So...have you guys given any thought to how this might change your world as a writer? Anyone else embarking on the independent publishing route? I am dipping my toes in, but getting ready for a full dive (novel...) sometime in the next few months.
Even though I haven't heard that I have heard that publishing is changing-in more ways than one. Even some of the new agents are changing their roles and in some cases not working as hard for their clients. Some pros predict that increasingly more of the older publishers will be getting writers with e-books out. I mean they will be "harvesting" e-book writers.
I have seriously considered going the E-publishing route and/or POD. Writers can make significantly more money per book sold through E-publishing so it wouldn't take as many sold to make as much as with a traditional publisher. And if they start selling better than hard copies we might end up making more money.
Of course with E-publishing we would have to do more work ourselves...become a publisher but it could be fun and more rewarding.
I haven't quite made up my mind but with three novels I almost want to try all three ways: E-publishing, getting an agent first, sending the book out to publishers myself. As long as it was an older agent or a new one I knew worked the older way.
But we shall see when my first is ready. And I don't if they work together or not but I think I would want a e-book and a POD at the same time.
I don't even have an eReader. I don't like the idea of it so much, even as a fairly young man who loves technology. There is just something better to me about holding a book and thumbing the pages. Or even better, is picking up a well loved (used) book knowing how many have read it. That's my tangent on eReaders.
As far as the self publishing goes, it really seems to be coming around. There used to be a negative stigmatism attached to self published works that is vanishing. I have considered it myself, even an eReader version.
After all, isn't being an author about getting your stories out to as many people who want to read them?
Last night I saw an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Giles is asked why he hates computers and loves books. He replies: "Because of the smell. Smell is the most potent sense of all and learning should be connected with it. Smell of books is musty and rich. Computers don't have a scent." (except of plastic and ozone but that's my personal opinion).
I am also thinking of diverting my energies to e-book publishing. So far I know too little about it so I would appreciate it if anyone has any sources I could check.
[This message has been edited by MartinV (edited January 31, 2011).]
I love my kindle. I still love the paper books too and alternate between the two.
The last thing I got for the kindle was an old version of Analog that I wanted to read. How would you do that without an ereader? Took me a few minutes to download and transfer and I was off reading it. Only cost a couple bucks too.
Before that, I read Jack Vance's The Last Castle. He has an immense vocabulary (I do not), so being able to click on a word and see its immediate definition is helpful. Paging through a dictionary is too burdensome and removes me from the story.
I understand the nostalgia of paper, but how a book smells doesn't rank toward the top of my reading experience checklist. I do get it, though -- and I still try to read "real" books whenever possible.
I received an iPad for my birthday. I had been interested in them, but I felt they were overpriced and asked for no one to get me one - honestly. However, I must confess that I love it. There are literally thousands of classics, including science fiction, that I can get for free (after paying a one time fee of $3.99). I also have access to free audiobooks. Most of the newer ones require payment, but they are still considerably less. This is troublesome from the viewpoint of an aspiring writer, because I imagine this technology will make it more difficult to make a living if I were to ever break through. As these become more prevalent, I see it becoming more and more difficult. I wonder if the full-time writer might one day disappear as everyone floods the Internet with novels and stories.
Regardless of these fears, I still enjoy my iPad. I can read books, watch movies, play games, check email, surf the Internet, and even respond to posts (as I am doing now), all from a tablet no bigger than a single book.
[This message has been edited by philocinemas (edited January 31, 2011).]
Do you think certain genres will do better on the ebook format than others? I mean besides blockbusters.
For instance, I know several of us focus on YA/MG. How far behind the revolution do you think it is for ebooks for the younger crowd? One of the top ebook authors (per Amazon's 100 lists) does YA paranormal romance. But I see that as something of a crossover in interest and may have a larger adult following than something younger.
The other question, of course, being how do you bring your work out of the ocean of slush so that it can be noticed.
I think with self publishing, having an awesome title is crucial.
I think if you have a great title, people will click on it to read more, if you have a mediocre title( even if the writing inside is freakin' golden) then no one, other than family and friends, will stop to read it.
I will admit that I know next to nothing about reading books and stories in these newer computer forms, but I'm just wondering how they compare to going to a bookstore, picking a paperback out of the rack, reading the back to see what the book is about and the artwork on the covers, thumbing through the book to read parts of it, etc, etc, etc, before buying it. I also like keeping certain books in my library and going back sometimes and reading them again and again at my leisure.
How are these books sent to your ipad or bookreader? Can you be sure of these devices working anywhere? I like to go camping, and because of the location, I know cell phones don't work in most of these camp grounds. Terrain can influence service greatly, where with a book you just turn to the page you left off and read.
I can see advantages and disadvantages, and if I want to read a book, I like being able to do it any time I please without complications.
I don't know much about the other e-book stores because I use a kindle, but the Amazon store lets you browse through parts of the book with a preview feature. Unfortunately that preview feature is completely random I think, so it is a bit limited. You can also download the first chapter and read that for free. The blurbs are the same on the website and on the actual book. As far as browsing through shelves, I find Amazon's recommendations pretty good in general based on other books I've purchased and rated well. Sometimes I look through their forums to see what other people who read what I have read recommend. I've found a few new authors that way that I otherwise would never have heard of.
An e-reader is actually even better for reading whenever you like. I can carry around literally hundreds of books and read whatever one I want when I want. That's both good and bad, because I find my attention span much shorter these days. I'll read a half a dozen pages of one book and then flip to another.
The charge on my kindle lasts over 20 hours without wireless being on. Wireless makes that significantly less so I just leave it off unless I just bought a book. I haven't found a place where it wouldn't work yet, although they do tell you to turn them off on takeoff when on a plane, which I find silly. You don't need an active wireless connection to read your books, just to download new content.
Now, all that said, I still do buy paper books from my favorite authors, but that's more rare all the time. I think in 2010 I bought probably six paper books (all hardbacks) and forty e-books? I could go back and count, but I'd say that's fairly close. If anything the e-book number might be higher.
Mine does. Could be my cat, but I'm pretty sure it's the computer.
I am totally sold on the whole e-reader thing now. I wasn't at first. The best thing about them, in my opinion, is the "free sample" feature. I can try just about any book and if I'm hooked I can buy it. If I'm not, I just delete the free sample and move on.
I think of it like the 'first thirteen' for novels. I can even use this feature to do research on how best-selling writers hook their readers, even if I don't ever intend to read their books. I'd buy a cheap used Kindle for this feature alone.
I also think this preview feature makes it a lot easier for books by newer authors to get traction. I still prefer a paper book but this is just so convenient. For example, before I bought John Brown's first novel I tried the free sample. Here's how it happened:
He posted here and I learned of his existence. I looked him up on Amazon in another browser tab. I downloaded the sample of his first novel to my Kindle. Later I read the sample and was hooked. I bought the book. We're both happy. I hope. I am, anyway.
Now imagine in the good old days I'd have written down the name John Brown (with a highlighter on an envelope scrap). When I went to the book store a week or so later I might remember to look for the note before I left. If I found the book in stock I'd read the back cover. Depending upon the cover copy (something usually written by the publisher), I would decide whether to take a chance. Maybe I'd flip the book open and read the first few paragraphs.
Or, let's say I bought on Amazon pre-Kindle. I'd read the reader reviews and try to judge whether the reviewer was a) insane, b) angry about Amazon's pricing, c) a sock puppet of the publisher, or d) someone whose opinion I might just respect. All the time I'd have to be on my toes to avoid reading any spoilers.
The free sample cuts through all that. I get to read the writer's words directly and decide for myself. If I'm not hooked in a chapter or two it's not happening.
I know this is long winded, but I'm excited about it because I think it might be one of the best things to happen to new writers in ages.
I don't think there's any excuse for a writer to not use this feature. There's a Kindle reader available for free for just about any computing platform, it doesn't cost anything to have an Amazon account, and so what if you go to the local bookstore and buy the book? The writer still makes a sale.
[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited January 31, 2011).]
The kindle reader for PC can be obtained here, and I imagine the other formats are nearby.
If you download the kindle reader for your computer, you can at least try the idea out and decide if you like reading that way, and you can download any free e-books that are in kindle format and read them on your computer without having to buy a kindle.
Something you might want to try.
Crystal, in case you didn't catch it in coralm's post, you don't have to be connected to the internet in order to read something on an e-reader like the kindle. Once you've purchased an e-book and downloaded it to your e-reader, you can read that book anywhere you take your e-reader with you, for as long as the e-reader battery lasts.
I've had a Barnes and Noble Nook for just over a year. At the beginning of the year it was a novelty. I read a few books on it, then a few paper books. Back and forth.
By now, I do the majority of my reading on the Nook (or on the Nook app on my phone or iPad, which I got for Christmas - we're a big technology-as-a-gift family, lol) The Nook and the apps on the different devices are able to talk to each other, so when I pick up any device, it's synced to the page I'm reading (provided, as a previous poster pointed out, I have wifi turned on on the Nook itself, which sometimes I turn off to save battery.)
I still buy books. A LOT of books. I give them as gifts. I buy my favorites in hardback. I try to get author-signed copies. I view my books now as keepsakes. I collect sets, like the way they look on the bookshelf, and do like pulling down a favorite and flipping through it, feeling the cover, spine, etc.
JA Konrath, who is one of the ebook/indie publishing pioneers (launching off a semi-successful career as a high midlist author) has said that he's considering putting out special editions in hardback that are truly special - original artwork, high-end covers and binding, each one signed, etc. It's an interesting idea, certainly.
As for YA/MG readers - I'm watching that carefully since I write exclusively in that age range. While I don't know that these kids are walking around with Nooks and Kindles, I know that a huge percentage of them have smartphones, and can access the ebook apps there. My 9 year old used an old smartphone of ours (which has wifi only, no cellular service) to read a novel I had already read on the Nook (bonus: the device is hooked to my account so it shares my Nook library. Downside: When I'd go to read on my Nook I'd often have to switch from the book he was reading to mine because of aforementioned content syncing, but easy problem to solve. This is similar to how we manage iTunes at home, in that I manage one account and sync a number of devices to the same machine.
The ebook readers are so helpful for things like reading at night (iPad is backlit) or on the go (use my phone while waiting in an unexpectedly long line somewhere) or at the gym (easy to prop an ebook reader on a workout machine, much easier than trying to exercise with one hand holding the spine open. My husband can read the book he's reading to the kids even when he's traveling, using the Nook app on his smartphone. They can follow along at home on one of these devices (or even an app on a computer, which we don't use but I know some friends who do.)
I love books, and will continue to consume regular paper books. Particularly anything that I consider a research or reference book (e.g., books on writing) - I like to mark up the margins, highlight passages, and put sticky notes throughout. I can do most of that on my Nook, but there are some things I just prefer to do in paper. I do editing runs on my novels on paper a lot of the time, too.
@philo - I wonder what service you're using to get access to classics for a one-time fee of 3.99, and audiobooks too? That's news to me (we borrow most from the library for audiobooks.) And to address your "make a living" question - most of the authors I'm following right now on this subject are finding it much more profitable to independently publish their books than to go with a traditional publishing contract. Just something to think about...
@RoxyL asked how to bring your work out of an ocean of slush, which is a problem that will persist as more becomes available in ebook format. I think a good cover and a great blurb/book description will matter a lot. One of the more interesting things about Amazon's model is the reader reviews. In my opinion, this is the biggest value Amazon is currently offering, it's an astonishing amount of content, all those reviews. And not just books, either. I do a lot of my shopping on Amazon these days because I love having all those other buyer reviews. I'm gravitating toward other sites like Garnet Hill and Lego where they've put a high focus on gathering buyer feedback, because sometimes my buying decision factors aren't the same as everyone else's. It's helpful to see that this Lego set says 10 and up but for an experienced 8 year old builder, it's manageable, for example.
At any rate - I think it's a very interesting time to be a writer, and a very interesting place to be right now. Watching closely.
I want to get an ereader but I would have to spend the money I have been saving to go to some workshop or another. But than again I'm not sure if I will be able to go to one.
At first I wanted a kindle, it was the first and seemed to be still one of the best. But the Barnes And Noble did one better and came out with the color nook. Other than that Nook seems to be exactly like the kindle, including price, except for the size. I like the real keyboard on the kindle even though I'm not sure if I would be using it much. And I like that there is a physical place to go check out the nook and to take it of you have any problems. But Target now carries kindle but the people at B&N know more about their product than those at Target.
Anyway, as someone said it is an exciting time to be a writer. A whole lot more choices and not so much waiting. But I didn't say it in my original post but if I went that route I would need someone to help with the editing. But on the other hand the traditional publishers don't seem to be doing that type of editing anymore so it may not make a difference.
quote:I wonder what service you're using to get access to classics for a one-time fee of 3.99, and audiobooks too?
It is Free Books by Spreadsong, Inc. They have 23,469 books available, but you only get the roughly 3,000 audiobooks by paying the $3.99 - it was well worth it.
One of the nice things about the iPad is that it supports apps for both the Kindle and the Nook.
I am notoriously price conscious (cheap), and though the iPad is costly, it is AWESOME!!!! I still buy paper books, but I buy almost all of them secondhand from the library (between .25 and $2), except for a few anthologies that are hard to find.
My main trouble with E-books is how much people complain about how "expensive" they are, as if the only real cost of creating a book goes into ink and paper. As writers I think we have a responsibility (otherwise we may have a tougher time making a living at this in the future) to inform people exactly what effort goes into making a book before the ink and paper: the editors, the slush readers, they layout people, not to mention the writer who may have spent a year of their life writing the dang thing. And you are trading the cost of ink, paper, and warehousing for the cost of techies, computers, and servers.
I actually have, and quite enjoy my digital version of the Spider-Man archive. I may before too long get me some form of device.
How much E-books are depends on a couple of things, I think. Where you get them, who puts them out and how old they are. I say the last because I noticed that with Barnes and Noble the new books do cost a bit but some older ones, two years or so where half that price. But even the most expensive one I saw was significantly cheaper than a hardback and if I recall right cheaper than a trade back. But that last was close.
There is suppose to be a major publisher that was and may still selling theirs for more than a hardback.
But I think Smashwords beats them all. If I understand it correctly you decide how much to sell it for.
quote: Do you think certain genres will do better on the ebook format than others? I mean besides blockbusters. For instance, I know several of us focus on YA/MG. How far behind the revolution do you think it is for ebooks for the younger crowd? One of the top ebook authors (per Amazon's 100 lists) does YA paranormal romance. But I see that as something of a crossover in interest and may have a larger adult following than something younger.
The other question, of course, being how do you bring your work out of the ocean of slush so that it can be noticed.
I think YA and MG may even do better with the eReader. Lets not forget that while some of us watched all this tech we have today come to flourishing, to the YA/MG reader Technology has always been at a higher level. All they know this Tech world.
As far as bringing your name out in the pile of everything else, I think it is going to be the same old work of name recognition. Us authors will have to some how make a name for ourselves. I think that slowly feedback comments, "star ratings" and number of downloads will replace the likes of New York Times reviews, ect.
There is definitely a changing in the game going on now.
As far as standing out, the article mentioned having cover art that looks good in thumbnail size. This is what I noticed looking just at the thumbnail covers on the amazon site:
I was drawn to the covers with large, easy to read titles and author names. On a real book cover they'd be huge.
One author with several books had cover art that was similar enough I could pick out her books (even if it was a different series), just by the look. This seems smart, to get cover art recognition/brand that will carry over from book to book.
Faces, or a single object seemed better than an itty bitty scene that I couldn't make out.
What do you think?
And of course, before I pick out cover art, I'd better finish the words to go in the book, right?
I didn't think to mention in my last note. I've said something like this before a time or two but it's still true. I would already have two sets of stories out if it wasn't for the fact that I don't have time to go over each story to find whatever nitpicks I can which is why I could use someone to help with that with those stories. And if I did do it myself I would not only miss a bunch but it would take me longer since I would be revising as I go, especially with the older stories. I couldn't help myself.
The thing with the proper cover sounds like something I hadn't totally thought out. I wonder if that is one reason some use bright covers.
I was doubtful about eReaders, then I played with the Kobo (Chapter's reader) in the store, and was hooked. Snagged it, and love reading on it.
I still like paper books as well, but for the cost (most ebooks are a lot cheaper than their pritned counterparts) and ease of downloading (the nearest bookstore to me is a 2 hour drive) I'll take the ereader.
I hadn't thought of publishing my own work electronically, probably because I'm still stuck in that mideset of "self-published = bad".
I suppose I'll just have to get one of these things...I was thinking of buying a, what is it, Nook? at the local bookstore I patronized---then they went and closed before I could firm up the deal. Somewhere else, I suppose...
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Another interesting turn in the game is writers like Peter Watts putting out free ebook versions of their in-print books through Creative Commons licenses. For instance I think it's Tor that's putting out a lot of the first books in a series as free ebooks to hook readers to read the sequels etc. I find it interesting that a lot of authors doing this find it bringing up their physical book sales.
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I guess I don't spend enough time on publishers' websites.
I have noticed certain authors, like Lois McMaster Bujold, offering several chapters as a free download. I don't know if it's still available, but I saw that she had the first eleven chapters of THE CURSE OF CHALION available for a free download at one time. Eleven seems like an odd number, until you look at the book and see exactly where she's left the MC at the end of chapter eleven. Then, it's brilliant!