1. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Publishing Online for Free

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by seta, Jun 23, 2009.

    I don't know if this has been done... I know that some books are available for free to download online.

    But what about hosting your book on a website meant to be read online and making money with ads?

    I'm all about free things like Pandora, and I like the idea of providing entertaining for free. I just switched to Linux, which is free.

    I don't know. I probably won't try it with my first book. Any thoughts?
     
  2. JayTokes
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    JayTokes Member

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    The difficulty I see with this is that internet ad payout is based either on page visits or, as it appears is more common these days, click-throughs.

    In a page visit system, the amount of money you receive from the advertisement is based on the number of visits to your page on a monthly basis. Sometimes those visits need to be unique (meaning that they aren't the same person visiting repeatedly), and sometimes they don't. To be profitable in this situation, you would need to be sure that your page is consistently receiving high traffic over a period of months or more.

    In a click-through system (like with Google Ads), payout is based upon the number of people who click on the ads. Profit here would require that you have a page that is visited often, as with the other system, and you would hope that people click through to the advertisers' websites.

    Either way, I don't see a book published online as you described being profitable. Primarily because there isn't a need for people to repeatedly visit your site over the course of a long period of time. Once they've visited as often as necessary to read your story, they'll never (or rarely) go back. Or perhaps they'll only ever visit once; that's just long enough to print out the entire story or save it to a hard drive and never look back.

    Now while I don't see the system being profitable, I could see it being sustainable. If you set up a chapter or page system, where moving to the next chapter or page involved visiting a new page (with more ads), then perhaps the website would generate enough money to cover the costs of maintaining a website. If you're simply interested in getting your work out there through a site you own and control with no cost to yourself, then I definitely would go down this path.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you do, you can forget about selling that piece of writing to a real publisher.
     
  4. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    I don't see why he couldn't, Cory Doctorow did the same thing with Little Brother, and he had no problem putting the novel in the internet for free. It's licensed in CC, OP, do you know what that is? I assume you do :). About the only thing you can't do with his novel is share the cover artwork, which is the publisher's property, but the novel itself is downloadable for free in Cory's website, and it still managed to get to #8 in the New York Times Bestseller list. Don't be negative about new things guys : ).
     
  5. diamonds overun
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    diamonds overun Member

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    It would have to be an exceptional story to have been handed out for free, then picked up by a publisher.

    After all arent all publishers business people? Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?
     
  6. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    I would never in a million years do that myself..

    First of all, it implies (to me, maybe I'm wrong) that my book is somehow not worth actually being published. I'm working hard on my book and there is no way in hell I'm just putting it online for people to read.

    Secondly, I would never read a book online myself. Hell, I have a difficult time even reading through some of the longer pieces in the reviewing forums and reading through my OWN book is a problem sometimes. It hurts my eyes. When I get into a novel, I want to be cuddled in bed or in a hot bath, not sitting at the computer. I suspect most people feel the same. In fact, a lot of my friends have requested that I print out parts of my novel so they can check it out, because they "can't read online". Same reason, it's uncomfortable and it hurts their eyes.

    As diamonds said, why buy the cow when you get the milk for free? I think putting a novel up online-unless of course you have already made a successful name for yourself, like Stephen King-implies a lack of confidence in your book.. I feel similar about self publishing.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If it is "published" for free dowload FIRST, You ain't gonna find a publisher willing to enter into a contract with you for it. Unless of course, you are already an established author with a guaranteed loyal printg market.

    Oh, wait. In that case you already HAVE a publisher willing to publish your writing.

    No publisher is going to take a chance on making a profit on a book which is already available gratis.

    Free online publishing is the new vanity press market. If you are serious about getting published based on the merits of your writing, don't take those shortcuts. They go nowhere you really want to go.
     
  8. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Thanks guys. I understand that a publisher might not want to pick up a project if it's free online.

    About the page thing, I would set it up so that each "page" of a paper-back (roughly 250 words) was it's own "page" on the website, probably using a free template from OSWD.org (I've used it before).

    Also, Google Adsense will also pay out based on "impressions" - which is not a per-click scheme. I'm not sure exactly how impressions work. All I know is that traffic helps boost it.

    About the quality/merit thing, as I stated originally, it's not about merit or quality it's about sharing. It's more of a moral thing than anything else.

    Like I said, I probably won't try it for my first book, but I might try it later on.

    ~~~

    If I did, I'd use a small "floating-box" type template. Being that it's smaller, it's easier for your eyes to scan and keep track of your place.

    Actually, I think I might try it for my former "prologue" - I'll publish it as a short story leading up to my actually book.
     
  9. AceKevin
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    AceKevin New Member

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    Counterexample: John Dies at the End

    I'll never say it's common, or even a great idea, but David Wong's book is coming up on it's 3rd special edition reprinting. It was up for free for a year after its second print run. Just pointing out that it's not an impossibility.
     
  10. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    He's kind of exceptional though; he had been and still is a regular comedy writer with a large fan base when he first wrote that novel and published it online, so it wouldn't have been as risky for publishers.
     
  11. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    It isn't impossible to keep selling a piece that is available for free online, but honestly, and I speak from experience, publishers will very rarely accept anything that has been, or is, available online for free. They want a book/poem that is marketable, they want a book/pome, that people are going to want to buy and read, if they can read it online for free, they are less likely to want to buy it. Why go out and buy vegetables in the shop, when the farmer gives them to you from his farm for free and brings them to your door?

    Simple fact is, that while you are just starting out, you are better to send your work directly to a publisher or try to get an agent. Don't go with the self-publishing route. There are publishers out there who just think that is lazy and especially if what you have self-published is of poor quality(requiring a lot of editing). I have seen, in one case, where a young woman has sent her novel to publishers, it was rejected, and so she self-published it, decided to put a charity behind it, donating very few proceeds to a charity, and many people have stated that the book is poorly written and needs a great deal of work. The same person has then gone on to open her own ezine and is publishing her own work and others, and she is a very poor writer herself. Yes, getting into the publishing world is all about getting your name out there, getting a fan base, getting known! But, at the same time, you want to get out there and be a 'known' writer for the high quality of your work. Not because it lacks quality and looks like a draft.

    Go through the right connections to begin with, get some top feedback and find out where the piece needs to be improved upon and get paid for the piece. You can get a one off payment, or you can get royalties. But it is definitely the better way to go until you know that you can produce a high quality piece that people will actually enjoy.

    Hope some of this is of some help.

    Torana
     
  12. AceKevin
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    AceKevin New Member

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    Again, I'll never say it's the best possible route, but another obvious example are webcomics. Penny Arcade, Order of the Stick, Perry Bible Fellowship, and several others are available online for free in their entirety, but they get picked up by publishers. And things like Joey Comeau's Overqualified or the blog Stuff White People Like.

    I think it's coming more into vogue, and should be considered a viable option, though not the best one, and certainly not the best one if you want to be taken seriously in literary circles. And really, does anyone think of being taken seriously in literary circles as anything but an insult these days?
     
  13. nativesodlier
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    nativesodlier Member

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    Some people love the milk so much that they purchase the cow as a memento of the great tasting milk.

    slot of people I know own bootleg everything; books, movies and music. if they liked it, they go out an buy it to show their appreciation for a job well done. plus a lot of people take pride in their book collection and a printed out copy of someones work doesn't carry the same impression. I'm a great example of this. I read most of the Douglas Adam's books in ebook forum that I printed. went out. bought them all and the others I had yet to read.

    Also, a lot people, like myself, hate reading too long on my lap top and would rather hold it and have it be more portable than a laptop or desk top.

    furthermore, the people that are more likely to download the free copy would have most likely never bought it anyways.

    so sure Torana he may bring the free vegetables to your front door but they are of a lesser grade, and as a culture we have proven that even if we have everything we need and a "flashier" version comes along, we want it.
     
  14. J_F
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    J_F Member

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    I don't mean to throw this thread off course, but all the posts I've read discuss self-publishing a novel and marketing it for free. Well, what about self-publishing a novel say on lulu.com, and actually selling it for money? And not just a digital copy -- but softcovers. I ask because that seems like a route that is strategic to take if you intended on getting a real publisher. If they see people are actually purchasing your novel, would they not want to make a deal with you?

    I have no experience in the publishing world, so I apologize if I'm spewing toothpaste onto the ground. But it's something I've always been curious about.
     
  15. nativesodlier
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    nativesodlier Member

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    I don't have any experience either but I think that if a company sees something selling with no professional assistance would see the potential of it with assistant so yeah, i think your right.
     
  16. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I'm sorry to say, but I feel like many responses to my original idea missed the point entirely.

    I meant to imply going about publishing in an entirely different way. To hell with the normal publishers. I would put my book, in it's entirety, online for free and recover my costs through advertising. If I did this, I would never "then go to a normal publisher" - why does everyone keep bringing this up? Publishing through a normal means was never the intent of this thread.

    And anyways, it's not "free" - the reader would have to see ads on the sides of the page.

    It costs about $15-$30 per year to host a basic website with GoDaddy. I'm sure that Adsense could recover that cost rather quickly if I were to post a decent novel online.

    Of course, as someone pointed out, I could distribute online through lulu.com or something like that.

    The whole point of this thread was to break conventional ideas, to make the best use of modern technology.
     
  17. TWErvin2
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    Consider how many ezines fail to make a profit and go under using efforts to get advertisements and clicks on pop-ups on their websites.

    Maybe it is the content that isn't quite good enough to draw enough readers, but unless there is a huge volume, I don't think it'll work. Most readers are going to go to the website with a posted serial novel and read, probably doing their best to ignore the ads. And if the ads get too obnoxious, it may deter readers from showing up.

    Now, there are some blogs that do earn money through advertisement, so it isn't impossible, but I think it is a slightly different animal than a novel online.

    As to the other direction this thread took--publishing online (personal website or blog) will deter the vast majority of publishers from even considering your novel. Has it been done successfully? Yes. Skalzi's Old Man's War was picked up by Tor after being published online. But I think it will increase the odds against possible success--which are already pretty long. However, if one is able to prove great activity and interest it could be a positive selling point. That would be the trick. As most folks who have websites know, just having one online doesn't draw eyes to it.

    Terry
     
  18. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I certainly know how difficult it is to attract attention...
     

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