HotTubCast 3 Heretics

Writer Seth Harwo0d (Jack Wakes Up) is talking ’bout a revolution in his hot tub this week.  Turns out that when you take the money for a traditional book deal, your hands become tied when it comes to promoting it.  Seth made his name in crime fiction with a freely distributed audio version of his book.  Now that his book is out from Three Rivers Press a division of Random House, he’s meeting with resistance when it comes to giving out his book free on pdf.  Go figure.  This podcast outlines his frustration with the publishing process as it now stands.

I personally don’t have anything against the big publishers or the traditional path to publication.  But it’s not for me.  I will not surrender my fiction to publisher contracts and I’ll build my own audience, my own way.  It won’t make me rich, it won’t get me invited to hang with the traditional publishers and writers, but that’s OK by me.  Because in five or ten years time, I’ll still be putting out great fiction and my fans will appreciate it.  All my books are always free in digital form and for as small a price point as possible when you choose to get them in proprietary formats and paperback.

I’m with you Seth!  Oh and by the way, Jack Wakes Up, is the bomb!  You really should order your copy today from your local Independent book seller.

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3 thoughts on “HotTubCast 3 Heretics”

  1. Guys, you’re actually both right! I tried to negotiate for a free PDF release of the book when I signed with TRP, but they shut it down pretty fast. Being so happy to get my foot in their door at the time, I didn’t push back much. But yes, at contract time is exactly when these things need to be laid out. In my next round (possibly/hopefully in the next month or two) I’m planning to go in with much more teeth to my wants.

    Funny: yes, they did let me do the first three chapters for free, but I don’t think this does as much to raise readers’ feeling of getting something cool, worth trying, as the full book.

    And yes, Cory and Charlie are clear examples of success here. You’d think that they would pave the way for more openmindedness here, but so far it hasn’t happened. Crown Books (which is the hardcover imprint of Three Rivers) “let” Scott Sigler release Infected as a free PDF for the first 72 hours of its release, an approach that Cory loudly blasted on boingboing. They didn’t let him do even that with his second release from them. And he’s had more pull/sells more copies.

    There are several masters to consider here and one of them is Amazon’s pull on even a BIG publisher. The next is their fear that they’ll go the way of the newspapers if they give away ANY free (complete) content. I’m putting my money on Chris Anderson to have more foresight here and in my own results of giving away free PDFs.

    So what can you do? Keep pushing!

  2. I think that Cory and Charlie probably have the cred needed to sway their publishers but a new, upstart writer would not have that respect. Also, SF writers and publishers are typically more open to knew ways of doing business. Mystery writers and publishers are typically less cutting edge in that respect.

    I find it refreshing that Seth is helping push those publishers to be more like the SF publishers. His novel is available for free as a podcast, in fact, that’s where I found him. RH is offering a digital version for sale, so you may be right about the competition thing.

    It will be interesting to see where things wind up down the line.

  3. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but yeah, when you sign you need to read the contract. I’m sure if he wanted to do a promotion that didn’t involve the rights of the book the publisher purchased, they would have no problem with it. However, electronic publishing rights are negotiable. If he wanted to release a free PDF on the date of publication, he should have negotiated it (like Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow do). Some other publishers are willing to look at that (Tor, DAW, etc, Baen puts a lot of back catalog out in their Free Library). Now, if Three Rivers Press/RH is also looking at electronic distribution (doesn’t mean they’ll do it) they won’t want the competition form the free release.

    Maybe he could negotiate a partial release (like the first three chapters).

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