Apropos of recent discussion about e-books and short crime fiction comes this interview with Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads, courtesy of an interested reader.
As you might guess from its name, the company publishes e-books. To this publishing outsider, it seemed that Hartman had much of interest to say. Particularly salutary is the reminder that "market forces" is a deceptively benign term. A market winds up the way it does because of specific actions that people take, or do not take when they could or should have.
Among the highlights:
"Untreed Reads didn't initially set out to have such a large focus on short form, but it just happened and the response has been HUGE.and
"The overseas markets are especially hungry for shorts."
"Every retailer out there claiming to offer 70% royalties has some catch: the title has to be purchased in the US, the title has to be priced at $2.99 or more, there's a fee for transmitting the story, there's a fee for processing the credit cards ... SOMETHING. And in those cases the author SHOULD be getting the 70%, because the retailers aren't doing any publicity, promotion, marketing or anything else to help them get the word out. They're not designing covers, they're not formatting the title."and
"Do you know that before Amazon created DTP the average price of an ebook over a ten year span was $5.99 and nobody had any problem paying for it? Then, places like Amazon and Lulu made it possible for anyone to publish their own work. What happened was a huge influx of material into the market filled with poor writing, bad grammar, typos, bad layouts and all sorts of other things that set the ebook industry back years.© Peter Rozovsky 2010
"People weren't willing to trust they were going to get good content because they kept picking up titles that were poorly written and filled with flaws. Then, along came $9.99 pricing which only made things worse. Authors, fearing a backlash to both the $9.99 pricing and the badly written stuff that was hurting the industry, panicked and started setting their prices ridiculously low in an attempt to woo back a jaded audience. The result? The market that it is now. The market still has poorly written material that anyone can throw up there, but it also has some of the BEST material to come along in a long time. After all this, it's not the PUBLISHERS who caused anything over $2.99 to be considered expensive, it's the AUTHORS."