Not real sure how I feel about this recent USA Today piece on e-books. I’m glad that the world of e-publishing is getting some publicity (with two titles of my own in Kindle format, of course); at the same time I wonder if it’s paints a picture that’s a little too rosy.
True, the e-book market is booming. Amazon is probably the best, and best-known, business model, and it’s a good one. Authors can accomplish all the technical details of publishing from their laptop, including setting up pricing and royalties, cover design., etc. The process itself is pretty simple, too, if a little time-consuming. For me, working off a Mac, I had to do a couple of extra steps when it came to formatting, and of course there were the hours spent just familiarizing myself with each step.
But, once the process is complete, the book is available within 48 hours. And Amazon makes it very easy to find, buy and download a title. You can even sample a book if you like by downloading the first chapter. In some cases, customers can “borrow” a book for free. This is great news for writers trying to build a readership and who aren’t necessarily concerned with becoming the next John Grisham and sell millions of books.
Sounds pretty easy, and it is, but — and this is what isn’t really covered by the USA Today piece — it’s only the first step. Once the book is out there, it’s up to the author to market it. And sell it. That’s the hard part. And without sells, you aren’t going to be one of the writers highlighted in the USA Today piece — wealthy. Most e-book authors aren’t. And I haven’t seen any evidence that success in the e-book market translates into success in the NYC trade paper market.
Another huge advantage to the traditional method of publishing — i.e., securing an agent who sells the book to a publisher — is the vetting process a manuscript undergoes between the time the writer finishes it and you see it in a store. It’s read by an agent, then editors, then proofers, and on up the line until it’s put on the presses. That very key step is, by and large, missing in the self-publishing market today. I’m lucky in that as a (former) journalist, I tend to pay a lot more attention to the editing side, and I have friends, also journalists, who can and do read some of my writing for both content and proofing purposes.
So, why did I decide to go the e-book route? Well, for one thing, it’s more than a fad. Electronic publishing is exploding now, and I think that will continue. With tablet technology and the seemingly unending app market, reading electronically is not only becoming more acceptable, it’s getting easier. For those traditionalists who can’t get past the “look and feel of a real book,” I understand that (you should see the number of books in my house and at my bedside. But the Kindle and similar platforms have made electronic books almost as convenient and endearing as “real” books. The competition in the tablet market is only going to make that experience even better in the future. Another bonus — downloading a book to your tablet/Kindle/reader is nearly instantaneous. No waiting 3-5 business days for the mail to deliver.
To me, it was worth taking the plunge.
So, support your local writer. Get a copy of A Simple Murder today.