Since enrolling in Select six months ago, my monthly sales have gone from around $50/per month, to surpassing my day job income in three of the last four months. I’ve reached thousands of new readers by enrolling in this program (Kindle Select–ed.), and these readers have, in turn, bought my other works.
Depending on how quickly you work, I think it’s vital to come out with new material at LEAST every few months. Debuting new material allows you to promote it and simultaneously call attention to your other works. I’m aiming for new stuff every other month. I’m not necessarily talking a new novel every other month – it can be as small as a new short story.
Every so often, something happens within my own personal web-surfing zeitgeist; I’ll be screwing off, looking for the latest excuse to not work on one of my numerous projects, and some shit will just jump in front of my face. Today’s burst of just that is brought to you by the letter E, for E-Book.
“Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that’s reassuring.
“Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough.”
This sounds more to me like the guy doesn’t like technology, and is using his personal foibles to invalidate a cultural change that will increase his (and other authors’) readership. Does he really think that no one has to work “really hard” to make sure an e-book is displayed “just the way they wanted it?” That just reeks of someone running their mouth about something without doing their homework. When someone gets an e-book they’re getting one of two things:
The digital file from which the print books are created;
A digital file formatted specifically for proper display on an e-reader,
either of which requires meticulous attention to detail. I would know, because I have formatted electronic files from which POD books are printed, and have turned manuscripts into digital files for use on Kindle, nook, etc. I had to work really hard. I promise. Because either my own reputation as a creator was on the line, a client paid me $1,200, or both.
I’ve been writing since 1994; I’ve been a traditionally published author since 2002. In the ten years I tried to play the game by New York’s rules, I’ve seen so much ridiculousness, it amazes me the publishing industry has lasted as long as it has. Midlist writers (that is to say those who are not gifted with million-dollar advances and groomed for the supposed bestseller lists) are treated like indentured servants: crummy advances that New York insists are “livable,” crappy royalty rates, contract clauses that are meant to provide steady income for the publisher not the writer, and an accounting system woefully behind-the-times and deliberately complicated so as to render auditing it both costly and intimidating for the average writer.
In the year since I’ve been publishing as an indie, I’ve made more money than at any other point in my writing career. I’ve sold more books than at any other point in my writing career (over 20,000 copies of my Lawson adventures JUST on the Amazon US marketplace). And I’ve been able to engage and meet more fans than at any other point in my writing career. And I’m not even as succesful as other indie ebook authors – some of them are making thousands of dollars every single DAY.
Now, I haven’t read a Jon Merz novel as of yet (nor a Franzen one, though I’ll let you guess which is more likely to occur), but it’s easy to see which of these guys depends on his writing for his living. Merz’ first novel was published in ’02, and he’s published around 14 between then and now. I’m not privy to the details of either man’s personal life, but Franzen either had a day job at least from ’88-’91, or else got one of those crazy million-dollar first novel advances that most authors never see.
Which dude am I going to believe? The one that, for whatever reason, is able to write a novel every six years on average and still eat? Or the one who’s making his way the same way most authors, statistically speaking, will?
It doesn’t take a rocket doctor. I don’t think print books are going anywhere. I wouldn’t want them to. But I’d never want to go back to not having digital books, and I don’t think the reading public, as a whole, is ever going to want to, either. Your thoughts?