12 September 2008

Service resumed

The site has been offline since the spring; I confess I was sorely disappointed by the initial response - some 11,000 ebooks were downloaded, but only 25 people made a payment. That, coming on top of the considerable effort of preparing the uploads, and coupled with my innate tendency to gloom, made me fear that I had made a mistake.

I also disliked the need to promote the site, which amounted to nothing more than self-promotion. Even though they may not seem so on first reading, my novels are very personal, which made the process more painful still.

A friend has persuaded me to change my mind. Among other things, she says a project like this needs time, plenty of time, and of course she is right.

So I am back to stay. The original blog has vanished in cybersmoke, and I am sorry if you subscribed to its feed and now find you need to subscribe again, but I cannot figure out the necessary Feedburner controls so have just set up a new feed.

As for promotion, I am content now to let word-of-mouth do its thing. That is how books become known, anyway.

I greatly look forward to reading any and all contributions you care to make - even if you say nothing more than "Hi!"


Elle said...

Hi. so good to see you're back!

BobK said...

I'm a firm believer in the shareware model and appreciate your efforts to make your books available at a reasonable price.

Michiel said...

Hello there, I mosied on over from MobileRead.

I applaud your experiment, but I have some suggestions if I may be so forward:

- Be bold in asking for some cash. Seriously, no shame in wanting to get paid. Your "http://www.richardherley.com/" site mentions "Free-to-copy ebooks from an English author" in bold as a subtitle. Most people who glance over your site will just think "alright, free books!".
- In the same vein, the "Fees" link is rather obscure. I only clicked on it because it seemed like an out of place thing on a site. Fees? What fees? Just put a big honking "tip jar"/Paypal button smack bang on the top of the front page.
- for word of mouth to work there must be eyeballs on you and your site, can't talk about that which I don't know. Mention your work often, and mention it everywhere. Yeah, tooting your own horn sucks. So does not getting read, or indeed getting paid.

Just my two cents, good luck with your experiment!

Richard Herley said...

elle, BobK, thanks for your kind words -- much appreciated!

Michiel, thank you too, that's all excellent advice. One of my problems is that I'm English and there's a cultural thing here about blowing your own horn. I'm planning to revise the site soon and will certainly make it more obvious that the books are not exactly free.

Karen Oland said...

I have another suggestion:

Add a mention of the tip jar/shareware payment on the final page of your books. For many of the formats, this will even allow a direct link for the person to click, taking them directly to a paypal payment page, with the appropriate amount filled in for the book they are reading.

In the meantime, I've added a post promoting your new site on my blog, at http://beesontheknob.blogspot.com/

Richard Herley said...

Thank you very much for the plug, Karen -- all publicity gratefully received! I will certainly implement your excellent idea. I'm sure that by the time they reach the end of a book, quite a few readers will have forgotten about the terms of issue. I'll need to edit all the files and remake the zips, which with luck I can get round to tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Richard, I downloaded your books from Feedbooks some time back and when I went to your site it was down at the time. I would like to pay you for your books. I have read all but Tide Mill and have enjoyed them very much -- though I thought the end of the Pagan Trilogy was ... in a hurry or something. But... since I can barely spell my name I find it hard to be too critical. I guess ending a story must be the toughest part, from what I can tell.

Anyway. I would like to pay you for the books. I like your idea. My problem is with Paypay and their interest rates and service charges and suchwhat. Is there some way that I could send you a check or ... maybe you could set up some way to accept credit cards yourself.

I know that we do that at my work -- not over the internet, but by phone.

I wonder if others have wanted to pay but ran into a bit of a wall at Paypal.

As I said, I am quite willing to pay your reasonable request for compensation -- just looking for a method of payment that is comfortable for me.


Mike Wertz
Springdale, AR

PS Do you read Minette Walters? I just recently discovered her -- to my pleasure.

Richard Herley said...

Mike, I looked into payment methods and PayPal came out on top. For the sums involved it's not worth setting up a merchant account, and payment by cheque would also be difficult -- I'd have to set up a business account and the banks don't like processing such small sums. Moreover there's the cost of converting other currencies into GB pounds. Cash is also out of the question.

All I can suggest is that if you have a friend with a PayPal account, ask him/her to make the payment and reimburse in cash.

I know what you mean about the ending of The Earth Goddess. I had to keep to a fairly strict length and was following my synopsis -- what can I say?

No, I have never yet read Minette Walters, but will check out her books. Thanks for the tip and for taking the time to let me know about your problem with PayPal.

Michael said...

Hi Richard,

I went ahead with the paypal thing. Jeeze, 8 bucks and change for 5 books is... reasonable.

I really do respect your grand experiment and hope it works.

And... I had an idea to do something but wanted to ask for your feedback.

I visit some bit torrent sites and was thinking of uploading a copy of one of your books -- probably "The Penal Colony" with a referral to your site in the description area. There was a download called "Herley - free to copy ebooks" in the download that I got from FEEDBOOKS. (I originally found your books at GUTENBERG). That could be used in the description as well. Perhaps if people understood what you were doing -- even though bit torrent downloaders a in the practice of getting their stuff free, book readers would surely have an appreciation for what a living artist who is not involved with a major publisher is trying to do.

Anyway, thought I would get your feedback before doing this.

Thanks again

Mike Wertz

Richard Herley said...

Mike, thanks for your support! I don't mind how many copies of my books get out as long as they're integral copies -- i.e. no text whatever has been deleted. That way, the original terms are included. In fact, the more copies there are in circulation, the better.

I am going to implement Karen Oland's suggestion (above) about putting a little nag at the end of each book, but I thought I would leave that until I have posted Refuge, a new novel which should be ready within a few days at most. (I have done most of the proofing, but still have to revise the Web site, make PayPal buttons, and all that.) That book would be ideal for bit torrents, about which I know absolutely nothing. If you would be so kind as to post Refuge (assuming you approve of it) and The Penal Colony, with a word or two about the terms of issue, I'd be most grateful.

I can't find anything by me at Gutenberg; do you have a URL?

Thanks again for your kindness -- much appreciated.

Michael said...

Well... I couldn't find you on Gutenberg either so I must have been mistaken in that. I went to another site: Manybooks.net, and there you were. I guess that is where I got them from but... well, it isn't at Gutenberg now, at any rate.

They have all of your books at Manybooks. If you are not familiar with it it is similar to Gutenberg, uses a lot of their books, all in the public domain.

I will be pleased to post Penal Colony and then Refuge, as soon as it is downloadable, at Demonoid.com and then Pirate Bay ThePirateBay.org. Those are the two bit torrent sites that I use.

I will put in your url and an explanation from your site as to what you are doing.

Most pleased to be a small part of what you are doing.

I will post on Demonoid as soon as I post this.



Michael said...

Okay, it (The Penal Colony) is posted on Demonoid. You can view it if you visit there in the next few days at Demonoid.com

Go to Torrents, and filter for "books" and "The Penal Colony"

If you wait longer than a day or two you are limited in your downloading capabilities unless you are a member. If you ever want that (membership) I can give you a code with which to do it -- but we would have to do that through private e-mail. I suspect the administrators of the site would take a dim view of my publishing an invitation code on a public blog.

To bed with me.



Richard Herley said...

Thank you again, Mike. Let's see what happens. I suspect that most downloaders of ebooks have a huge pile of stuff in the pipeline, so the results may take a few months (or years) to come through.

Ubiquity -- that's the buzzword!

Christine said...


I read The Penal Colony and enjoyed it. I sent in my donation. I'm going to try your other books, too.

Unfortunately humankind seems to be severely lacking in appreciation, and they also seem to think if you pay a stupidly high price for something that means it is good.

I got your books from feedbooks.

I'm going to have to do a write up on my book blog so I can link to your site.

I'm very glad your site is back, and I hope this works.

Richard Herley said...

Thanks for your encouragement and support, Christine. You rightly say, "they also seem to think if you pay a stupidly high price for something that means it is good"; I have had a similar comment from a friendly poster at MobileRead, so I altered the wording of the home page on my site to let people know why the prices are low - we are cutting out all the middlemen and their inflated markups.

I don't deny your analysis of humankind, but you are living proof to the contrary!

I have added your blog to the blog-roll, as it's just the kind of resource to help ebook pioneers.