the e-book for You?
New writers look to the e-book for publishing salvation.
Salvation, that is, from publishers whose inevitable "No!" has
dashed our finest publishing dreams.
We’ve always had the option of "vanity
publishers" who teased our egos, offering print runs that rotted on
skids, unbound, for years. We still hear from agents and writers'
periodicals which clearly profit from our irrepressible urge to publish.
Now the e-book offers entry to the bookselling marketplace.
Publishers’ e-book printing costs are low enough to permit publication of
This is a "sea change" for today’s writer. For
years the publishers have fixated on mass-market blockbusters. Now, with the
e-book, publishers can offer books with a lower investment in printing.
The July 3rd Wall Street Journal gives an example
where an author spends $99 to have a publisher convert a word processing
file to a manuscript,and then offer it on Barnes & Noble for $12.95.
This one prints on paper, and in minimal quantities. Who does the
promotional campaign? Why, the author, of course!
There’s the rub. Technology now permits small print runs
with a profit, and e-books costing very little to produce. But the author
has to take the initiative when it comes to promotion. Some possibilities?
"Open mike" sessions at neighborhood bookshops. Auction sites.
Classified ads. Public bulletin boards.
If these ideas fall short of your goal – publishing that
mass-market blockbuster – stay with your present strategy. But, if you’re
not having results yet, here’s a way to begin.
Read our latest e-book...
Rites of Passage by James Hall at
Guide to low-cost e-book publication at... www.author-me.com/e-book.htm
Publishers – Still the Establishment
How are traditional publishers faring in the face of
e-book and other forms of electronic competition?
There's no stopping the development of e-books. Writing in
the Wall Street Journal (June 21, 2000), Erin White cites data from an
Anderson Consulting Study done for the publishers’ association. It
predicts just over one billion dollars in sales for e-books in 2003, and
over two billion dollars in 2005.
In fact, the traditional format for e-books has been Adobe
Acrobat – the undisputed pioneer. But, now that revenue seems possible,
we see far less open programs such as Glassbook Reader, which was used for
instant release of Stephen King’s Riding the Bullet. Just as quickly, we
see this program purchased by a large publisher/distributor having an
interest in electronic publishing. And, not to be outdone, Microsoft has
undertaken a serious effort to make e-books more readable on screen.
Meanwhile, in view of disparate standards, the publishers’
association has begun to formulate standards for e-books.
But the real question centers on new writers. When
technology permits, will traditional publishers accept new writers into
their "club" of writer/stars? Or will they seek to block entry
and preserve their existing monopoly?
If they opt for the monopoly, it’s time we writers band
together and create our own channels for selling, and also for promoting,
our wares. But if we follow this independent course, let’s do it with
more class than the Napster approach in the music markets.
If we can open the locked doors, let’s help each other
move ahead. Let’s seek to offer a quality product. Let’s give the
reviewers something worth reviewing, for they are in many ways the
gatekeepers we really need to convince.
Readers As "Targets"
You’ve heard the writer’s mandate – know your
Or were you still writing for "everyone"? (If
you’re doing this, repent! Visualize a "target" audience and
your writing will improve.)
It’s nice to know demographics, I suppose. For
example, young married adults aged 25-34 years. But it’s also helpful to
be more functional.
Using data published in this month’s American
Demographics, you can now examine your target in terms of why the audience
reads. ("Toplines," edited by John Fetto, pp. 8-9.)
For example, according to the data (from Bruskin/Audits
& Surveys Worldwide), readers ages 18-24 years old seek 1)
entertainment, 2) personal fulfillment, and 3) an alternative to boredom.
Readers aged 25-34 seek 1) personal fulfillment, 2)
entertainment, and then 3) work-related purposes.
Readers aged 35 and above put entertainment back in the
number one position. For them, personal fulfillment comes second.
How does this help you as a writer? First, lighten up!
Your readers aren’t seeking an intellectual workout. Second, write
something that matters to your readers. Most readers don’t look to books
to light fires of reform. But they expect more than entertainment. They
also want meaning, something that addresses their innermost feelings and
Publishing New Writers, July, 2000 (no.101)
Editor Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL
60118. Fax (847) 428-8974.
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