The e-book market is still quite new and growing exponentially, which is one of the reasons why there are so many different formats (Epub, Kindle, PDF, LRF and PalmDoc to name a few). This is because there are specific e-readers which have their own formats, as well as options for reading on your computer or mobile phone, each requiring their own format.
Several of these devices are quite small leading a few people to speculate in the blogosphere (such as here and here) that e-book delivery should reflect this new medium. Other blogs I read have gone so far as to suggest shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs and *shock* shorter books. Never mind that many of the small e-reading devices are similar sizes to… books.
Anyway. Not convinced that a story should have its length or structure dictated by the publication format, I put the question to a forum of kindle readers. Wow, what a great resource! The very suggestion that I shorten a story for e-readers whipped them into a bit of a frenzy! The message was very clear; it is the story, not the medium that should determine the length of a book, whether it be paper or electronic. I like that.
Another bonus that came from the forum was the observation that there is actually a benefit for long e-books over their paper counterparts (besides the weight factor). The person reading is not put off by how much more they have yet to go on the story because they can’t see it. I have to confess that I am facing this problem myself at the moment with a two-inch tome that I’m two millimetres into. If I was reading it on an e-reader I’d have no visual cue as to how little I had read and would be more likely to pick it up again.
Also bytes are cheaper than pages, and more environmentally friendly, so really if anything longer is better when it comes to e-books. So don’t believe the stories you might read of needing to embed hyperlinks or short structural components. All anyone wants when they pick up an e-book is the same thing as a paper book; a good read. So let’s focus on delivering that!
It seems that every day there is a new e-book publisher or small press that bursts onto the market, and some authors who would otherwise have remained undiscovered are carving out profitable careers from e-book publishing (as Brian S Pratt explains). But with the area growing so quickly and so erratically, what are the potential pitfalls of e-publishing compared with more traditional formats?
The first thing to look out for is the e-publishing rights in your contract if you are publishing with a 3rd party (ie not self-publishing). Many first time authors are being ‘encouraged’ to sign over the e-rights of their first novel (for free) to secure a book deal. DO NOT DO THIS!!! E-book sales make up 10% of book sales on Amazon, up from 5% 12 months ago. You don’t need to be a mathlete to see that soon the e-market will be worth as much as the paper book market. This is just one more reason why you should always get an agent. A good agent will not give away your e-rights.
Recently author J. S. Chancellor discovered another one of the potential pitfalls of e-books. Many of the e-publishers do not support security on e-books, meaning they can be copied and shared ad infinitum. To get around this you include a brief paragraph at the beginning of your e-book reminding people that the author has put a lot of work into the story and deserves to be paid for it. People can still choose to ignore this. J.S. Chancellor’s debut novel was stolen and widely circulated –meaning thousands of people were reading her book, but she was not seeing a cent for her 14 years of work!!!!
Now any authors reading this would probably want to cry at the thought of such a thing happening, but this story does have a silver lining. With the media coverage that this theft received, coupled with the request for those who had read the book to please review it, meant that the book has now sold exceptionally well and has excellent rankings in the e-reviews. You can bet the next book in the series will have much stricter security, as well as a huge fan-base waiting for the next instalment. Lucky she was writing a trilogy!
Next week I’ll talk about the myths surrounding e-books. And remember, if you want to check out my e-book Paragon is still available here.
The first draft of Paragon was finished in 1994, a rushed effort before I moved to Brisbane to become an air traffic controller (the first in a long line of false starts in careers). Since then I have re-written the novel ten times. Ten!
As you can imagine, in that time I sent Paragon off to a lot of ‘real’ publishing houses, and have many rejection letters to show for it. I must confess I also made the classic mistake of sending out the first draft, which I will never do again. But that’s another story.
Was it the fact that I had a finished novel for 16 years and was never able to place it that led me to self-publish? No. It was the change in my rejection letters in recent years that led to this decision. I went from form letters (generic ‘dear author’ types) to specific ‘good’ rejections. These referred to character names and other details, indicating that the manuscript had actually been read. This, coupled with the fact that it took between 9-18 months for the publishers to reject the novel made me decide that it was time to put it out there myself.
So what is a ‘good’ rejection? Here are some actual quotes from three of my most recent rejections (which took 9, 12 and 18 months to come back to me) so you can see what I class as a good rejection:
“Thank you for sending this memorable manuscript…”
“It’s a difficult one to reject. You are obviously a talented writer who knows how to pace an intriguing story.”
“It’s an intriguing premise and you are clearly an imaginative storyteller…”
Yes, they are from the REJECTION letters. I can only begin to imagine how nice the acceptance letters must be! The other nice thing is that these comments came from YA Editors, not their assistants.
Hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to tell you what they say when they send you an acceptance letter. Maybe 2011 will be the year? 🙂
Happy New Year!
It has taken 10 years to get it out to the market, but Paragon is now available for sale through Smashwords as an electronic book. Even if you don’t have an e-reader you can still read the book on your computer by purchasing a PDF version. Simply click here for more information about purchasing, and click here for the story blurb.
I need to say a BIG thank you to my wonderful mother who has just spent the past five days reading all 82,600 words of Paragon, paying particular attention to my evil homonym affliction. Yes, I did use the wrong ‘draw’ again, and yes my Mum picked it up, even after I thought I’d spotted them all. I’m checking myself in to homonym-anonymous later this evening (glad I don’t have to read this out loud, that was quite a tongue-twister).
So please pass this link on to as many young adults or science fiction readers as you can. It is aimed at the 13 – 18 year old market, but it can be enjoyed by all adults. There is no swearing and no sex, but there are adult concepts, a little bit of violence (not gratuitous) and plenty of action!
I realised that I’ve asked you to set aside $3 of your Christmas budget for my first eBook (self-published), but I’ve not yet told you anything about it. So to give you a bit of a tease here is the book blurb.
What is the secret that the leaders are trying to keep hidden from the citizens of Paragon? Do they even know the answers themselves? Nine generations have passed since a global catastrophe sent hundreds of scientists into an enclosed biosphere called Paragon. It was meant to be the best of what humanity had to offer, and while the world outside was destroyed, Paragon did prosper.
But survival has come at a cost.
Time has corrupted the original intent, and power has fostered greed in those who rule. The citizens of Paragon accept the laws of the biosphere without question, until the ‘synthetics’ are born. Implanted with the brain tissue of a brilliant, generation-zero scientist, the ‘synthetics’ are the most intelligent people in the dome. But for some of them the brain tissue works in a different way, filling their dreams with memories of the Old-World. They begin to wonder why there is no effort to explore the outer world and repopulate as originally intended.
In a world of restricted population growth and termination ages, the freedom of the outside proves too great for two ‘synthetics’ who start asking questions that cannot be answered. Desperate to maintain the secrets of the dome, the leaders have no choice but to charge the citizens with subversion, a crime punishable by death. But to sentence them they must first be caught. In an enclosed environment there are few places to run.
This is a young adult novel, aimed at 14-114 year olds! Hopefully I’ll be able to give you a link to where you can buy it by next blog post!
After a long wait the Terminal Earth Anthology was launched on Friday in e-format. You can buy an electronic copy from Amazon or Smashwords. The paper version should be published sometime in early January, so I’ll keep you posted on when that comes out.
Filled with 23 different visions of the end of the world, including my 2012 short story Beyond Black, it should be an entertaining read. Though I have not yet seen a final edit, so with luck they didn’t add the line ‘and then I woke up’ to the end of all of them 😉
So for all of you wondering where you can buy one of my stories, please follow the links to get your electronic copy (go to Smashwords if you just want to read it on your computer, Amazon if you want to read it on your kindle). You get a lot of stories for your dollar, so it is pretty good value.
I will also have a comic 2012 story coming out in the New Year, so I’ll give you a link to that when it is online.