Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rachel Caine Interview -- Part 2

Today I'm continuing with Rachel Caine's thorough interview. If you missed Part 1, you can catch up through this link.

What were your initial thoughts about  e-publishing?  Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?

I think it's great, and I've always seen a great potential in it. My publisher maintains the rights to e-books, so that's always been within their control as to when and where it occurs. To be honest, given the 80/20 print to e-format sales of my work, I've always been more focused on print than e-formats, although I do try to pay attention. It's tough when you have multiple editions, in markets and translations around the world, all with their own release dates, covers, formats, e-policies, etc.  

However, I have to also sound a warning bell: e-formats make it extremely easy for people to reproduce them (easier than paper, anyway). I now have an unwanted side job: while I don't spend time going after torrents and downloads, which is generally a losing proposition for me, I pursue people who take e-files and burn them to CD, or offer them for downloads, for their own profit. 

There's a significant number out there who believe that once they buy a copy of an e-book, they have the right to set themselves up as digital publishers ... reselling that copy in endless quantity, and telling those who buy it that the books are "public domain." I've personally taken down more than 300 listings for my books -- in collections of 20 or more of my works -- that were selling for between $5 and $20, in illegal e-formats. I have to do this each week, as it seems there's an endless supply of people who don't understand how copyright works.

I'm still concerned about how we're going to preserve the writer's ability to make a living from their work, in the face of this. It doesn't worry me so much for myself as for midlist and beginning writers, for whom the erosion of sales can mean the difference between a lasting career, and a quick burnout.

How are people finding out about your book? Tell us about your marketing and use of social media.

My situation's probably not normal ... I do have a higher profile than most (at least in the YA market) so I have a good amount of name recognition. However, I do a lot of marketing and always have. I appear at a ton of shows and conferences, keep in close touch with my readers via newsletter, events, signings, and social media as well (mainly Twitter and Facebook). I still don't think anything beats a personal face-to-face meeting, and word of mouth.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

Oh, helps -- with the caveat I mentioned above, but that's a future concern that needs to be handled before the future gets here. I think that removing barriers to people finding, buying, and reading the books can only be a good thing. There will always be people who love print better, or e-format better, but I do think the two can, and must, co-exist. 

There's a reason print technology is important ... it's more archival. Formats change, and change rapidly; what's readable today is ancient tech tomorrow, in the e-world. It's a common misconception that everything will eventually be available in e-format, but that's an illusion ... most of the books of the world have been written on paper, and they won't be transcribed into digital format quickly, if at all. We limit ourselves by pretending that the world's knowledge is only electronic. According to my research, the average lifespan of information on the web is about 3 years ... we bleed information quickly, and invisibly. So for me, print is an important archival tool.

But electronic formats are incredibly valuable -- the wealth of knowledge at our fingertips is staggering. And yes, I bought three e-books yesterday. :)
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To learn more about Rachel Caine visit her website.  The Morganville Vampires series also has its own website.

Don't forget to check out this week's Kids' Ebook Bestseller List.