1. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Self-Publishing Directly to public domain

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by daemon, Jun 16, 2014.

    I have an idea for a novel I want to write. My only goals are that it is a good book and that many people around the world read it and discuss it. I do not want people to pay to read it. I want credit for it (or at least partial credit -- see below), but people should feel free to redistribute it and adapt it however they want. The intent is not to benefit myself, but to share an idea that changed my life with other people in hopes that it will also change their lives.

    What are some overall strategies for reaching as wide of an audience as possible with a public domain book? Should I upload it to one place (e.g. a single Google Drive document) and post the link to it on forums and social networks throughout the web? Or should I upload it in many formats to many websites/online marketplaces? Would I be likelier to reach a wider audience by uploading the text to many places all at once, or by spacing out the releases in order to take advantage of the novelty factor over and over again?

    What are some specific tricks to get the book noticed? Some tricks that I can think of include:
    • creating an extremely detailed TVTropes page about the book, and listing the book under all applicable trope pages
    • creating a Goodreads page for it and adding it to many lists
    • including links to said TVTropes and Goodreads pages within the ebook to encourage people to wikify it further and to rate and review it
    What are the best places to publish a public domain book? Which major ebook stores (Kindle, Barnes and Noble, etc.) allow an author to publish an ebook for free download?

    Are there any gotchas that I should know about? Any legal pitfalls of using a normally commercial channel to distribute something that is supposed to remain noncommercial? Any potential blunders that might doom the book to obscurity before it has a chance to develop a reputation?

    Some background: I participate in a fan fiction community. The website has a very streamlined process for posting a story, and it has built-in comment sections, forums, interest groups, and list-building features. It serves as a repository of text, a way to discover stories, and a way to interact with the community. Around 70k stories have been published, all in the public domain. A few of them have over 100k views; about 1k of them have over 10k views each.

    The idea I have in mind was inspired by one of these fanfics. The fanfic resonated with me, but it is trapped within the fan fiction world because (1) it is fan fiction and (2) it is not written expertly enough to gain mainstream popularity or critical acclaim. Within this particular fan fiction community, it is one of the best-known and best-loved stories of all time, with 60k readers, 5k likes, 5k comments, and appearances in many lists and in many forum topics. I think it is an injustice for such an interesting story to reach such a narrow audience. I know it would have the potential to become a classic if it were written in a different setting and if it were professionally edited.

    Therefore, I want to adapt the main ideas into a story that is not fan fiction. (Remember, the fanfic is already in the public domain, and I would give ample credit to the fanfic as the source of derivation). I really have no idea what to expect. On one hand, the fan fiction website gives stories an enormous head start -- but only in the race to reach readers who are already interested in fan fiction. On the other hand, it locks those same stories within that narrow niche.

    What kind of endeavor am I getting myself into? Do I have a shot at surpassing 60k readers? How about a shot at getting my book reviewed by well-known reviewers?
     
  2. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    Amazon do not allow you to distribute eBooks through them for free. If you do make your work available through Amazon KDP however, you can give it away for free for limited periods of time so as to generate interest and find readers. I believe that in order to do this, Amazon must be your sole distributor.

    Smashwords does allow you to give away books for free, but has a much smaller customer base.

    Wattpad is a lively community based around people publishing stories for free. There are several other similar websites, but none come to mind at the moment.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    One small issue: If you declare the work public domain, you will have no control whatsoever over it. That means that you won't be able to demand that you be given credit.

    You can still give it away for free, authorize people to create derivative works, and so on. But the term "public domain" means that you have given up copyright, and when you do that, you have given up all rights. People can, among other things, take it, create derivative works, and copyright and sell those works, without giving you any credit whatsoever.
     
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  4. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    If I were you, I'd do what I could to up the quality of the story then publish it in a literary magazine. You won't make any money (or not much unless you get in with one of the larger magazines) but you will then be able to use the already established marketing power of the magazine without having to do much legwork yourself. You will get the credit of being published (though some say that if you don't make any money, you're not actually published. I disagree---I say if your story has undergone some sort of selection process by an industry professional and receives some degree of professional editing, it is published).

    If that doesn't appeal, you could try somewhere like Wattpad just to get the story out and read.
     
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  5. chandrasurya
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    chandrasurya New Member

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    So wait, this story is not yours? The fanfiction one, I mean.
     
  6. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did not write the fanfic.

    Why do you ask?
     
  7. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    I'm not a lawyer, (though I do sometimes play one on the internet,) Here's what I understand from talking to a lawyer. If it's Public Domain, people can rewrite it, illustrate it, even turn it into a movie all without giving you credit or staying true the original. It sounds like what you want is come kind Creative Commons license. This way, people are free to give it away, but not modify it. And they have to give credit to you.
     
  8. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just sayin': Thank you for wanting to do this. I'd answer your questions, but I only know nothing.
     

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