Posts Tagged ‘sales’

I sometimes feel I’m a man(child) of two worlds – born in ’88, I did most of my growing up in the 90’s before the internet and the digital space *really* took off. Because my Mum didn’t really see the point in the World Wide Web at the time (all I did was look up Porn), we didn’t get Broadband until the Phone companies had decided it was the future and aggressively priced separate broadband deals to be very attractive. Also, I begged a lot. Anyway, the point is I like to think I grew up with an appreciation of both ‘traditional’ media – books, CD’s DVD’s etc., as well as the emergence of digital/cloud/whatever content. Watching various industries deal with ‘teh interwebs’, even tech-grounded ones like videogames, is quite fascinating as a result.

I got distracted again today by a couple of tweets from John Scalzi – a sci-fi author whose work I really enjoy – and it got me looking at articles and posts about Author Salaries, Publishing vs. Self-Publishing and all that jazz. I’m trying not to do too much, as the more I read the more uncertain I become and I really need to get a first draft of Project Author finished before I even think about looking into how and where I’m going to sell it. Still, this one particular article interested me, mainly because of the parallels I can draw with the videogames industry.

In his ‘7K report‘, Hugh Howey tries to use what little data he has to draw some conclusions about Ebooks, their impact on the book industry, and what authors may or may not be earning through self-publishing as opposed to ‘traditional’ publishing houses. Obviously, the data he has access to is limited, and so he can only deduce so much. It’s not so much that bit of article that had me interested (even though it IS useful information to read), but it’s the fact that the Book Industry is also struggling with trying to fathom just how impactful the digital space really is. I’d like to think we’re over that particular hump now on the videogames side of things – everyone has realised that no, PC Gaming isn’t dying and Steam really is a force to be reckoned with, and even outlets like MCV have tried to provide concrete data on digital sales, to give a more accurate picture on how well our industry is doing.

Book publishing still seems to be struggling with this still, with no-one seeming to know what’s really going on. Obviously, the two industries are completely different, so there are certain things you could look too – there’s no equivalent of ‘Steam’, for example (as much as Amazon like to think they are, I guess), there’s been no break-out success like Minecraft or anything to point to how good self-publishing/digital can be, and then of course there’s the whole ‘DLC’ thing which has allowed traditional publishers to have the best of both worlds.

I can’t help but wonder why there seems to be resistance to digital ebooks – it’s well documented how much money is spent on publishing even a single book, an eliminating the physical book part of that would help a lot – it would also help authors get better deals.

As I mentioned last time, this is what is making me hesitate from going into traditional publishing. I know why the rates are what they are, I can respect it, but it doesn’t mean I like it. I’d rather go back to them later down the line with some stats and some gravitas behind me, so that I’ve earned a better deal.

I’m also going to make a vow (Again) to blog more, as if this author malarkey stuff is going to work, I need to develop a bigger audience and voice. We’ll see how well it goes this time.

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I like Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I’ve only really been introduced to them relatively recently, as I don’t really read around much. But their site is simple, they’re PC guys (Like me, at heart), and I like their wide range of voices and creative writing. I’ve met a couple of them as well, Quintin especially is a very nice guy, and always a pleasure to hang around with… would love to write for those guys sometime.

Anyway, one of their main chaps – John Walker – posted this up a couple of days ago. Their ‘No Oceans’ initiative is something they’ve talked about before, but this time they’ve gone ahead and set up a petition and everything that you can sign. Basically, the RPS lot (like a lot of gamers I imagine) are sick and tired of the staggered release dates. Traditionally, games launch on a Tuesday out in the US, whilst here in the UK we prefer the Friday as the release date of choice.

I say ‘we’, it’s actually the publishers (and possibly retail chains as well) that have decided that those days are the optimum time to release stuff in the respective territories. I imagine other countries have their own special day as well, and it’s a habit that’s stuck around. This is why you will often see the US get a game a few days before the UK does, or (although rare) visa versa. Some of the bigger titles, the really really big ones, will release worldwide simultaneously because you just know they’ll sell no matter when they’re released, but outside of those, publishers like to stick to those days.

From a brick and mortar retail perspective, I can understand that. I doubt the publishers would have just pulled these trends out of thin air, and are not doing it just to be arsewipes, so I’m happy to let them have their habits. A fellow writer pointed out that releasing just after, or on, payday can make a huge difference to opening sales, and I believe him (Which is why we traditionally have the Friday). The only area I don’t think it makes sense, and I think this is where RPS mainly want to direct attention, is when it comes to the online outlets.

Going out and buying something, that’s process in and of itself, and I imagine people think more before going shopping, or they’ll already have set habits with regards to when/where/how they ‘go out’ to shop, which is where these trends come in. But the Internet… the Internet makes everything easy, almost too easy, and when buying something is as simple as clicking a button, you think less about the important stuff(like, can I actually afford this?).

RPS makes better arguments then I do – I’m being a little bit abstract, but basically it doesn’t make sense to hold digital outlets to the same rules as brick and mortars. People may not mind waiting until Friday to go somewhere to purchase something, but if they’re at their PC, credit card in hand, and itching to buy something, why deny them because they live in a different country? I’m sure even RPS would disagree with me here, as they want universal release for all sectors, but I can’t help but see a distinction between online and retail.

Something to think about at least. I can’t help but think that if the publishers thought they had more to gain from simultaneous release dates across the board, they would have done it already. These guys don’t fuck about when it comes to making money… but who knows, some publishers already do simultaneous releases, maybe we can get universal adoption. If you support the idea, go sign their petition!

Until next time.