No, this post isn’t about evolution. It doesn’t matter what I think about evolution anyway because I choose to believe in the Flat Earth theory, which has hot light and cold light and an anti-moon and… (I’m kidding here. Seriously. But google Flat Earth Society if you really really really have to).
This post is about the e-book revolution or whatever you want to call it and some of my history/thoughts at the moment on the whole thing.
About a year and a half ago I decided that this writing thing was for me and that I should give it a real go. I found a blog called A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing by an author named JA Konrath. It kind of blew my mind in many ways for many reasons. Relevant to this particular topic is that Konrath is currently making a very cushy living doing e-books (he’s also traditionally published) and is very candid about his path and where he’s at.
Back then I figured that self publishing was still pretty much the same as vanity publishing and not really an option for what I wanted. That’s changed, clearly. I decided to keep reading everything I could find about ebooks and to follow Konrath’s posts and the comments (more and more e-authors post good comments on his posts, and comments online can be gold. Except on you-tube, and sometimes even then).
Konrath posits that all you need for success as an ebook author are four basic things (and I’m way paraphrasing from memory, so forgive any inaccuracies, they are mine and not Konrath’s): 1) a good book 2) a good cover 3) a good blurb 4) a low price point (he recommends, I believe, under 5 dollars). I don’t think being traditionally published hurts, but he does have an interesting point.
About six months ago, I decided that I would get my feet wet with ebooks in a big way as soon as I fulfilled a couple of conditions. The first was to sell at least two short stories and be getting more personal than form rejections. The second was to have a couple more novels for traditional publishing written and submitted.
I set the first condition because that is where I felt my writing would need to be, ie at a level that has proven it can sell, before I would be comfortable with trying to achieve tenant one of the checklist (write a good book). I set the second condition because a) writing is practice and having a few books written before I write more books is always good and b) I wanted to make sure I wasn’t taking away too much time from other parts of my business plan.
I have fulfilled condition one and will have soon fulfilled condition two. Which means that starting early next year, I’ll be going ahead with operation e-book experiment in which I plan to put Konrath’s theory to the test. The publishing world is changing, there’s no doubt about that. This might be paper book nostalgia talking, but I lean toward trad publishing doing all right in the end and sticking around. I don’t think the big publishers are going anywhere anytime soon. But e-books aren’t going to either, and I see really no way the author who stays on top of this stuff can lose.
Look at the porn industry (stay with me now…). The internet caused a huge shake-up in porn. Huge. The giant piles of money turned into more disparate piles of money because suddenly everyone with a camera could produce and distribute porn. Sound familiar? But there is still porn. And still money to be made in porn, lots of money. Even for amateurs. I look at publishing the same way*. Things are going to change, but books won’t go away. The author provides the product and as long as people want to read, there will be demand for what I do for a living.
So basically, conditions fulfilled, I’m jumping on the e-train. Stay tuned for a post about the specifics in another month or two (as soon as I have some cover art for a preview, perhaps?). I think the future for authors lies somewhere in the happy middle between trad and indy. They are both ways to make money, to find readers and connect with an audience. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and I think there is, in the end, a way to get a bit of the best of both worlds.
*I just know that somehow I’m going to get flack about this porn/publishing analogy. Sigh.