Author Michael Stackpole: I don't worry about pirates

Bestselling novelist Michael Stackpole says he's making great money selling fiction directly off his site; he doesn't worry about pirates, "People downloading my stories from the big torrent sites were never going to buy them anyway. It's no money out of my pocket." and "He even admitted to downloading some of his own books from bittorrent sites if he didn't already have a digital copy, saying it was far easier than scanning it in himself."

Rather than simply changing the method of delivering stories to readers, Stackpole believes digital formats will change the nature of the stories themselves. At the very least, authors should tailor their work to these new mediums. He cited what he referred to as "the commuter market," people who read two chapters per day on their half hour train ride to work. It's an ideal market for fiction broken into 2,500 word chapters, and could presage a resurgence of serial fiction. "It's kind of like a return to the Penny Dreadfuls," he said. "But the readers today are more sophisticated, so we as writers need to put more work into it."

It was interesting to hear the formulaic way Stackpole approaches writing. He described how the method of writing old pulp stories could easily be adapted for modern audiences by eliminating certain ubiquitous but unecessary subplots and adding a bit of character development. A serial detective story should be, "70 percent case, 30 percent soap opera," with a little more soap in a later story to satisfy readers interested in a character's developing personal life.

Even amidst all this embracing of change, Stackpole reassured his audience that digital formats were not sounding the death knell for paper books. "Cars did not kill off horses. Digital publishing will not kill off books. It _will_ change the way they are written and retailed."

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