In Which I Pull a Little Bit of Rank

In the wake of posting my sales increases in the week after the OMW eBook giveaway, I’ve been seeing some triumphalist posts from tech heads pointing to the post as further example of how free eBooks are the way to go with publicity, etc. I don’t have any problem with this (although, as I noted in the entry, there’s no way to be sure the sales increased were directly related to the giveaway), but what I do find somewhat amusing is that some of these folks are under the impression I’m new to the concept of free promotional materials driving sales, typified by this headline: “Yet Another Author Discovers Giving Away Ebooks Increases Sales.”

Yes, it’s like I haven’t had a novel available for free online for nine years, acting as my “free sample,” or anything, or that I don’t have an entire sampler platter of readable (and listenable!) goodies laid out for people to graze through. Nope, it’s all new to me. Makes me want to haul out my manual on how to teach your grandfather to suck eggs or something.

Damn kids! They need to get off my cyber-lawn!

I’m done. Someone fetch me my Geritol.

21 Comments on “In Which I Pull a Little Bit of Rank”

  1. Just curious – how does one ‘tech’ his grandfather?
    (Yes, I know the spell checker won’t catch this because it’s a real word.)

  2. The thing I tend to hate about these sort of things is – someone will get the idea that self-publishing and posting their book for free as an eBook on their blog, which only has three readers, is the way the ‘market’ is going.

    Personally, I’m still more amazed at your ability to sell the small quantities of supremely expensive limited editions of your books.

  3. John if you’re gonna get het up about every ignoramus with an outlet, you’re gonna go “pop” long before any of us get to enjoy your later novels.

    So you know what? Screwem. Really. Like German tourists, the Stupid are everywhere*.

    Just ignore ’em. Or hurt them. Either’s good.

    *Red Dwarf quote.

  4. Well, I don’t think they’re idjits; they just didn’t know I’ve been on top of this thing for a while. It’s amusing to me, is all.

  5. Huh. Been following your blog intermittently for a year and some change, and I didn’t know that you had tasters up. I’m going to have to look at them after I finish Ghost Brigades (which I just picked up today on the strength of the free OMW.)

    The sort of weird thing is that I normally look for text files of books that I already own. That way I can grep for passages, etc. So to me, this is all sort of backwards. The fact that there are authors who can keep me into a story long enough to read it on the computer is something of a revelation.

  6. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I read that link, and all I saw was “Durrrrrr…”

  7. Given that there is nothing in the original e-book post that references your long history giving stuff away online, how would somebody who had never heard of you prior to that post know that? Contrary to popular stereotypes, not every tech blogger is a sci-fi nerd. If I try to read that like it’s my first time here (admittedly difficult as I’ve been reading here for several years) I can see how somebody not familiar with your work could think the e-book thing was new to you.

  8. Hi John,

    As the author of the post that seems to have upset you (er… sorry about that), I didn’t mean to imply that you were new to the whole thing. It was really just focused on the results showing the success. It was merely an attempt to add to the long list of similar examples as a response to those who insisted it wasn’t possible.

    While it is true that I was unfamiliar with your earlier experiments, I also noted that this post was only pointed out to me by a colleague. I was not, prior to this, a regular reader of your blog, so I’m sorry that I may have suggested otherwise… I’ll update the post in question with a link aback here.

    Sorry again…

    Mike Masnick

  9. I don’t think you need to be a fan of science fiction to know that John Scalzi has had freely available fiction for years. However, you do need to do your homework. It’s not unreasonable to expect someone who makes a claim to have made a good faith stab at verifying it first. Otherwise, why should anyone trust any of your claims?

    In the case of TechDirt, they could have limited themselves to John Scalzi noting that sales of his books went up after Tor made OMW available for free. They didn’t need to invent the bit about him discovering this. (e.g. replace “discovers” with “sees”)

  10. Oh, I see the invention was unintentional.

    Well, I’m glad they’re issuing a correction.

  11. I have to admit…. My Girlfriend has read your blog for possibly over a decade and never read a single book by you. I have read your blog regularly through her since around the time of the New Orlean’s disaster.. and the “What it is like to be poor” discussion.

    I have read I think all your books… through my public library… I have never bough one of your books…I think I will at some point because I LOVE your books a great deal and though I rarely buy a new book off the stands.. I probably would if a new book came out now.

    I have pimped you and your work on a few of the forums I go to.. as diverse as a comic book forum and a hockey forum.

    I have become a huge fan of your sci-fi books and your blog and my girlfriend and I have discussed you and your thread and the merits of being an author and so much else on many occassions…

    But you have not made one red cent from me John Scalzi so far.. though I nhave read all of your work.. almost all of your blog for 2 or 3 years…

    I have promoted you a bit online… taken your books out of the library (waiting lists for them!!!! you might like to hear!) but not down anyhting to make you money…

    But you marketing plan.. if it is that… has worked because I am a huge fan… at some point now when you next book comes out.. or your next 5 books.. I likely buy them.

    Now.. to me you are a name in Sci-Fi… I am a big Sci-Fi fan… but maybe not an astute fan up on everyday or everyyear trends… I went to a huge charity used book sale a few weeks ago and bought Orson Scott Card, Asimov, Arthur C. Clarker, Niven books… I am traditional…

    And with your Old Man’s series… you are in my top echlon of Sci Fi… with Ender’s and Bean’s books and Foundation and Asimov’s Robots and foundation.. Old Man’s War is simply that good… really that good with the bonus of being contemporary.

    But you know as big a fan as i am of Ringworld and foundation and 2001 and Ender… I don’t think I ever bought one of those guys books new either and never made any of those authors a real penny… as much as I love and respect them.

    As a fan all I can say is that I like and respect you… I think your writing is hilariously funny and your sci fi is well written and excellent. Maybe.. someday i make you 3 or 5 or 10 or $15.

  12. As one comic put it “You can’t fix stupid” so why try.

    This is a funny and I really enjoyed it thanks John.

  13. OMW free giveaway? Aw. I got an email a few days ago from Tor saying I could download Spin… which I have already read. First time Tor sent me an email too, not even a confirmation that I’d signed up.

  14. I’m one of the people that bought OMW the week after the Tor release. The Tor ebook had nothing to do with my decision. I’ve been meaning to buy the book and read it for a couple years now, and I just finally got off my backside and bought it…..for the cover price! (I usually shop used bookstores.)

  15. It was in fact “Agent to the Stars” read online that make me a Scalzi fan. I had seen “Old Man’s War” at the store, however never picked it up. The someone on their own site, actually might have been OSC, mentioned Agent. I linked on over a read it, the next Saturday when I had to drive my wife to a test for her Job I was at the local B&N reading OMW, which I purchased on my way out of the store.

  16. That’s odd. I got an email confirmation from Tor that I’d signed up, Jurie.

    I am looking forward to having time for Spin though. It’s about twenty down on my reading list at this moment though.

  17. I signed up early (ie. well before they sent the first one out) and got confirmation. So I suspect that what happened is that you join the list, you get all the emails from that point on.

    On a related point, the download links they send for the earlier books are still active, and the text of each mail encourages us to forward them (the mails) on. I’ve no idea about the ethical status of forwarding the links or indeed the PDFs on their own, though, and I can’t find any licensing data attached.

    (The competition also says it’s only open to legal US residents, so presumably if they picked one of us other guys they encouraged to sign up, they’d be a bit irritated and have to do over.)

  18. Just jumping in here to say that as a PA and boingboing reader I’ve heard about you, John Scalzi, many times.. but it took the free ebook of Old Man’s War from Tor for me to actually sit down and read one of your books.

    I read it in less than a day, at work, and I’ve recommended it to all my friends. I’m planning on purchasing pretty much anything you’ll publish; you’re now on my list of favorite authors.


  19. I read OMW because it was an ebook, but not because it was a free ebook. I read it because the same person who recommended Scott Westerfeld to me, recommended OMW. He knew I was looking for good books in eBook format so I could read them on the way into work on my shiny new HTC Advantage.

    The Ghost Brigades mass market edition is now going to be displacing my outrageously expensive yet shiny HTC Advantage as there is only space for one of them in my coat pocket.

    Had the HTC Advantage lived up to what I wanted to use it for I’d have quite a dilema on my hands. However the only thing I actually do use it for is reading ebooks, so it isn’t much of loss to switch it out for a mass market paperback, no matter how much I’d have prefered the other format.

    Comparative stats of HTC Advantage vs MM edition of The Ghost Brigades:
    Cost: ~$1000 vs ~$9 (w/ tax)
    size: 5.5×4.0x1.25 vs 6.75×4.25×1.0
    weight: 459g vs 180g
    Storage: 8Gb internal microdrive + minisd vs 385 pages (analog print technology aka guttenberg++)

    Extra features HTC: VGA touch Screen with backlight (reading ebooks on this rocks), GPS, phone, 3M pixel camera, music player, qwerty keyboard, internet connection via WiFi or cellular (I don’t have the outrageously expensive mobile data plan)t, external VGA connector for presentations, calendar, capable of running any software that runs on WM6.

    Extra Features TGB: contains the story I want to read right now.

    Winner for coat pocket space: The Ghost Brigades

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