Saturday, 22 October 2011

Why eBook writers should endure the financial pain of a first print run

I'm no expert when it comes to books and writing. I went to University of course, but it was for two days and I was there to take part in a football tournament. I fell into writing and have been there ever since, enjoying the freedom of self publishing but remembering to get the critical feedback before producing anything. As it is, I now publish four other writers' work as well as my own. It keeps me busy.

I have been forced to look at the issue of print vs. eBooks as I continue in my publishing journey, keeping up to date to ensure the books I am responsible for still have an audience and that potential readers can be made aware of what we offer. I have therefore ventured in to the world of eBooks in that I have (to date) made three of my print books available through Amazon's Kindle.

When I first started writing this wasn't an option. It was 2005, lemonade was abundant and the sky was still very much blue at times. To get a book printed writers had two main options - find a publisher or self publish. The former was tough, took a long time and only seemed available to those who wrote full time or had a background of writing. That's not true for every individual author, however as a blanket statement I think I'm safe to say it. Self publishing, when done correctly, was and remains fairly expensive. It is this option that is important when considering indie authors and publishing.

When an option is available and expensive to a point that it's just within reach it forces the consumer to take their time over a decision. Nobody stumps up a large sum of cash on a whim when they know they can't go back and select a better option, a nicer colour, the one with different accessories. The same goes for books. No published book can be rearranged easily, particularly if you can only afford a small run and are taking a chance on your work. This means all doubts must be settled before the book goes to print, the cover must be perfect, the content must be studied for mistakes, the story must not feature a weird aunt who pops up for no reason. Time is taken, feedback is sought and everything is finalised before the files go off to become print.

With an eBook these details can be ignored. Sure, when a book is published it is forever. It's done. What happens when an eBook author receives the feedback that one of their paragraphs doesn't make sense, though? It is simpe to review the work, remove it from the internet and upload a new version. Bang. Nobody really notices unless the book has sold thousands of copies beforehand. This ease of editing, combined with the fact that nobody has parted with any money, makes the whole process more hideous than poor self publishing and vanity publishing combined.

It may settle down to a point where writers realise their efforts are flooding the market and putting readers off anything that is independently published, thereby negating any work they've put in anyway. However we are currently stuck with a mass of diluted story telling from writers that think editing is something done by newspapers, and I should know. I've seen hundreds of them. This morning.