King’s E-Book Experiment
Stephen King made history last month with his release
of THE PLANT, PART 1, direct from his website (www.stephenking.com.)
to readers in e-book form. This eclipsed his earlier release of RIDING THE BULLET because it bypasses
the publisher and permits downloads on the honor system. For just $1.
How did this work out? As of 7/31/00 Stephen lists
152,132 downloads with 116,200 paid. Of these, 93,200 paid “up front”
with credit cards.
Visit the website for his very open explanation of
plans, advertising cost, etc. It is a fascinating and worthwhile endeavor,
done, by the way, with the permission of his publishers. Kudos to them, and
especially to Stephen King, for trying this out.
Unfortunately, most writers lack the name that Stephen
King has earned, and lack his access to publicity. However, King has amply
demonstrated that the e-book works. This should give all writers
encouragement to try it out for themselves.
Jonathan Tropper’s E-Book
Jonathan Tropper wanted his e-book
PLAN B to sell, and he was little known, so he used a personally developed
e-mail list to promote his own e-book. At the same time, he listed the
book on Amazon.com. This bolstered the LIMITED publicity his own publisher
(St. Martin’s Press) could provide. And sales increased markedly.
Unfortunately, Jonathan hired a
marketing company which unleashed a “torrent of e-mail promoting ‘Plan
B’ to influential people and chat groups,” according to the Wall
Street Journal. This backfired, as many people protested the receipt of
unsolicited ads, and sales fell immediately. (Source:
Matthew Rose, “Author Learns E-Mail Can Sell or Sink a Book,”
Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2000.)
an important lesson here for all of us. Publishing has a generally higher
ethic than other media, and something that may work in a Napster
environment may violate the rules that govern publishing houses. Try to
avoid these pitfalls. Honor copyrights and the rules of business
etiquette. And, as with Jonathan’s case, don’t forget
PUBLISHERS GO FOR E-BOOKS
Publishers are now going forward with e-books in a serious manner,
fitting the new 60-100 page formats and going to market with a series of
offerings. Predictably, they show little concern for the writing community’s
dream that they might go beyond their tried and true stable of writers.
This is a real shame, for their risk is so minimal.
Head in the sand, Ramdom House is now moving forward with 20 original
e-books. Likewise, several “big names” from iPublish, will be
followed by releases from Simon & Schuster and others. (Source: Steven
M. Zeitchik, “Random House Takes the Plunge,” The Industry Standard,
August 14, 2000.)
Publishing New Writers, July, 2000 (no.101)
Editor Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL
60118. Fax (847) 428-8974.
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