Ebooks, Indie book publishing, iPad Apps, self publishing

Ebooks, iPads, Oh My!

There has been so much written about how digital content is changing publishing.  The range of opinions and emotions is diverse.  Fear and excitement seem to be the two most often expressed. I find the debate interesting and fruitful. At Author Solutions we have an Author Council, which includes authors who have used indie publishing to get their books into the market. Recently, they have had a discussion about the impact of Ebooks and its impact on creativity and potential sales. What follows is an excerpt from Chris Marks. Chris publishes as CS Marks and has a series of books available in digital and print formats. I think here perspective is insightful and helpful.

Comments from CS Marks on Ebooks

The development of mass printing might have been viewed as a loss of creativity, but that loss must be balanced against the fact that mass printing made information available to the masses. Had it not occurred, most of the planet would still be illiterate. When the monks were ‘liberated’ from the task of copying the same manuscript over and over, they had more time to do the artistic things.

I have struggled with the age of digital ‘artwork’, wherein a so-called artist takes a photographic image, manipulates it using a computer, and calls it ‘art’. I sit in my ‘cell’ with paintbrushes and mason board and acrylic paints and work meticulously for hours. There is no ‘undo’ button. There are no ‘special effects’ I can perform in microseconds. It takes me hours and hours and hours to do a piece of cover art!
 

But I have to bow to the will of authors who pay less than $100 for a cover that took ten minutes to generate. Are those digital manipulators ‘artists’? Not to me, they’re not. They’re artisans, maybe…perhaps craftsmen or designers. ‘Art’ is still done by hand in my world. Yet I have no objection to seeing that art reproduced for many people to enjoy. I welcome it, in fact.

E-books open the world of publishing up to anyone with access to the internet. Anyone in the world with a pc, smartphone, or whatever can purchase Elfhunter for a very low price and enjoy it. And…they ARE. E-book sales have exceeded my wildest expectations. Yet I am still selling print books at the same rate as before. I still do book-signings and I still sell out at conventions. Many readers have told me that they tried EH on the Kindle, found that they enjoyed the trilogy, and have since purchased hard copies for their friends and for themselves. I send them signed, personalized bookplates and–voila! A signed book. Meanwhile, those who don’t care for my work have not invested much. E-books break the barrier of high cover prices for POD authors. Without them, my readership would be less than half of what it is today.

When trying a new author, I don’t purchase a hard copy–I get an e-book. I can sample the first 10%, and I can return it within 7 days. There are no production costs, no shipping costs, no warehousing or storage costs, and if I ultimately decide I do not like the book, I don’t have to worry about what to do with a hard copy. If I love the book, I’ll buy the hard copy to add to my collection.

The world is changing, and we must adapt. I was stubborn for a while, but I put my nose in the wind and realized which way it was blowing. Good stories should be enjoyed by and shared with as many readers as possible. Information should be available to all. If we can do that with a minimum of environmental impact, I say forge ahead…just try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  :-)

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authors, self publishing

The revolution just might be over: What I heard at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference

This weekend I have been at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference and it is fascinating how dramatically the conference has changed in just a few years. It has always offered a tremendous lineup of speakers and relevant topics, but there have been some major shifts in the overall message of the conference and the hallway conversations. here’s what I heard.

Self publishing  or indie publishing is a legitimate option for any aspiring author.

We started to hear this last year from a few agents that admitted that they were  looking at self publishing titles for  books to represent. This year, almost every agent was telling authors if they only want a traditional deal, they may be waiting a long, long time. Instead, they recommended using indie publishing to get in the market and then try to sell the book to a traditional publisher

Agents are  retiring, angry or looking to create the next big thing.

As publishing changes at a rapid pace, authors, publishers and retailers are making adjustments, but it seems agents are finding it hard to know where they fit in in this new world. I find some are just giving up, others are just frustrated and angry, but for the first time, I had agents talk to me about creating a new model that puts agents in the role of author advocate and includes some form of indie publishing. I think we will see this happen this year and I believe it

David Morrell, author of 30 books including First Blood presented

will acclearate the change.

The movie business is changing as dramatically as the publishing business.I sat in on an excellent seminar on book-to-screen options. Panelists, inlcuded Richard Walter from UCLA and David Morrell, renown author of books like First Blood. They both made excellent points on how to sell your book to Hollywood for movies, but also for cable television. While Hollywood not paying for material like they used to, there are still books and content being optioned. You can listen to their presentation at the San Francisco Writers University

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authors, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

How many people would you have to impact with your writing before publishing is worth it?

 

One of the most common complaints I hear from the critics of self-publishing is that “those books” don’t sell very many copies. While that may be true in some cases, I think if you only focus on sales through the channel as the measure of success, you largely miss the value of what this publishing opportunity provides.

In fact, there is one question I ask authors who are weighing the pros and cons of waiting for a traditional publisher to call versus investing in indie publishing:

How many people would you have to impact through your writing before you would say the investment was worth it?  

Not surprisingly, the number is usually quite small. Ten or 12 or 20 at most is a typical reply.  So why wait months and months for a letter to come? Make the investment. Get published. Impact others. And in the process, you likely will sell some books.

One of my favorite examples of how this can work is Reg Green. I’ve included a video of Reg’s story. I should warn you, even the hardest man has teared up while watching this video, but it is worth the view and makes the point why indie publishing can’t be measured by channel sales alone

(Also published on http://www.gatekeeperspost.com/)

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authors, book marketing, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

The Gate Keepers Post: Huffington Post meets Publishers Weekly

Great new site you will want to follow

Today, a new site launched called The Gate Keepers Post. The vision for the site is to bring together people from all different perpectives on writing and publishing and offer the most robust thought-provoking comments and conversation. I have been invited to be a guest blogger on the site and look forward to offering my POV on all the amazing developments taking place in publishing. The press release describes it as Huffington Post meets Publishers Weekly.

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