Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about all the faces she makes while painting faces and other things.

What publishing a free e-book does to sales of the book

2013 . 01 . 14 - Comments / Commentaires (6)

I just took Crime Against Nature down from Place where it’s been up for the last two months, and it seems like a good time to break down the money going out and coming in on the book for all those who’ve been asking.

Since I laid out the book myself, to create and print it, I paid:

- $1500 (or $1.50 per word) for the foreword

- $55 for the barcode and ISBN

- $6183 to print 250 copies (color printing for a 130-page book is spendy)

I set the price of the print version at $26, roughly the cost of printing.  The Regional Arts and Culture Council grant of $4478 which I received for this project made my decision to sell the books at production cost feel right.

The print version of Crime Against Nature was just a start.  It was a bit more work, but I knew that an e-book was unavoidable and that, furthermore, a French translation was too.  In the end, I published the book through six outlets:

- the print version in English, available online and at the gallery during the show

- the Facebook photo album of the English e-book

- the Facebook photo album of the French e-book

- the English e-book PDF downloadable through a site which does not track users

- the English e-book PDF downloadable through my site

- the French e-book PDF downloadable through my site

In the space between the launch of the book on 7 November and the end of the exhibit at Place on 12 January, I have:

- given away 54 print copies to Kickstarter supporters and the press

- sold 67 print copies through my site

- sold 50 print copies through the gallery

- had 25 shares and 35 likes of the English Facebook photo album version

- had 1 share and 9 likes of the French Facebook photo album version

- had 794 trackable downloads of the English PDF

- had 39 downloads of the French PDF

- received $196 in donations for the two PDF versions

- enjoyed 11 conversions from a trackable free viewing to a purchase of the printed book

Furthermore, I’ve received countless emails telling me how vital this work is and thanking me for it.  And this project was noted in three local papers (here, here, and here) and featured on BoingBoing as well as a number of other blogs (including this French one), all accolades which were possible only because the book was so easily accessible.



Crime Against Nature the book

And yet, even though I just showed you all my numbers, I’m not ready to tally them for good.  Because that’s the most important point about my art-as-book and book-as-art free culture adventure: this is just the beginning of the life of Crime Against Nature, and that’s not something that most artists can say about a project as they take down an exhibit.


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- On being boinged
- The process of writing a book / La réalisation d’un livre
- Post-show depression and touring


CATEGORIES: - Business of art - Crime - Free culture -



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(6) Comments / Commentaires: What publishing a free e-book does to sales of the book

Allison...

Glad you’re not tallying them yet! There is much more great words to be spread about your work! Congrats, Gwenn.

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Gwenn...

Thanks so much Alli!

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Janice...

I just found out about your book from the blog Sketchbook Challenge.  What a fascinating piece of work, not just your beautiful art, but your refreshing and unusual (only to us silly humans) outlook on gender and nature.  Very nice.  After looking through some of the how-it-was-made videos on your blog, it was clear to me that I wanted this book and I was quite surprised to see the download-for-free option.  That’s a great idea for spreading the information you have to share, but possibly lousy for making money.  (I bought the book, being a firm believer in supporting brilliance as I see it.)  I found your videos very impressive, too, and I would urge you to collate those into a DVD of sorts and make that available to the populace (YouTube?), perhaps offering that for free instead of (or along with) the downloadable version of your artwork.  Fascinating work.  Thank you so much.

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Gwenn...

The videos are collated on YouTube, Vimeo, and here on my blog! 

In giving away the e-book, I’m fairly certain I’ve reached more of an audience than I could have otherwise while at the same time earning more sales.  The people who aren’t going to pay to see the book the first time are one of two kinds of people:

1) they will never pay to see a book because they don’t believe in buying books or (possibly) supporting artists.

-OR-

2) they will happily pay for a book they’re interested in, but some of them might want to flip through it first.

I still want to reach the first group with my book because they still deserve to have access to the information.  And I want to serve the second group properly by allowing them to flip through the book digitally.  What’s more, there’s a whole other group who don’t want the hard copy of the book, but would love to give me a donation for the electronic version!

In the end, it’s about priorities.  I like people who have priorities like yours (thank you so much for buying the book!!), but people with different priorities are my audience too!

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Janice...

I have enjoyed many of the videos right here, but by ‘collated’, I meant all put together into one big package, i.e. one informative DVD including all the Crimes against Nature video.  Is there one like that and not just all of the individual pieces? 

Just imagine:  Wouldn’t it be neat to have this as part of a grade school biology/science curriculum?  Wouldn’t that help a lot of kids with basic I’m-different/I’m-not-so-different issues?  I find it an amazing concept.  (It also goes well with the children’s book I just read, “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” where everything in the universe, including all life, comes from stardust and star explosions!)

I fully appreciate and agree with your evaluation of buyers and your wishes to reach as large an audience as possible.  You raise some amazing, yet very basic points and I hope they spread very well!

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Gwenn...

It’s a good point re: a DVD.  And I know the videos have been used for just that purpose in at least one local high school.  It’s something I will certainly think about!

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