More on the Orbit digital short fiction offer

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement that Orbit US will be publishing short genre fiction in a digital format, The Scalzi weighs in with some pertinent questions from the authorial side of the fence:

As I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, I’ll refrain from saying anything about this particular proposed program until I do. However, in a very general sense I can say that proposing writers offer up work uncompensated save for rosy promises of back-end glory is something one shouldn’t tolerate in poorly-funded start-ups done in apartment living rooms. If such a thing were proposed from, say, an arm of the second-largest publisher on the planet, itself an arm of a huge multinational corporation with roughly ten billion dollars in revenue and $180 million in profit in 2009, it should be tolerated even less.

And gets answers, straight from the horse’s mouth. Or rather, from the keyboard of Tim Holman, Orbit Publisher:

The program is likely to be royalty-only. This might not be attractive to some, but I believe it may well be beneficial to authors. Again, perhaps not all authors, but that’s what can happen in a marketplace. I like the principle of creating a direct relationship between the popularity of a story and the revenues received by author and publisher. I also like the idea of giving readers the opportunity to pay for short fiction if they are prepared to do so, and think that doing so adds an interesting dimension to the short fiction market.

Orbit will be handling editorial and marketing for the stories. We like to work with our authors on some aspects of marketing, but there will be no onus on any author to provide any service related to this publishing program.

DRM-free is unlikely.


It wasn’t asked, but I can also say that we’re expecting individual stories to be priced at $1.99.

Not as pretty a picture as many might like, but Holman’s being refreshingly open about it all; if Orbit are wise, they’ll keep the conversation public and listen to feedback, even if they’re determined to go with their existing plan.

At any rate, I think we’re looking at the new genre lit blogosphere topic de la semaine here.

One thought on “More on the Orbit digital short fiction offer”

  1. “I also like the idea of giving readers the opportunity to pay for short fiction if they are prepared to do so…”

    Well, that’s the biggest if in the whole equation. However, it’s all good for Orbit – it’s low copst for them (a few hours typesetting and uploading, they don’t even have to deal with a slush pile) so why not suck it and see? My gut instinct is that it’s gonna be a tough sell, even at $1.99.

    There’s maybe something to be done with ebook bundling, though – buy the trilogy, get a short story or two included.

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