Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, December 08, 2006

Wise Men, Bearing Gifts

by Kerry Blair

After reading Rob’s last blog I worry that I don’t have a “ghost of a chance” of selling my new book when it comes out in January. Not only does it have “ghost” in the title – something Rob fears doesn’t “seem to jive with our understanding of the spirit world,” it’s also the second book in a series. (A serial, in other words.) While I did manage to convince my perfectly marvelous publisher to take a chance on it, Rob’s observation that this kind of book “just ain’t sellin’” in our market is probably dead-on. (Forgive the pun. I’m trying to laugh so I don’t cry.) What to do? Well, if I can’t sell my books, maybe I can give them away.

I’m not kidding. A friend recently forwarded an article by a bestselling science fiction author who does exactly that – gives his books away, I mean. The guy’s name is Cory Doctorow and he started doing this when his first book was published by Tor in 2003. Really. He not only made the entire text available electronically, he encouraged people to run it off and pass it around. So far, 700,000 people have taken him up on the offer. He writes in Forbes, “Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’t lost any sales, I’ve just won an audience.”

And does that new audience do him any good from a financial standpoint? Doctorow thinks so. He continues, “. . . giving away e-books sells printed books. What’s more, having my books more widely read opens many other opportunities for me to earn a living from activities around my writing . . . My fans’ tireless evangelism for my work doesn’t just sell books – it sells me.”

Well, I’m sold. And I’m not above imitation, either. By this time next week I’ll have a novel up on my site that is ready to download and 100% free. If you don’t agree with me that Doctorow’s ploy may be brilliant, then think of this e-book as an early Christmas gift.

Speaking of brilliant -- and people who come bearing gifts -- the same friend who sent me the link to Forbes originally wrote to tell me of a new venture he has undertaken. I think you'll be as intrigued by the idea as I am. In his words (well, mostly):

The site is called Choose The Right Stories and it’s free to everyone. is open for stories of every genre written for every age group. The stories share a consistent adherence to the standards set forth in the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth. The name is a double-entendre. You’re choosing stories that have the right standards . . . and you’re choosing stories that are right for you. The concept is that authors can post the chapters of their stories on this site as they complete them. Family and friends (and anybody else with an Internet connection) can then read as they go and provide valuable feedback. The authors get to see how good their story is, receive ideas for how to improve it, and build a following that could help them get published. (Or more widely read if they are already published.) The readers get to read books “hot off the keyboard” and it costs them nothing! The web site encourages readers to sign up to be notified any time a new chapter is posted. It’s also configured so that you can forward what you’re reading to family and friends.

Isn’t that a stunning idea? And there’s no catch for readers or writers. Joe Free, the founder, is simply one of the truly inspired, genuinely giving people with whom we share this planet. Check out his brainchild HERE.

And never say I didn’t give you anything for Christmas this year.

NOTE: If you'd like the link to Doctorow's article, write to me and I'll forward it. I'm not including it here because while I thought the article itself was great, when I followed the accompanying link to his web site I found content that many of this site's readers would find offensive. (Like me, for instance.) Therefore, I'm in no way endorsing this guy; I'm just saying that I found his idea for self-promotion compelling. On the other hand, I will endorse, recommend, and money-back-guarantee Joe's CTR site. Check it out!


At 12/08/2006 3:12 PM, Blogger ChillyGator said...

Yay! I was anxiously awaiting your post and am very excited for your early Christmas present. You are, as always, the best (o:

P.S. As a Christmas present for you I have little pieces of pink dryer lint that keeps showing up in the weirdest places, it's a wonder I have any blanket left.

At 12/08/2006 3:15 PM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...


Now you're talking my language, sister! I have followed Cory for about two years, and am very glad that there are 'trail blazers' like him out there. I really believe you will see more and more authors doing this, and quite frankly I'm tickled pink that you are doing this with your book. I have done it with my second book as well, though I'm not sure if I will be able to keep it up when the book comes out next spring.

This kind of 'openness' really does work in a lot of situations. You don't get rewarded in the traditional sense, but there are so many other opportunities that come around to you because your book reaches a wider audience.

Best of luck with your book.


At 12/08/2006 4:35 PM, Blogger FHL said...

soooo, does that mean that you won't be publishing your book by conventional means? I'd much rather have a bound book because:

1) I spend enough time in front of the computer as it is - I don't want to read a book online

2) Aw, man, I have to print the thing out? That doesn't sound like fun.

I would probably be willing to try it, though, for one of your books, Kerry. Maybe. (I'd rather buy the book, though.)

Note that Rob isn't saying that serials (or series) don't sell - he's just saying that the TV versions don't translate into novels very well.

(ooh, ideas for a ghost title: Ghost to Show You; All the Ghosts of Heaven or Heavenly Ghosts)

--Wise Guy, Bearing Grin

At 12/08/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Well, you just stole my post idea for tomorrow, Kerry. :)

JA Konrath is a mystery author (he writes a blog that I really enjoy, full of lots of useful tips and suggestions) who said (and I agree) that the best way to build an audience would be to give away 50,000 books for free. As his publisher wasn't willing to foot the bill, he decided to put out free e-books that are from manuscripts that he thinks are publishing worthy, but no one wanted to buy them (manuscripts he finished before he sold his now successful novels). They're techno thrillers and not quite what he writes now, but he's hoping that people will get hooked and want to buy his regular books.

I've been cursing myself that I don't have anything like that to offer.

At 12/09/2006 9:29 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Just Ghost to Show You. I love it, fhl! It's much better than the actual title which is "Ghost of a Chance."

Sariah, I'm not sure it's possible to "steal" an idea that I never knew you had. :-) And put it up anyway. This is all new to me, I'd love to hear more!

Matthew, where is that book of yours posted, anyway?


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