Peter David Writes Next Book for Amazon, Not Self-Publishing, Due to Low Sales

Over at the Crazy 8 Press site, writer Peter David has announced that his next original novel, ARTFUL: Being the Heretofore Secret History of that Unique Individual, The Artful Dodger, Hunter of Vampyres (Amongst Other Things), will be written for Amazon Books, not the Crazy 8 collective.

Why am I going through a publisher rather than providing it to the readers myself? It’s time to be honest, guys: It’s because they pay me. Amazon forks over money in advance. And not only does that not happen with Crazy 8, but even when the books get out there, my readers are slow to pick them up….

I’ll get monthly royalty statements that wouldn’t buy a bag of groceries. You cannot understand how frustrating it is to put months of work into a novel and the response of fans is indifference.

A well-meaning but tone-deaf fan in the comments tries to insist that $4.99 is too much and David would sell plenty at a lower price. Aside from the tackiness of that insistence at this moment, I don’t believe that’s true. The percentage of fans willing to pay for original, non-corporate digital work is small.

David is also the person who once came up with a success formula for comics that said the most important thing was the publisher, then the character, then the artist, THEN the writer. Creators known for corporate work whose fans follow them are finding that the loyalty only goes so far when you’re talking about original creations, which don’t have the same nostalgia hit for the reader. Those who are successful with digital work have built a fanbase in that area; the old ones don’t necessarily transfer.

Which is a shame, because David’s right: hard work deserves compensation. If you don’t buy digital originals, then you have no voice in the market, and you shouldn’t be telling those exploring that brave new world how to do it. You want good work, someone’s got to pay for it. If you don’t, then in this case, Amazon will. And following the old school model may mean more money for things like marketing, to get the word out.

(One small suggestion: on the Crazy 8 site, I went to Peter David’s About page, hoping to figure out which of their titles are by him, so I could link them up. There is no list on his author’s page, and there should be.)

Update: This fan has a good writeup of Crazy 8 Press and David’s writing history.

11 Responses to “Peter David Writes Next Book for Amazon, Not Self-Publishing, Due to Low Sales”

  1. James Schee Says:

    That is one incredibly long title for a book.

    It is too bad that he couldn’t make more off his self publishing. Though I guess I wonder if the only ones seeing it wasn’t the target audience. Comic fans may have seen it, but would they buy a non-comic by him? I wonder how Fallen Angel his CO series did? (did it ever finish? I liked it but lost track of it when I was shifting how I bought comics)

    I wonder if his prose fans even saw these books or not.

  2. Bartleby the Scrivener Says:

    I’m just glad when writers write. I think they should charge all the market will bear and write only when they feel like doing so.


  3. Ralf Haring Says:

    @James, Fallen Angel ran for 20 issues at DC and 33 issues at IDW with 2 miniseries thereafter.

    I’m sorry he’s had low sales with his self-published novels. (I’m not sure “low” adequately captures what must be immense disappointment at double or triple digit sales. :-/ ) He’s definitely on my list of creators that will draw my attention to a comic, though not to the level that I’ll order everything from him blind. I’ve never read any of his novels. Man, he’s done a lot of stuff …

  4. Johanna Says:

    Yes, it is a long title, but it gets the concept and flavor across well.

    The question of visibility is a tough one when self-publishing, whatever kind. The works often aren’t browsable, and you lose the ability for people to stumble across them in stores.

  5. Jer Says:

    Um, Peter David was writing self-published novels? This is literally the first I’ve heard of this, and I do a passable job of following fan information (at least from the comics side). It sounds like there may have been some marketing and promotional issues with the plan.

    One small suggestion: on the Crazy 8 site, I went to Peter David’s About page, hoping to figure out which of their titles are by him, so I could link them up. There is no list on his author’s page, and there should be.

    Yeah. Marketing and promotional issues. If you’re going to self-publish, these days that basically means that you have to self-promote. That’s the biggest value-add that publishers give to writers these days – they take care of most of the marketing and promotion of your title to get the word out to people who need to hear about it. If you’re not good at self-promotion – or even if you’re good at it but you don’t have the time to do it – then you have to hire someone to do it for you.

  6. Johanna Says:

    I heard about Crazy 8 from the blogs of some of the creators involved, but yes, I haven’t seen much about it from unaffiliated sites. It may have gotten more press in the writing world, since there are no actual comics involved.

  7. Robert Greeneberger Says:

    Oddly, there are seven or eight of us who are actively tweeting, blogging and posting on Facebook about each other’s releases and yet people continue to claim not knowing about our two year old venture.

    When we launched in July 2011, I sent a formal press release to literally hundreds of mainstream news, pop culture and comics related sites. From what I can tell, that netted us all of one or two stories.

    Getting the word out remains the hardest task and every trick we try seems to get us inches instead of miles. There’s no magic bullet except accepting this is a marathon not a sprint.

    One cannot be anything but disheartened when, after two years, people still seem unaware of our efforts.

  8. Peter David Says:

    That’s nothing, Bob. Someone once came up to me at a convention telling me what a huge fan of my work they were, and then looked at the material on my table I was selling. They picked up a FALLEN ANGEL graphic novel and said, “What’s FALLEN ANGEL?” And the book had been coming out, between the DC and IDW run, for ten years. Ten years of my pushing the book everywhere and my huge fan never heard of it.

  9. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    I’ve bought several of the Crazy 8 books, but it was a blog mention of the Crazy 8 collective that caused me to find them. If publishing through Amazon gets Peter more publicity on Amazon, it will drive people to the other books, which should drive them to the other authors as well. This is a positive overall for Crazy 8, not a repudiation.

  10. James Schee Says:

    Thanks Ralph! I’ll have to track that all down, as it has been so long since I read it.

    Getting news out about anything is so hard these days. There is just too much out there screaming for attention. I didn’t even know Stephen King had written a sequel to The Shining until I saw the preview in a recent Entertainment Weekly issue.

  11. James Schee Says:

    Damn auto correct I meant Ralf of course




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