, Joe.

Linda Acaster said...

@Archangel: ...of authors being sued by whomever... accused of lifting someone else's storyline etc from an unpub'd ms, for instance...

Tell me about it! Just been thru a near miss myself. The accusation was about using phrases!! The ****.

Unknown said...

In the UK press today [Sunday] publishers of the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] state they will not publish the next edition as a paper book - rather it will be internet published - not quite an ebook, but an interesting take on the future.

Conda Douglas said...

Joe, what fun!

Jude Hardin said...

Another post on the importance of editors by NYT bestseller Allison Brennan.

JA Konrath said...

F. Paul Wilson is one of my favorite writers.

Mine too. He's a pleasure to work with. Fast, smart, turns in terrific stuff, and able to hold his own with us young 'uns, which is remarkable because Paul is 93 years old.

Jude Hardin said...

You're so full of shit, Joe. LMAO!

John Dax said...

The choose your own adventures are popping up all over Amazon, I'm glad to see the revival of these kinds of stories. The clickable links really do make a big difference, and kindles seem perfect for it.

There's even a romance one I found surfing kindleboards, it's got some nice dark humor mixed in.

Nicole said...

Such exciting ideas Joe - and I LOVED choose your own advertures, wow I hadn't even really thought about all the other things you could do!

Merrill Heath said...

My dad had an idea for a CYOA book a decade before they hit the shelves. He pitched it to his agent who promptly shot it down.

I like the idea of CYOA books for adults. I think they could be fun and the kids who read them before will certainly be willing to give them a look. The ebook format is perfect for CYOA.

Max Brand said...

On Jude's link: Editors are important, or as the post states, good editors are useful, but there are bad editors out there that are harmful. The editing examples in the post could also be done through peer evaluation. An actual professional editor working at a publishing house is not required.

On the thematically linked point of becoming professionally published, I agree with you Jude. Selling one's work to a magazine or book publisher establishes one's 'writerly' credentials and signifies entry into the profession. After that, upload like crazy if you wish.

Max Brand said...

Joe, you shut down anonymous commenting, but also OpenID and other sources. Now only those with Blogger or Google accounts can comment.

David Tanner said...

93? Seriously, come on Joe that can't be right. Especially from what I've heard from other writers, and judging from photos and interviews I've watched. There's no way he's 93. I'd have to go with a hundred and five. At least.

JA Konrath said...

I'd have to go with a hundred and five. At least.

He could be. But he told me 93, and I always respect folks who are old enough to have fought in WWI.

Alex Wilson said...

I am excited by the prospect of inserting a visual into the body of an ebook, i.e, in the description of a room, have a link that would show a still photo of the room. Would that enhance or detract from the text?

Jude Hardin said...

In a previous post (responding to "Trance St. Croix"), Joe wrote: What if I took a bunch of old, forgotten pulps, then republished them under a single name? I wonder if anyone would ever catch on?

If this isn't happening already, I'm sure it will happen eventually. And if the books are in public domain, it's not even illegal. Unethical, yes, but not illegal.

So what's to stop someone from publishing a hundred titles by "Jake Halfapecker" and raking in perpetual handfuls of dough?

I guess, as with all human endeavors--but especially ones that have no gatekeepers--the New Digital Playground comes with the potential for new forms of corruption.

Jack H. H. King said...


Good editors can be beautiful partners. If an author can find one. There are less than 5000 professional editors in the US working on fiction.

The best ones can choose to work with only the books and authors they love. It’s like casual sex between the literary elite. They take a novel that’s 90% hot, make it 3% hotter. The result is chaos theory.

I love my editor. I asked her if she thinks sexy editing increases sales. She does not. She believes it slightly enhances flavor. She considers her job the MSG of literature. The author still needs to bring the meat. The author still needs to bring the onions.

- Jack

JA Konrath said...

Now only those with Blogger or Google accounts can comment.

Google accounts are free, and only take a few seconds to create.

I may go back to allowing all comments, but I've gotten a lot of email from folks who prefer it this way.

Jude Hardin said...

I can't decide if I want to eat dinner now or go out and get laid.

wannabuy said...

Joe said:
I may go back to allowing all comments, but I've gotten a lot of email from folks who prefer it this way.
Please keep off anon comments. People are far more civil when you can bring them to task by a name, even a newly minted google handle.

I keep trying to think of all the sub-impacts implied by the originating post. Basically, this teaming shows how flexible indie authors can be.

What amuses me is that no too few would have wanted to bypass the gatekeepers if the current system was more fair. But the current system has to eliminate content that readers wish to see in order to accommodate the 'tyranny of shelf space.'

Readers will buy what they want to read. It will be interesting when there is the first best seller by an indie author.

Has anyone else noted a sharp drop in book shelf space at big box retailers? Now, this might be due to the summer toys and now holiday crap... But I recall less space normally being dedicated to video games and more to books in prior years. Have we already hit the tipping point?


I still think Christmas 2011 will be the tipping point... but what if?

Thomas Brookside said...


I'm not sure why you'd say that it's unethical to publish public domain content.

Every publisher who publishes Shakespeare is doing just that.

The entire Penguin Classics line did just that.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm not sure why you'd say that it's unethical to publish public domain content.

I'm saying it would be unethical to publish public domain content under a different name than the true author. It's called plagiarism.

Unknown said...

It seems natural that there is more interest in Choose Your Own Adventure books with the popularity of ebooks. I've recently published an ebook choose you own adventure for adults, and like Joe said, writing it was an absolute joy.

If anyone's interested, check out "Whatley Tupper" at Amazon:

Max Brand said...

I agree on prohibiting anonymous comments, but Goggle lets you do that and still allow Open Id, and I believe other non-anonymous sources.

Max Brand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max Brand said...

Yes, the proper way to use public domain content is to borrow bits and pieces without passing them off as your own, and use them in your own material.

The easiest examples are all those Sherlock Holmes stores out there. The authors borrowed Holmes and other characters, and some settings, then wrote their own stories.

But to simply lift sections of a public domain story and claim it as your own is a big no-no.

Mark Asher said...

"In a previous post (responding to "Trance St. Croix"), Joe wrote: What if I took a bunch of old, forgotten pulps, then republished them under a single name? I wonder if anyone would ever catch on?

"If this isn't happening already, I'm sure it will happen eventually. And if the books are in public domain, it's not even illegal. Unethical, yes, but not illegal."

Is this true? I understand that at some point works become public domain, but can you take them and misrepresent them as the work of someone else?

I thought public domain meant they can be reproduced without paying royalties. I didn't know that extended to removing the artist's name and putting a false name in its place.

Thomas Brookside said...

Ah, OK, Jude.

I thought your fake name was just a placeholder for "out of copyright author".

I didn't realize you were talking about someone potentially changing the author's name on a public domain work.

That would certainly be unethical, you're absolutely right.

Suzanne White said...

Joe, There are royalty issues facing all Kindle authors. 35% royalties on books sold "outside the US". And people in the US cannot buy books from Amazon UK and any books sold on Amazon UK only get 35% royalty. I sell e-books from my web sites. It does not cost me more to upload a book to a Fiji Islander than it does to sell one to someone in Chicago. How come we authors are getting reduced royalties on books sold elsewhere? And where the hell is elsewhere? How do we know?

In reply to one of DTP's canned answers, I wrote this letter to DTP this morning"

Dear Amazon DTP Support,

Thank you for your reply which continues to refuse to answer my question.

We Kindle authors all know the rule about books sold outside the US bringing only a 35% royalty.

But what we don't know is WHY. WHY is it more expensive to sell an e-book to a person in Singapore than it is to sell one to someone in Seattle?

Secondly, WHERE are our books that are sold outside the US (and bring us only a 35% royalty) being sold? Where is "outside the US" exactly? We need to be told that. "Someone in Hong Kong bought your book so you only get a 35% royalty" That's easy to indicate with some kind of country codes on the sales reports.

Third, I was told that people outside the UK can't buy from Amazon UK Kindlestore. I need to know why. I need to know how, say, a journalist who travels all over the world and finds him or herself working in France cannot download an e-book from Amazon UK. How come?

Moreover, one needs to know what the UK Kindle market is limited to?

When I make a book contract with a US publisher, that contract only covers U.S., its possessions and Canada.

British Commonwealth rights are sold separately.

So please tell me which countries and territories are considered by Amazon to be US territories & possessions and which ones are not. Does Amazon consider sales in Canada (which is part of the US rights group) to be "outside the US"?

And please also tell me what exactly constitutes the UK market for e-books and why it is that Kindle authors reap only a 35% royalty from books sold in the UK market.

Again, I point out that it does not cost anymore to upload an e-book to Singapore than it does to upload a book to San Francisco.

1) Why are authors being short-changed by Amazon Kindle for sales of their books outside of the US?

2) Why does Amazon Kindle penalize authors for allowing their books to be sold in the UK?

It does not make sense.

If you plan to send me another letter telling me what I already know... (The 70% royalty option is only available for US Kindle store sales to customers in the US. Royalties on US Kindle store sales made outside the US will pay out at 35%. Books sold internationally will be listed separately in your reports from books sold in the U.S.) don't. I have read all the terms and am aware of Kindle's current policies.

If the questions I raise herein are outside of your knowledge base, please take them to someone in your rights department who can answer them cogently. If I don't receive satisfactory answers, I shall take these matters up with the Authors Guild and my IP attorneys. This matter is not only about me. It's about all authors who sell their e-books on Kindle.

Cheers, Suzanne White

Suzanne White said...

Joe and Co.,

There are some serious royalty issues facing all Kindle authors. 35% royalties on books sold "outside the US". And people in the US cannot buy books from Amazon UK and any books sold on Amazon UK only get 35% royalty.
I sell e-books from my web sites. It does not cost me more to upload a book to a Fiji Islander than it does to sell one to someone in Chicago. How come we authors are getting reduced royalties on books sold elsewhere? And where the hell is elsewhere? How do we know? The whole thing smacks of print publishers' opaque royalty statements. We must insist on being told WHY 35% and (if it costs Kindle twice as much to sell them elsewhere) WHERE the hell is this elsewhere?

1) Why are authors being short-changed by Amazon Kindle for sales of their books outside of the US? And where exactly IS outside the US?

2) Why does Amazon Kindle penalize authors for allowing their books to be sold in the UK?

It does not make sense.

Thanks, Suzanne White

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Thanks again, Joe!

A few days ago I commented that my suspense series of four ebooks was selling at a rate of 1,000 books per month (total) on the Kindle Store. Now they're approaching a rate of 2,000 books per month.

This is crazy, Joe. Crazy good. :)

Frank said...

As to the public domain questions, there's already at least one person out there claiming the title of editor on public domain Kindle books. See J. M. Gaffney selling all sorts of public domain books in Kindle editions (Treasure Island, Little Women, etc.) for $2.86.

Now I'm not going to buy his books to see what he thinks he's done as editor. Maybe he added an introduction or some historical perspective, or maybe he just formatted it for the Kindle, but there are free Kindle editions out there for those public domain books, so maybe only those seeking Nigerian fortunes will buy those things.

I just wish he had a different last name from my wife.

Archangel said...

Is there a higher up layer at Amaz that is accessible to authors rather than DTP support, or is that it?


Walter Knight said...

I'm with you. My America's Galactic Foreign Legion series is tearing up Kindle Sci/Fi sales rankings, which spurs more sales.

I expect a good Christmas as many readers find s Kindle under their tree.

Thomas Brookside said...

Suzanne White,

Here is the answer the DTP Help people won't give you:

Because that's our offer. Take it or leave it.


The DTP Support Team

Unknown said...

Then I realized I was in Excel.

That's one of the funniest things I've ever read... and I didn't see it coming.

Ebooks are opening up a whole new world of creativity. And no one can take it away from us now.

We will take over the world! And then write about it...

HL Arledge said...

@Frank Martin said...

The easiest examples are all those Sherlock Holmes stores out there. The authors borrowed Holmes and other characters, and some settings, then wrote their own stories.

Frank, even that's not cut and dried. The characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are trademarked by two dueling factions of Arthur Conan Doyle ancestors. You can't write a Holmes pastiche without one of them signing off.

Although not the most tasteful idea, a better example might be what Quirk Books did with the Jane Austen novels, turning them into co-authored zombie tales.

Derek J. Canyon said...


I'm very interested to hear how Amazon responds.

I'd be really surprised if they changed their policy before competition forces them.

Max Brand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max Brand said...

Anything published in the 1800's or earlier should be safe for 'borrowing'.

As to Sherlock Holmes, the EU has been changing their copyright laws to renew the copyright on public domain works and to extend the copyright term; but in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and other places, anything published before 1923 - and some works published after - is a good bet to be public domain.

So if one were to do a Holmes Pastiche, one could publish it in Canada, U.S. Australia, and so on, but not the EU, without permission from descendants.

HL Arledge said...

@Frank Martin

Check out this link...

For the Heirs to Holmes, a Tangled Web

Max Brand said...

Interesting, but the Holmes books are available as public domain works on several websites in the U.S.

HL Arledge said...

Yea, I believe everything Doyle wrote prior to the last short story collection is public domain now, so we can reprint those all day.

The tricky part is when the trademarks come into play, which are different from copyrights. How do you prove that the character in your pastiche is the Holmes from the public domain stories, but not from those that aren't, AND that your Holmes isn't the trademarked character?

The same is true of Tarzan. Most of Edgar Rice Burrough's work is now public domain, but his family has trademarked both John Carter of Mars and Tarzan. Even Disney's attorneys fell into that trap and paid for it.

Speaking of Disney, most of their animated movies use characters from the public domain, but Disney owns the trademarks. You can write a Snow White story, but your Snow White can't look like theirs, and you can't have a Dwarf named Grumpy.

Max Brand said...

Trademarking public domain characters? So essentially they are public domain and not at the same time. We need Holmes himself to work that one out.

PJ Friel said...

I loved those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. I'll definitely be picking this one up.

I just have to say...Joe, you are off the hook! Unbridled? Oh, nay, nay. That's far too tame a word for you.

Some people run with scissors and call themselves rebels. You, sir, run with a bloody chainsaw!

KellyHitchcock said...

I've been thinking for a long time that someone needed to reinvent the Choose Your Own Adventure book for adults. Well done!

bowerbird said...

joe joe joe joe joe joe joe.

you are _cooking_. :+)

lots of people suspected
the digital format would
free up author creativity
and create new possibility.

but when you asked them
_how_, about all they could
really come up with was the
format, whose origin is print.

you've already leapfrogged
from there. excellent job!

if you get other good ideas
-- ones which cannot be
adequately served by the
relatively primitive kindle
-- i would be more than
willing to do programming
to help you achieve dreams.

let your imagination run wild!


Andrew said...

Imagine if you combined the CYOA idea with the collaboration idea where you set up a set of branching situations and your partners come in and fill in the resulting consequences. You could even have "guest" authors who contribute just a few scenes but who are masters of some kind of situation and act as "cameos" in your novel! Once they finish responding to the branching situations, you come back around again and move the story forward. You could come up with some really stunning IF this way.

Andrew said...

By the way - there is a company that is taking the CYOA style storytelling in the right direction:

Try "Choice of the Dragon" as a good first taste. They seem to have the savvy of releasing the story free on the web, and charging on kindle and iphone.
Great inspiration - they even offer to host and help others create and publish CYOA style stories.