C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

The real value of TBR lists (that you hardly ever get to)

Besides the chance at author discoverability through also-boughts, what is the value of all those to-be-read books you and I will probably never get to? (I say this with love and without judgment, as an author and fellow hoarder of books and ebooks.)

To shine a light in the dark, I spoke recently with an author who has her books for sale everywhere but Amazon.

(It matters little why she wasn’t on Amazon, except to say it was a misunderstanding of the platform’s requirements, not a principled, moral stance.)

“But we have to be on Amazon,” I told her. “Exclusive or not is your choice, but if you want to reach more readers, you must be on Amazon.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s where so many readers are. Amazon is out front and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

“Why?”

“Because their customers are locked in.”

“What do you mean ‘locked in’? Everyone could switch to Kobo tomorrow.”

“But they won’t. Amazon has millions of customers whose first device was a kindle and so their library is on kindle. Kindle devices have come down in price and improved, so those readers will stick with kindle. They’re suffering the delusion that someday they’ll win the lottery, move to the French Riviera and finally have time to read all those hoarded books on a topless beach.”

“That’s not rational,” she sniffed.

“If I switched devices, it would be like burning all my books. And maybe that’s irrational, but we are talking about humans, yes? I have so few Vulcan readers.”

“But devices and companies go away. Look at MySpace and AOL and Kodak.”

“And the not-so-bright future of the Nook,” I added. “Yeah, companies go away if they fail to adapt to competition. But all those free downloads to long TBR lists give Amazon an immense legacy advantage. Kobo might be #2 in the e-reader market, but they’re a distant #2. Amazon’s the greyhound out front chasing the rabbit. The others are three-legged purse dogs running in circles around the starting line.”

“That’s ridiculous. If I wanted to switch, why couldn’t I just port my Kindle downloads over to Kobo?”

“Amazon would have to permit that, I’m guessing. They’re different systems. There are workarounds, but most readers won’t do it. For instance, I’ve got Calibre but I hardly ever use it.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s harder to use and more time-consuming than the one-click buy that shoots straight to my kindle. People stick with what they know and what’s easy. For instance, everyone complains about Facebook, but they hardly ever leave and a bunch of those who do leave come back for more abuse. They don’t hang out at G+ because all their friends and family are still on Facebook. Their network is locked in, even if they don’t want to be. For Amazon and Facebook to start to worry, they must have a real threat of competition.”

“I heard Instagram is getting even more popular than Facebook with young people,” she said. “Facebook has serious competition there.”

“For that niche and possibly into the future, yeah, which must be why Facebook bought it already. No competition.”

“Oh,” she said.

“To compete with the greyhound, the little yappy dogs have to take steroids and get going in the right direction. But the greyhound will probably eat their steroids. The big dog always has more money for R&D.”

“You’ve lost me in the canine metaphor. I don’t hang out at the dog track.”

“Come up with a new way to reach customers and someone will finance it. If it’s a really good idea, it will probably be the leader of the pack buying you out, making sure they stay the pack leader.”

“But what about all those companies that fail?”

“Nothing lasts forever, sure. Apple seems to have lost some direction since Jobs died and the stock’s down. Mostly, big companies fail because they lower their standards or try to hold on to the old paradigm instead of improving and evolving. Like how the Big Six publishers became the Big Five. Soon to be fewer, probably.”

“Ah. So…you really think I should sell on Amazon?”

“It’s up to you, but for me, it’s the only platform that’s not optional. There are exceptions. Some authors seem to move romance and crime better on B&N and Kobo. If they choose to pull you out of the haystack and promote you, you might have a shot. But mostly, and for me? If I wasn’t selling on Amazon, I wouldn’t be selling books.”

“So all those free ebooks on my TBR cyber-pile is just Amazon insuring customer loyalty?”

“I wouldn’t call it loyalty. No matter what the Supreme Court and Mitt Haircut say, corporations aren’t people, my friend. Companies rarely inspire love. Call it inertia. Also, I’m sure they really do hope you’ll buy somebody’s books and make a ton of money the way they say it was intended. I’m talking more about customer behavior here, not whether Amazon’s packed to the rafters with cynical geniuses who can see into the future.”

“So what do you think of free ebooks as a promotional tool?”

“It’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but most of the discoverability tools are pretty dull.”

“Sounds like you love Amazon,” she said, her eyes narrowing.

“No. If the little dogs started running faster, I’d bet on them. Until then, I’m riding the big dog. And you know…sometimes…once in a long while, I’ll find an author in that TBR pile I thought I’d never get to. And sometimes, I’m blown away and I want to read more of their books. Then I’m in true buying mode. Free ebooks is fake buying mode. But it does happen that I find someone I like there and spend real dough.”

“Name one,” she said.

“I’ll name three. Alex Kimmell, Jordanna East and Armand Rosamilia.”

“I’ll add them to my TBR pile,” she said.

“Make sure you get to them.”

~ Robert Chazz Chute is an author with ten books in your TBR pile you still haven’t gotten to. How will you ever fall in love? 

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Filed under: Amazon, author platform, book marketing, Books, e-reader, ebooks, free ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The majority of book bloggers are female … and other interesting blogging stats

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

Marcie Brock, the Book Marketing Maven, supplies some interesting stats about book bloggers. “Each maintains an average of three blogs”? Wow.   But the one statistic that surprised her most surprised me most, too. Readers here might shudder a little bit. Before you click the link below, ask yourself what percentage of book bloggers own an e-reader? Now click the Scoopit! link below and feel your eyes go WIDE! ~ Chazz

The majority of book bloggers are female … and other interesting blogging stats
At long last, we’re moving on from our general conversation about social media to more specifics…
Via marciebrockbookmarketingmaven.wordpress.com

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book reviews, Books, e-reader, ebooks, publishing, readers, self-publishing, What about you?, , , , ,

How serious is the hate for indie authors?

I’m feeling a tad depressed. I just read a bunch of posts in a forum from The People Who Fun Forgot. They were looking for ways to avoid even looking at indie authors’ work. Any indie exposure, it seems, might burn like a spicy plutonium chalupa with battery acid sauce. Some people held on to some perspective. For others, art was something to grumble at and be protected from while searching for “real” books from “real” publishers. How dare self-published authors offer something someone else might enjoy? Perhaps it’s promotion fatigue, but some people seem to think that just because they don’t like something, it’s automatically spam and valueless to anyone! Someone even suggested the establishment of a censor board to decide which indie offerings are worthy. I had to reread that several times. I’m still not sure if the intent was satirical. Gee, I hope that was a joke, but I don’t think so.

These angry posts and censorious efforts sound far more narcissistic than anything a self-publisher has ever done.

It’s a book, not  a crime. And if it be a crime, it is not a crime against literature but against personal taste. As in “individual”, one person’s taste.

As in, “Get over yourself, Butch!”

Another complainer said she was especially picky about offerings that were inexpensive. Wait! Wait! Why not be more picky about the much more expensive ebooks from traditional publishers? As John Locke says of his 99 cent ebooks, he doesn’t have to prove he’s as good as the traditionally published. Trad authors have to prove their books are ten times better than his for the prices they charge. Many of his readers certainly don’t want him censored. They’re grateful—happy, even— to receive such cheap entertainment. I eat 99 cent books like Tic Tacs. A 99 cent book isn’t a risk. It’s a Tic tac. If you like one, have more. If you can’t afford a 99 cent ebook, what the hell are you doing with an e-reader, anyway? If that’s the case, read at the library. In the job search section.

Being super picky over indie books doesn’t make you a connoisseur of literature. It makes you the sort of person whose company you wouldn’t tolerate in a stuck elevator for more than five minutes without considering how you could make strangulation look accidental. (If this is you, please consult your therapist. Next session’s topic: “Why do I feel such a need to be a petty bully over small things? And why do I feel such joy kicking the crutches out from under people?”)

I’m not for low standards, per se. It just seems absurd to insist a 99 cent book reach a higher standard. Every ebook gives readers a sample. If you don’t like the sample, you don’t have to buy it. And no, your time is not that precious. The President of the United States has time to read fiction for pleasure and you’re not working on a cancer cure, so get over yourself and read a few reviews on Goodreads if you need some help with your book shopping, for Christ’s sake!

You know what I love about the break from traditional publishing? The range of price and the freedom of choice. The “flood” of new books is not something I’ll drown in. I revel in the onslaught. The hunt for a good book is part of the joy of reading. (You even get to read while you hunt, which was frowned upon when the prey was deer.) The search is part of the fun, like wandering through a bookstore and dipping into samples to see if I can find a treasure. And, it bears repeating, just because a book is traditionally published is no guarantee it’s going to be any good. Yes, they’ve got typos, too. (And remember all those books “by” Sarah Palin?)

What of all those indie authors who were traditionally published last week but decided to abandon that enterprise for greater creative freedom and the other allures of independence?

Are they to wear the scarlet letter, too?

I was shocked that people who you’d think were book lovers could be so down on free thought, cheap books, free speech and more choice. All those good and happy things were just too damned inconvenient for them, obstacles in their search for stuffy books only semiotics enthusiasts might approve. (And by semiotics enthusiasts, I mean people from 1980s English departments who worshipped structuralism and used literary criticism as a weapon to stab writers in the parts of the brain that connect expression to entertainment. They pretended to love literature and creativity that was a mask. They may have started out as readers, but by their third year, the joy of reading and literary escape was shamed and beaten out of them. Now they only read to tear writers down to feel good about themselves through petty power plays, bad reviews and the destruction of the world, one idea at a time. You know. Like Bond villains. With herpetic lesions on their anuses.

I don’t think these curmudgeons and snobs are the norm. Are they…?

If they are…I have to go make toast in the bathtub now.

Filed under: authors, book reviews, censors, e-reader, ebooks, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Self-publishing: The gold rush is not over. Believe.

Logo of LIFE magazine.

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of indie publishers have expressed concerns about the whole self-publishing venture lately.“Concerns” is too weak a word. They’re talking like the self-publishing revolution is over and already lost, an infant succumbed to Crib Death. It was, they say, a gold rush and only those who got in early with paranormal romance and lame thrillers made it big (or at all.) As I embark on a new career in self-publishing, it’s pretty scary to hear people you respect talk like they might fold their cards and curl up like cute little hedgehogs poked with a stick.

Writing a great book is always the main problem. If you don’t have that, there really is no hope. Then there’s the problem of obscurity. How will people find your great book? The easiest way to be a bestseller is to already be a bestseller, so that’s no use to most of us. What to do? Nobody knows how to make anything “go viral” unless it involves a basket of kittens in danger of being crushed by an anvil. (You wince at that image, but you’d click that link on YouTube, if only to express your outrage.)

Self-publishers must believe in themselves and their work, especially when it is unreasonable to do so. To be heard, to go viral, to get any attention at all, we must engage with others, often individually. Such promotional activity eats up a lot of time, but I don’t know any other solid way to do it. (Actually, I do have some other ideas I’m acting upon, TBA soon.)

If your self-publishing strategy isn’t working, you’re going to have change your strategy. Evaluate what you’re publishing and then evaluate again. Do your covers suck? Are you publishing to your taste without regard to your audience? Do you have an identifiable audience you can reach out to? What do you have to do differently to make this crazy Scooby Gang scheme work? (Hint: It’s not what you have been doing, more and louder.)

If you don’t find that hope you once had, what will you do? Take up selling real estate and self-loathing? No. We write because we must write. It wasn’t really a choice. Giving up and doing something else is a choice, but if you’re here, the writing bug sank its fangs in early and that burning venom never leaves the body.

No whining or blaming. I’m sympathetic to problems in self-publishing, of course. I was in traditional publishing for years, sold a lot of books for others and eventually got fed up with the hierarchy. Now that I’ve switched to self-publishing, it’s all shiny and new and I’m full of foolish missionary zeal and silly hope and I haven’t been worn down by grim reality yet. I get that. But what are the alternatives to getting fatigued by the Sisyphian task of promoting your books in an environment where most people think your babies are ugly and your promotional efforts are spam?

Start with unreasonable hope. Move on from there to taking a refreshing break (possibly with peers over scotch) and some reevaluation time to figure out how you’ll change your game. Don’t put down the slush of ebooks that obscure your precious work. Rise above it by being just that damn good. If what you’re doing isn’t working, find alternative paths to indie success. Retitle your book to something catchier. Get a power endorsement from someone you might now think is inaccessible. Figure out what successful people are doing and model your strategy on theirs.

I haven’t sold a lot of my books yet. I’m maintaining the delusion that I will until I make these lies I tell myself true. Steve Jobs had a Reality Distortion Field to motivate himself and others to believe they could accomplish big things. We need to energize our own Reality Distortion Fields. That’s what gets this crappy reality bent to the reality you want.

Comfort yourself in knowing that the gold rush isn’t over. It’s barely begun. When I go out in the world with my Kindle, people still slow down and say, “What’s that?” Last Christmas, readers got a big boost. There will be another big boost this Christmas in e-reader sales. Buck up. Believe.

Remember when you started self-publishing and were innocent of the struggle? Find that person in the mirror. You’re going to need him or her to face getting that big rock up that big hill. If it be a failure, make it glorious so you’ll know you really tried. The most powerful words I know are, “Begin again.”

If you’re indie, you are not a cute little hedgehog.

You are a lion.

Click here to get your free sample of Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High

Filed under: DIY, e-reader, ebooks, getting it done, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Surprising self-publishing delays and how ebooks are not so instant after all

Ebooks aren’t quite as instant as you might expect. They certainly aren’t as instant as I expected. A couple of months ago, my friend Rebecca Senese encouraged me not to announce a publication date for my ebooks. Rebecca was an early adopter in the ebook craze and has formatted a ton of her short stories using Smashwords. She knows whereof she speaks…so naturally I considered her advice seriously before stupidly ignoring it.

I thought I could get the formatting and conversion done and once the ebooks were delivered to the various digital platforms, bang! The books would be up and available for at least a couple of weeks before my official launch date of November 1. I wasn’t rushing to publish. Editorially, the books are ready for the big show. Still, self-publishing guru Joe Konrath’s words were probably lurking somewhere in the back of my mind: “A month’s lost sales is a month you’ll never make up.”

Only a couple of months ago, November 1 seemed so far off. It wasn’t an arbitrary date for me…at least it’s not psychologically. That’s when my career odometer turns over. Next Tuesday I am officially no longer a part-time massage therapist and stay-in-the-home-bunker dad. On that date I’m retired from twenty years of clinical practice in the treatment of sports injuries and broken backs and squeezed brains. I’ll be writing and publishing and podcasting full-time…oh my god! Next week! Jesus! Anyway, Rebecca was right, of course. It doesn’t pay to be inflexible because even though you can deliver the books — fully formatted and converted to specs — they still won’t be available for sale right away.

After delivery, Amazon can have your stuff up for sale within two to four business days. Great, right? However, Sony won’t have my ebooks available on their e-reader for weeks! I really wanted to hit the ground running and have all my books available across all digital platforms by the time I switched careers. I hadn’t considered how slow the word “instant” could really be. I’m not beating myself up about it. This is a learning curve and a huge milestone in my life does not translate to a publishing schedule. That’s an emotional attachment I’m putting on a business situation.

I soon decided I would use the delay as an advantage. I had wanted to say the books were available across all digital platforms, but Kobo still isn’t in my mix (and I’m still evaluating the worth of the Kobo platform to me.) I have The Dangerous Kind available most everywhere through Smashwords. All three ebooks are up on Amazon. Sony is the third most popular platform (behind smartphones and Amazon) so the wait is a bit frustrating. I don’t know why Sony takes so much longer than Amazon. I can only assume they don’t have the same resources for the task. However, the procedural delay will allow me to announce new platform availability over time so I can repeat my message and not feel so spammy about it. I also have some advertising plans to evaluate and pbook ARCs to publish so a little more time will allow me to hone them to a sharper edge. (And the paper books will take a long time, too. For sure!)

After all the work and coffee consumption involved in making an idea into a book, there’s nothing instant about the writing and editing process. It’s true for the production process, too, even when we think we’ve taken delays into account. It’s always later than you think!

CLICK HERE TO SEE A SAMPLE FROM

SELF-HELP FOR STONERS, STUFF TO READ WHEN YOU’RE HIGH

Filed under: DIY, e-reader, ebooks, Writers, , , , , , , , ,

Now on Kindle: Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High

SELF-HELP FOR STONERS

NOW AVAILABLE FOR YOUR KINDLE

Please click the cover to find out more on Amazon.

And enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: e-reader, ebooks, My fiction, What about Chazz?, , , ,

The downside of cheap ebooks

The_Dangerous_KindEbooks are often so inexpensive that they have become impulse buys available for mere couch change. (That’s how I’m selling my ebooks. Two of them will be up for sale November 1 at $2.99 and one long

Self-help for Stoners

Available Nov. 1

short story goes for 99 cents.) It should be an easy sell for people who can read, like to read and actually do read. The Dangerous Kind, the short story, should lead people to buy the collections (Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High and Sex, Death & Mind Control.) Well…it’s a good theory.

But will my work actually be read by anyone even after it’s bought?

Everybody’s to-read pile is so big!

Go to Goodreads and surf a bit and you’ll soon find a bunch of books that catch your eye, each one calling with equal force, “Add me to your to-read list!” I’ve recently become more active on Goodreads. I love the site and, after reading some personal recommendations from my GR friends, I’ve even reconsidered a couple of books I picked up and put back down at the bookstore.

An arresting cover can get surfers to slow down to gawk.

Killer ad copy helps.

Friendly, happy reviews help most.

Sex_Death_&_Mind_ControlBut if people buy it but don’t read it and then recommend it enthusiastically…

Let’s just say I can’t bear to think about that possibility very hard.

Filed under: DIY, e-reader, ebooks, My fiction, Publicity & Promotion, What about Chazz?, , , , , ,

Bookstores, buying habits, digital rights and the end of the world as we know it

I went cross-border shopping. In all our travels, I saw one bookstore and it was an empty, boarded up Borders. In the huge (and I mean huge) shopping centres we wandered through, there was not one bookstore. Not. One. I am not celebrating the shrinkage of the paper book market. I will miss bookstores and what they were. As their bookshelves shrink to bestsellers-only and mid-list authors find no (non-virtual) place for their books, we have lost shrines to knowledge and literature. When they’re gone (or when I have to travel many miles to get to one) I will feel the same nostalgia I feel now for friendly garbage collectors and milk men who brought their products to my door when I was a child.

How many years will it be before the economics of book production don’t make any sense at all? Economies of scale will, at some point, require that all books go digital unless they are specialty items for very high-end books, hobbyists with very low-end books or novelty items. Paper books are still big, but as the gifts, candles and coffee spaces in bookstores grow and book return times shrink, anyone can see where this train is going.

I still run into people who think a mid-list author should pursue paper book deals within traditional publishing to the exclusion of the electronic marketplace. Unless an author holds his or her e-rights, though, in most cases that math won’t make sense. John Locke held on to his e-rights. Locke stuck to what he was good at and the publisher acknowledged that by making the unprecedented deal. (Joe Konrath wrote convincingly that the deal was an admission of industry failure and was, in effect, a sign of End Times for trad publishing.)

Naysayers object, “Any self-published author would jump at a traditional deal.” Uh. No, that’s not true. A traditional deal will often yield the author about a buck after a book sale. Self-publish digitally, sell for just $2.99, and you’ll get about $2.00 with each sale. For those who would jump at traditional deals, authors may well make that decision for personal, emotional reasons, not as a pure business decision. The math doesn’t change but people are variable and are welcome to their (informed) choices. Video on demand, PVR and satellite replaced Blockbuster, but movies are still getting made.

As bookstores shrink and collapse, consumers are already turning away from the old model, even when it’s available.

For instance, I’ve noticed my buying habits have changed.

Here’s my shopping habit arc:

1. I bought books in bulk. Even though I sold a bunch, my many bookshelves are still groaning under the weight of shelves packed with books in double rows.

2. Then I bought half of my books in bookstores and half on Kindle. (I use my Sony Reader much less because it’s not wireless.)

3. If it’s a reference book, I’d still prefer to read it in paper for ease of use. I picked up a tech manual for my computer last week because I wanted instant answers.

4. If it’s fiction, it’s on my Kindle. I love that I can download so quickly and easily. It’s so easy, in fact, I don’t know when I’ll get to read all of my purchases.

5. I’ve pretty much given up on magazines because of all I can read on the web (on blogs, for instance.) There’s just as much expertise and good deal more depth in many blogs than magazines have space for.

6. Shipping: Paper books at a bookstore are more expensive. If I order them straight from Chapters or Amazon or download to the Kindle, I’m paying for the same products at a discount and the shipping is free, right to my door.

7. The local bookstore is for recon missions to find books I’ll order electronically. When our bookstores can’t afford looky-lou sessions and close, I’ll be doing that research exclusively by going through catalogues, watching for recommendations on book blogs and on sites like Goodreads. And my friends will tell me what they enjoyed. And I’ll say, “I used to get out of the house more.”

8. There will still be bookstores in the future. You’ll have to travel a long way to get to them and most of them will be specialty bookstores. The big inventory will be on the web. Just like now.

The eventual end of the common bookstore is not the end of the world. 

It’s only the end of the world as we know it. 

 

 

 

Filed under: DIY, e-reader, ebooks, self-publishing, , , , , , , ,

And now for something somewhat different: allthatchazz.com

www.allthatchazz.com

Over a year and a half and 600 plus blog posts, Chazz Writes has been (and will continue to be) free content for writers about the craft and business of writing. Chazz Writes is about grammar, editing, writing advice and the latest self-publishing news. I’ve made a lot of friends and allies and promoted quite a few authors here. It’s a lot of fun. The fun will continue for readers on the companion site. Stop by, subscribe and see what’s cooking.

Someone is already offended because it looks like I’m saying writers aren’t readers. Some people arrive pre-offended, so…can you hear my shrug from there? As a writer, I’m also a power reader: vast library, ten books at a time, two e-readers…the whole smear. But not all readers are writers.  

What will be different? All that Chazz focuses on what readers want: reviews, sneak peeks and more ideas on what to read. On the new site, I write about reading.

Contributors: All That Chazz is open to submissions (just like Chazz Writes). If you’d like to write a guest post about who, what, when, why, where and how you’re reading, please submit your 300-word (max) post and a 25-word bio to me at expartepress@gmail.com.

The Book Review Circle: I haven’t forgotten about Kim Nayyer’s excellent suggestion to establish a book circle. (See the bottom segment for my personal update on what I’ve been doing instead.)

The Review Circle Recap: In the summer, I put out the call for self-published authors who were willing to review a book in exchange for a review of their own book. The reviews, to be published at All that Chazz and promoted on Chazz Writes, can be used by the author and the reviewer for their own blogs and whatever marketing purposes suit them. In the next couple of weeks (as the hither and dither allows) I’ll be contacting all the authors who contacted me to set up the circle.

If you want to participate in the review circle, email me with details of your book, genre and word count at expartepress@gmail.com.

(Don’t wait!)

This looks like a job for me: Wow, have I been busy! My business plan is coming together, though I wish I had a couple of interns and a cappuccino machine to hurry the publishing process along. So much of what I’m working on is new to me (formatting and podcasting, for instance). Some of the learning curve is so steep, I need two Sherpa guides. However, it’s coming together on schedule as long as I continue to try do everything at once. Self-publishing is not, as some claim, the “easy” road to publication. It’s just another path and the terrain is a little different.

I’m enjoying the view from this little goat path. I think I’ll climb higher and see what I can see.

Join me.

Filed under: All That Chazz, book reviews, DIY, e-reader, ebooks, getting it done, publishing, readers, reviews, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , ,

TOP TEN: The divide between the published and the self-published

At a recent writers’ conference, I was in grand company. I met a lot of cool people. Almost all of them were traditionally published authors. I watched them ask questions of panels of publishers, agents and editors.

Here’s what I noticed:

1. They don’t want to change along with the rest of the publishing landscape.
Inertia is powerful, even in broken systems. And why should they want to change? Things haven’t actually been good, but they didn’t have to worry about things they have to worry about now with the DIY route. It used to be that they were expected to write, mostly to the exclusion of all else. That was job #1 and everything else was supposed to be, in theory, someone else’s job. However, many authors have already felt this pressure change because more and more book promotion and publicity duties have been unloaded on them by publishers.

2. Some of them are excited to self-publish. Either they had bad experiences with agents and traditional publishers or they simply want more control of their books. Their out-of-print books and their unpublished books may have new life as self-published works. The digital revolution, to these authors, is an opportunity. (Also, some DIY authors see self-publishing as their way into legacy publishing.)

3. Some are still wringing their hands, aggressively…as if that will turn back time. Like the music industry, Blockbuster, milk men, buggy whips and enjoyable air travel, there was a lot of nostalgia in that room. But nostalgia isn’t an argument against the proliferation of ebooks. It’s sadness at loss and change. They mourn the loss of some of the perks. Though many authors complained about the six city book tour and hanging out in bookstores ignored and unnoticed, admit it: all those bookstore signings had cachet. Book signings were part of the dream of being published and it was nice to rely on the publisher to pay for the trip.

4. Some traditionally published authors denigrate indie authors.
That’s understandable. I admit, many self-published books are, at the very least, utter crap. Not just to my taste! Crap! If careless authors call themselves authors, their old world club is no longer quite as special in the new world. However, blanket condemnations are pretty silly. Writers on either side of the divide are amorphous and as unified as a herd of cats. That’s part of our charm.

5. I found many authors I listened to weren’t angry at indies. They weren’t pointing fingers with nonsense “pay your dues like I did” rhetoric. Instead, they were worried that they themselves couldn’t adapt. Look at the demands on the self-published: write, revise, edit, review, format, upload, distribute, promote, market, repeat, improve and next time so it all faster. So much for self-publishing being the lazy way to get published. The mantra is, “When will I have time to write in this environment?” Indies worry about this, too. Though more books will be published digitally, somewhat fewer may be produced per author. As my self-published author friend Jeff Bennington observed recently, half of his time is spent writing and the other half is spent marketing. Somewhere in there, Jeff mixes in a job and probably eats and sleeps a little, too. There’s simply so much authors have to do to have a chance at getting noticed (and perhaps even getting their books bought.)

6. Some view digital publishing as part of the decline of literature. Hm. That’s an interesting one. The digital revolution propagates more books conveniently therefore there are many more books out there. If you are very concerned about the difference between low brow fiction and vaunted literature (say “literature” with a royal British accent), then go write some literature, you big baby. If it can’t be found amid the din, that doesn’t mean it’s not available. It’s means you can’t sell it. If the argument is that you don’t like the taste of the hoi polloi, that’s not digital publishing’s fault. That’s your fault. Or maybe it’s the educational system’s fault. Or the human brain isn’t as good as you’d like. You can blame readers, I suppose, but that’s a rather unprofessional stance. Most people who claim their stuff is good but out of step with their fellow humans are really just writing stuff that can’t connect. On the other hand, lots of people (well…English majors) will love you high-lit writers after you’re dead. So there’s that.

7. Some traditional authors are very concerned about the change in gatekeepers.
It’s not a small group of editors anymore. The market is the gatekeeper. Democracy can be scary because the group may go where you don’t want it to go. There’s still a very strong market for vampire books and bodice-ripper romances and yes, even the Jersey Shore, for instance. If actual readers don’t want your fiction, there might still be a market for it with traditional publishing (which, by the way, isn’t disappearing completely) but traditional publishing is less adventurous the bigger the press. You’ll have better luck with a small press or DIY. It’s as if the kids who ran the chess club suddenly had to contend with a bunch of dumb jocks getting a voting membership…and the lunkheads want a kegger.

8. Authors want reassurance that bookstores will survive. What am I? A freaking miracle worker? You want a combination of Harry Potter and Merlin to fix it so more bookstores won’t die? Magicians are on film, TV and in books. Hey! I love bookstores, too! But that’s more nostalgia. (See point #3.)

9. Many authors will carry on with their traditional publishers. They got in early and they got in good and they’re going to ride that train right to the end of the line and hope the fuel doesn’t run out. Yes, they wonder about the pittance publishers are throwing them with regards to ebook royalties (or wonder how well those sales are recorded.) Yes, they’ve had spats with their agents. But a broken system isn’t a dead system and there is…eh, has been…much to recommend it.

10. Indies and the traditionally published agree: its about the writing.
We all love good books. We may be dubious about how it’s delivered, but the core product is no less valued on either side of the divide. The concerns about the delivery and quality may vary, but we’re all writers and readers.

It used to take a powerful store of hope to be a self-published author. Now more faith is demanded of my traditionally published friends.

Filed under: authors, DIY, e-reader, ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, Top Ten, Writing Conferences, , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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