Monthly ArchiveFebruary 2011

Events 28 Feb 2011 06:38 pm

MoD in Seattle! This weekend!

MoD in Seattle

This weekend, the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle welcomes several Machine of Death contributors! Artists KC Green and Aaron Diaz, as well as author and co-editor David Malki !, will be at TopatoCo booth 202 all weekend. Also spread around the show will be artists Danielle Corsetto, Kris Straub, and Scott Campbell. UPDATE: And Dylan Meconis! DOUBLE UPDATE:: And Karl Kesel, Cameron Stewart, Dean Trippe, and Matt Haley!! They will sign your books! They are contractually obligated to.

Special guest! “MISCARRIAGE” author James L. Sutter will also be in attendance on Sunday, March 6th, signing books from 1-2 PM at the TopatoCo booth! Don’t miss this rare chance to fill out your MoD Contributor Signature Checklist — or at least make some progress towards ULTIMATE COMPLETION.*

Bring your own copies of MoD to be signed, or we’ll also have a limited number available for purchase directly from us with free smiles included (while supplies last). See you this weekend!

* First person to have their copy signed by every single contributor gets an AMAZING prize.

Podcast Episodes 20 Feb 2011 01:55 am

Podcast 8: EXPLODED

“EXPLODED,” by Tom Francis. Read by Christopher Joseph.

“It’s going to look like we’re profiting from it? Pete, it’s going to look like we did it. You don’t seem to realise how sceptical people are going to be about something like this. You’re the only person in the world who has any idea how this box works, and to the rest of us it looks a hell of a lot like a hoax. And when some small-minded prick with a bag of pipe bombs decided commuters were responsible for all the world’s problems this morning, it became the most vicious hoax in history. We’re going to have protesters on your lawn around the clock, we’re going to get ripped to shreds in the press, we’re going to be hounded by cameras. We’re going to get mail bombs, Pete.” I sat down, and lowered my voice. “They’re gonna try and kill us. Nobody knows yet, but I promise you that at some point in the next eighteen hours, someone Googling the victim names is going to find our prediction list and our lives as they stand will be over.”

Download the MP3 Subscribe on iTunes
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Tom Francis is a writer and editor for PC Gamer magazine and He blogs at

Christopher Joseph is a filmmaker in Los Angeles. His website is

In the book, “Exploded” is illustrated by Jesse Reklaw!

Ebook &Publishing 10 Feb 2011 04:24 pm

MOD on iPad! PLUS: Ebook roundup

MoD on iPad

Machine of Death is now available in Apple’s iBooks! You can search for it in the iBooks app on your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, or here’s a browser link (caution: the link will ask you to launch iTunes).

When everything exploded for us back in October, we were approached by not only print publishers, but also audio- and ebook publishers. We’ve explained already how we turned down inquiries from larger publishers for reprint rights to the book, and since we had planned all along to create a free podcast of our book, as well as give away the free PDF, that torpedoed any chances to partner with any professional audio- or ebook publisher as well. They would have insisted on exclusivity, which we weren’t willing to provide.

So, after hearing loud and clear from you that you’d like a Kindle version of MOD, we started looking into publishing ebooks ourselves. This was before we’d even released the free PDF, so the genie was still technically in the bottle — and we heard from ebook publishers and distributors warning us what we’d be missing out on by turning down their terms.

“We reach thousands of ebook sales partners,” they said. “Even if you do a Kindle version yourself, that’s only one of thousands of sales channels.”

“Are there really thousands of ebook sales channels?” we responded. “Why have we never heard of any but about five?”

Ultimately, we decided that while there might be thousands of ebook sales channels, we only cared about a couple of them, and we could manage a couple of them on our own. We ended negotiations with ebook companies, released our PDF, and looked into selling ebooks of our own in the few sales channels that make up the majority of the market.

Which ebook marketplace is doing the best?

Kindle versions have been our biggest sellers by far. I tried to find some survey data on the Kindle’s market share: last August an Amazon spokesman claimed they had 70 to 80 percent of the ebook market; those numbers were then challenged by publishing industry professionals who assigned Amazon 61%, followed by 20% for B&N’s Nook, and single-digits for everyone else.

The study reported results from very early in the iPad’s existence, so the landscape has surely shifted by now — in fact, Apple claimed 22% of the ebook market share as long ago as June 2010. The numbers get another crunch here with this startling opinion:

Several Publishers confirmed earlier this year and at the end of last year that Amazon had around 90% market share… The likeliest possibility is that not only did Amazon manage to sell Kindles it also managed to get a large chunk of iPad owners’ ebook purchases via Kindle for iPad.

Let’s see if our (limited, so far) experiences agree.

A breakdown by ebook platform

These are numbers from January 2011 — so the October blitz and the subsequent holiday season aren’t included. It’s still not a huge sample size, but it’s the closest to “typical” we’ve probably got so far.

Although Amazon announced last month that it’s now selling 115 ebooks for every 100 print books, we’ve still mainly sold print books — in January, at least 74% of all copies of Machine of Death sold were print books, and we know that number is low because it doesn’t include Canadian or all retail-store sales. We do, however, have accurate numbers on ebook sales:

• Kindle sales accounted for 84.5% of all ebook sales in January
• Nook sales accounted for 10.4% of all ebook sales in January
• The remaining 5% were mainly ePub sales through our site, although a few iBooks sales are recorded there too (the iBooks version only went live at the very end of January).

We abandoned our Kobo application after hearing of Borders’ financial troubles. We also have submitted our file to Google’s new ebooks program, but thanks to a hilarious comedy of errors that could only be resolved by us mailing them a CD-ROM (what year is this?) we are currently still “processing.”

This is only one data point, but the breakdown seems to be roughly shared among at least one other author who’s been kind enough to share his own experience:

Now, I’m not James Patterson, but I have sold several thousand copies of my e-books this year, and they are available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Apple (also Sony, but too recently for me to have reliable sales data). And my figures back up Amazon’s; in fact, I sell more than 75% of my e-books through Amazon. Source: David Derrico

Advantages of a broad approach

We’re happy we took the reins into our own hands and didn’t bother paying an ebook distributor a commission to get us into 997 other ebook portals — I doubt any few increased sales would have covered what we’d lose to the commission. As long as there are a few market leaders, it’s easy for us to make most everybody happy: most of you who read ebooks have Kindles, but if you have a Nook or iPad, we’ve got you covered too. The Stranger’s Paul Constant also points out some advantages to the ePub format on the Sony Reader, and we’re happy to sell you a DRM-free ePub if you want one.

It’ll be interesting to watch over time if our ebook sales climb (or print sales decline) to move more toward parity with Amazon’s overall ebooks-vs-print-books ratio. Of course, that ratio is aggregate; it doesn’t address individual books. Maybe they’re selling 115 copies of every hardcore-erotica ebook for one each of every 100 detective novels.

Maybe —

maybe what we need to publish next is a hardcore detective erotic e-novel

Updates 03 Feb 2011 08:34 am

Press & reviews update!

Three months on, we’re ecstatic to look back and see what’s been accomplished. We just sent a fourth printing of books to our distributor, PGW, and we have approved a co-op deal with Barnes & Noble that will place us on the “New & Hot” table starting in March. At least I think that is what we approved.

We were reviewed in the Onion AV Club:

Machine Of Death is a marvelous collection, riddled with intelligence, creative reach, and a frankness that makes the best use of the central gimmick…Whether taken as an experiment in the new wave of self-publishing or as a proof of concept in the realm of artistic crowdsourcing, it’s a fascinating artifact and a really good read.


With a little genre-hopping and excellent illustrations from the likes of Jeffrey Brown, Shannon Wheeler and Kean Soo, MACHINE OF DEATH is unlike anything you’ll read this year. That’s a good thing, people, provided it doesn’t kill you.

And just the other day, in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

The Machine of Death, like the Delphic Oracle, is artfully, sometimes cruelly, vague in its predictions. For example, a girl who drew BOAT as her terminal fate avoided the sea but was killed when a towed cabin cruiser jackknifed in front of her on the freeway. The anthology’s authors, including comics creators, bloggers, gaming writers and fictioneers, enjoy tormenting their protagonists with those fatal ambiguities. But as a group, they also do a remarkable job of exploring the cultural changes such a machine could bring.

Which has also been very interesting because we’ve watched this exact review get syndicated around to many different local newspapers across the country. Educational, this process has been!

In case you missed them and care, here are some neat interviews with us as well! Ryan spoke to fellow Canadian Jesse Brown on the Search Engine podcast:

wait there is no way to embed this media sorry

And David spoke with author Joanna Penn — full audio here, or there’s a condensed video version as well: