a room full of soap boxes

The past week or so, spurred by several blog posts from other writers, I have done quite a bit of reading up on the success some no-name writers have had with self-publishing for Kindle and other digital platforms. This is a topic that has become a heated debate in many circles and if you take only 10 minutes or so to check out blogs and forums, you’ll find that the battle lines have basically been drawn.

Still, as a writer, it’s exciting to know that you can make your work accessible to so many people.  And let’s go ahead and admit it…the monetary reward is paying off for some writers more than they could have ever dreamed of.

So, in the interest of trying to learn more about the phenomenon, trying to decide if it’s something I want to try my hand at, I ended up at the Kindleboards website.  I looked around for a bit and was still undecided.  I went so far as to register and get an account.  I then posted the following:

I’ll get this out of the way first…I’m a traditionalist.  While I have no qualms with Kindle or any other e-readers, I will always prefer the actual print product.  However, as a writer, I would be a fool to ignore the footprint that digital readers are leaving in the publishing world.

I have been published by two different small presses in the past, and am quite proud to have my name on a printed product.  My question is this:

I’ve done a bit of research to find what sort of titles sell best on Kindles and it does not look like horror/dark fiction is popular among Kindle readers…either that or there are not many writers in these genres making their books available for Kindle or other digital platforms.  Is there an interest for such work among Kindle readers?

As a writer, I am skeptical of going the Kindle route; the stigma of being “self published” does not hold well for many and could very well do some harm later on if I choose to continue to pursue writing as a career.  On the other hand, I believe platforms such as Kindle will make this a moot point as it is a practice that is becoming more common.  I have read three different interview with writers that had never been published before and are making a killing on Kindle…and more importantly, having their work read by hundreds of thousands of people.

So actually, I suppose that’s another worry…not knowing if this truly IS the future of books or if it is just a temporary phase.  If publishers finally wise up and lower their prices on print books rather than raise them (as has been the practice for the past 2 years or so), I think print will be able to stop shaking in its boots and once again stand atop the publishing world as the superior and most desired product.

Thoughts?

I still have no clue if this is something I want to try.  Last week, Aaron Polson posted a link to this blog post from Joe Konrath.  I have read it about 5 times, trying to make sense of it.  I have two projects that, when complete, would be fitting candidates to experiment with Kindle or other e-readers.  But still…I don’t know…I almost feel as if I am betraying print and, in some skewed sort of way, taking the easy way towards publication.

Please share your own insights into this in the comments section.  I am apparently rather easily convinced…

In closing, if you missed my interview on The Tattered Muse on Friday night, it is now up in the archives.  Check it out if you have the time.

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5 comments

  1. Joe has argued that supply-demand economics don’t work with ebooks. He is right, to a point. There is still a “carrying capacity” for cheap, self-published books on ereaders. At some point, folks aren’t going to be making the crazy piles of money they are right now because too many authors have jumped in and readers aren’t choosing from the pond anymore, they’re choosing from the ocean. I don’t know what that “carrying capacity” is. Joe doesn’t know what it is. Hell, no one does right now.

    I do think a career as a writer, and writing fiction for a living in particular, is becoming an “endangered species”. Will you hurt your chances if you self-pub electronically? Who knows. What are the chances any of us will make a living at this, anyway?

    I say go for it. Change is scary. Change is risky. But the rewards only go to the risk takers.

  2. I’m a traditionalist too. Maybe it’s my age. I can’t help but think publishing is going through a “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” phase. I guess each writer needs to establish their own satisfactory endgame.

  3. There’s always a risk with this kind of thing, of course. I do think publishing is going through some growing paints, but I don’t think it’s a phase. Ignoring digital media is a mistake the music and motion picture industries have already made and paid for. They figured it out the hard way– we can learn from their screw-ups.

    If you’re willing to do the legwork to get it out there to the Kindle community, to really connect and market yourself, then it could very well be worth your while– especially with the dearth of similar products available just now. It won’t cost you much but time, but it’s a big old commitment.

    If you’d rather stick with traditional, there’s much to be said for that too. There will always be a market for print; much larger than the current market for, say, vinyl. Digital media doesn’t mean an increase in quality/ability to pick out tracks/etc etc for print like it does with music. It means convenience; still not to be underestimated as a driving force. (BluRay with its net connection, OnDemand movies, etc.) Bookshelves won’t go out of style, though.

    But I know I’m more likely to try an unknown author/editor of an antho through a bargain-priced ebook any day.

  4. Thanks for the input guys.

    By just skimming some of the topics at the Kindle Boards, it seems promising, but you also sort of get the idea that writing as an art is slowly becoming this “anyone can do it if you know how to format and market properly” sort of thing.

    And that bothers the hell out of me.

  5. I think it is more driven by a younger demographic (much like music) but how young is the key. The demographic for these devises seems to be the 18-35 year old and if you work appeals to that demo then I think you will be fine. Any younger or older and I think it is a crapshoot.

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