On book publishing: all the tools are there

by Jason Preston on November 19, 2008

Every now and then people wring their hands about fiction writing and how it’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’. (How the crap am I supposed to punctuate that?) But the fact of the matter is that the tools are already there for fiction authors.

The only thing I’ll really miss is the secondhand book market, and that’s going to take a while to die.

I was reading this post on Mediashift about the death of pulp magazines, a subject that always elicits more sympathy than you’d think, seeing as how nobody subscribes to them, when it occurred to me that if no one else was already doing it, I should start doing this.

Of course, they are already doing it, and although it’s a bit ugly and definitely early in the game, they do seem to be doing things the right way: freemium content.

I think news works best using a metered content model because when you present news you have a tricky moral dilemma, which is that more people reading more news is always the best option for society. So putting up a wall is actually counterproductive to the cause, if not to your wallet.

In fiction, nobody has a right to enjoy the story you’ve just created, and it’s perfectly legitimate to ask them to pay you money if they want to read your work.

Between off-the-shelf online payment systems, the kindle, the sony e-book readers, and any number of other digital products that are going to start letting you move long-form fiction from the computer screen (sucks to read) to your armchair (perfect to read), I think we’ll see a lot more authors moving to “digital pulps.”

In fact, I think that when I finally do finish my stupid already-one-and-a-half-year long short story project, I’ll shop it first to the editors at Book View Cafe as a free short they can offer.

Jason often blathers about publishing at Eat Sleep Publish. If you want more nonsense, subscribe to the RSS feed.


1 Amy Sterling 11.19.08 at 8:49 pm

I think you should do that, Jason! Better finish that story because you’ve got at least one future reader here (if it’s “freemium” that is).

2 Becky 11.19.08 at 11:07 pm

Yes you should finish. I too would read. What do you have to lose? If anything, if your story doesn’t make it as big as you would like, you can always have a funeral for the story, as Mary Patrick Kavanaugh did after several failed attempts to publish her book.

3 Jason Preston 11.21.08 at 12:46 pm

Amy and Becky – Thanks! I keep kicking myself to get going on the story, but it’s a long process, given everything else I keep busy with.

And I freaking love the idea of Mary’s book funeral. That is awesome.

4 Barbara Rice DeShong, Ph.D. 11.23.08 at 7:01 pm

I was at a workshop recently where Dennis LeHane admitted he had a 400,000 words ms. to clean up.
Go for it.

5 Becky 11.23.08 at 10:02 pm

I know… I thought Mary’s idea was pretty cool too!

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