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New Writers -

Is 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.

Weíve 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. Publishersí e-book printing costs are low enough to permit publication of new writers.

This is a "sea change" for todayís 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!

Thereís 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 Ė publishing that mass-market blockbuster Ė stay with your present strategy. But, if youíre not having results yet, hereís a way to begin.

Read our latest e-book...

Rites of Passage by James Hall at www.author-me.com.

Guide to low-cost e-book publication at... www.author-me.com/e-book.htm





Publishers Ė Still the Establishment Press?

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 publishersí 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 Ė 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 Kingís 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 publishersí 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, itís 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, letís do it with more class than the Napster approach in the music markets.

If we can open the locked doors, letís help each other move ahead. Letís seek to offer a quality product. Letís give the reviewers something worth reviewing, for they are in many ways the gatekeepers we really need to convince.

Readers As "Targets"

Youíve heard the writerís mandate Ė know your audience.

Or were you still writing for "everyone"? (If youíre doing this, repent! Visualize a "target" audience and your writing will improve.)

Itís nice to know  demographics, I suppose. For example, young married adults aged 25-34 years. But itís also helpful to be more functional.

 Using data published in this monthís 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 arenít seeking an intellectual workout. Second, write something that matters to your readers. Most readers donít 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 goals.

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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