Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bouchercon and the New World of ePublishing

By Martha Reed

The big take-away from Bouchercon this year was the continuing book market shift to ePublishing. From what I heard at the panels, the workshops and later, much later in the hotel bar, authors are buzzing with the idea they can publish their own work, keep up to 70% of their royalties and access almost instant account statements. This is a seismic change from the traditional hidebound (in more ways than one) publishing model that as near as I can tell was constructed for Charles Dickens.

There is a lot of discussion and arguments to be made for print versus eBook but that’s not what I want to talk about here. There’s an even more important item that should be on every writer’s horizon and that is: how are writers going to connect with their readers going forward? That piece of the puzzle is in transition as well, with bookstores closing their doors, author tours getting nixed and newspapers dropping their review coverage.

I think this is where member organizations like Sisters in Crime could step up to the plate (as permitted by the By-Laws) because this is a fundamental process change across the whole marketplace. Another example of the breadth of this change is that even stalwart Kirkus Review is now offering to review independently published material for a price ($425-$575) with their Kirkus Indie Program. Verily, how the mighty have fallen. This was unthinkable five years ago.

In the end, though, writers need to remember that we are in charge of producing the story. It shouldn’t matter how the story is told or sold: paper, audio, or digital format should be left up to the discretion and preference of the reader. Sure, as a writer, I feel the pressure to conform to the traditional publishing model: query letter, synopsis, hire an agent, find a publishing house editor but I think the trick now is to explore the new model and sure, make some money at it but our continuing commitment as writers must be to the craft. That is our job description.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Kirkus isn't the only big review site charging Direct-to-Reader authors for reviews, you know. They're just the ones who did it first.

I think there are some amazing opportunities for authors to connect with readers. Paperbackswap.com is hosting its first-ever reader cruise, similar to the cruises so popular with the rockin' set right now (and I hear those musical cruises are huge hits with the cruise lines, who are raking it in at the bar).

Twitter, Facebook, and blogs make it so much easier to connect, as well. There's unprecedented access.

BUT, as you say, the most important thing is that as the market becomes more and more flooded, it's incumbent upon us authors to get the absolute best writing out there. We need to work as a community to lift each other up and better the entire body of modern-day literature. That should be our primary focus.

Martha Reed said...

Hi, Susan. Your comments are insightful as always. We missed you at last nights meeting. I'd like to here more about SmashWords, too, at some point in the future. Hope all is well at your end.

Ramona said...

Why is my takeaway from this is to become a kickass book reviewer, and have people pay me to do that?

Martha Reed said...

Hi, Ramona. Why not? We're going to have to build an entire service industry from the ground up.

I love the discussion we've been having on this topic. Have you heard about Amazon affiliates? From what I hear, if someone comes into Amazon to buy your eBook and they continue their shopping onto other products, you still get a cut of their non-book purchases. Obviously, I need to research this further but wow. Authors making money. What a novel idea. (No pun intended).

Patg said...

Frankly, I've always felt the publishing industry needed a good shaking and here it is. The whole process of trying to get a book published taking years while having to compromise so much was just degrading. And I'm not even going to go there on agents that 'couldn't sell'.
Yes, the markets are going to be flooded. So what! What is needed is a better 'shelving' or organization of what is available.
However, if it took years to get a book out, authors also had the luxury of having a year to get the next one out. That in ePublishing is a death nell. This is where write, write, write and get it up there is the starting point. Sure, there will be errors, but not so surprisingly readers are not being bothered--right away anyway.
Also, I find much more shorter stuff gets you going much faster. Long short stories and novellas that fit into the 99 cents or 1.99 category is selling more since a lot of readers use their cell phone to read and you know how hard that is on the eyes for long periods. Airplane length. This is where the money 'starts'. If you can change your author attitude as well.
I think I'll do my blog on a business plan.


Martha Reed said...

Hi, Pat. You make some great points. I look forward to reading your ideas on the new plan.

As as for the stuff that's getting epublished, that's true about quality but I've read some dreadful printed material and had to pay more for it. I think you're right - it's a wash. But this time it's washing in the writer's favor.

Cathy Corn said...

Epublishing your book can be quite a lift and fun, too. You may not make record sales, but your work is out there and not hiding out in a box under your desk. I'm having a great time and hope that whatever your route to sharing your stories, you'll be supported and encouraged by fellow writers.

Keeping the Faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Sutton said...

I really wish I could have made this meeting. There is so much about the ePublishing aspect that attracts me - and so much that scares me. I agree that writing quality work is the most important thing for an author and that the publishing output is secondary. As for those who think that the ease of ePublishing will flood the market with "junk," well, Martha said it. I've bought a lot of printed "junk" over the years and paid a lot more than $1.99 for it.