Another Money-Making Scheme

I know others have blogged on this topic but I must express my extreme displeasure at seeing epilogues being sold at Fictionwise and I’d like to understand why anyone in their right mind would buy them for $1.99 and subtracting whatever rebates are available. I’ve never read Julia Quinn and probably will someday soon but epilogues don’t entice new readers if that was the general idea. I remember when bookstores were selling the novella’s on cheap paper and I wonder how that went?

Sorry to be contrary but I can’t fathom spending $2 on epilogues and novellas for big name authors because they get so many cents to the dollar.  When I bought the novella for Catherine Asaro’s The Roll of the Dice, it was for .49 cents. Which was about right for my pocketbook and an excellent read.

Just like those huge trade paperbacks, I find these kind of money making schemes ridiculous. I hope this plan of selling epilogues goes downhill. Can you see a future where the story ends and you later learn that the author wrote an epilogue that you can buy for $1.99 if you care to read about what happens to your favorite characters? I know people are constantly looking for Anne Stuart’s epilogue for Black Ice and just think, she could have sold it. Would many of you be looking for it still? Book wasn’t all that great to me so it ended just fine.

There are good ideas and then there are some bad ideas. Selling novellas on cheap paper I thought was ridiculous but many readers liked it since it fulfilled a need and the demand for certain novella’s that were selling for big bucks on ebay were the suckers crowd they were aiming for. You know, for me, if a novella was selling for big bucks, I’d just have to resolve myself to not reading it. Ever. But that’s just me, hee.

So, if you want to encourage the trend of having authors make money on selling their epilogues  to you, run right out there and buy them. Authors who did this, I’d cross off my list. You want to entice people to read romance? There’s a better way: write and support better stories. Market some of your better authors. Don’t sell us epilogues.

Edited to add: I’m not blaming the author, sorry that it seems that way. It’s the publishers and their ever money making scheme(s).  Joke’s on me. On Sybil’s blog, the author mentioned that this indeed was her idea to sell epilogues. Very bad idea.

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About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
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24 Responses to Another Money-Making Scheme

  1. Amanda says:

    G’morning! I’d heard elsewhere these are the newest thing. Personally, I’m not interested in second epilogues or whatever they’re calling them. After the HEA, I prefer to let the couple move on, as it were. A little glimpse in another couple’s book is ok, but I won’t pay for a glimpse into the future. I don’t plan to cross authors off my list if they write these, but neither will I buy them. Move on & write us a fresh couple already. Jeez.

  2. Keishon says:

    Good morning, I know but my fear is that in future, if your interested in getting a glimpse at what your couple is doing say, ten years down the line, you’d have to pay for the pleasure and I just ain’t doing it. I don’t like this trend. I want it disappear. But only the almight pocketbook can speak louder. Wonder why it hasn’t spoken to LKH yet, mumbling, er, off topic. Sorry.

  3. Jane says:

    I guess I shouldn’t even post since I am sure it seems like I am hating on Julia Quinn which I am totally not. I like her. I just hate this whole novella idea.

  4. Jane says:

    You know what’s worse? It doesn’t tell you how long these books are, either in word count or reading time. The only way you may be able to tell is by looking at the file size and even that is quite deceptive.

  5. Keishon says:

    I hope I’m not coming across as knocking Julia Quinn. It’s not her fault. I blame the publisher. I’ll have to edit my post to that effect but I think it’s a bad idea. I hope the trend dies a lonely death.

  6. sybil says:

    LOL I could be wrong and need to go back and read my post but I am pretty sure the idea was Quinn’s.

    But she wanted to do a book with all eight, if I remember correctly.

  7. Keishon says:

    Oh really? I’d like to read that.

  8. xina says:

    Personally, unless I’ve read the book a number of times or had just recently finished the book, I would have a hard time remembering where the couple left off anyway. The epilogue would be fairly useless to me. I have nothing against Quinn because I’ve liked a few of her books, but when I’ve finished that last sentence in a book I’m done with it. I have too many books lying around to read to be buying epilogues. One exception…well, maybe two. The Time Traveler’s Wife and One On One.

  9. Keishon says:

    Xina, ah, you little devil. You had to go there. Hey, I’d take another book for that matter from those two, how about you? Forget the epilogue 🙂

  10. xina says:

    Yes Keishon, I would. It would be great to know what happened to Sam and Deanie. I’m hoping Tabitha King will find her muse one day and write a sequel. Probably will never happen, but that is my wish anyway. And I’ve always wanted closure to The Time Traveler’s Wife.

  11. Robin says:

    Quinn did say (on Sybil’s blog) that it was her idea to publish the epilogues: “First, it might interest you to know that I was the one who brought the idea of the second epilogues to Avon, not the other way around. And in fact, I had to talk them into it. As far as it being released electronically, I can’t really go into the details, but there was a lot of back and forth before it was decided that this was the best way to release them.”

    Here’s the link: http://redwyne.blogspot.com/2006/05/for-quinn-readers-take-iii.html

    I’m one of those people who doesn’t get the whole Julia Quinn thing (I tried a novel and a short), but she definitely strikes me as someone who is both driven and savvy about marketing herself.

  12. CindyS says:

    From where I’m standing, it’s for the fangirls. Who else would pay money for a few pages of an epilogue. I love Anne Stuart (surprise!) and I was fine with the way she ended Black Ice and think it’s funny that after that moment in time everything becomes rosy. I don’t see it happening that way. I see a HEA but I see darkness in their lives and darkness makes me happy anyways 😉

    I also read that it was Julia Quinn’s idea and well, if I were an author I would do it to make some extra money. Hell, why not.

    It’s just as a reader, I’m not going to be buying them. Ever. Like Xina, I’m done with ‘the end’.

    CindyS

  13. Keishon says:

    That’s why I said that this was another money making scheme. So, I need to edit my edit, is that right? Thanks for the info, ladies.

  14. Marianne McA says:

    I can’t see this at all. Yes, I do want to know what happens about my favourite characters after the book is over. Dorothy L. Sayers wrote some stories about Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane that took place after the end of that series. If I’d been alive at the time, I’d absolutely have bought the magazine she sold them to, just to read the story. And yes, I’d imagine she did it for the money – but writing was her job, so why should I resent that?

  15. Keishon says:

    And yes, I’d imagine she did it for the money – but writing was her job, so why should I resent that?

    Magazine is different from ebook—at least in my mind. At least if you didn’t like the story, you have other things to read for your money. Let me reiterate that this is just my opinion and if you and many other readers find this a gret move on Julia Quinn’s part, great. Your the only one so far to speak up to say that this is wonderful. Applause for you. Like Xina said: the end is The End for me. I don’t resent her for finding more income on second epilogues. I won’t be buying it. Ever.

    Anyway, I don’t find this a great idea. However. Maybe she should put them in Good Housekeeping or something. That would be a GREAT idea 😉 Thanks for sharing your feedback Marianne McA and if my comments seem a little as I am rereading it, it’s not at you. I do welcome all perspectives and all opinions here. Again, thank you.

  16. Robin says:

    I don’t think it’s even disputable that at least part of Quinn’s intention was to make money; otherwise, why not just offer free epis on her website (especially if, as she says, she owns the rights to her characters)?

    The big question, to me, anyway, is what that means. For die-hard fans, it seems to mean that Quinn’s desire to further market herself and her ‘brand’ is completely aligned with the fans’ desire to read (consume) her prose. Probably no conflict there.

    But for those who are not in that die-hard camp, or who are not really fans at all, the overt marketing can appear crass, I think, because despite the fact that MM fiction is so much about profit, it’s still nice to think of authors as more concerned with what they write than how they sell, especially if the quality of the extra writing appears to be less rigorous than the energy with which the extra marketing is approached. I don’t think it helps when an author protests to the nines that it’s not about money (please!), because that introduces an element of disingenuousness into the mix. And I think that many readers frankly resent it when a publishing industry that already seems to privilege quantity above quality and sales above creativity wants yet MORE of our money for less.

    In Quinn’s case, I don’t like her full length books, so I won’t be buying these shorts. If Laura Kinsale or Judith Ivory or even Jo Goodman put these things out, though, I likely would, because I am a die hard fan of their writing, and in that case, my interest in reading would very much match their interest in marketing. It’s all a question of what something is worth to each of us, I guess.

  17. Keishon says:

    You made some valid points, Robin. It is a matter of interest for those who enjoy the author’s work. I don’t even think that I would pay for anything like that with Judith Ivory or Laura Kinsale and I love them both. I’d wait to find it used or offered for free. Just like those huge trade paperbacks, I find this ridiculous.

  18. Marianne McA says:

    Keishon, that’s fine – I’m definitely in the other camp – completely unable to get worked up about writers selling stories.
    Robin – colour me baffled. I normally hugely respect your opinions, but if you’re commenting on the quality of a piece of writing you haven’t read, you’ve lost me.

    Random thoughts on price – the last collection of short stories I bought was Neil Gaiman’s – works out at about 20p a story, though they are short. The Sayers stories I mentioned earlier average out at £2 each, and they’re about thirty pages long.

  19. Keishon says:

    I think sometimes, as a reader, you forget that publishing is a business. While it may seem like I’m getting worked up for nothing, it’s just an opinion that won’t mean a hill of beans to anybody except those who agree with me and myself of course 🙂

    However, I must read Quinn as I have a couple of titles by her.

  20. Robin says:

    Robin – colour me baffled. I normally hugely respect your opinions, but if you’re commenting on the quality of a piece of writing you haven’t read, you’ve lost me.

    I can see now how it may have seemed unclear, but I was actually just making some general points about the whole epilogue at a cost phenom, NOT about Quinn’s epis in general. I’ve read several comments from people who were disappointed by them, which I’m guessing adds to their frustration over the strategy as a whole. I’m sorry for the confusion, but my point is simply this: for die hard fans, epis will likely see a great deal no matter what the cost. For other readers, they won’t, either becuase the epi doesn’t live up to the price or because readers feel the author/publisher is trying to take them, or because the readers don’t like epilogues, or because readers already feel overcharged for their entertainment (or some combination thereof). I think these issues hold regardless of the writer and the reader in question. And where I don’t use Quinn’s name, I’m not referring to her. I think I’ve made it clear in the past that I don’t have a problem being direct re. specific authors and my opinions!

  21. Marianne McA says:

    Thanks for explaining, Robin. I’m not [yet] an e-book reader, and I’d got the impression that Quinn was the only author doing this, and had therefore assumed that your points were perforce directed at her.

    I agree with you that any individual epilogue could disappoint readers, either in terms of quality or price; where I get stuck is on the jump to concluding that the phenomenon is therefore a Bad Thing.

    Keishon, I’d almost disagree with your assessment that this kind of short story is less desirable in an on-line format that as a magazine short story: except that I know I don’t know enough about that market to make the judgement. In a sense epilogues are most interesting to readers who have read the story arc in question – therefore if they’re published in a magazine, they might be less satisfying to the general reader. However, I’d have thought that selling them on-line would allow niche-marketing mainly to that author’s readers, which seems a fairer sort of thing [given that the quality of the product is good – and I think most authors would have an interest in not selling their core audience a poor product.]

    Also, and this is a personal preference thing, I’m not keen on the way short story romances are currently sold, in themed anthologies. In general, while I enjoy collections of short stories by a given author, I’ve found anthologies – in any genre – unsatisfactory beasts. But there seem to be lots of anthologies, so perhaps other readers enjoy them as a chance to discover new authors.

  22. Robin says:

    I’m not [yet] an e-book reader, and I’d got the impression that Quinn was the only author doing this, and had therefore assumed that your points were perforce directed at her.

    I agree with you that any individual epilogue could disappoint readers, either in terms of quality or price; where I get stuck is on the jump to concluding that the phenomenon is therefore a Bad Thing.

    She seems to be the first to do these 2nd epilogues like this, but she’s certainly not the first writer who has tried (and is trying) to expand her market share through various publishing, sales, and media strategies (even Nora Roberts was talking on SBTB about making her new PBs appealing to new readers). What frustrates me is when authors who are trying to expand their sales want to make it *all about* the characters and the writing and the fans. We all know it’s not *all* about those factors — so at least be straight about that part of it. I understand the double bind authors can feel in here — how do they keep from looking greedy — and I sympathize. But I also don’t think it’s all about the love of the game, so to speak, especially when an author is already highly successful. And I can tell you that if the Quinn experiment takes off, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a trend. Check out the following: http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/ticker/article.asp?
    Feed=PR&Date=20060606&ID=5774024&Symbol=US:NWS (I split the URL to fit, so you have to copy both lines to access the article)

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I wish more authors/publishers would offer their short stories and novellas in e-format so that I woudn’t have to spend the money on an entire paper anthology — THAT would be great, IMO. As for the epis, I don’t know if it’s a bad or good idea. I *do* think, though, that if authors want to sell them, that they really need to approach crafting them with the same creative energy they give to writing a full-length novel; otherwise, this phenom is going to look like nothing *more* than a money-making, marketing scheme. It will be interesting to see what the readers’ verdicts are after all of Quinn’s 8 come out, though. Right now impressions seem mixed.

  23. Robin says:

    One more thing: I actually think the idea Quinn floated on SBTB to offer these epis free to new readers who buy some epackage of the original novels is a pretty good concept. THAT really strikes me as both smart and a good deal to readers (you know, like buying a foundation and getting a free mascara or something). In terms of being courted as a new customer, I tend to be taken in more readily by strategies that appear to offer me something free so I don’t feel so bad about parting ways with more of my money than I otherwise might. I know that ultimately the manufacturer or vendor profits more than I do (monetarily speaking), but I’m way more amenable to it that way.

  24. Keishon says:

    Marianne McA, you should jump onboard and try ebooks. It’s addicting.

    Robin you said:

    “As I’ve said elsewhere, I wish more authors/publishers would offer their short stories and novellas in e-format so that I woudn’t have to spend the money on an entire paper anthology — THAT would be great, IMO”

    I wish they would do this, too. Catherine Asaro does this with her novellas from Analog and I have all three on my PDA. I hope you both will give ebooks a try. This is definately a trend I can encourage. Second epilogues, nope. But I did see at Fictionwise that if you bought any of her novels, you got a 100% rebate on the epilogues and plus they are sending promotional emails out about her second epilogues. I’m just not fond of this trend but to each their own. Like Robin said, authors need to be straight. It’s not always about the characters, it’s about the money, after all. This is a business as I keep being reminded over and over again. Great discussion ladies. Now go to Dear Author where they are doing an introductory series on ebooks. Very imformative stuff.

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