Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Oyster books update


If you haven’t read my guest post on Oyster books at Francis Guenette’s Disappearing In Plain Sight, bounce on over there and read it. Then consider the following:

Smashwords has announced the terms of its deal with Oyster — “the Netflix of books” — and, lo and behold, it doesn’t sound too shabby. You can read the summary here. In effect, a Smashwords author will receive 60% of the book’s cover price when an Oyster subscriber reads more than 10% of the book. Mark Coker of Smashwords explains, “Unlike ebook retailers that usually only sample the beginning of the book, an Oyster reader can sample the book from any point of the book, much as a reader of a print book can open it to any page.” In some cases this sampling could trigger the 10% sale point.

If this seems a little creepily intrusive from the reader’s point of view — i.e., Oyster is monitoring how much of a book you read — then maybe you’re my age or older. I have a feeling that younger subscribers, who are used to their smartphone activities being tracked up the ying yang, won’t worry about it much. Beyond that, though, you can imagine some wily authors organizing 10% parties where friends and family sample enough to trigger the sale. (Well, I can imagine that anyway…)

At this point it doesn’t seem like there’s a reason to opt out of Oyster distribution if you’re a Smashwords author. You might find some new readers there — readers who wouldn’t have discovered your work otherwise.

The real question will be how often will readers be exposed to your titles in subject or category searches. Will the typical “people who downloaded this also downloaded this” work to our advantage, or will Smashwords books be relegated to some specific category like “Indie,” which could be easily ignored?

Any early Oyster adapters out there? Care to chime in and tell us how it’s going?

5 comments on “Oyster books update

  1. Gretchen Getsinger
    October 27, 2013

    Some years ago I was in a similar deal as Oyster to sell my paintings. If I’d kept up with it and played the game, perhaps I’d have sold more paintings but I doubt it. It was a tough market and I had to give up being an artist in order to become a marketer & sell my paintings, which weren’t selling and the site cost $’s that weren’t coming in from art. I think it’s all a crap shoot and I wish you a lot of luck in whatever you decide to do.

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 27, 2013

      I think you characterize it just right with “crapshoot,” Gretchen. There’s simply no guarantee that anything we do marketing-wise will generate real sales, but at least Oyster costs the author nothing. That’s not to say that I expect it to bring indie authors a ton of sales. It’s just one more place for our work to be discovered.

      On the other hand, it might not fly as a model. I never saw a flying oyster, come to think of it… ;o)

  2. 1WriteWay
    November 10, 2013

    Interesting post, Kevin. (Sorry I’m late to the party. Taking a break from NaNo and I wanted to catch up with you. Have you recovered from my post about the “giant penis”?) Anyway, those stats, 60% royalties for 10% reading, sound intriguing. We were at Barnes & Noble today and I spent a lot of time leafing through books trying to figure out what to spend my 20% coupon on. Granted, I didn’t read 10% of any of those books, but I know people do go to bookstores and read books, or at least parts of them, that they then do not buy. When we had a Borders in town, we had a lot of students come in, pile up the books they used for references and then leave them behind along with their half-eaten scones and dirty latte cups. Maybe at least with Oysters you’ll get a bit of compensation; at B&N and Borders, you get zip. Remains to be seen.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 11, 2013

      Putting “giant penis” in quotes doesn’t soften the blow, so to speak… That was a Giant Penis!

      Anyway, you’re right about the problem with bricks n’ mortar browsing, and there the physical copies of the books get used — spines cracked, covers curled, etc.

      Oyster might help authors eventually, but this definitely feels like a transitional time in publishing…

      Good luck with your writing this week!

      • 1WriteWay
        November 11, 2013

        Thank you! I’m procrastinating 😉

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This entry was posted on October 27, 2013 by in Publishing and tagged , , , , , .
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