From my blog post yesterday, I received several emails asking me “Why?” What’s wrong with just releasing to Amazon, Kobo, etc? People o boxsets all the time.
The short answer is that this is different and it provides me an opportunity to package together things in one offering that I can’t do on any other platform. The other part is the special limited edition aspect of the offering to offer a digital collectible option for my fans. From creation to special content and licensing additional imagery, it is a costly endeavor but I think worth it to be part of this new way to consume books. But these are just part of the reasons. So, here is Blog #2 on the WHY. This is a bit long, so feel free to scroll to the parts that most interest you. I’m trying to answer lots of questions in one post. (Okay, the truth is I always write long. Ya’ll now that.)
Linking Two Parts of My Brain in One Offering
I’ve always had two sides of me. Most of my life has been undertaken in favoring one side or the other. Though I’m sure I’ve always used both sides, I tended to alternate careers that favored one over the other most of the time. One is my computer science side. I spent 8 years in the software industry doing everything from coding to teaching. And then used those skills in the university system and in my educational consulting career to build online learning systems, eventually ending my career as a Chief Technical Officer for a College system. I love figuring out how to make technology easier and work for the average person.
But the other side of me is a “people understander.” I have a bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in counseling. I had a career as a counselor for a total of eight years, split in half by my time in the software industry. It wasn’t until later in life (in my 40s) that I returned to school for a doctorate in Education to combine my knowledge in working with real people and working with computers. Psychology was my first love and always has been a part of how I live and thrive in the world. I love learning about and interacting with a diversity of people. I love striving to understand their dreams and challenges, finding what they love and how to thrive in life. That has always been a part of me and is one of the many reasons I ended up writing novels.
Other authors, who know me well, know that I am always looking for new ways to be creative and to reach different audiences. Often those solutions are linked with technology. In today’s world over 90% of adults are linked to technology through phones, social media, texting, research through Google, and even voicing questions to speakers connected to machines (Alexa, Siri, Google) that do searches for us.
I’ve been watching the NFT craze for a couple of years. First, the ups and downs of cryptocurrency, which is where the blockchain was initially developed 20+ years ago to secure ownership of a currency that is completely digital. It has no physical equivalent. Then over the last two years I’ve watched with cautious optimism, as people tried to use the blockchain for buying and selling products–primarily digital products, but there is also work now for using it to sell physical products as well. About a year go, I started looking for an opportunity to get my creations–books into a good NFT market myself. Could there be a market for novels? For the written word? Books that tell stories of amazing characters changing their world, saving their world, or just making their corner of the world a little better. Books that follow characters at every age as they learn who they are and how to thrive in a world that seems hostile to them. Books that entertain as you take a journey with those characters.
NFT Offerings by Creatives Began with Art
You may have heard about digital art being sold at high prices in the news. Mike Winkelmann, known as the artist Beeple, sold a single digital collage (a JPEG) containing 5,000 images of his everyday art created over 5000 days beginning in 2007. That digital art was sold at auction by Christies for $69 million.
The purchaser does not get a canvas with the collage to hang in their home. The purchaser has no right to copy it, to make prints to sell, or to display it other than through a secure portal. I remember saying to myself: “That’s crazy! Why would anyone pay that kind of money?” Then someone explained to me that those who collect art are collecting for four reasons: 1) they love the art and/or what it represents—the story it tells of the creation; 2) they believe the artist is well known and all of their art will go up in value and can be resold at a profit; 3) they want the bragging rights for being the first one to see value in a piece of art; or 4) For an unknown or lesser known artist the collector wishes to support that person in continuing to create and hopes the value will go up for both of them.
But NFTs are not limited to digital art. Jack Dorsey, owner of Twitter, sold the first ever tweet on the platform for $2.9 million. Just like the art above, the purchaser doesn’t get to change the tweet, make copies of the tweet, or claim copyright. The tweet had certainly already been seen by millions of people, so the collector wasn’t getting something that no one had seen before. However, the collector does have a certificate of authenticity in the form of a blockchain token (NFT) that proves they are the owner of that first ever tweet. And just like owning art, it means the owner can resell that tweet whenever they want.
I’ve seen a couple of book offerings that didn’t go anywhere. One company is using the blockchain technology to create a type of crowd funding platform (similar to Kickstarter) to prove the efficacy of NFT books. It’s been around four years and hasn’t really gone beyond the first six to ten offerings. Another company put up books at the same pricing and offering that is already at distributors (e.g., the same $3.99 book that is at Amazon is also on this companies website with no content changes). I guess they think the “ownership” of the ebook is enough to bring people there. But it hasn’t been. I’ve also seen two or three authors put their book up for auction alone on a blockhain platform (primarily Ethereum) and had no bidders. I think none of these platforms understand readers, how they interact with books (even ebooks) and what they think the value of books are.
I’m not as interested in competing in an auction market to make millions of dollars. Of course, I’d love the money. But I don’t think, at this stage of my career, it’s viable for me. That kind of money, just as in the non-digital world, is reserved for celebrities and well-known artists. I have a decent fan following, but I am by no means a well-known writer. I am interested in offering unique value to readers in a limited special edition run, at a reasonable price. That is where, Laurence O’Bryan at BooksGoSocial and I crossed paths at just the right time. He saw the need for a different approach as well. He has a computer science background and he did a LOT of research around the reasons readers purchase ebooks, how to make participating in the blockchain and cryptocurrency market easy for non-technical authors and readers, and most of all how to ensure a good product and experience for purchasers and collectors.
I already knew Laurence from his company, BooksGoSocial. He offered a variety of services for authors to help their book get discovered. He had helped me seven or eight years ago understand and build my Twitter following. I’d used him for other services as well. He was honest, truly cared about authors, and really knew his stuff on the technical side. He’d built a growing company and I trusted him. When he mentioned to a few selected authors that he was building a way for NFT books to work, I definitely wanted in. Over six months I talked with him, listening to his vision, watching him research and try different platforms, kibbitzing as allowed along the way. He went through several iterations of platforms, thoroughly testing them, putting in lots of his own money to make sure it was right until finding the right solution. Then he invited a number of authors who could vette and make sure his first offering to readers was strong. Each author put in many hours of creating what unique offering they would have for their first NFT. The drop that happened on the 24th was for 14 unique books, a variety of genres both fiction and nonfiction, and from authors hailing from five different countries. See the Press Release here.
What is an NFT (non-fungible token)?
The simple and most important answer is that an NFT is a proof of authenticity (delivered as an electronic token on a blockchain ledger). This token is registered to verify the artist’s creation is by that artist. This registration provides a private key to that artist that is associated with a contract for any sales. From a buyer’s perspective what that means is that you are assured that the product (book) you bought was indeed created by the artist (author) and that you are the sole owner of that specific edition of the product. In this case of my NFT book it is a digital creation. In the world of collectibles that is called provenance. That means the record of ownership of a work of art, a piece of furniture, a house, a signature, and yes books. The beauty of blockchain technology is that this digital record–represented by that digital token the buyer receives–is secure and can be tracked through multiple sales and verified at each point.
There are many kinds of NFTs–one-off products like the Winkleman digital art to Limited Editions of art. In my case, and the case of all the people on the BooksGoSocial NFT Marketplace, we are offering Limited Editions. We are guaranteeing that a maximum of 100 editions of each NFT Book will be available.
You may already be familiar with purchasing an art print. Twice I have purchased a limited edition art print from an artist I love. I received a fancy piece of paper that stated it was authentic, who the artist was, the year it was created, and the year I purchased it along with a receipt for my payment. That piece of paper was my proof of ownership. But paper can get lost over the years and then what do you have to prove ownership? Also, artist signatures can be faked, art forgery is a crime of hundreds of years. There is an entire industry of appraisers and specialist who attempt to verify a collectible is real.
The blockchain handles that with a distributed ledger and public and private keys that need to match exactly to get to that proof of authenticity. I think of it like having a bank safety deposit box. When you have that, you can’t just walk in the bank with your key and access your valuables. Instead you have to present yourself at the bank, prove you are who you say (showing a driver’s license, your bank account information and your key). There are cameras everywhere that can be used to track you down if it turns out you pretended to be someone else. Then a bank employee let’s you enter the room. Only you and the bank employee can be in there at any time. They never allow two safety deposit box holders to be in the room together. You put your key in the box and then the bank employee must also put their key in the box to open it.
That is how the blockchain works but digitally and even more securely. You have a private key, the blockchain as a private key, various nodes have public keys (like getting into the building) that can only be accessed through private keys. Every purchaser has a private key that can only be used in combination with other keys. You get the picture.
You may be asking if this can be hacked. Afterall, we are living in a world where digital pirates reign and it seems that almost daily we hear about hackers in large systems. Again, this is the beauty of the blockchain, similar to the bank safety box. It is very complex, so I won’t go into the details of “how it works” with the technology. However, if you are computer geek you can learn more here. Because this blockchain, distributed ledger, works so well I am already seeing press on markets being built to record high value sales of physical items like diamonds, furniture, even physical art, because it is more reliable and the provenance is forever traceable through that non-fungible token (NFT).
Why are Authors Excited About NFTs?
Two very important reasons: 1) Proof of authenticity, that it is created by the author and sold by the author; and 2) Proof of ownership of a book, and therefore the owners ability to resell it.
Before blockchain technology it was hard to prove legal ownership of digital objects because people quickly found ways to copy it. In fact, ebook piracy is a reality for most authors. Whenever I give away a free ebook in a contest, or as a thank you for joining my newsletter email list, I know I am risking the possibility that someone plans to illegally make copies of my ebook and give them away to their friends for free. Also there is the possibility of a worse criminal, someone who will illegally make copies as needed and sell them on a pirate site. Of course, this takes money directly out of my pocket and effects my overall income. I hate it. I’ve spent countless hours and money trying to find these pirate sites and stop them. But when they are found, they simply close the site and start another one with a different name within minutes. Should I stop doing giveaways and let the pirates win and my readers lose? I have not made that choice.
But when it comes to special books—limited editions or a one-off book that is never sold in mass market—I want to be sure the pirates can’t get to it. Creating that digital book as an NFT makes that possible.
That is what is so exciting to offer my first limited edition NFT. I’ve created a unique edition of this series. I am only offering 100 copies. Yes, some parts of the content can be purchased separately by buying individual books in the series or individual audiobooks in the series. But other parts are not available anywhere except through this NFT. And at $35 I think it is a bargain. What’s included in this NFT?
- All three individual ebooks in one boxset
- All three individual audiobooks in one boxset
- The special video trailer that goes with this special edition (see below). I’ve never given this away before.
- Some of the artwork/photos I used to inspire me to create the fantasy world and characters
- A never before published interview with me regarding this book. Why I wrote it, what inspired me, and what is planned for the future of this fantasy world.
What’s In It for the Buyer?
In addition to getting and enjoying the author’s creation, the purchaser will get proof of authenticity and know the blockchain can verify her as the owner. This also means the purchaser can resell this NFT according to the attached contract. All BooksGoSocial NFT Book contracts state that upon resell 10% of the purchase price will go to the author and another 10% of the purchase price will go to BooksGoSocial. The owner/reader will keep all the rest of that sale. The author sees a small amount which helps make all the hours and time spent to make this available reap a little reward along the way.
For readers this is even better. Readers have never been able to resell digital books. Think about it, how many ebooks have you read that you will never read again? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could resell each of those and make some money back and use it to purchase more books? In the NFT Book market you also have the possibility that you can actually resell that book for more than you paid for it. As the author becomes more popular, or the NFT Book market becomes better known, prices may go up. The owner will have the ability to set a price or put the NFT Book on auction. Your choice. Even if you don’t make a profit, reselling will recoup some part of your payment. The best part is that the BooksGoSocial Marketplace will provide support for buyers to resell an NFT Book purchased there. They’ll help you get it set up and handle all the technology stuff if you don’t want to do it yourself.
What’s In It for the Author?
I can’t speak for all authors, but for me Book NFTs add a tiny bit more money to stabilize my author income. Every little bit helps, and we are all looking to make enough to keep us going. I’ve created something I believe readers who love reading digital books and listening to audio will value. And I’ve priced it to entice them. I wanted a way to explore that marriage of technology and the written word. I wanted a way to offer something readers could not get through my usual offerings of a single ebook or a single audiobook–even something more than a boxset ebook or audiobook can offer.
I also want to reward readers who took this next step and tried something new by giving them the option to resell it. NFTs make sense. They guarantee the value and they guarantee you as the owner. Even more, the BooksGoSocial marketplace is so sure these book NFTs offer good value, that they guarantee it with an offer of a seven day refund if you find it is not for you or reading in this way is too complicated or cumbersome. How can you lose with that guarantee?
As an author, I put my heart into every story I write. I believe this is true of most authors. I create each character-driven story to be entertaining, but also to share mine and my characters values, how to overcome challenges, and how to thrive in a complex world–whether that is a fantasy world or the real world. My readers tell me that my stories often show them something new about the human condition, and that they love how relatable and real the characters are.
Some artists share a part of their soul through painting, or sculpture, or singing, or acting. I do it through writing stories. Writing stories and sometimes writing nonfiction articles or books IS my voice in the world. It is my reflection of the world as I see it, whether in fantasy, science fiction, romance, or suspense. I create my worlds to both reflect reality and to reflect how I believe things can turn out if we do what we can, chose to learn from our choices, and through that learning we can all make the world we live in better.
Check out all the first 14 NFTs in this first ever Book NFT Marketplace. Even if you don’t buy mine, I guarantee you will see something interesting there to try out.
If you want to learn specifically about mine, I would be honored for you to take a look. Need a bit of a test drive? You’ve seen the video above. Click on the links below to read some sample ebook chapters or to listen to those chapters from the audiobooks.
Chameleon: The Awakening
Chameleon: The Awakening
As always you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to answer your questions or just hear from you in general about you think of this new option. If you do buy one, I’d love to hear what the experience was like for you and if you think you’ll do it again.
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