Sunday, April 1, 2012

I See A Short Gray Stranger in Your Future

Back in early 2006 (or maybe 2007) at a writers conference (Sleuthfest) I went to a product demonstration. There were only about 5 other writers who showed up. Most of the other authors were in craft or publishing business workshops, or pitching to editors and agents. A few authors I talked to viewed this new fangled gizmo with suspicion. I heard the usual comments of, "Too cold. I love the feel and smell of books." I listened to skepticism, "Seriously? Please, that thing will never catch on." I even saw fear in the eyes of some (that it would catch on, and that their beloved paper books would go away).

D.P. Lyle, MD and I ended up the last two authors who stayed to the end, and even lingered, talking to the young man showing us the feared, sneered at new fangled thing; the Kindle. Now Dr. Lyle didn't know me from Adam's house cat (don't ask, an old southern expression). In fact, he wouldn't know me today if he fell over me. But I remember him because I love forensics. The other authors lost interest and left. Yeah, I hear some of you laughing. I'm smiling at the memory myself.

The thing is I fell in love, as in Marvin Gaye singing, "Let's Get It On!" when I looked at the thing. Kindle had me at download books in seconds, no contracts or access fees. I'm not ageist, especially since I'm of a certain (cough, cough) age myself.  I'd say most of us were well over thirty-five, and I think that played a part. But I remember distinctly that the other authors I talked to about this wonderful new thing looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Some maybe started to avoid the "crazy person babbling about e-books". My dinner companions gave me polite, and quite chilly, smiles as I talked about a new phrase, "content creators", and how writers should be in control after all because we write the stories that drive this book business. I'm sure they were thinking, "Who the hell let her in here?"

Well, we all know how this story ends. Kindle release, world domination. I had started to write A Darker Shade of Midnight with a psychic heroine. But even I didn't see the rise of the indie author, not in my wildest dreams (proving that though I created a psychic, I'm definitely not one). I was just thinking of how wonderful it would be for me as a reader. Browse books, see book I want, order book with a few taps. Minutes later read book on a whisper light device. Now that's Supernatural!

Today. Write book the way I want to. Design book cover. Upload book + cover. Global distribution. Get paid monthly. Sales slowly build each month. Money drops into my bank account.

Kindle Select- valuable sales tool. I plan to use it to promote my soon to be released book. A few other things I've learned as an indie author: series and connected books do well. Readers love reading more about characters they read before, or the next episode in an on-going story. Some of my friends are making four figures and higher per month because they had 3 or 4 books in a series. Amazon helps authors tremendously by guiding readers who like the kind of book you've written to your books. So use those keywords and tags wisely and well. Promotion does work. The problem is no one can tell you which "thing" will work, or when, where or how. Or even if this or that "thing" will work for you. Authors are making good money not promoting at all, or doing very modest promotions. Writing faster, and writing shorter books work well in this new business model. Therefore I'm writing shorter, 75,000 to 90,000 words.

I finished the sequel to A Darker Shade of Midnight, called Between Dusk and Dawn. I'm stilling finishing the edits, and will announce the release date. In my humble opinion the cover is going to be amazing. The third book in the trilogy will be Only By Moonlight.

Let's Get It On.



Charles Gramlich said...

I love that song. I'm also beginning to see the benefits of the Kindle publishing movement. I still love books, but mostly I love words and stories.

Liane Spicer said...

Let's get it ON! :D

Wow, Lynn. You were SO FAR ahead of the curve! I was one of those 'cover your eyes, run away and hope it's a fad' people. I hated the idea of curling up in bed with a piece of plastic (why does that sound so obscene?) and hated what the 'digital revolution' was doing to my beloved paper books.

Still can't say I'm crazy about it all - except the part that gives me control over my books. THAT part is fabulous. It kicks BUTT! I've come to see the e-reader as just another tool now. Still love my paper, but my e-book collection is growing even though I don't own a device and use the free apps. And from the POV of a writer, a sale is a sale is a sale. Ent? (As we say in these parts.)

Exciting times.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Every new technology, every new way of doing things,is met with the same skepticism and myopia. I can't say that I enjoy reading on a kindle as yet. Still don't have one and the kindle books I've downloaded on my computer are yet to be read. Still prefer paper books. But the way it has revolutionized book buying, book publishing gives me as an author hope: if a publisher is silly enough not to buy my books, there is another avenue to get them out there.

KeVin K. said...

Adam's house cat? Know it well. 'Course I live on the southern coast, too. (Eve was evidently a dog person.)

In 2006 I, too, was arguing against independent publishing. It still sounded like vanity press to me, an industry I cannot hate enough. (A pox on all those houses.) I would have argued with you at the dinner table. Glad I didn't, or now I'd be eating my words. I'm still behind you in independent publishing -- I have learned that short stories do not do well and have not beaten my first novel into acceptable shape -- but I'm definitely following your lead.

Lynn Emery said...

Charles, I always loved stories. Looking back I wasn't wedded to the delivery system. I guess that's why the Kindle didn't throw me off.

Liane, LOL about curling up with plastic. You mean curling up with Bob(battery operated boyfriend).

Amethyst, I haven't bought a Kindle either ironically. Still reading books on my IPhone.

KeVin, other authors published short story collections and report good results. Patience and putting up more books yields results. Keep at it.