British author and winner of the prestigious Whitbread Prize for Literature, Joan Brady, made these provocative statements in an article in the UK’s online version of The Daily Telegraph:
“…lowbrow ‘pulp’ such as ‘celebrity biographies… and porn’ will ‘disappear into e-books.’
“Your Rolex watch? It’s a statement. A four-wheel drive? A statement. That’s what the books in your house are too.”
Odd! I thought books were for reading, not for placing on a shelf to prove your erudition. [Erudition: extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books: profound, recondite, or bookish learning. And though I love the heft of a great big print dictionary, I got that definition online instantly.]
I had my first-generation Kindle ereader for about a year before I used it much… I really wanted that Kindle, and as soon as I heard that such a device was coming out, I asked my then-fiance and kids to buy me one for Christmas. They did, and though the Kindles sold out fast that year, mine was pre-ordered and I got one of the very first ones. Then it sat around for about a year while I continued to buy and read old-fashioned paper books.
But eventually I picked up that original Kindle… which is now rather like a Model T of ereaders. Sometime later I began publishing my own books and those of others electronically, persuaded by all the advantages and control available to new indie authors. Now that I have both the classic Kindle and a Kindle Fire (my husband graciously reads the old black-and-white) I am a complete convert.
I acknowledge the value of print books. I was in a bookstore yesterday for the first time in a while, marveling at ALL that paper, and the outrageous expense of producing it, but also the beauty of these objects, and some of the positive aspects of a simple, non-technical solution to the desire to share stories. We will always have print books, despite their limitations.
But I prefer ebooks and ereaders. Let me count the ways:
1. Ebooks are lighter (for many books).
2. Ebooks are cheaper (nearly always, once you have your reading device).
3. You can choose your font size (increasingly important as we age).
4. There is an infinite selection of books available at a touch.
5. A reader has the ability to chat with others in real-time about ebooks and the reading experience.
6. The content of an ebook is updatable.
7. There can be, and will increasingly be, brilliant, light-filled color photos.
8. No trees are destroyed.
9. Instant gratification — you are able to order a new book and start reading it in seconds!
(Love the last best — I can finish Book #2 of The Hunger Games at midnight and give in to the irresistible urge to buy Book #3 in the blink of an eye!)
But I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ about that 50 Shades book. Oh, all right, I was curious. I read the sample. And I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was — it wasn’t even very dirty, and it certainly wasn’t very well-written. So I had to buy the first one, of course, and then I was still curious, so I bought the second. By then, my curiosity was sated. And yes, it was dirty. And after a while, not all that interesting. Perhaps that’s the porn Ms. Brady is talking about.
But ebooks being just for pornography? Hardly.
Here’s when we’ll know that ebooks are the thing. When the word “book” simply means ebook, and one has to use a term like print book or paper book to identify the old-fashioned kind.
Oh, and here’s the kicker to the story in The Telegraph: Ms. Brady’s new book, The Blue Death, to which she is naturally trying to draw attention with her provocative statements, is available as an ebook!
I note that her book, a kind of political thriller, costs $14.99 via Kindle, $3.00 more than the paperback costs. Currently, it has no reviews on her U.S. Amazon page. I guess she doesn’t object that much to ebooks and ereaders… but perhaps she is not having much success electronically.
My political thriller, RUNNING, has 51 reviews, a 4.4 star rating, and has been downloaded 50,000 times. Oh, and it’s on sale for $2.99 right now.
And though it does have a bit of sex, it’s not porn.
P.S. That first photo above is me, looking at my Kindle Fire, in front of my library of old-fashioned books, being funny. But I’m not reading porn!
(Not that you would know, right?)
See comments for a response from Joan Brady herself.
A very interesting survey designed to get some data on self-publishing straight from the source is described in today’s post on David Gaughran’s “Let’s Get Digital” blog. Answering the questions takes somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes, and it is, of course, anonymous.
The folks that put it together are trying to get 1,000 responses in order to make it statistically significant. So even if you’re new to this fascinating self-publishing journey, please consider participating. One of the best parts of this community of like-minded (brave, honest, thrifty, etc. — sort of like the Boy Scouts) writers is that so many are willing to reach out a helping hand.
So help us learn more about each other and how to sell books by sharing your own experiences.
Though I read over and over that we self publishers should be PATIENT… I am not by nature a very patient person! So when I had a fantastic result in late December with my best-selling political thriller RUNNING after using a single free day on Amazon’s KDP Select program (8,000 free downloads followed by 1,500+ sales in the next 10 days) I was elated. It lasted for quite a while, but by the end of January sales had settled down to about 5-10 copies a day. So I decided to do it again.
The exciting news is that I saw a torrent of downloads – 9,000 over the two days. The day after, I sold only 5 copies. Big letdown! Yesterday I sold 7, with 2 borrows. Oh well, that’s a little better. But this morning I wake up and RUNNING had sold 30 by 11:00 a.m. A significant improvement. I’ll take those numbers, I figured, particularly if they continue throughout the day. And a Tuesday morning doesn’t typically mean a huge rush to buy ebooks.
As several people have pointed out, the endgame in all this is visibility. Building your brand, and your fan base. Getting yourself higher up on the charts. Getting more reviews. All of this works toward a long-term career as a writer. A writer who writes books worth buying.
I should mention that my price point is higher than most self-publishers. My career plan includes being able to live on my income as a writer, so it’s important to me to price my novels up there with Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, and others who are published traditionally.
So what do I need to do now? GET MORE GOOD NOVELS WRITTEN. I met with my critique partner today to fine-tune the synopsis (before starting to write) of my next thriller, which starts with the abduction of the Secretary of State in some war-torn former Soviet satellite. Action, suspense, romance, sex, bombs, helicopters, international diplomacy, and a strong woman protagonist. I can’t wait!
Oh, and P.S. I sold 66 copies of RUNNING today. A fabulous result.
Do you have yours yet?