Sunday, June 12, 2011

One More Time

Words written since last post: 57,323
Words deleted since last post: 17,201
Words rewritten since last post:  way too many!

Okay, back to a semi-regular schedule after tornado recovery, internet failure and yes, in the midst of all this, the completion and publication of my very first original e-book!

On that subject, I am still getting e-mail from readers complaining about my decision to publish digital editions of my books.  Some of these are a little snippy.  Some are simply hurt and confused.  Have I abandoned books?  What will become of those who don't have, or want to have, e-readers?  Don't I care about my reading public?

These letters are particularly disheartening when they begin by saying, "I just got your last three books from a used book store/book exchange/friend or relative..." since, as we surely all know by this point, neither authors or publishers receive money from these sources and a lack of money is precisely why publishers don't buy books-- and why authors are starving. 

So one more time, let me try to explain.  The following is in fact a quote from a response I just wrote to a reader who contacted me expressing her disappointment over the fact that my latest book (a novella) was not available in print.  I have said it before, to other readers:

No one loves books more than I -- the smell, the feel, the weight of them in my hand, the way they look on my (far overloaded!) book shelf.  But I also love stories-- the telling of them, and  the reading of them.  Perhaps even more importantly, I love writers, who deserve to make a living at their craft, and readers, who deserve to be able to read good books at a price they can afford.

Please keep in mind it was the publisher who canceled the Raine Stockton Dog Mystery Series , not I.    For years I read the e-mail from readers begging for another installment, and my frustration grew.  Once a series is cancelled, no other publisher will take a chance on it.   I considered self-publishing, but the technology available at the time was a huge learning curve, and the profit margin so small that even if I sold every copy--difficult to do without a distributor to get the books into a bookstore--I would barely be making minimum wage for the time I spent writing and producing the book.  And that was IF I sold as many copies as a big NY publisher,while the truth is most self-published novels sell about 100 copies.

Enter e-publishing, and a whole new way to make books available to millions of readers for little or investment--and with up to 70% of the profits going directly to the author!  With those kinds of numbers, writers could afford to price their books below the cost of a paperback and still make more money per copy than they would if their book had been published by a big NY print publisher.  And readers could buy 4 or 5 brand new titles (sometimes more!) for the price they would have spent for one book at a used book store (where the author of the work receives absolutely no royalty whatsoever).  It's a win-win for everyone.

I decided to publish Bone Yard, Book Four of the Raine Stockton Dog Mystery Series, as an original e-book novella to test the waters.  I have been publishing my backlist for Kindle for over an year now, but this was my first genuinely self-published novella.  The response has been overwhelming.  It turns out that readers really did  want another installment in the series, even after waiting four years, and most of them were delighted to have it in digital form.  Now that I know I have a real reader base who are willing to actually buy these books, I am encouraged to continue the series.  And for those who weren't  delighted that Bone Yard was an e-book exclusive, good news:  Amazon's Create Space program has overcome the learning curve even for the techno-challenged like me, making it possible for me to publish and distribute print copies of subsequent full length novels in the series  (as a novella, unfortunately, Bone Yard is too short to bind). 

So one more time, this is why I, and so my authors like me, are so excited about e-publishing:

      Our ability to keep prices under $5.00 means that more readers can buy our books.  Good for you, good for us.

       The fact that 70% of the price of the book (as opposed to 8% of the price of a traditionally published print book) remains in the author's hands means that writers who otherwise might never have been heard from again can afford to continue telling the stories you love.

        The e-publishing option means that no series needs to be abandoned simply because the publisher could not make its P&L statement balance.  Your favorite characters do not (as in the case of the Ladybug Farm series ) have to be left standing in the midst of their ruined vineyard wondering what they're going to do next-- and neither do you!  Writers you have loved, abandoned by their publishers for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their books, can continue to tell their stories-- and they can get them to you faster, easier, and cheaper than ever before.  This is huge, people.  This is mammoth!   Embrace the future; it is yours.

And one more time-- yes, of course my books will still be available in print.  They may be somewhat difficult to find, though, with so many book stores closing.  And they will be far more expensive than an e-book.  But if you look hard enough, you'll find them.  Because I love books.  And I'll get mine to you however I can.

 I couldn't resist:
Bone Yard (Raine Stockton Dog Mystery)

$1.99 for your Kindle!

By the way, what am I reading?
In paper: The Traveler by Stephen Twelve Hawks