Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fricassee of GLBT author, with fries

Times must be rough. I mean, times must be so crappy for online business, you and I can only guess at what's going on. And it's hitting so hard, they're out there, now, as a seller, touting their "serious" authors on Amazon ... with a 30% markup on the books. Every Keegan they have is on Amazon now --

Which means the price of their ordinary paperback is shooting skywards at disastrous rates, due to the markup situation:

That's US$29, give or take loose change. Add $16 for postage. Run the conversion to Aussie dollars ... about A$65.

And what about the hard covers? Well there are several, and they come in at about US$46. Plus postage, and run the exchange rate ... A$88.75 or so. Yeeeouch.

Well, Lulu won't be selling many copies with a 30% markup over the Amazon paperbacks, but I guess I appreciate the effort. Also (as rotten as this sounds) this might help sales in a kind of backward-forwards-logicky kind of way. Potential Customer arrives on Amazon, searches on Mel Keegan, clicks 'see all copies' and all the prices are showcased, from the high to the low. S/he finds out s/he can get a paperback of (say) The Swordsman for US$22.50 rather than a hardcover for US$46 ... and the numbers are so widely disparate, the CreateSpace paperback looks comparatively cheap. This fosters the "impulse buy," and -- click.

It's not going to do much for Lulu, though. At these prices, I just can't see people buying. I ask myself, would I? Could I?! However, it could be great for Keegan, because right now, two things come out of this. One: everything I put at Lulu is showing up on Amazon without me doing one damned thing. My listings at Amazon blow out way high, which means, Two: I can call in some favors from pals, have them go in and do "clever" reviews that remark on how you don't have to pay top-dollar for the Hellgates, for instance. You can "buy direct and bank the difference.

Say, what?

In other words, I'll bribe Aricia with chocolate, coffee and Kirby Crow books, and hopefully she'll buzz off over to Amazon, review the Hellgate books (which she loves, if the way I'm getting harassed to finish the series is anything to go by; AG, get off my case while I get the bloody wiki up and running!) ... and in the course of the review, she'll mention that they're far cheaper if you go to Lulu and buy direct.

This whole thing is a barometer of what's going on in the POD industry since the global economic bust-up, and in the immortal words of numerous movies, "well, this can't be good."

Right now, Lulu is masking the desperate necessity to go out there as a seller with an email: "Congratulations! Your novel has been selected to enter the Amazon markeplace." Uh ... yeah, right. They used to charge A$140 for this service, and the fact is, there is no way they can compete out there, with a 30% markup.

Now, with many writers, it might work for them. Not every writer who's at Lulu has managed to get themselves onto Amazon also. I hopes Lulu *does* manage to scare up enough business to keep their oars in the water, because they've been the best in the POD printshop trade -- they have an extremely nice product, and they'll do business with people outside the USA. Lately, however, they have to be feeling the pressure from the CreateSpace competition, and I sympathize. I really do.

However, this is cool --

Ol' Mel just scored an Author Page at Amazon ... which is good going, because this is *not* something you make yourself. You can edit it, but THEY make the page. Which means someone decided it was worth making a page for MK. Right now there isn't a whole lot on it; I need to add rafts of titles (they have 4, most of then 15 years old), a bio (I'm the Invisible Author at present) and so on. But it's nice to have this.

Wiki news? It's growing like the proverbial mushroom. It's also a lot more work than I'd originally hoped. I'm manning the Help Desk, and am not-quite-surprised that people are finding an astonishing variety of ways to make it go wrong! It's not totally intuitive, it's true -- but, honest engine, guys, it's the best one out there. Trust me: after the EditMe engine, it gets progressively more complex. EditMe is simple, streamlined, and fairly inexpensive ... one hell of a lot less expensive than trying to do this with the originally-planned Joomla interface.

There have been about 60 sign-ups since I announced the wiki, and we're waiting for those folks to feed content into their pages. About half have been *very* busy, adding reams of material (thank you, all!) and it's going to be astonishing by the time everyone has added their stuff. Give it a couple more weeks.

The only downside is that it's taking a lot of my time, while my own pages are beItalicing neglected; and as for writing ...?! It's not happening! Maybe in June. I've promised HELLGATE, and good golly, HELLGATE it will be.




Comella said...

Interesant blog.

kuo said...

Hi Mr. Mel Keegan:

I am the creator of, which Bnovel stands for web novel. It's a brand new site at its beta, so I am here to promote!

It's a site I made for web novel writers and you can view the site as the YouTube for web novels. All written works on Bnovel would be reviewed, recommended, and commented by others.

On the site, every writer can add a donation box and a voice box along with their works. You can link to your own site with the voice box and also profit from your work if you are interested. There are no service fees or costs. Everything is free!

I would like to invite you to post your work on Bnovel and I hope you would have an enjoyable experience!

Please feel free to email back if you have any questions or feedback!

By the way, please accept my apology if this email annoys you.

Thank you in advance!

Peace and love~~

kuo said...

you can reach me from my site by the way.

Mel Keegan said...

Hi, Yang,

It's an interesting concept, and I'll mention it to people. For myself, I don't often do free fiction, but I know some people who do. I'll pass the word on.

Also, if you're inviting GLBT fiction (why else would you be here?!) you might like to look at GLBT Bookshelf (

This would be the perfect place to introduce yourself to writers and invite participation. The Bookshelf is my recent brainchild, and it's growing like a whole field of mushrooms at this point.

Please check it out, and if it's something you'd like to be involved with, it's both free and easy to register and post to your heart's content.

Best wishes,
and good luck with the project,

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