Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Let's Talk About Ebooks of My Poetry

Recently I posted a list of planned donor perks for 2012 in the Poetry Fishbowl project.  haikujaguar raised the idea of printing the poetry collections through Createspace or Lulu, which I have considered as a possibility for later if there get to be a LOT of them needed.  natf also asked about that, and wondered if it would be possible to buy  a copy -- or preferably, an ebook.

So I'd like to open the floor for discussion.  Some considerations ...

* Right now, the donors get access to some material that nobody else gets to see.  For instance, there are the donor perk-posts, listed on the Poetry Fishbowl landing page, which all donors can read through the "donors" filter and tag.  (There are other perks too.)  The full-year collections that I've done thus far were the k-fan perk in previous years, reprinting in hardcopy what was published here in my blog; but I also did something new at the end of 2011 when I assembled a collection of "Path of the Paladins" including both its published and unpublished poems.  (The k-fans are folks who spend $100+ in a year on this project.)

On the one hoof, if I release more material for purchase, it might make the donor perks seem a little less special.  On the other hoof, it would mean more people could see the cool stuff and potentially expand the audience.  There are also ways of keeping some aspects of coolness for the donors.

* While some folks enjoy ebooks and paper books equally, many people have quite strong  preferences and read mainly or only one format.  Offering some of this material in ebook format would make it available to folks who wouldn't be interested in the hardcopies. 

* For those who prefer hardcopies, conversely, I have plans to release the popular series as paper books eventually.  "The Origami Mage" is nearly complete; finishing it is on my goal list for 2012.  "Monster House" is also chapbook size, though not as fully plotted.  angela_n_hunt at Hunt Press is interested in publishing both of those as paper books.  I'm also likely to release other thematic collections, like what I did with From Nature's Patient Hands (nature) and Prismatica (science fiction) earlier. 

So I don't want to undercut those possibilities, which may affect whether or what kind of ebooks I might publish.  One option would be to make the sale editions 'lightweight' ebooks -- just a title page, table of contents, and the poems -- and then if there's a later edition released in dual hardcopy/paperback format it would have all the extra stuff like an introduction, publication history of the poems, any supporting essays, professional cover art, etc.  If I were to do series collections like this, the public version would only have the published poems, not the unpublished ones that the k-fans would get; all in series-chronological order.

* If I were to do ebook poetry collections, I could offer k-fans the choice of paper or electronic copies.  So far, I've been printing out the k-fan collections at home and binding them in presentation folders, which means I can include a flyleaf page of fancy scrapbook paper and a dedication letter with the recipient's name, so that no two copies are identical.  It's something you can hold in your hands, rather than just words on a screen.  I think those are significant benefits, but there's also something to be said for the convenience of ebooks (resizable font, compact storage, lightweight ereaders, etc.).  Also, self-publishing is on my goal list for 2012 and releasing an ebook would count.

* There are places like Smashwords where an ebook can be uploaded for sale without the author having to do all the handling.  I'm also on the betatesting for PressBooks, which is a place for authors to post their books.  If people are interested in the idea of poetry ebooks from the fishbowl, I could investigate such options in more depth to see if they're something I could really use.

* A possible compromise between donor exclusivity and audience access is something I've been considering with the donor perk-posts and just haven't gotten around to yet: reserving the current volume(s) for donors but releasing "back issues" for sale to everyone.  For example, there are donor perk-posts and poetry fishbowl full-year collections from 2007-2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.  The 2007-2008, 2009, and 2010 volumes would be back issues available to the public, once I got them into whatever arrangement might be needed for release.  The 2011 volume just came out in December, so it would become available in January 2013, shortly after the release of the 2012 volume in December 2012.

* Pricing is a bit challenging.  This material would consist of reprints, generally valued lower than new publications.  It would be electronic, generally valued lower than hardcopy; in particular, people are more likely to buy an electronic edition if it's really cheap, and many successful ebooks are going for $.99 or $2.  On the other hoof, it's going to take me a fair amount of time to put this stuff into a marketable format -- the poem files are already collected, but I'd have to look at the different release services to figure out which might work best and what they want a manuscript to be.  So I need to make enough for that to be worth doing, which also means this is only feasible if there's enough audience interest.  If a bunch of people would like poetry ebooks, I can probably make it happen, but not if it's just one or two.

What do you-all think?  Do you read ebooks?  Would you be interested in ebook collections of my fishbowl poems and/or the donor perk-posts?  Would you appreciate being able to buy ebooks as gifts for friends to introduce them to cool poetry or show them what you've been sponsoring?  What do you think about the time delay?  Do you think ebooks like this would prevent doing hardcopy poetry books later?  Are there other pitfalls or possible solutions that you'd like to suggest?

I am especially interested in hearing from my k-fans and my frequent prompters -- all the regular enthusiasts who make the Poetry Fishbowl project work.  I'm also open to input from anyone who's done ebook collections of their crowdfunding material and how that worked for you.  The last linkback perk poem from the 2011 Winterfaire was "With Mortal Flesh and Iron Will," which has 10 verses remaining.  For each person who makes a meaningful comment on this discussion, I'll post a verse.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, cyberspace theory, discussion, donors, fishbowl, poetry, reading, writing
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