Friday, July 15, 2011

Selling Your Own E-books: Dana Stabenow Reports

Introduction by Dana Stabenow:

Scott Gere has been my webmaster from my first website. Along the way, we’ve talked a lot about the publishing business, as I watched and mourned my backlist going slowly and inexorably out of print.

Inevitably, e-books showed up in our brainstorming sessions - and last year he said, “Let’s just do it.”

We had no idea if we would make any money. I was petrified that his company would be out-of-pocket on expenses and not only would my e-books go away, but he’d fire me as his website client, too.

Everything of course took a lot longer than we thought it would, but Fire and Ice, my first Liam Campbell novel, went up last year three days before Christmas. Since then, we’ve been averaging about a book a month. When we’re a little farther into this process, I’ll be blogging about it with real numbers, but for now let me just say that the results have exceeded everyone’s expectations, and that no one is out-of-pocket.

Gere Donovan Press (GDP) is scanning, formatting and proofing the books, giving them terrific covers and minding the store (specifically putting the books up on iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble and collecting and dispersing the income). Now they've come up with a nifty way for me to sell books through my website, which is currently active on stabenow.com (http://www.stabenow.com/e-books).

Scott wrote about our project on the GDP website, and SinC reblogs his post here for you today:

[From press.geredonovan.com]:

You may have recently encountered a wee web application that we’ve been working on. Indeed, the odds are good that its footer provided the link that brought you here.

Who is Bridgit, you ask, and what does she have to do with your eBook purchase?

Bridgit is a lightweight eBookstore cart solution, currently under development by Gere Donovan Press. Named in part for St. Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of printing presses (who was herself named for the Celtic goddess of Wisdom), Bridgit will enable small publishing houses, self-published authors and others to easily accept credit card payments in exchange for time-limited, DRM-free eBook downloads. It allows you to cut out the middle man, and bridges the gap (ouch). [Note: DRM, or digital rights management, is referred to by some as digital restrictions management.]

Bridgit assumes that the parent site provides all of the product information. Place an add-to-cart button on the book’s page, targeting your Bridgit instance, and we handle the rest. Bridgit processes the financial details of the transaction, generates download links that are unique to the customer and emails them a receipt. Books are provided in both .mobi and .ePub formats, via links which are valid for 24 hours.

In that no DRM has proven to be proof against piracy, while virtually all DRM has been shown to annoy honest people who just want to move their files from one device to another, Bridgit’s downloads are DRM-free. As devices and file types evolve, Bridgit may expand her horizons a bit… we’ll see what the market wants.

To experience Bridgit for yourself, [take a look at] one of the fine GDP eBooks from Stabenow.com. If you’re interested in discussing how Bridgit could be used to handle your own eBook transactions, or want to tell us what you think Bridgit should do, please drop us a line at press@geredonovan.com.


Dana Stabenow is the award-winning author of the 18-book Kate Shugak mystery series, the four-book Liam Campbell mystery series and the three-book Star Svensdotter science fiction series. The most recent title in the Kate Shugak series is Though Not Dead, a mystery set in contemporary Alaska that includes more than a passing mention of Dashiell Hammett's Army days in the Aleutian Islands during World War II.


8 comments:

Shel said...

Thank you Dana! In my opinion, you and Gere Donovan Press are a shining example of how to do it right when it comes to ebooks. Yeah it took awhile, but the result has been MORE than worth the wait. Thank you again!

Dana Stabenow said...

Thanks, Shel! The feedback we're getting shows how much good proofing really matters to readers. One wonderful thing about e-books is that if you have an e-publisher who is on the ball, when readers point out errors they can be corrected within 24 hours. E.g., go here http://www.stabenow.com/2011/07/11/play-with-fire-now-available-in-eformat and read the comments.

Anonymous said...

Any chance that in the longer series that a bulk deal will be offered ? As an example, I have all the Kate Shugaks except for the last 2 in paper, but if I could get the earlier volumes at 3$ or so if I bought some largish number like 8, I'd do it.

Dana Stabenow said...

Ah, pricing. We're still working on that, and I think everyone else is, too. We're all looking for the sweet spot, where a writer can make a living and the reader feels that they are getting value for their dollar.

Publishing has acculturated readers to thirty percent discounts at B&N, and first printings at Costco for $13.49, and almost half off at Amazon. And then there are John Locke and Amanda Hocking, who have made 99 cents per ebook seem the expected price.

We're not there yet. We've priced our books at $4.99, which is lower than Amazon's $10 and the publisher's $25. But! We also just lowered the price on the Liam Campbell novels for a limited time, to $2.99, mostly just to see what would happen. Too soon yet to say if that was a good or bad decision. That's another great thing about e-publishing--it's the wild, wild west out there, it's manifest destiny and unexplored territory. You can build what you want.

Of course, all our experience thus far is based on backlist. When I get around to publishing original content in ebooks, there will be a whole new discussion.

Mel - Perth AU said...

I got my first Dana Stabenow book(Liam No.1) about 2 weeks ago from amazon being time poor I haven't had time to read it yet but I read about your new DRM free ebook project and really wanted to show support so I have now purchased 2 more, Thank You and I hope many other authors follow your lead and join the Bridgit project

Dana Stabenow said...

Appreciate the support, Mel. Scott and I have an ongoing conversation about DRM. We believe that those who steal books via pirated torrent and zip downloads are in the minority, that most people are honest, and that's how we're going to run this.

Dana Stabenow said...

Go here http://www.thepassivevoice.com/07/2011/how-do-you-find-good-reasonably-priced-ebooks/ to read a post on The Passive Voice about how to find good, reasonably priced ebooks. That, too, is a topic of great interest to us. The Web is very large, with many loud voices. How does the writer cut through the noise and show up on the reader's radar? Online reviews? Google and Facebook ads? Do we still tour? Do signed hardcopies still matter? Who counts e-sales to get us on the bestseller lists publishers love so well?

Rhetorical questions for now, but we need real answers that will come only from experience, and our sharing of those experiences.

Jeanine H from Oklahoma said...

Well I should be making the statistics look better. I just got a Kindle for Christmas and I'm on my sixth (and probably more) books for ONE MONTH (January)!! I'm SOOOO excited because my husband and I had ALL the Kate Shugak series in paperback but I couldn't read that print any more. Plus we'd both read the series enough times they were falling apart! SOOO, ta-da my extra Christmas money has gone to reading Kate AGAIN!!!! in very large Kindle print!!!