3/03/2012

Coming up from BIAJ: Hal Duncan and Duncan Lunan

I got the text file for Hal's Escape from Hell the other day and it took maybe an hour or so to check over and revise the formatting in Scrivener before outputting it as a Kindle-compatible file, which so far looks pretty good. I'll probably get around to uploading it to Amazon in the next week or so. The only question really remaining for me is, how much to charge? It's a novella, rather than a novel (as Hal pointed out in the pub the other day), just scraping in at forty thousand words. Which brings up the classic question, do you value it by the quality, or the length?

My gut reaction right now is to price it at a fiver in the UK, and five dollars in the US, selling it for a lot more than other BIAJ releases (I don't however, rule out dropping the price after the first six months). Previous releases so far have been of older books, mostly out of print or ones or small-press publications with limited print-runs. Because they're older, less 'current' it makes sense to price those other books at, say, £1.99 in the UK, $3 in the US. Hal's book, however, is a bit more recent. He has a higher profile, with a couple of bestsellers out in the fairly recent past.

Another thing that affects a pricing decision is the gradual evolution of what people now call the 'indie publishing market on Amazon. Where people most commonly priced their books at the lowest possible value allowed by Amazon once they opened themselves up to self-pubishing, those same self-published authors and 'boutique' operations like BIAJ are now raising their prices. People understand that if their work is truly of good quality, then people will, hopefully, pay for that.

I've certainly bought indie books - but they've all so far been by authors who were already traditionally published, either now or in the past. I have self-published books on my Kindle by Jonathan Carroll, Simon Ings, Rudy Rucker, KW Jeter, William Barton and a number of others, all wonderful influential writers. This is the primary reason why everything BIAJ publishes is by writers who have already proven themselves by making sales in the traditional short story or novel markets. I don't need to edit them - usually - because they've already been professionally edited. I do proofread them, in case of errors of translation from one format to another. I also get the authors to re-read them following that proofing. Some are easy to set up: Escape from Hell! took literally five minutes on receipt of the file (followed by an hour's worth of formatting in Scrivener).

The shift in pricing also has to do with the recognition that those books which are huge indie sellers are those with the broadest possible appeal. A lot of people downloaded Fergus Bannon's Judgement when I made it intermittently free, but were they the right audience? It's far, far from being a traditional thriller, and probably has a great deal more in common with the work of authors like Rudy Rucker and KW Jeter. People who are used to reading Bourne books are not going to be able to get their heads around a book as desperately WTF as Judgement proves to be once it reaches its denouement.

The thinking goes, then, that it's worth raising prices so that a book can reach the right audience. Meaning, those people who will actually understand what they are reading. Now, people self-publishing on Amazon are seeking not just any audience, but the right audience for their work.

And that's the thinking right now for Hal's forthcoming ebook.

In other news, I've been working on a collection of novelettes (I can never remember which is which) by Duncan Lunan, who has written extensively for Analog and Asimov's. The collection features at least one Nebula-nominated story, With Time Comes Concorde. You can expect to see that, maybe, later this month.
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