Y’all know me. I’m always experimenting. I don’t know if I’m easily bored or what. But one of the many plates I’ve currently got spinning in the air involves crowd pricing my short stories.
I’m talking about CAIN’T DO NOTHING WITH LOVE, the short story collection that was on Podiobooks, which was itself an experiment, a very successful one. Listeners downloaded the stories across the globe, over and over again, which tickled me to no end. I mean, imagine all those folks in France straining to understand my very Southern voice. Then—nothing ever stays the same, does it?—Podiobooks merged with Scribl.com. Because I was an existing author, Scribl gave me the option of staying on Podiobooks as a Legacy (you know, like when you rush the same sorority your mom was in). In addition, I could choose to join Scribl, which offers both ebooks and audiobooks.
Scribl’s thing is crowd pricing. The way crowd pricing works, the stories start out free. When the downloads reach a certain threshold, a price begins to attach. Scribl prices the ebook and audiobook differently, based on how often readers or listeners download each. The more the stories are downloaded, the higher the price creeps. In effect, the price point acts as a “review.” As the site says, the books with higher prices “have proven popular.” Does that make sense?
I suspect it takes a while for all of this to happen—downloads to break the threshold, price to rise, then perhaps for prices to plateau/fall as the price exceeds what people are willing to pay. However, the first part has gone quickly—the stories are no longer free! The stories went from free, to costing .39 to listen and .29 to read, to $2.79 to listen and $1.99 to read. Woo hoo!
I know, I know—it’s not a very high price. But it’s exciting. Plus, listeners downloaded the stories on Podiobooks over 55,000 times. I do NOT anticipate this happening with Scribl, but even a little blip would be fun. Check it out here.
What’s funny, when I quit lawyering and began writing, my uncle started signing his letters to me, “Keep on scribbling.”
Little did he know how true that would turn out to be. 🙂
If you’ve found us here through Podiobooks, welcome!
The release on Podiobooks is the latest step in a process that began last December. You can read the background on how I came to record my short story collection, Cain’t Do Nothing with Love, by scrolling over the ABOUT tab above and clicking AUTHOR Q&A. You can read more about the recording/story selection process at IN HER OWN WORDS under the same tab.
Sprinkled here and there on this blog are my plans for the future. My current writing projects, my woes wrestling with editing, and my exploration of life in general are at my EllenMorrisPrewitt blog. Here’s a photo of the creative synthesizer at work:
If you’re a writer on audio, let me know—I’m really interested in this process. If you’re a listener and you’d like to share your comments, I’d welcome that too. It’s a long road, this writing one, and I’m glad to have any companions I can get.
Sometimes I get so frustrated by the pace of my writing career, I Google the titles of my novels to see if something is going on with them that I don’t know about. This is an insane activity, as the novels haven’t been published. The only place they exist—other than a mention or two in contests I’ve placed in over the years—are in my computer. Yet, my lack of control over the excruciatingly slow pace—snail doesn’t begin to describe it; a snail could have traveled to Mexico, attended Carlos Fuentes funeral, and traveled leisurely back to Memphis via Omaha—has driven me to such wacko behavior.
Novels, you say. Novel. I thought she was a short story writer? Well, you see that’s the problem. Before this venture, I was “the woman who wrote that book about making crosses.” I loved my experience of the cross book, and then it was time to move on. I next chose, in effect, to self-publish as a collection these short stories that individually appeared in literary journals, my desire being to introduce folks to my fiction. Do you feel introduced? Are you ready for the next thing?
Maybe my problem is an above-average need for attention and acclaim, fanfare and fawning. But here’s the honest truth: I’m ready for the next thing before most people are ready for me to be the next thing. I’m already skipping down the sidewalk, and they haven’t processed my last chalk drawing. I can’t help it. I’m ready to bop. I want the short stories to do their work and, well-loved, subside into the background.
Lord, did you see what that snail did with Burnt Water? That’s what happens when a snail gets too much tequila.
Remember: You Cain’t Do Nothing with Love (or craziness)
This is the last week of the rollout. Look back: the first story launched on June 26 (of this year, as my friend from writing group would clarify.) We sustained a hiatus when my daddy died, then resumed with vigor. When the current week is done, we will enter PHASE II. The collection will be made available in full on other host sites. The work will enter the wider world. So let’s enjoy this last moment of intimacy. When it’s just you and me and the stories, whispering in your ear: “Listen, I want to tell you a story.”
I can feel it – I’m eating up track, finally in the groove for the story, and the week is over. Finished. Done. Time to move on.
A week is a short thing.
Stay tuned for a new story.
It involves Love.
And a man in a squirrel costume.
Everyone’s talking about e-book or print, self-publishing or traditional. I want to talk about something different. Following the advice of my favorite fortune cookie ever—try a different way or new approach—today, I’m beginning a conversation about a different approach: audio. That is, recording your work and making it available to listeners on-line.
I do not speak from a point of authority; I speak from experience. I am a long-time writer, winner of numerous contests, holder of a Special Mention from Pushcart Prize for a short story, contributor to Sue Silverman’s memoir-writing instructional book Fearless Confessions, author of a traditionally published book, Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God. And I’ve just recorded a short story collection, Cain’t Do Nothing with Love, which is now available to the public.
The conversation will include questions to ask in deciding if recording is right for you, tips on getting started, truths I learned along the way, my experience with the listening public, etc. But today we are going to take a look at the fears that I encountered when I first clicked on the microphone and began to read my words aloud.
Thanks for listening, join in the discussion, share this blog with anyone who likes to try something new—glad to have you along.
Recording Fears, or Why Your Heart Might Skip a Beat
Your voice will sound stupid
Your voice will sound old
Your voice will sound JUST LIKE YOU
You will use a phrase that unbeknownst to you is slang for a pornographic sex act
You will mispronounce a word and not know it and your ignorance will be recorded for all the world to hear
You will no longer be able to pretend this thing isn’t important to you
Those who run the charities you’ve paired with the stories will be offended—now, we don’t want our name associated with that
A friend will ask to listen to the story while you’re sitting there, mortifying you to death
A really good writer will listen to the story and use it as the foundation of a blog entry on why we shouldn’t let amateurs have microphones
People will feel like they know you
You will have spent all this money for NOTHING
Someone will complain about your using Robb Pate’s music without compensating him even though he’s dead
Those who know you from your cross book will be shocked—I thought she was a religious person . . .
You will offend Black folk or gay folk or poor folk or Indian folk—what the hell were you thinking?!?
Your mother will hear you say a very bad word, out loud
People will give your upstanding husband the stink-eye just because his wife is strange
No one will donate to the charities
You are trying to market an approach (online, iTunes, YouTube, blog) to an audience too old (i.e. your age) to be interested, and the audience who gets the approach are too young to care about your work
Listeners won’t think the stories are funny, they won’t get it, they will find it just plain offensive
They won’t think anything at all because no one is listening, your voice echoing into nothingness
Stay Tuned for Part II: How to Overcome Your Fears and Forge Ahead
I am a child of the book. No more than five books from the children’s section of the library—what’s to be done? Not enough money to buy more than one book from the Book Mobile, thank God for Little Bear gifts from loving aunts. Summers spent in air-conditioned rooms lazing on beds, reading one Faulkner after another Welty after another, all in diamond-patterned or green-backed or crackly plastic covers. I grew up to discover paperbacks— The Bluest Eye and the Right Stuff: all right!—and when I got money practicing law, hardbacks.
So why record?
I loved the brown-edged pages, the stiff spines, the thick square paperbacks. I picked which Austin I wanted by which cover I liked. I opened the books and sniffed. I wanted to own that which I loved and I made shelves to hold them in my house.
So why record?
Why turn traitor?
Why abandon the book?
What’s fun is fun and what’s done is done. The stories are fun; the recording is done. The stories had been in print—literary journals, I know, right?—so take a Mulligan. Try something new, you’ve got nothing to lose.
But, seriously. I want the work OUT THERE. Even if that means no book.
Would I be sad if the world continues to change and by the time I finally get a novel ready to launch, the written book is gone, poof! Hell, yes.
Until then, you can go on-line. Hear me read, hear me roar.
And who knows—if the stories get popular enough, maybe I’ll put out the collection in a book.