Wednesday, August 05, 2009

When The Talking Stops, The Doing Begins

Scott has informed me that this will be his final post in this series. He's now off to test his theory. He's a brave man and, if he's successful, his work could possibly change the way we receive our reading material. Win or lose, he talked the talk now he's set out to walk the walk and we have nothing but respect for anyone who does that. He's already a success for trying it.

As for anyone who didn't understand how we could post something like this and discuss it, please remember this quote attributed to Voltaire...

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Isn't this what public discourse is all about? Enjoy!

Scott Wrote:

I think I have gotten about as much as I can out of this discussion. Unfortunately, I see two camps forming and arguing here. Arguing over a theory. I won’t label these camps since that would just add fuel to the fire. What I do suggest is that if you like my ideas, go ahead and try them. I don’t own them. They cannot be copyrighted. Or if action isn’t your thing, you can sit back and watch me try them.

Now if you dislike my ideas, you’re free to have that opinion. However, it won’t stop me from testing my theory. Nothing said here by anyone here so far will likely stop me from going forward, so if that’s your goal, save your breath. Robert, acting as a devil’s advocate, so far hasn’t swayed me in the least. Although he made some good points and I thank him for his effort, I feel energized about pressing forward.

Presently, my novel is finished and has moved out of the alpha reader stage into the beta reader stage. It will be there for a bit since I plan to have more than one beta reader read it. How long will this stage take? Possibly a month. Maybe more. My plan then is to get some endorsements from a few scientific experts on the theories my science fiction novel explores. Three of those endorsements will appear after the title page to get readers in the frame of mind that what follows could happen. I’m expecting acquisition of these endorsements to take another month or two.

Then the first and most crucial test of my plans (a.k.a. business model) will be done. Can I acquire thirty-odd advertisers for my novel? This is how I will measure success or failure for my business model. Anything beyond that is pure gravy. And none of the advertisers need to be major advertisers for this to be declared a success.

And if I do acquire thirty-plus advertisers, I will build on that success with the mystery novel I’ve now started while my beta readers do their thing. Unlike the science fiction novel, the mystery is designed to be the foundation of a series so what relationships I develop with ad firms will be regularly tapped with each sequel of it I pump out. That and, as I go along, I will be seeking more ad firms with which to develop relationships to increase my hopefully big pile of gold as much as possible.

However, if I cannot acquire thirty-plus advertisers, I will not publicly release the book as a free ebook and will likely ask Robert to look it over to see if he thinks it is marketable to a major publisher. While this means a failure, I won’t consider it a critical failure for my business model. I will likely try again with the before-mentioned mystery novel I’ve started. Hopefully, I will have learned some lessons from such a failure so the mystery novel has a better chance at succeeding.

Now I could speculate more about what might happen to the publishing industry, authors, and agents if my business model succeeds, but I have already done that in earlier posts and I now don’t see the point of elaborating further. Nor do I see any point in arguing with people that don’t like advertising or dismiss free entertainment since I don't really believe I will change their minds or they change mine. Instead, how about I just do it and report back later?

Wish me luck!

Scott Jensen

42 comments:

A Fan said...

Good luck, Scott!!!

A Fellow Pen said...

Good luck, Mr. Jensen. Please keep us posted.

I hope you'll still answer questions here. If you're up for that, here's mine.

1) Was the arguing in the comment sections the main or partial reason why you're not going to be part of this public debate anymore?

2) What is an alpha reader and what is a beta reader? I have heard of beta readers, but have never heard of alpha readers. I would appreciate your definitions of them and how you use them.

3) Are you saying that if you don't get at least 31 advertisers, you won't release it as a free ebook? What if you get twenty? What if you get ten major advertisers? Why does it have to be "thirty-plus"?

In closing, thank you for having this public debate with Robert and Sharene. It has been very enlightening and encouraging. It is great to know someone is willing to innovate and accept and take on the risks that involves. You're an inspiration for us all.

Good luck!

Big Apple Dame (BAD) said...

Good luck, Mr. Jensen.

Fly On The Wall said...

Good luck!

Your Future Client said...

Best of luck and I hope that after you succeed, you'll be also willing to take on other authors as their agent. You will have then done the hard part of getting ad firms to initially advertise in books so getting them to advertise in still other books should be easy. This way you could add more to your pile of gold by doing the same for other authors and taking an agent's 10% cut. Possibly Robert and Sharene will privately give you pointers on how to be a good agent.

Frank Speaking Frankly said...

SCOTT: Is Robert or Sharene or both going to be one or two of your beta readers?

Do you need more beta readers? If so, say so here and I'll sure you'll get volunteers. I know I'll volunteer.

ROBERT & SHARENE: If Scott doesn't answer the above, are you his beta readers? If he hasn't already asked and now does, would you?

The Underground said...

Good luck, comrade!

Go Go Writer Pen! said...

Good luck!

The Adviser said...

Good random probabilities, Scott!

Hatchet Man said...

Good luck and good hunting!

Sam Black said...

Good luck!

Scott Jensen said...

Dear A Fellow Pen,

1) It was partially responsible, but not the main reason. I have other commitments that are demanding my time and I am working with my first beta reader that is doubling as my first copy editor so I don't have a lot of spare time to spend here on this blog.

2) An alpha reader is someone that reads your novel (or non-fiction book) as you write it. You finish a chapter and they read it. This instant feedback helps me know if what I'm trying to convey is being conveyed. Sometimes, I have just a chapter segment read to get feedback before I write the next chapter segment. Then after the book is complete, your alpha reader reads it in its entirety and gives you their feedback.

A beta reader is like an alpha reader but a beta reader reads the book after it has been completed. Their input may result in you going back and making changes. I use my beta readers to see how certain demographic groups respond to my novels. That and for this science fiction novel, a few of my beta readers are also knowledgeable in the scientific fields my sci fi novel explores.

3) I need one between each chapter. However, some of these advertisers will be given advertising in exchange for just a barter deal ... or a cross-promotion deal ... or because they are what I feel needs to be advertised before a chapter to help my readers have a better reading experience.

The Word said...

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Your Future Client:

The first pointer we would give him is to charge more than 10%. :)

At the present time, it's standard for literary agents to charge 15% and if there's a subagent involved, it's 20%. However, in his model, if it does work, he would probably have to hire salesmen to approach advertisers. I doubt these would be called literary agents, however, as they'd be more like ad executives. Also in his model, there would be no need for literary agents as writers would send directly to him. I know no one will believe this, but I can imagine that after a month, there would be no room to do any publishing, as Scott would be buried so deep in manuscripts that he'd have to hire someone to dig air holes so he could breathe. So someone--or lots of someones--if this were an open system where everything received by Scott is published, is going to have to handle the mechanics of it. By published,I mean set up in digital form, ads inserted and posted online somewhere. If you can imagine several thousand manuscripts a month and trying to manage a sales force to sell ads and trying to set up books at the same, you can see that this wouldn't be a one-man operation.

If it is a closed system where only the best submissions are accepted, then new writers are going to be upset because it would be the present system under a different name. In other words filters would be installed, just as they exist now.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Frank Speaking Frankly said--

Scott can still answer this, but we wanted to mention that an important thing about beta readers is that they should be objective. I think we can safely assume we would not be. Also, the best betas are usually solely readers. We know lots of writers whose betas are also writers, but there is absolutely nothing like the perspective of an end user who has no stake in the publication of a novel. They will see things as a reader only, without any other filtering system place. Betas who are writers are still valuable, but if you can get someone who just really loves to read, that can be extremely helpful.

Scott Jensen said...

Your Future Client,

At present, I have no plans to be representing any books but my own. Not that I'm opposed to representing others, but that's just too far down the line for me to worry or think about. When I get to that spot, I'll have more information and experience that will enable me to make such a decision then. As it stands today, I'm not planning on being an agent ... but, again, that's today and not the future. I have long learned never to say never.

And thanks for the good wishes. I'll need them.

Suzy said...

Go get them!!!

Scott Jensen said...

Frank Speaking Frankly,

My beta readers are only readers. None are writers. Two will be copy editors (really good wordsmiths), but they're not writers either. One's a retired teacher and another is a great ad man with a nature talent with words. Neither think of themselves as novelists and that's why I use them. My experience with writers as beta readers is that they think their job is to re-write what I've written. They tend to want to change my writing style into their writing style.

What I look for in beta readers is either speed readers that have read tons and tons of books of all genres or people that have knowledge in an area the book (novel or non-fiction) covers that I'm writing about BUT are not writers themselves. The first QUICKLY gives me great reader's viewpoints. They also tell me when my writing drags, assumes too much, delights them, and all the other reader experiences that a writer needs to hear to know whether he's conveying what he's wants to get across to the reader. The second tell me when I'm off on something technical but do NOT try to tell me how to then re-write it.

As for Robert and Sharene being one of my beta readers, their input would come in if I failed with my business model and then wanted to try to pitch the novel to a major publisher. Their approach is one with that as a goal. It is very useful for that purpose but not as a beta reader.

Helen said...

Good luck! If you succeed, I would love for you to come and talk to my writing classes ... if you happen to be in my city for a literary convention or to appear on a local talk show. I'll contact you when your books appears (either as a free ebook or a print book). I'll remind you of my comments here when I do. Again, good luck!

In The Bleachers said...

Good luck, Scott.

Tracy said...

All the best and more, Scott!

Impressed said...

Take no prisoners, Scott!

Poor Man said...

Scott,

How long do you expect it to take to acquire your thirty-plus advertisers?

And after they're acquired, will it be then that you'll release your ebook free on the net? Or is there some other step or steps that would follow that?

Mystery Hack said...

Good luck, Scott. I hope you make lots of money and lead the rest of us authors to a new and better future.

Scott Jensen said...

Poor Man,

I expect it to take anywhere from one month to six months to acquire the necessary number of advertisers.

After all the advertisers are acquired, I am tentatively planning on holding something like a launch party for the book. Not sure at this time. It depends on how many (if any) of the advertisers want to help give the book a big kick-off.

Busy Bee said...

Good luck!

Latecomer said...

What an amazing series of blog posts! My agent sent a group email to all us whom he represents, gave a link to "Demise of Print Publishing", and said to read the entire series to this final one. He is soliciting our opinions about Scott's ideas. He himself was sent a link to Part One by a major publisher and was asked for his thoughts on this series. He told him that he'd solicit his authors' thoughts and bundle them with his and pass them along.

My thoughts are to wait. To see what Scott can or cannot accomplish. If he succeeds, it will set the publishing world on fire -- and, if Scott is correct, burn it to the ground. If he fails, I would like to know why he did. I will not cheer his failure. Robert is completely right about the demise of print publishing and I do not believe in the slightest that novels and non-fiction books will go down with it. Novels and non-fiction books will evolve and continue on. Perhaps in the form that Scott has kindly outlined here and is going to attempt to achieve. Possibly not. What is certain is that change is inevitable.

I hope Robert and Sharene keep in contact with Scott and relay how he's doing with his plans.

I'd like to thank Robert and Sharene for sharing Scott's ideas on their blog and I would like to express my deep thanks to Scott for sharing them, responding to Robert's objections, and answering questions from posters.

Good luck, Scott!

Poor Man said...

Scott, I mean are you going to hire an artist to do cover art? Things like that. And if so, when and how long do you expect that stage to take?

Scott Jensen said...

Poor Man,

Yes, I will be hiring an artist to do the title page artwork. That and special graphic labels for chapter headers and the breakers between chapter segments. However, this doesn't need its own stage but can be done during the beta reader stage. I will be soon putting the work up for bid on deviantART.com and a couple job listing websites.

Average Jane Doe said...

If anyone tells you that blogs are all rubbish, you need only send them a link to this series of blog posts.

Thank you, Robert, Sharene, and Scott for it!

Communications Major said...

Wow! Simply and totally WOW! Awesome discussion and ideas. I've read it three times through and it is still opening my mind.

Better Late Than Never said...

If I'm right, I'm a fellow author of Latecomer's agent. Or at least it sounds like what my agent did as well.

Anyone that thinks free entertainment is bad, worthless, less-than-top-quality, or ignored by the public needs only turn on their TV and radio. Broadcast TV and radio have been free entertainment for over half a century.

What Scott is now doing is probably only now able to be done. There are a lot of trends that have needed to mature for Scott's plans work. Ebooks are only now being seriously considered by the public. More and more of the public are becoming comfortable doing things on the Internet. It was only two years ago that my mother got her first computer! Now she cannot imagine life without it. After every Oprah show, she goes to the Oprah website to read the extra material there about that episode. She hears something about some health/medical advance, she hops on the Internet and googles it. She now does most of her corresponding by email. But two years ago, I had a wicked time convincing her to have anything to do with a computer. Anyone who thinks everyone is computer/Internet savvy probably doesn't know that many people over the age of 50. Society change needs all demographic groups to get on the bandwagon. That includes senior citizens.

As for ebook readers, I think those are doomed. They're single-use electronic gadgets. I agree with Scott that cellphones are the future for ebooks. I also think that when the home computer finally gets hooked up to the living room TV, people will also start reading their ebooks on their TV screens as well.

As for ads in ebooks, I have laughed at those that have commented that they will despise such in books. Do they not watch broadcast TV, listen to broadcast radio, or read magazines and newspapers? And I also laugh at the mere idea that they will refuse to read a smash-hit bestseller simply because there are ads between chapters. Print advertising is far less intrusive than either TV or radio advertising. Print ads can simply be ignored without any loss of time but a fraction of a second in recognizing them.

Scott, good luck! Keep plugging away at it. If an advertiser says "no thanks", move onto the next one. When you have all your advertisers lined up, please come back and tell us. I will be one of the first people to download and read your novel!

Curious George said...

Scott,

I can easily see how you could do product placements (and their ads between chapters) with non-fiction books. I can even see how you could do so with novels based in the present day. But what I cannot see is how you could do so with, say, a romance novel where the story takes place a hundred years or more back in time. How could you get advertisers for a Civil War novel? Or a novel based in the Middle Ages? Or a high fantasy novel based in a magical Middle Ages?

Or what about a science fiction novel that isn't based on Earth or even humans? Or a far future science fiction novel where nothing of our present day has survived into the future?

And what advertiser would ever consent to advertise in an erotic novel?

Or what about a novel based in a communist utopia?

If you could address these questions, it would be appreciated. Thank you.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Dear Better Late Than Never,

First of all, thank you for your comments and for offering your side in this debate.

I just wanted to add something about people and free radio and television. I could say that neither radio or television reception has ever been entirely free except for when one listens or watches on someone else's receiver--but I won't.

Thanks to advertisers, we have pretty much enjoyed these forms of entertainment virtually free for many years--not that we've loved ads, but prior to cable and satellite, audio and video recorders, et al, we had no choice. Don't ever think that everyone is in love with ads. In fact, if given a choice, most people are willing pay extra not to have advertisements mixed in with their entertainment. And finally, because of wonderful technological advances and devices, people can now be free of these annoyances. So why would anyone want ads in anything that had never had them before?

Have you noticed all those sailboat looking antennas on new cars lately? Apparently many don't like radio advertising and are willing to pay a monthly charge be free of them. Also, most of us are on cable these days, so television isn't free anymore. Basic cable in most places runs over $25 a month--for commercial FILLED television. Even the cable company has to advertise when their customers are being held hostage to floods of advertising. Will this soon end? Will television eventually go the way of radio. I believe we are seeing that end in higher and higher speed internet service.

Some are immune to advertisers, some record their shows and play them later, sans commercials, and others have boxes that blank them out--for which they are willing pay even more. So don't believe for a moment that most will stand still for the addition of commercials in anything.

Also, newspapers and magazines are going broke, possibly because of the recession, because of production costs, and because ad dollars are way down. If you'll notice, with the online versions, if there are ads, they are very discrete, plus it's very easy to get around ads on the internet.

Advertising is old tech. Advertising firms haven't had to innovate until recently. So also watch for the death of this industry.

13/8/09 11:10 AM

Better Late Than Never said...

Robert,

I really recommend you have Sharene read your posts before you post them. Have her edit them. Tone them down. Make them more civil. You come across as thinking you're god's gift to mankind or something. You're not. I bet you think all that disagree with you are what? Losers? Crazies? Rank amateurs? I bet that's exactly what you think Scott is. If that isn't how you think, that IS how you come across. And I also bet you're confused why people respond to you so negatively and don't realize you're the reason.

Seriously, have Sharene read ALL of your replies before posting them. In her blog posts, Sharene comes across very level-headed and mature. Sure, she did weirdly flip out when someone suggested she be the moderator at a debate between you and Scott, but for the most part, she's a good presence here.

As for your points, you fail to make them because of how you come across. I was going to counter each one but I wonder why bother. You really don't seem to understand anything that Scott has been saying. You think you know the advertising industry better than he does. Hell, you're now saying it is doomed. Because of all this, it is pointless to argue with you. You won't listen. You won't change. I'm sure I'm not the only one thinks your conduct is one of the main causes for Scott dropping out of this debate.

Scott Jensen said...

Curious George,

What would be done for those novels as far as advertising goes is the same as is done for TV shows of a similar nature. You sell the advertisers on demographics they draw.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Better late. . .

So if someone says there's honey in that tree, do you think there are no bees? For every theory, there is someone who will try to shoot it down, and what Scott is advocating is a theory, not as yet fact. Whenever a theory, whether Scott's or someone else's is being floated, there are always going to be harsh critics. For instance, if everyone caved we would never have become America. If we had all agreed to be two separate nations, we would be divided. If we had remained neutral, half of our country would be speaking Japanese and the other half German--or Russian, depending. So please don't ever stifle voices that don't say nice things in agreeable language. Our nation is our nation because some didn't agree, regardless if their tone was agreeable or harsh.

Robert

Better Late Than Never said...

Robert,

What an immature reply. Not only that but you talk out of both sides of your mouth. You yourself posted a blog post about not slinging mud. You say you want a civil discussion. Now you say it is fine to be "harsh" and other such two-face non-sense. And your history in the comment sections clearly shows you're just ranting and not accepting any points that Scott and others have made. Your reply here clearly shows you're closed-minded, arrogant, offensive, and disrespectful. And to post what you posted as a reply here in this comment section to Scott's last blog post in this series just shows all of what I've just said to be true.

Again, please have Sharene read your posts before you post. Go back and read over your replies in the comment sections. It has been you that has been making the comment sections acidic ... not that you'll probably ever be able to see that unless Sharene slaps some sense into you. You probably blame posters for doing so because you think your shit doesn't stink.

And look what you've done in this section. This was a great section until you thought you had to once again piss on Scott's ideas. No one asked you to. I didn't and your reply was to me. NONE of the points you have raised in this section are new. You have made them all before. Now you're just repeating yourself and probably thinking that wins you the argument. It doesn't. It makes you look immature and ungrateful.

And if you have any decency (or Sharene will rein you in), delete your reply to me and my reply to your replies and so forth. This was a great comment section and a great one to end this series of blog posts. Lots of people wishing Scott good luck in his efforts after he posted his last blog post in this series. You do not have to launch one more attack against Scott's plans. It comes across as in poor taste. And please quickly delete these exchanges between us before others come in and permanently ruin this comment section.

Captain Obvious said...

Robert,

There is NO theory that Scott is testing. NONE! He is simply using a very LONG established business model that has been used for CENTURIES in newspapers and magazines and simply using it in books. Why it hasn't been used in books before is because it was cost prohibitive. The cost being the insertion of full-color ads between chapters and the relatively low unreliable circulation these ads would get in books in comparison to print ads in newspapers and magazines. [Which Scott pointed out in previous blog posts and/or replies in comment sections.] With ebooks, Scott realizes there is no cost factor for inserting full-color print ad between chapters. If Scott is brilliant, it is solely because he sees what has been standing right in front of everyone all along for at least a few years now. And I suspect that Scott calling what he's about to do a "theory" is simply charity towards those (such as yourself) that object to his plans so you don't look like the fools you are for rejecting a proven business model! I sincerely doubt he actually thinks he's testing a theory. A new application of a proven business model, yes. Testing a new theory, no.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Captain Obvious:

Obviously, you didn't look up the definition of theory, so I did it for you.

According to Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, definition #2 for the word "theory" is "a speculative idea or plan as to how something might be done." This is the definition to which I am referring.

Scott's idea, that of putting advertising in a novel, has never been done, thus the definition of theory fits rather snugly, wouldn't you say?

Captain Obvious said...

Robert,

Oh come off it! You stretch points beyond reason to try to defend your weak arguments. No one is buying it.

And if you are wondering why things go south in these comment sections, you need only look in the mirror.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

I would appreciate it if commenters would refrain from making unnecessary condescending and/or derogatory remarks to and about my husband. He is simply responding to comments, particularly those directly addressed to him. We have already established that he is talking about the main arguments of ad-based publishing in his responses and posts and not trying to attack anyone personally, including Scott, and he only uses the names given to identify the poster so the person will know he is countering or agreeing with a point s/he offered. If you misread his tone or intent, you haven’t been keeping up with the discussion, and suggesting he requires my assistance to communicate his point effectively, when he is doing so already, is inflammatory and just flat irritating. If you read his comments as anything but a contribution to the analysis of debate at hand, that’s YOUR problem, not his. I don’t intend to edit Robert’s posts—past or future—as I see no need for it and find the suggestion that I should irrelevant to the current discussion as well as insulting. For those who wish to continue adding comments and questions about the ad-based publishing model or any publishing model, please feel free to do so. I appreciate the input—both pro and con—thus far. For those who insist on focusing on anything other than that, those comments will be moderated accordingly.--Sharene