Turning New Tricks

When I was younger, way back in the eighties...I worked, for my yet-to-be-ex, in an independently owned vinyl, yes vinyl, record store. We sold new and used albums, etc. We were the first record store to carry Compact Discs in our area. Music lovers were having all sorts of temper tantrums and outbursts about the death of vinyl. And yet, there was no stopping progress. Whether one thought it was good or bad. Technology happens. And it still does.

As I venture into the publishing industry things are heating up regarding e-books, self/DIY publishing, small press e-publishers, traditional publishing, and the like. Honestly, before I got my iPad I had only read academic e-books through my computer. Once I set up all the apps on my iPad for e-book reading I sort of went fiction-crazy. I had never considered how addicting it would be. I am not ashamed to admit I effing love e-books! When I can't sleep at three in the morning I can purchase and download a new book and get cozy. Yes, I get cozy with my iPad. I went from e-book novice to e-bookslut overnight.

Why is everyone getting their panties and briefs in a twist? 

This technology is not going to go away. And neither are books. Just like vinyl. Yes, the industry will change. It will experience growing pains. Yes, there will be a shift in availability of print books -- what is on the shelves in general -- which is already happening. Eventually, all of publishing will have to adapt. E-publishers will become large publishers and traditional publishers will have to create imprints to house e-books if they want to stay competitive. Even authors, editors, and readers will have to adapt. 

Yesterday, John C. Abell wrote at Wired.com 5 Reasons Why E-books Aren't There Yet -- go read it.  At libraryjournal.com there is an article about librarians discussing e-books at Book Expo America. Recently Nathan Bransford wrote in his blog about publishing control. Even The NYTimes has reported on Amazon's e-books outselling print ones.

All in all, I marvel at people digging their heels in and protesting the inevitable. What makes a good book anyway? The paper and binding? Or the magic that words bring to the imagination? Will we lose the enjoyment of the words because they are on an e-reader?

Yes, yes, I know. Folks need to mourn the loss of precious print books -- real or perceived. Following that, is the excruciating process of weeding out the lousy muck from readable, enjoyable prose. In the end, word of mouth is the best or even the worst advertising an author can receive. Best sellers are the exception and not the rule in publishing.

The bottom line is this: I am a story teller and I want to share my stories. I also want creative control throughout the process from cover images to maintaining the story integrity. I want to own the rights to my books. I would really like to receive a better percentage in royalties than what the big publishers or even the small publishers pay. After all, if I don't make some scratch doing this I don't know how long I can do it full time. 

I am approaching book publishing the same way I approach documentary filmmaking. Sorry, to take the romance out of it, but the reality is this is a business. Most of my funding comes out of my own pocket. Any money I make I put right back into my next project. I know many writers don't like the business end of things. Unfortunately, more and more publishers expect writers to be their own marketing, branding, and sales generating machines. Rinse and repeat, best sellers are the exception not the rule. 

I am jumping on this baby and riding it as far as I can. If it turns out to be an epic fail, well I will have learned some new tricks.