Dataslate Episode 10

DataSlate Cover

Fresh from his proper holiday, John Richardson returns to discuss books and news with Allen Stroud.

Plus this episode’s book choices:

Download the episode directly from here.


  1. I’m enjoying your Dataslate series, especially the mix of news/ analysis and book reviews, which I feel is spot on. If the shows concentrated on just one or the other, it would start to wear thin. Having both works.

    Also, while on the subject of why I like your shows, I get sick to the back teeth of reviewers who sit in their own tiny bubble of science fiction that they like, and ignore everything in the vast genre ocean outside their bubble. Champions of SF books that have ‘literary’ worth sneer with contempt at pot-boiler, penny dreadful, reactionary, pulp space operas. And for their part, some fans of space operas deride ‘literary’ reviewers as irrelevant snobs stuck up their own fundaments, but as a result can miss out on great genre novels that take risks and subvert or ignore common tropes.

    In my experience, most avid readers of SF don’t fit any one label because they like variety. Even if they enjoy a core style they keep coming returning to (dystopian post-apocalyptic fiction, anyone?) they spice that up by going outside their comfort zone. It is the reviewers who tend to be small-minded, even bigoted, not the readers. And that’s why I like your book reviews, because you explore many styles, and you never sneer at a books just because there are written in the ‘wrong’ style.

    You mention publishing in this episode, which I have some experience of myself. Here’s one thing that is making a big impact in self-publishing but didn’t get a mention in the episode. Amazon introduced their Kindle Unlimited subscription service last year (which is separate from their Kindle Prime service). As a subscriber, for $10/ $8 per month, I can get any book in the Kindle Unlimited program for free. As a reader, I use my subscription enough to save a lot of money and it encourages me to try new authors. As a publisher, I get an amount of money for each subscribed ‘borrow’ where the reader reads at least 10% of my books. How much money is at the whim of the gods. Those gods being Amazon. If the gods are especially pleased with you, they award Kindle All-Star Awards, which are cash bonuses for being one of the most borrowed authors or most borrowed books in any given calendar month.

    I launched a new space opera series last Christmas, starting with two books priced initially fsat 99c/99p. As you said on Dataslate, conventional sales of these books earned me 35c/22p – which is about what a mainstream author would earn from a full-priced paperback. But when you factor in my Kindle All-Star bonuses, my average earning per Kindle Unlimited borrow of my 99p books was actually £1.50, which is what mainstream authors might earn from a full-priced hardback, if they were lucky.

    Kindle Unlimited is already changing the behaviour of self-publishers. For just one example, take a look at the new releases last month from science fiction romance author, Erin Tate. She released a series of six short novelettes simultaneously, all of which are available on Kindle Unlimited. Or you can buy the ‘boxed set’, which isn’t on Kindle Unlimited. And she’s timing her releases so the Kindle Unlimited borrows peak across the same calendar month because she’s gunning for the lucrative Kindle All-Star bonuses. Erin’s a smart and successful author adapting to the rapidly changing world of digital publishing.

    You can expect a lot more of these kind of short serials as a result. It’s almost going back to the origins of science fiction serialized in magazines from the late 19th century until the Second World War.

    Talking of ‘going back’. I’d better stop procrastinating and go back to writing my next novel. Cheers.

  2. While there is no way I can outdo the other response here (it is very good and enlightening :)) – I just wanted to express appreciation for not just the book reviews but also the ‘behind the scenes’ look on how the industry works. I know in some early Lave Radio episodes the various kickstarter/elite writers did excellent jobs in verbally documenting their routines and process for producing fiction, and quite a few authors had seperate podcasts that were great — Thank you so much!

    A couple of items I’d love to hear more about would be Allen’s or others thoughts on the successes and failures of self promotions of written works, and also a bit about – are there some writers that start much later in life, and how does that go? (are there good DIY ways to learn how to write properly without going the full college route?) 🙂

    Thanks Lave Radio team!

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