The ‘what do we recommend to readers to get them started’ debate is well and truly out there.
I will, therefore, switch topics momentarily.
Several sites have been discussing the effectiveness of ‘giving away’ free fiction as a means to generate interest and sales. Touching that question – ‘is short fiction dying?’ and ‘is the print magazine/digest dead’?
John Scalzi has a short up on TOR.com (go there, sign up) that has gotten (what is it now, twice?) a huge number of hits, hits in excess of the circulation of all of the SF digests. He was recently asked if he thinks that the story’s presence and popularity is leading to additional sales.
His answer has been ‘no way to know scientifically, but it seems to be’.
Today I happened to purchase his novel The Last Colony (I was going for Zoe’s Tale but had to ‘settle’) at a Barnes and Noble in Concord, NH.
I mentioned to the sales clerk that they’d need to restock since I was buying the last copy on the shelves. His response surprised me a bit: “We’ve been selling a lot of his books lately. We’ve had to restock several times. I loved the opening of his Old Man’s War…”
Surprise that the clerk knew Scalzi and had read him, and surprised that he was aware that ‘Scalzi has been selling good’.
So, it’s not scientific, but at least at one chain store in New Hampshire there has been an upsurge in sales ‘recently’ and they’ve had to restock.
I come to the free fiction debate from an older tradition that basically says ‘you can never sell something that you give away for free’.
I’m beginning to think it is a different marketplace. It appears that at least established authors can, in effect, sell what they’re giving away for free. The question now is – will free works from headline authors positively affect the sales of ‘associated product’ – stories by authors from the same publisher, for example?