Well, this has been a fascinating few days.
I thought the learning curve was high when I first began to tackle the process of formatting, uploading and designing covers for my e-book backlist, but I hadn't even scratched the surface. In the past 72 hours I have written nothing, created nothing, accomplished nothing. I have been down the rabbit hole and back. I have read hundreds of thousands of words (ok-- maybe only tens of thousands) of blog and forum entries and posted comments on most of them. My quiet, calm, essentially secluded writerly world has been invaded by dozens of internet personalities I don't even know. I have an agent waiting for a proposal, a book I need to edit, and I can't seem to drag myself away from the internet long enough to do either. I am about ready to start ravng like Charlie Sheen. BUT... I have learned something.
1) I hate The Social Network, don't want to be a part of The Social Network, could care less what The Social Network thinks. And, if I am to exploit the full potential of e-book sales, I have to be a part of The Social Network. Please follow me on Twitter (oh, crap, where did I put that stupid Twitter button, anyway?)
2)There's no such thing as a free ride. I started uploading my backlist to Kindle because I really loved the stories and thought it was a shame not to give them a second chance at life-- and also because I wanted to see what would happen if an e-book author had nothing going for him/her but a good story (this is not a judgement call--I assumed the stories were good because they received rave reviews when originally published) . I did minimal/no promotion, invested Zero dollars, and waited to see what would happen. The answer is Nothing. I am selling a product, and promotion is key -- here as anywhere else. The difference between promoting my e-books and my traditionally published print books is that, well, with e-books, I get most of the money. So the effort should be a little less painful.
3)It's the Internet, Stupid. Somewhere between midnight and 6:00 a.m. on the third day I had one of those DUH slap-yourself-on-the-forehead-AHA moments. The one thing the E-Book Millionaires have in common is that they all went viral. Someday someone will do a study on the mechanics of virality (which will make millions as it goes viral on the Internet) but for now what we know for sure is that it's fairly unlikely you will go viral on the Internet unless you make your presence known on the Internet. Promotion is key.
4) I absolutely, positively believe that it is possible for a writer with nothing more than a good story to make a living from self-published e-books-- as long as she is willing to spend as much time exploiting the market as she does writing the book. I have always preached that a book unread is the sound of one hand clapping...so I say exploit the market.
5) Writers are (next to dog lovers) the best people in the world! Thanks to everyone for your generous advice and comments on this blog and elsewhere. Write on!
And now back to the real world. I've got proposals to write and books to edit.
And marketing to do.