July 17th, 2012, 09:14 PM
QUESTION: How much would you spend on a completely unknown author's science fiction novel, assuming you'd never heard of the book, but rather had stumbled on it and had nothing more to go on than the cover and perhaps an intriguing sample paragraph or two? (Ebook that is; not hard-copy.)
I decided to post this here rather than in the "Writing" forum, as I'm interested in what everyone thinks -- not just people who write sci-fi themselves. My apologies if this question is too off-topic or noobish.
July 18th, 2012, 08:33 AM
I have never bought an e-book (don't have a reader either). However I have on more than one occasion made an impulse buy with little more data than what you listed.
An interesting premise and a paragraph or 2 of sample copy inside the front cover (or where ever) has been enough to fork over sometimes $8 for a book. I can't say as the cover has ever done anything more than catch my eye because often they are utterly unrelated to the content.
My track record on this is spotty, I have found real gems turning me on to a new author (James P. Hogan years ago) and complete stinkers (absolutly anything by Harry Harrison). However I know this and will still buy impulsively because the winners are rewarding enough to offset the dissapointing losers.
July 18th, 2012, 09:59 AM
I like SF. SF is cool.
I've spent up to $7 for ebooks by unknown authors, given a good story description and a reasonable sample of writing. Most often I've spent $5 or less, and some such books tend to be free (though the free ones are rarely up to par with the pay books, sometimes they are better).
As I fall into that category as a seller, I sell my books (presently) at $3.00. I've considered going higher, but they're not selling now, so I may wait awhile before I raise prices (and I may lower them).
Last edited by Steven L Jordan; July 21st, 2012 at 10:45 AM.
July 18th, 2012, 11:30 AM
Live Long & Suffer
Back in the day when I started the cover and blurb was all I had to go on but the book was only 50 cents. At first I thought all science fiction was great then I encountered some I thought was crap. I remember being so disillusioned but I don't recall the book.
But eventually I developed some kind of instinct that seemed reliable about 80% of the time. I can't really explain it. I knew I would not care for Hyperion and Hitchhiker's Guide and avoided them for almost 20 years even though they were everywhere. I finally read them for the hell of it and I was right.
But now with the Internet I have started reading lots of reviews. It is somewhat educational about how worthless reviews are to someone with my peculiar tastes. I mostly like James P. Hogan and Harry Harrison.
July 18th, 2012, 05:43 PM
The trouble with buying ebooks on the strength of an interesting cover and/or an interesting description (or sample chapters) is that - especially on something like the Kindle Store - you are entering the realm of the slush pile. At least with hardcopy, for the most part, you know that a lot of the terrible work has been filtered out and what you are reading has been proof-read - there is a lot more work to be done to find an enjoyable novel in an e-book store if you're just browsing. Not to say that there aren't gems in there, but I'm unlikely to try one unless I've had a chance to check out a free copy of something by the author. Digital shopping is great if you know what you are looking for, not great if you are just browsing.
Also, if you read a hardcopy book and don't like it, it can be passed on. Donated to charity shops where it can still do some good, and possibly be read by someone who will enjoy it. E-books don't have that option - read it, and either keep it or delete it, and I object (probably irrationally, but there you go) to just deleting something I've paid for.
So, to answer the question: it's very rare for me to be willing to spend any money on an e-book by an author whose work I am unfamiliar with. It's more or less an extension of how I treat print books - most of the time I will only be introduced to authors if I pick something up on the cheap from a second-hand shop, I'm not so keen on spending £8 on a new book that I may not like. I may make an exception in very unusual cases, but normally e-books are restricted to authors I know I like.
Last edited by Vandervecken; July 18th, 2012 at 05:45 PM.
July 20th, 2012, 03:36 AM
Live Long & Suffer
I have decided this is the quintessential sci-fi story.
Omnilingual (1957) by H. Beam Piper
He is probably unknown to a lot of SF readers today.
July 20th, 2012, 07:10 AM
Awesome, thanks for the recommend :-) I'll check it out.
July 25th, 2012, 03:31 PM
Somehow I see a kind of contradiction. If 2-3 chapters of a book are well writen and interesting, why entering for sure in the realm of slush pile?
Originally Posted by Vandervecken
July 25th, 2012, 10:57 PM
To be fair, I've read several self-published SF novels that started well but turned bad later.
Originally Posted by Valerie
But I've also read plenty of trade-published SF novels which did the same.
July 26th, 2012, 01:38 PM
I agree with this, reading some pages will give an ideea about the writing, not an assurance about the whole plot or the end. And as you told it goes for all books. Sometimes I like to try an unknown author, a newcomer dare to risk writing something new, and sometimes I find that it worth.
Originally Posted by Edward M. Grant
My reaction was more about the generalization that the way to the slush pile is paved with ebooks.
Last edited by Valerie; July 26th, 2012 at 01:51 PM.
July 27th, 2012, 10:21 AM
If it dealt with themes that I was interested in -- realistic, slower than light interstellar travel, first contact, SETI -- I wouldn't really care that the author was unknown.
I'd say just make sure you make it clear what your book is about. If it sounds interesting, people will buy it.
July 27th, 2012, 11:52 AM
Awesome, thanks for the recommend :-) I'll check it out
Last edited by peterr77; November 21st, 2012 at 12:16 AM.