The Times They Are A Changin’

QmarkBack in the ice age of Austen Fan Fiction, posting a story online was the only way for an author to have an audience and for readers to get their stories. But now, particularly with independent publishing de rigeur, readers and writers are able to connect with little trouble.

My question, does an author posting their story online make you more inclined or less inclined to buy it when it’s finished?

Take care–Susan Kaye

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23 thoughts on “The Times They Are A Changin’

  1. janashe

    I would say MORE inclined to buy the paper version. why?
    First, I vastly prefer reading a paper copy, but hate to buy one that I turn out not to like. That really sours me on an author. If I do not care for one of an authors stories online, I will still read their others to see if I do enjoy those. But I never buy a second title after being disappointed the first time in a paper copy
    Second, I like to keep a book in the car for those times I find myself waiting to pick someone up, in a doctor’s office, whereever. And it will almost be a paper copy I bought of one I loved online.
    Third, about 90% of my bought books are ones I read online first and truly enjoyed and know I want to re-read
    Fourth, the paper copy usually has been edited some, tightened up, less typos, etc., and I enjoy seeing the changes when I reread the story.
    Finally, I want to support the authors I enjoy and have great respect for, I greatly appreciate the stories they write and being part of the WIP process, and I feel I give something back by buying their books. The few times I bought an unknown, particularly if it was not one I enjoyed, I felt I had betrayed the better writers whose books I knew about and should have spent my money on!

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      I think you’re in the minority. Looking at numbers of online readers and then sales figures show a wide gap. I try to support writers I like by buying their work, but I’m not sure in this world where a lot of people think art and practically everything else should be free that there is a lot of follow through on the part of readers.

      Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. CeliaHayes

    Well, I’ve always been posted occassional chapters of my books at my book-blog, as a way of whetting appetite for the completed and published book. I’ve put up about a chapter a month on the current work in progress – which I am describing as “Mrs. Gaskell meets Zane Grey” – the socially inept daughter of an English noble marries a Texas cattle rancher. Romantic adventure and cultural clashes ensue.
    I would say very much yes – posting excerpts or chapters builds interest in the finished and published book. At least, it has always worked for me!

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      I’m not so sure about this as a business model for me anymore. I have lots of webpages with lots of words and I’m just not sure it’s a productive use of my time any more.

      Thanks for your opinion.

  3. Stephanie Carrico

    Mostly yes…if I am invested in the story…really enjoyed it…I would want a hard (paper) copy….but some stuff….is just fluff…fun to read but not something I want on my shelves..

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      My problem is deciding in which category my work belongs. And even then I may disagree with the reader.

      1. Susan Kaye Post author

        I just do not “get” having a copy on Kindle and then getting a print copy. I would do so if I went to a signing and had it autographed.

        I read for the story, the whole aesthetic of the “book” experience is lost on me.

  4. Donna B.

    I’m just getting acquainted with this world of on-line WIPs….and I am more likely to purchase the printed volumnes after, first to support the author and second to see whatever changes may have been made in their journey from draft to print. Blessings!

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      A girl after my own heart. I’m always pretty clear with my readers that there will be changes. Some with be style changes and hopefully barely noticeable. Others will be big enough to spot and ponder.

  5. Robin Helm

    I don’t think I would have sold very many books at all had I not first posted online. In my opinion, I needed to do that to build a fanbase. I posted my first stories on four different forums. My current story is on only one forum. I found that keeping up with four forums was taking too much time. I do enjoy online posting, however. The read feedback is very useful, and I have the chance to rewrite problems that come up during posting. That weekly deadline also keeps me working on schedule, too, and there have been occasions when readers have given me good ideas on plot development.

  6. Sophia Rose

    Hmm, my honest and probably frustrating answer is that it depends. I’ve read on-line free reads that once I read them I complimented/thanked the author and didn’t bother when I finally heard the story had been edited and put into print. At other times, I loved the story so much and knew that I would read it over again and possibly again so I purchased an e-book or paper copy of the published work. So it depends on how well I like it I guess is the answer there.
    I do not feel an obligation to purchase or that to purchase or not to purchase is about my loyalty to the author’s work because it was the author’s choice to post the work free to be read. Now that being said, sometimes reading a free story has led me to become a fan and end up purchasing a whole series or other books by the author after that. But sometimes not.
    Teaser chapters, other vignettes about the characters, etc. bring the same answer. I’ll buy it if it sounds good.
    As to multiple copies in various formats, no. If I own an e-copy, I don’t bother with a paper copy and vice versa.

    I see you have as many opinion answers as there are people. Thanks for asking our opinion.

    1. Robin Helm

      That’s a very sensible answer, Sophia Rose, and I can say the same for myself. Sometimes I buy a book I’ve read online, and sometimes I don’t. An online story has also led me to other books by the author that I haven’t read, and I might buy those books. Thanks for commenting!

    2. Susan Kaye Post author

      I asked this question due to my own curiosity and because I see polls that say many wildly different things about how readers feel about e-books, print, availability, Amazon, book stores, etc and was curious to see if our readers were the same.

      They seem to be. Sort of. ;-)

      To be honest, I am trying to get away from posting online. The occasional holiday short story or drabble is not out of line, but for me there is an unhealthy need that comes over me when I post. In some ways the act of getting a post ready and getting it up is as much work as writing the darn thing. It disturbs my flow in the over all.

      I’m glad Austen just sat at her little table by the window and wrote. Her only distraction was the squeaky door.

      Thanks for your response, Sophia.

  7. Cassie Grafton

    If I have loved the online story, I long for a print copy for my bookshelf. I am a great re-reader of stories I love. I do have books downloaded on my iPad, but it’s not my preferred way to read.

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      I am a great re-reader of stories I love.

      I think this is key. I’m not big on rereading. The only author I reread with any regularity is P. D. James. In fact, after reading an online article on how there are far more pets in this country than children, I feel the need to read Children of Men again.

      As I said above, I’m happy to read electronically, the paper-and-ink experience of print books is not necessary to my enjoyment of a story.

      Thanks for commenting, Cassie.

  8. Amy P

    It depends. If I love it I’ll buy it, but only if I love it. Teaser chapters and sensible reviews are more likely to make me buy (or not buy) a book, especially for my Kindle. I don’t invest in a paper copy of fiction anymore unless I’m really enthralled by it or it’s from the used bookstore. I agree with Robin though, that posting books in their entirety can be a great way to build a fan base–especially when the author is a reliable, regular poster, as she was. :) Once the base is built though, I think it would be counter-productive to post complete works online.

    1. Robin Helm

      Hi, Amy. I still am a reliable regular poster. ; ) I post installments of my new book, Accidentally Yours, every Tuesday at Beyond Austen. There’s a link to the site on the home page of this site. Come and join us!

  9. Susan Kaye Post author

    I think I’m with you on the point that once a base is established, turning our attention to writing and publishing is more productive.

    In my experience, writing a novel in seclusion and serializing a novel online are two different for both reader AND writer.

    Thanks for stopping by, Amy.

    1. Laura Hile

      Then too, when one posts online there is the guilt factor.

      I tell myself that guilt will help motivate me post more regularly, and in some respects this is true.

      On the other hand, when my teaching schedule becomes impossible, or when I run into a story log-jam and get stuck—or both (like right now!) —the online story screeches to a halt. Then the guilt compounds…

  10. Gayle Mills

    I very rarely buy a JAFF book (or Kindle Edition) that I haven’t read on line. If I love a story — or an author — I’ll buy the book to read again at that imaginary time in the future when I’m at my leisure. I also want to support them financially so it will be worth it to them to write more stories.

    I support the authors who invest in the JAFF community. Most of us came to love FF by establishing relationships with the authors via posts and comments. It makes for a personal connection that can’t be gotten any other way. Of course, some authors may shy away from that kind of exposure.

    I don’t buy books from authors I don’t particularly like or respect. Sorry, but that’s just me. And I don’t buy books that are poorly edited. If there are glaring mistakes in the blurb, I might continue to read the story on-line, but I’m not going to pay for the aggravation of reading it again.

    I think that authors can use the on-line posting to their advantage. If they complete their story within 5 or 6 chapters of their on-line ending, they can use a cliffie to motivate their readers to go ahead and purchase the book or kindle edition. I have read many, many stories that I was following weekly that I would gladly have bought to know the ending.

    I think anything an author can do to increase their fanbase is a good thing and will eventually pay off monetarily for them. Introducing fresh new readers to JAFF is the only way of keeping the genre viable.

    If your book is good (writing), and if your target audience is aware that it’s available (marketing), your sales will reflect that.

  11. Susan Kaye Post author

    Using the Cliffhanger is a two-edged sword. I read a string in an online community about that marketing technique and the opinions were about down the middle as to whether the readers would buy the book or seek out the writer to have them flogged.

    I do have to say at times, online readers are frustrating. They get a lot for free and many of them seem to think they should get it all and then be left to decide how much the work is worth. In the past I have felt like one of those million monkeys.

    Thanks for the opinion Gayle.


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