Making money in death

According to an article on the internet, Michael Chrichton’s books are more popular than ever since the Jurassic Park author died in 2008. Actually, the article said Chrichton’s works are more popular than ever, citing the success of new Jurassic Park movies and the Westworld series on HBO, moving pictures apparently being a better indicator of success than novel sales.

A new Chrichton novel just released this month, a novel called Dragon Teeth that has some connection to the Jurassic Park narrative, if cover art is an indication. I started reading this new book yesterday. While reviews aren’t strong, I’m enjoying the opening chapters.

While reading, I couldn’t help but wonder who is really making money from Chrichton’s posthumous release. Is it the Chrichton family? Is it the publishing company? Logic would say it is both. Laziness prevents me from researching. One thing we know: Michael isn’t making a dime.

Why do so many artists sell more work after they’re dead? Is death just good publicity, or are consumers expecting to find some secret of life wrapped in the work of the deceased, as if the artist has had his or her final say and now we can all start to examine?

Are there any other forms of work that can earn money after the creator has died? I can’t think of any. Does that make art hold infinite value or is it just sad, because many writers can’t enjoy the fruits of their labor while they were alive?

What if you wrote a book that nobody liked or paid for while you lived, but then it became a massive success 100 years after your death and was lauded by critics and consumers alike; wouldn’t that upset your soul just a little?

 

 

 

Discovering an independent writer

Getting on with the never ending story search and in keeping with today’s fascination with super-short stories, I stumbled onto an independent writer who has published a bunch of short works.

Eduardo Soliz is a tech guy by day and writer by night, or so his Amazon bio says. His seven published e-books bear the mark of self-publishing, which is always a detriment when compared with the flashy cover designs of the professionals.

It’s funny how I can create a cover for my own e-book and think it looks decent or passable, but whenever I see covers of other self-published authors they serve as a deterrent for purchase. This tells me my covers are also a major draw back and mark of amateurism.

We all judge books by their cover more than we like to admit, but I’ll look past it and try sample some of Soliz’ work today. I’ll come back with a short review later.

Do super-short stories have a place?

The number one complaint about reading from everyone is lack of time for the hobby. One of the first questions asked about a reading assignment, by every student I ever knew was, “How long is it?”

If I buy a 500-page book, I am not expecting to finish it in a weekend. It might take me as long as a year to finish, depending on how busy I get and how good the book is. The fastest I’ll probably finish it is about a month. It is even more likely I’ll never finish it. Failure to finish happens when the book isn’t enthralling enough, generally.

So, are super-short stories of any value? I’m tempted to say no, but I’m curious enough to say yes. If you are curious enough to see what you will do, click here and check out the six-page book I published.

The cover is rubbish and I’m not claiming any prizes for the prose, but it’s a decent enough little story to run an experiment with. I’m betting nobody will be willing to pay the 99 cents to read it, not because it isn’t worth 99 cents, but because people aren’t used to buying such a short book.

Usually short stories are published in collections, which are often too long as a whole. In recent weeks, I’ve done a lot of book shopping and repeatedly come to the conclusion that books are too long for our modern age. They don’t fit into a modern life’s window for entertainment.

So, I’m trying something different to see what happens.

 

An extension of Hollywood

If you browse through the new books the booksellers are trying to sell us on a daily basis, it becomes clear that those books are just an extension of Hollywood.

There are even books written by actors and entertainers. There are also books that are going to be made into movies or that already have been made into movies. If you think about it, a writer’s career is almost always determined by the success of the movies made after their book.

I know many people who have never read a Stephen King book, but know all his famous stories. Would Stephen King be so popular if it weren’t for the movies? I doubt it. His book It was on the bestseller list this week. Why? Because there is a new movie coming out this summer.

What is it with the fascination we have with the movies? I’m as guilty as anyone for reading books that are becoming movies. Over the winter I saw an ad for a movie called Tommy’s Honour. It’s a golf movie and I’m a golfer, so naturally I read the book. Until I saw that movie ad, I didn’t even know the book existed.

 

Tossed upon the trash heap

Tonight I browsed some popular e-book platforms while pretending to be a random consumer who might somehow stumble upon an e-book by me.

The short version of what happened was that I wound up finding many titles that were of the trashy variety, as in filthy rubbish that gives the romance genre a bad name. There were also plenty of non-romance e-books floating around that were clearly not worth reading.

So, I couldn’t help but think, if I offer a free e-book to the world, will it just float around on a trash heap of a million books, forever to be associated with refuse?

It very well could, which means I likely won’t sell any of my self-published e-books unless I tell some people about them directly, but I only know so many people and I don’t want to be that friend who is always pitching his book.

I am pretty well convinced the only e-books selling to random browsers are the featured best-seller variety with awesome covers and recommendations from other best-selling authors.

A road block

Today I surfed the web and landed on an independent author’s website. I clicked around until I found a link to her book for sale on Amazon and then I stopped.

This caused me to ponder an interesting idea in the world of self-publishing and internet promotion. This author had links to everything she could possibly need, like Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook pages, but when it came time to link to the one thing I could pay her for, the inconvenience of Kindle is what stopped me.

I didn’t care about the price of the book, which was short enough to read in a weekend with ease. It was the having to stop surfing and buy a book that I could only read on a kindle app or kindle that ultimately slowed me down. If the writer had a story available to start reading on the internet, I probably would have continued.

As of now, selling e-books is pretty much the only way to charge actual money for one’s writing. Paywalls on the web don’t work; I’ve tried.

When I am in the mood to read, I sometimes do so on a kindle, but usually browse the books I find on the kindle menus, which means I am unlikely to find independent authors to read. I guess what I’m saying is, as a consumer, I found that following a link to an e-book selling point didn’t work on me. It didn’t make me want to buy the book or even consider doing so.

As an independent writer, I always imagined how cool it would be to enable someone to buy my book by simply linking them to it on the internet. Now I see it really isn’t so cool and is ineffective.