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Copyright-free published books

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Erwin (eblonk10) I'm not sure the topic covers what I mean. Allow me to explain.
In music I have turned to musicians that either make their music available for free or at least do not chase after copying of their work, often relying on a donation system.
I am curious if such a thing, which you come across a lot in music, does also exist in literature. I realize this will pretty much come down to eBooks but I really love to explore such authors and support their work.
I know this rules out the Martin's and the Simmons' (not to mention Tolkien's) of this world but I have a hope the world of truly independent writers is of the same quality as that of musicians, where the independents make much better music than the big names.


Kate O'Hanlon (kateohanlon) | 769 comments The first author that springs to mind is Cory Doctorow, who releases all of his novels online under a creative commons licence concurrent with their traditional publication date.
http://craphound.com/?cat=5


message 3: by Erwin (last edited Nov 05, 2012 07:04AM) (new)

Erwin (eblonk10) Kate wrote: "The first author that springs to mind is Cory Doctorow"

That looks good. CC is a green flag. I'm browsing his site and I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy something. maybe the one with Charles Stross, who I met and had a great time with (plus an interesting conversation) at a small (less than 50 people, guests included) SF convention in 2010.

The exact equivalent to my approach to music would be no association with any big publishing house but right now I feel that is not necessarily a problem. In music that makes me turn away from it but I realize that you can't compare both worlds one-on-one.

Point of clarification: I respect and am not against copyright and such. It's just that I feel, especially in TV/movies/music, things went overboard. I'm not looking for a free ride, I'm looking for the right people to throw my money at.


Doc (doc_coleman) | 21 comments Copyright-free means in the Public Domain. Even Creative Commons works are protected by copyright, they are just licensed to allow people to exercise certain rights without specific permission from the author.

Do you really care if it is Public Domain, or do you just want to find books that you can acquire on the cheap?

Doc


message 5: by Erwin (last edited Nov 05, 2012 07:29AM) (new)

Erwin (eblonk10) Doc wrote: "Copyright-free means in the Public Domain. Even Creative Commons works are protected by copyright, they are just licensed to allow people to exercise certain rights without specific permission from..."

To quote myself: "I am not looking for a free ride". In music I regularly pay the artist 50% or more over the proposed price. In case of free downloads with a donate button, I pay as well.

Neither is it about public domain. This is why my first line was "I'm not sure the topic covers what I mean. Allow me to explain." I'm looking for something that comes close to my approach to music. Saturday at a concert (6 bands) I spent 50 euros on CDs on merchandise. This year I bought something approaching 500 euros worth of music and merchandise from local and non-local independent artists. At least.

I know (not perfectly but well enough) what CC is. Again: I respect copyright. An artist can publish his/her work under any license they choose. It may however be a reason for me to look elsewhere.

Again, it is about throwing money at, what I feel are, the right people. I do realize I can't exactly approach it the way I do music. That's what I'm trying to find out.

or do you just want to find books that you can acquire on the cheap?

I already made it perfectly clear in my original post that I don't.


message 6: by Kate (last edited Nov 05, 2012 07:42AM) (new)

Kate O'Hanlon (kateohanlon) | 769 comments Erwin wrote: "
Again, it is about throwing money at, what I feel are, the right people. I do realize I can't exactly approach it the way I do music. That's what I'm trying to find out. "


I don't think it's possible for writers to emulate unsigned bands to much of a degree, because there's no real equivalent to gigging as a major revenue and promotional tool. They're much more dependent and expectant on a relationship with a publisher.
I tend to see even big six publishers as generally far more sympathetic than record labels though, so it doesn't bother me as much.

Have you tried http://weightlessbooks.com/
It's full of ebooks that are traditionally copyrighted and there is a set price (though I find it very cheap compared with Kindle), but unencumbered by any DRM or region locking, which I tend to use as a white flag for 'small publishers who are not assholes.'
Small Beer, Subterranean and Prime would be my recommendations for a good place to start where your likely to find some authors whose names you recognise along side those you don't.


Bookshelf | 1136 comments This is a generic guide-
http://www.friedbeef.com/best-places-...

Some are free for you to read & for personal use but may still be covered by Creative Commons.
Some authors may put one of their books on line for "free"
The hope being that you'll like it and pay for later books-
You'll occasionally see that on Amazon.


Sky Corbelli | 285 comments Here on Goodreads, you could check out the Indie Book Club, which reads 1-2 indie books a month, or the Indie Book Collective, which... does something, I'm sure.

Also, in case you're not familiar with it, check out https://www.smashwords.com. They're indie friendly, and even help distribute books to places like B&N and iBooks (both retailers normally require an ISBN to post a book, which is a cost most indies won't easily make back). Plus, it's a great place to buy books, as you can download the book in any format for any reader, DRM free.

Honestly, I'm surprised that more authors don't self-publish. I hear stories about people like Anton Strout doing awesome things like donating 1 dollar to WorldBuilders for every pre-order of his new book. Then I find out that, on a $7.99 book, he makes between 48 and 64 cents per sale.

For comparison, a self-published author selling at $7.99 would make $5.60 per sale. I guess he's still reaching all those dead tree readers, but I'd love to see how a publisher justifies taking that kind of cut on an ebook. My mind = boggled.


Darren Humphries (Darrenhf) | 95 comments Loads of small time indies are selling ebooks by self-pubbing on places like Amazon. The forums are full of people doing that, but it's probably best to look for those who are being recommended rather than those who are pushing their books themselves.

There's also a section on here for folks to push their own work.


Rick Sky wrote: "Honestly, I'm surprised that more authors don't self-publish. I hear stories about people like Anton Strout doing awesome things like donating 1 dollar to WorldBuilders for every pre-order of his new book. Then I find out that, on a $7.99 book, he makes between 48 and 64 cents per sale.

For comparison, a self-published author selling at $7.99 would make $5.60 per sale. I guess he's still reaching all those dead tree readers, but I'd love to see how a publisher justifies taking that kind of cut on an ebook. My mind = boggled. "


Because the self-published author needs to go find an editor, cover art, someone to make the Epub, mobi and other files and doublecheck them, a copy editor... and then they need to do some promotion. Sure, they can skip all of that, but then you get a manuscript, not a finished novel.

The issue is that those costs are fixed and upfront... if you pay them you need to sell X copies to make that money back and THEN the extra percentage starts helping. For authors who can do that, self-publishing is a good deal presuming that they want to deal with all of that stuff. Some authors don't want to do it... they want to tell stories and let others take the financial risk and manage the process.

Finally, if you self-publish you're not in bookstores so you dont get that traffic and likely don't get a lot of reviews. You can (and I would) just skip the dead-tree channel, but it's a loss however minor (same for audio books).


Sky Corbelli | 285 comments Rick wrote: "The issue is that those costs are fixed and upfront... if you pay them you need to sell X copies to make that money back and THEN the extra percentage starts helping."

It's true, for an unknown self-publishing author, there are a great many costs that, in all likelihood, won't ever be recuperated.

But what about known authors? Would you care if GRRM released a book without Bantam's help? Would it bother you to not see the little penguin in something written by Tad Williams or Jim Butcher?

In terms of cost... well, real editing can run you maybe $5k (on the high side), and let's say you really splurge and get a cover for $1k, and you think that saving your document in HTML is too hard and pay someone $1k to press the "Save As" button and run it through a free program to convert it to .prc/.ePub/.pdf.

I can't really speak to marketing, but you'll be hard pressed to convince me that the time spent touring the country/world doing book signings couldn't be spent on more meaningful marketing.

So we're looking at maybe $7k, give or take a few thousand, and a change in time management. On a big name author's work, do you have any doubt that the publisher makes that back on the pre-order alone? Hell, if Brandon Sanderson announced a Kickstarter to defray start-up costs for a new book, I'd be the first to kick in. I'd do it with a smile on my face... instead of the bad taste in my mouth that I'm getting from 12.99 ebooks.

So yeah, still boggled and more than a little sad that I'm padding some executive's wallet rather than that of the author. Ah well, I'm probably missing something really obvious that publishers are providing to their authors that isn't easily found elsewhere. I've just never been a fan of bullies, and it feels like the big six are stealing everyone's lunch money.


message 12: by Rick (last edited Nov 06, 2012 02:34PM) (new)

Rick Sky

Known authors certainly could take advantage of things to make significant money (see Barry Eisler). They're a small slice of the authorial universe though and interestingly enough, consider WHY they're known... in most cases it's because they've gained prominence in the traditional publishing world.

However, even for these authors, some things remain as barriers. First, there's the desire or lack thereof to do all of this work. Some don't want to - they want to write and are making a perfectly good living at doing that. John Scalzi, judging by past comments he's made, falls into this group.

Second, past a certain point money stops being a primary motivator for people and various quality of life things become more important. "You could make more money but two months out of the year would need to be devoted to managing editors, etc" - that might not appeal to some authors. Third, agenting would need to evolve. Something that a lot of people don't realize is that a good agent can sell a known author's works in overseas markets and make nice money for the author for basically no incremental work by the author. How that would work for self-published people would need to be figured out... it's not impossible, but it would need to be worked through.

Less well known authors are a very different issue. For them, the several thousand dollar upfront fees might well be a deterrence so they either put out shoddy work that's not edited (or lightly/poorly edited) or they face a steeper climb to profitability. However, it's exciting to see that they now have options that simply didn't exist before - that's nothing but good.

From a reader standpoint we need better ways to discover authors like this but that could be said of a new and midlist authors under the old system too. Goodreads in general and groups like S&L in particular are steps in this direction. For example, the October "What else are you reading" thread mentioned Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series. Since I like the Dresden Files, I tried those and have read four entertaining books by a new to me author. The downside of this is that the mention was incredibly random...

PS: I think your closing comment is narrow-minded and borderline offensive to both publishers and authors. No one is forcing anyone to sign the contracts that they do. If an author wants to self-publish, they can (and some do). Your insinuation strips authors of agency and ignores what publishers actually do provide. I'm all for discussion, but your argument veers awfully close to the "well, if you disagree with me you're on the side of the darkness/a silly, ignorant person because there can't be legitimate reasons for authors to like the current system." Try not to do that, OK?


Sky Corbelli | 285 comments Rick wrote: "I think your closing comment is narrow-minded and borderline offensive to both publishers and authors."

Point taken, that was a bit out of line.

But any system in which one party has all the power is begging for abuse. We saw the whole agency pricing fiasco earlier this year. Mid-list authors generally get the short end of the stick because, as you mentioned, no-one knows about them. And in the end, consumers are going to eat the costs.

Now, to change the topic before I lose any more ground back to the topic at hand, here are a few indie sf/f authors I've found who write good stuff and deserve to get noticed:

Lindsay Buroker
B. Justin Shier
Michael Langlois
Jeffrey M. Poole


message 14: by Kevin (last edited Nov 06, 2012 03:58PM) (new)

Kevin | 431 comments Sky wrote: "Rick wrote: "The issue is that those costs are fixed and upfront... if you pay them you need to sell X copies to make that money back and THEN the extra percentage starts helping."

It's true, for ..."


The fact that there are big name authors who both have the cash reserves and the name recognition to easily make it without a publisher if they wanted too, but choose to stay with their bullying, money stealing overlords anyway, (that's a real naive outlook on publishing btw) should be indication enough that you are indeed missing something.

There are even plenty of authors who started out self published and used their success as a self published author to get a book contract with a major publisher.
From decent successes like Larry Correia and Michael J. Sullivan to best sellers like John Scalzi (he published his first books on his website as a serial, which landed him a book deal), Amanda Hocking (the poster child of the self publishing fanatics, until she signed a book deal), Christopher Paolini (his parents started a company to publish and market his books in the early days) and E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey, or how writing slash fic can get you rich and famous).

Brandon Sanderson (as you bring him up) actually has very interesting lecture on the subject of self publishing where he gives a lot of do's and dont's and explains why it isn't for everyone: http://www.writeaboutdragons.com/home...
http://www.writeaboutdragons.com/home...
and more on that site ...

And this is what John Scalzi has to say on the subject: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2008/05/01...

Basically, a lot of writers just want to write, and not bother with all the hurdles that come with turning a manuscript into a book.


Sky Corbelli | 285 comments Forgot another good one, Simon Stone. He only has out one book, but it's a winner.

KevinB wrote: "Some stuff."

Yeah, I probably read too much of Joe Konrath's blog to actually provide meaningful commentary on the enemy big publishers.

I buy a book because of who wrote it (or because I enjoyed the sample), not because of who edited/published it. I'm still not convinced that a publisher adds enough value to an ebook to justify any significant cut of the profits, but I can respect those who think otherwise. More importantly, at least I found people who care about it enough to argue. That makes my day.


Erwin (eblonk10) I don't have as much time to comment as I'd like to but I want to say I appreciate the discussion. It helps a lot.


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Authors mentioned in this topic

Anton Strout (other topics)
Lindsay Buroker (other topics)
B. Justin Shier (other topics)
Michael Langlois (other topics)
Jeffrey M. Poole (other topics)
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