Saturday, 27 February 2010

Greg McQueen - Guest Post

I am delighted to welcome my first ever guest on this blog, Greg McQueen the inspiration behind 100 Stories for Haiti. As Greg is quick to point out, he hasn’t achieved this on his own, but without his initial inspiration, drive to get something done and flat out hard work this would never have happened. Over to you Greg.

Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Because today I want to talk about ebooks ... WAIT! Those of you running away screaming and waving a dog-eared copy of your favourite paperback ... STOP! Whether you're a writer or reader, you can't bury your head in pulp and ignore ebooks any longer. Digital books are here to stay.

This isn't one of those blog posts about The Death of the Paperback either. Every time I read a headline like that, I cringe. Nor will I bore you silly with lots of market analysis, or harp on about the marvels of e-ink, or write a lame comparison between the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle. You can read plenty of that elsewhere. What I'll share with you are my reasons for choosing Smashwords to publish the ebook edition of 100 Stories for Haiti.

The biggest reason is freedom. Smashwords aren't tied to a particular device or software platform. In fact, they have made sure that ebooks on their site are readable anywhere. Once you've bought your ebook you can load it onto your ebook reader, view it on your computer or smart phone, or even print the whole thing out if you choose.

Let's get this out of the way. If you buy a paperback, photocopy it and give it to your friends, that's piracy. There's nothing stopping you from doing it. But it is piracy nonetheless. The same applies to digital books. I am not saying this to wag my finger and nag about copyright. Everybody shares. It is human nature. If you read a book that you like, you want to share it. I lend books to friends. We all do. I borrow books from friends. But if I borrow a book that I like, I usually end up buying my own copy ... I am a book lover, it's what we do!

Smashwords understands this. That's why they don't waste time with Digital Rights Management.

Another reason for choosing Smashwords is because they make writers and publishers responsible for their own work. If I upload a book full of typos, that's my fault. But Smashwords will make it available, allowing readers to decide for themselves whether they want to buy it.

Writers and publishers on Smashwords also get to set their own price for their ebooks. Smashwords usually take a 15% commission on sales, whatever the price, leaving 85% for the writer/publisher. That's not just generous, it's fair. In the case of 100 Stories for Haiti, Mark Coker (Mr Smashwords), has agreed to waiver their usual commission. So when you purchase the ebook of 100 Stories for Haiti on Smashwords about 90% goes to charity.

I won't kid you. I'd love it to be 100%. But it isn't. As with the paperback edition, PayPal takes a cut of the money, as do banks for moving the funds around. They won't shift on that (they are banks, how else do you think they fund all those juicy bonuses?). Still, 90% to charity is pretty darn good.

So what is the cover price for the ebook edition? Well, I am glad you asked because it is another reason why I chose Smashwords. As I said before, writers/publishers can set their own prices for ebooks on Smashwords. BUT. Smashwords also give readers the chance to set their own price too. What that means is that you will be able to buy your copy of the 100 Stories for Haiti ebook edition for ... Whatever price YOU want to pay for it.

So, if you want to pay £1, that's what you pay. If you want to pay £5, that's what you pay. If you want to pay £50, that's what you pay ... with a hearty thanks for your generosity. Of course, if you want to pay nothing, you can do that too.

If you buy the paperback, feel free to grab a copy of the ebook. Pay for it if you can. But if you've forked out £11.99 + P&P for a clump of glue and paper, I'd certainly encourage you to download the ebook for free.

And while you're on the Smashwords site, click around, there's some great authors there. Some books are free, others aren't -- but Smashwords is a fantastic site for book lovers, especially those yet to discover the joy of digital books.

Thanks for allowing me to guest post, Teresa. The next stop on this blog-until-you-drop tour is Sylvia Petter's blog:

100 Stories for Haiti comes out on March the 4th, as an ebook and paperback. You can pre-order the paperback NOW:

Thank you, Greg!


  1. Great post again, Greg. Thanks for informing us about e-books and smashwords - very interesting!

  2. Yes, very interesting! I must admit I've been reluctant to look at ebooks, being old-school, old-fashioned, and, well, just old I suppose. But I'm glad 100 stories is coming out as an ebook too - the more money we can raise by whatever means, the more we can help Haiti.

  3. Fascinating post. Can't wait to read the book.

  4. Yes, great post and I can't wait to read the book either!

  5. Good information about Smashwords,thanks.

  6. Thanks for the info - love the idea of readers setting their own price for the e- book - a great initiative!

  7. Book is out tomorrow - very exciting!

    BTW Teresa, in the current Woman's Weekly there's a lovely letter on the Letters page praising one of your stories. Just in case you hadn't seen it. How nice is that?

  8. It was interesting to read about e-books wasn't it and great to see the book on the Smashwords site now - and what a great blog tour it's been with some very thought provoking posts. I just can't get my head round how fast this has all happened.

    I could have cried, Bernadette. I'm so chuffed to think that someone took the time and trouble to write in. And then I read your lovely story and it stirred up some happy memories for me - my dad taught me to play poker :-)

  9. I thought that, too, Teresa. Your story must have made a real impact.

    I've always played cards, but never been brave enough to try poker. I'm not sure I have the type of personality that would allow me to stop while I still had a shirt! I'm glad the story brought back some memories.