Thursday, August 20, 2009

Opinions?

I'd like to ask for some opinions on my latest problem. Shadowlight, the first novel in my new Kyndred series, is due to be released in a few weeks. As far as my planned promo for the book goes, I have in the works a parallel e-book, Rain Lashed, which I'll be posting for free on Scribd next month.* Sasha was also nice enough to let me post an excerpt from Shadowlight over on the group blog, and I'll probably do the usual release day announcement here.

Still, I feel I should personally do something about the lack of ARCs. The publisher promised to send out bound galleys, but I don't think they'll get them out fast enough to make a difference. At the moment I have my hands full with finishing up the final book in the StarDoc series, so the time I can spend doing additional promo is severely limited.

One option is to make available e-ARCs of the book to readers and bloggers who would be willing to commit to writing up a blog post or review of the novel before the release date (no favorable opinions expected or other strings attached; just a write-up of some kind.) The e-ARC would be a .pdf electronic copy of the novel manuscript, formatted to look similar to the print novel, minus the DRM and accompanying B.S. I'd probably include some bonus material to make it extra tempting, like the first chapter from the next book, Dreamveil. Naturally the recipients would be on their honor not to pass around the e-ARC or post it anywhere on the internet.

Some writers think using electronic ARCs as promo is too risky, but I believe it's part of our E-Future; the only economically sensible alternative to continuing to print and ship paper ARCs. Readers are always saying that the industry should trust them enough to strip DRM from e-books; I'm willing to to extend that kind of trust (for one book, anyway) and see what happens. It would be an interesting experiment, I think.

What do you guys think? Good idea, bad idea, stupid idea, don't do it PBW, or other? Let me know in comments.

*Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I no longer use or recommend using their service. See my post about this scam here. Rain Lashed can be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs here.

44 comments:

  1. I think it's a good way to spread the word. My two cents.

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  2. I think it's a great idea! Lately, I've even seen a few reviewers mention that they prefer e-arcs.

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  3. I like the idea. Like you said - it's an interesting experiment - so why not try it!

    Sign me up as a blog review if you'd like - I'm definitely game.

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  4. I was on a blog the other day (i will dig around cause I can't remember which one) but the blogger routinely reviews books off of an e-format.

    The blog is a book blog. So based off that - using an e-format should be fine.

    And another blog (writer this time) - had same issue as you - ARCs would come in too late - so she still did drawings to give them away, once they came in.

    I would be more than happy to do a review on B&N and Amazon - if you want.

    I don't maintain a blog of my own at the moment so could not put a review on it or would offer.

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  5. I think blogger ate my comment!

    This may be a dupe...but I'd say doing e-ARCs is a safe bet. Most of the larger blog sites have strict policies surrounding the e-copies to keep them from being set free illegally. I know the site I review for, Bitten By Books, has a VERY strict e-book policy.

    We've been getting an increasing amount of e-ARCs as publishers cut cost, and the only problem as been with eye strain. : ) It's a good way to get the word out on your book quickly and efficiently.

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  6. I say give it a try. It will be a learning experience at the very least.

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  7. eARCs are a great idea. Another author had eARCs (120 of them?) of her new book and I felt it was successful. I read the eARC and still bought the book on release.

    Fans would not pass it around, just create a buzz like ARCs are supposed to =D

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  8. From what I understand, for a pirate, turning a hard copy into an electronic copy is a matter of a straight razor, a copier/scanner, and 20 extra minutes. So I don't think trust comes in different formats. But I've been a Pollyanna before, so...

    Good luck on the new series!

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  9. E-future is already here as you say, Lynn. I know a few reviewers and many of them now get ebook ARCs for reviewing now vs. print copies, and I'm sure they can be trusted not to share.

    From what I can see from the past couple of years googling around out of curiosity everytime some author brings up the issue, many have already figured out how to hack the secure ebooks anyway, and others are scanning in from prints, final or arc copies even when there was no ebook copy around.

    So, I really can't see authors being more at risk by giving away ebook arcs, whether for reviews or contests. If it's going to happen it's going to happen, even with prints, unfortunately. I think sending an ebook to reviewers helps get it read and written up quicker - no danger of getting lost in a pile, very easy to locate on your PC.

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  10. I think its worth trying, at least once. I agree that this is part of the "E-Future." I also think sending these to bloggers for review may be the wave of the future, especially regarding promotion of eBooks.

    FWIW, fantasy author Brandon Sanderson made the final version of his latest novel, "Warbreaker" available on his website along with earlier versions for comparison.

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  11. Meleeta5:51 AM

    I think it is a good idea but I am not sure how it will work. Are you just going to put it up for everyone or just send alink to the select few that would normally get ARC's? I would put up a snippet for everyone and give a select few the full ARC of course that is my opinion only.

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  12. As a reader I think it is a fantastic idea. I don't know about what others would do but if I was honoured with an e-ARC, and if it was one of yours Lynn it would definitely be an honour, I would be so respectful and look after it carefully. And it would get to OZ quicker than by snail mail!!! But, I can't speak for others. I can't believe what some people choose to do.

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  13. Hi Lynn,

    I have received other books in e-format for review when time was tight or there were no ARCs available. I treat it the way I would any other ARCs (I don't share, sell, or give them to anyone!). I delete them when I am done since I will go out and buy a papercopy when it is available. It should be relatively low risk if you send it out. It isn't my prefered format for review books but it would get your book in people's thoughts and on their TBB list. (Inserting shameless plug) I would love to review Shadowlight and post it on Amazon and the site I review for (www.nightowlromance).
    denlsn@msn.com

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  14. It does sound like an interesting experiment and I'll be watching to see what happens. But I'm not informed enough to say yay or nay.

    I'm commenting to let you know that B&N has sent an email to me that prominently features Shadowlight. I know it's because I ordered Stay the Night from them, but it was nice to open an email and see a book I actually want to buy featured so prominently.

    Suelder

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  15. Anonymous7:11 AM

    Lynn, I think an e-ARC would be a wonderful idea. I'd definitely be willing to review.

    Christina Stiles

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  16. It's an excellent idea. And I'd be happy to review. : )

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  17. I think it's worth trying, just to see how well the experiment works. People who aren't trustworthy will always find a way to pirate books, no matter what format they're in.

    Good luck with this and please let us know how it works.

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  18. I think its a great idea. I would love to review it for you and I have a blog and personally I wouldn't share with anyone cause I want you to keep writing and if they want to try you out you have free books and I can lend them one of my paperback books. As far as stripping the drm I wish they would I would buy more books as ebooks and only buy the paper/hard backs in the authors I really really want to keep. Would save me money and allow me to purchase more books if they would charge less for the ebook. And I could save space and trees lol.

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  19. For better or worse I'd say anyone that reads your blog daily, and there are a few of us, do so not because we merely stumbled across it, but because we respect and admire the keeper of the blog. We are here because we want to be here, not to pilfer your work, but to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I guess what I'm trying to say is... the future is nigh upon us. Trust your gut and do what you feel is best. I believe that ebooks are the way to go.

    I'd love to review your work.

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  20. Hello,

    I mostly lurk here, but just so that you know, a good deal of reviewers do prefer their ARCs in electronic format. Speaking from experience, when time is a factor, it offers a huge advantage over having to wait for a paper copy.

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  21. I use e-ARCs, however, I will be honest, I only use them with those I trust not to share them and I also make it clear that if I find out any of the e-ARCs end up on sharing sites, I'm likely to stop using them period.

    Usually with my ARCs, I send paper ones out to those willing to do a review on or near release date and those who are interested leave a comment-from those, the ones I know/trust not to share, I offer then e-ARCs so I can spread my paper ones out farther.

    I'm just very cautious with my e-ARCs because of piracy and crap. Pirates mess things up for a lot of people.

    And ya know... if you'd send me an E-ARC, I'd absolutely post about it. Absolutely. :-) I'll probably do that anyway, but having an e-arc would make me really, really happy....

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  22. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as the cliche goes. I am sure reviewers are anxious to post reviews.
    If you are worried about security, you can password protect and send the password to open in a separate email. Of course, it could still be distributed. I would also assume that you would set security so that the ARC cannot be printed or copied. There are always around this to reproduce but why make it easy for someone? Good luck.

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  23. The consensus seems to approve of e-ARCs, but t'were it me, I would put limitations on it.

    For example: Offer 50 e-ARCs (an arbitrary number) to readers who commit to you in writing that they will write a review either on their blogs or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

    This does two things: It tells you who specifically has the ARCs. And it (relatively) assures you that the recipients will give you much valued buzz.

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  24. Hello Lynn -- I certainly can understand your hesitancy concerning distributing e-ARCs. Our books are like our children. Birthed from our minds, we experience the same pain and suffering and joy as we edit them to go out into world and do us proud. Every time I hear someone say "writing, now that’s an easy life" I want to strangle them.

    But, as you said, the future is upon us and those who refuse to admit it will be left behind (and forgotten). On the other hand, it is never fun to be the first to dip over that dark horizon just to (hopefully) prove there really are no monsters larking in that dark unknown. But, history has a way of remembering those who did.

    Nina, who just finished (and LOVED) If Angels Burn and would be honored to review Shadowlight.

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  25. I believe you can trust your readers not to share their prized e-ARC just as they don't share bound ARC's.

    I think ARC's are important because pre-release reviews are important (I use them to decide on buying a book probably 75% of the time.)

    I love ARC's they make me feel very special when I read it like I have a prize.

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  26. Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger award! http://kaitnolan.com/2009/08/20/kreativ-award/

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  27. I think this is a good idea. I'd like to participate. The only problem is I don't have a blog page and wouldn't be able to post a review unless it on boarders, amazon or one of the other similar websites.

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  28. I think it's a good idea. You are going to gain more from the exposure than you risk from someone pirating the file.

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  29. I think it's worth a try, at least once. And I think you are dead-on about it being in the future of ARCs in general. More and more, publishers are looking at ways to maximize profits, and one old stand-by is lowering costs. eArcs wouldn't have the expense of materials or distribution costs - no brainer for them.

    I would also be willing to read and review on the major sites, as well as my just beginning review blog. Maybe starting with bloggers you know or who contact you would be a safety net of sorts.

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  30. Keita Haruka1:23 PM

    I think it's a great idea...and i'd be more that willing to review the book on both my blogs (LJ and on a South African blogging site) as well as on two of the Forums I Admin. Both are book-and author oriented, and my SA blog gets about 200 views a day. :-)

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  31. I think it's a great idea. It saves on postage, gets the reviewer the book faster and is a good green option.

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  32. As an avid user of my ebook reader over the past year (Kindle, in case anyone is curious), I've come to the conclusion that ebooks really are the future of publishing.

    I've done blog/amazon reviews of ARCs before, and I admit, I've volunteered for this less and less in the past six months or so, largely because I'd rather wait and read the book in ebook format once it's available.

    One upon a time, not so long ago, I really could not have imagined that.

    I would LOVE the opportunity to read an e-ARC and post a review. Honestly, if more authors did this, I'd probably be reviewing a lot more.

    note: this change in book-view has opened up new avenues in publishing opportunities as well. I used to eschew the idea of going with an e-publisher, but just this month I've submitted a novella to Samhain Publishing, currently the second largest publisher of ebooks, I believe. I don't deny I still want to see my name on the spine of a book, but my entire view of e-book publishers as a poor second choice for publication has done a complete 180 thanks to my experience as a reader with my Kindle. :D

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  33. AnnaM.3:02 PM

    That's a tough question. It seems to hinge on how much benefit you think the ARCs give you.

    If you think you can trust the folks you send them to not to share and for the reviews to generate a lot of buzz, then go for it.

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  34. eARCs are an interesting distribution tool and effective for quick distribution but usually only of use to those reviewers that have eReaders which I still believe is a very small minority of reviewers. However your issue seems to be to get the book into reviewers hands quickly but I put forward an additional suggestion. I wouldn't mind recieving an eARC if it was in an open format such as Word that I could actually PRINT and read. This is no different than sending out bound galleys except the end user does the printing. This way the reviewer can pour it into Word for example, reformat, change font size, margins etc and print out in a paper conserving format. Author Caitlin Kittredge offered an eARC of STREET MAGIC early this year in Word format and as far as I know there were no adverse consequences. I printed my copy, and reviewed it. I believe the trust issue is a given.

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  35. I think it's a great way to get your book out as an ARC. I've seen other authors doing this lately too.

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  36. I think e-ARCs are the wave of the future (to coin an old phrase) but I do understand your position on not wanting them spread around. I think that's going to be a problem no matter who is sending the e-ARC out and who's reviewing it. There will always be someone who won't play fair.

    I'd love to do a review, but I don't post often enough on my blog to have more than maybe 8 people who read it. And the last time I got an ARC, which I won *ahem*, she who will not be nameless was kind enough not to yell at me for not posting a review. Life's emergencies interfered. *sigh*

    So, all of that nonsense said, I think, if you feel you can trust the people you're asking, then why not? Sooner or later, it will become the norm anyway. Why not start now?

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  37. e-ARCs sound reasonable to me. If you need a volunteer, let me know. :-D

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  38. helen4:10 PM

    While I admire your trust, my first thoughts were...poor Stephanie Meyer and boy I'm not that brave. It is far to easy to pass the book to someone else in electronic format with no protections. I have always loved your free stuff, and the way you do your promo, but those were things you INTENDED to be free, intended to be promo. I am not a trusting person under the best of circumstances, but I have heard of too many people who have been burned doing something similar. Just my opinions!

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  39. Some of us have been using e-ARCs for years with few problems.

    Some authors and publishers personalize the e-ARC in some fashion so that anyone tempted to post the novel online or whatever will be outed immediately.

    Talk to your favorite geek for suggestions of how to do this.

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  40. I think it's a good idea, and I'd love to have one.

    I think the reality is that people can and will pirate work, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. The question becomes where do you want to spend your time? Writing or preventing piracy?

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  41. I think you're right, P., the future is in e-business. Publishers are trying to save money, and I think they'll be using e-books more and more.

    With the e-ARCs, ME! ME! PICK ME!

    I'm happy to do a review. And I don't share. I like the idea of smugly knowing I'd be the only one Down Under with the book. mwahahah!

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  42. I like the idea of eARCs. I've had the great good fortune to read eARCs before and been mightily thrilled to do so.

    I'm someone who has slowly started to read more ebooks over the past six months. I haven't ever (and do not intend to) share or post those books. Review, yes, in my own special reviewette style, but not steal.

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  43. we review e-arcs all the time at bittenbybooks.com. We understand the legalities, etc behind not sharing them around. I think its a great way to get your work out there and its publicity.

    If you decide to go the e-arc route, please keep bittenbybooks.com in mind. :)

    bbb.reviewcoordinator at gmail dot com

    Thanks so much!

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  44. Sounds good to me, and I would love the chance to review Shadowlight if you decide to go through with it.

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