Saturday, April 2, 2011

Is E for Me?

Have I got a story for you! Pick a story, any story. Long stories, short stories. Stories for picture books, middle grade and even several chapters of a YA book. Stories that have been queried, pitched, submitted to contests, revised, critiqued, rejected. What’s a writer to do?

The e-book format, especially when combined with print-on-demand options like Amazon's CreateSpace, offers new options to people like me. Mark Coker, in his recent article for the Huffington Post, calls this “a revolution” that will “topple Big Publishing as we know it.” Although I don’t see myself as a revolutionary, I agree with Mark on several points:
  • Big Publishing is toppling, or at the very least, scrambling furiously.
  • “Readers, not publishers, have become the curators” of the online bookstore. Hurrah! What people read will have more impact on sales than what publishers think they will read.
  • “To survive and thrive, publishers big and small must do for authors what authors cannot or will not do for themselves.” The one thing publishers can offer is distribution to brick and mortar stores. With e-books plus the ability to order any p-book online, the power of that offer is dwindling fast. 
I’ve been asked, “If you publish an e-book instead of using a  traditional publisher, how will people find your book?” I have two answers:
First, the e-book pool is not yet nearly as large as the p-book pool. I want to jump in fast (before the Christmas season) to take advantage of these numbers. I did a quick search last week on Amazon and here’s what I found.

     For Age 0 to 3        Print books 70,195     E-books 1,402
     For Age 4 to 8        Print books 226,684   E-books 2,787
     For Age 9 to 12      Print books 199,710    E-books 4,203
     For Young Adult      Print books 83,977     E-books 1,605

Second, people will find my book by my own marketing attempts and by word of mouth referrals. When a book is bad, no one will refer it. When a book is good, people will tell people. Good ideas spread.

And that segues me to this short Seth Godin video my son sent me on this very topic. If offers a great summary to everything I’ve said here. SPOILER ALERT – if you still dream of being published traditionally, do not watch this video.  I don’t want to be a dream-dasher.