E-Books

I recently attended by @#th high school reunion. (I’m not sure why I left out the number … you can see the gray hair!) To say it was fun was an understatement. We had a blast! And I know this is going to surprise you, but I talked sooooo much I didn’t even finish one glass of wine throughout the course of the evening. And someone mention hors d’oevres, but I didn’t get any of those either.

Anyway, I’m at the point in life where my classmates and I are no longer trying to impress. We’ve done that. Have the t-shirt to prove it. Now, it’s just … “This is who I am … take it or leave it”. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, we’ve already lost 4 classmates and some of my classmates have lost spouses. But we shared about children and grandchildren (GAH!) and parents who’ve gone to heaven. Truly, a wonderful experience.

Some of my classmates had heard about my new career and of course I had bookmarks to pass out whenever anyone asked. (Yep, and even if they didn’t. LOL!) And of course they asked if they could find my books at their local Borders. One woman told me she was going to pick my books up at the library … yeeeeeah, no, you’re not. When I explained to them that they were electronic and you had to read them on a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader every single person, without exception looked at me like I’d grown two heads.

Now, granted I live in Maine where we are just now come into the new millenium and most people having running water and electricity … I’m kidding! I’m kidding! Actually, Portland, Maine is supposed to be one of the top places for twenty-somethings to settle. Which is why I was floored when none of these people had heard about e-readers.

Now I know I’m surrounded by all things publishing. I’ll admit this new career of mine had a pretty steep learning curve. But I think I would have known what a Kindle was even if I wasn’t an author. I mean come on, I watch Oprah. (Okay, so I watch the entertainment shows that do the cliff notes … but you get my point.) I thought these little devices were out and about EVERYWHERE!

I know I’m preaching to the choir here. If you visit my blog you know about my books and the fact that they’re electronic. (The new wave … according to Amazon, Kindle books out sold hard cover books by a significant margin for the first time this year thanks to the Kindle.) But I wonder how many other people out there aren’t aware of this digital phenomenon. I mean surely colleges must be talking about having texts available in electronic format. Our children’s generation are the most tech savvy on the planet. How can someone not know about e-readers? Libraries even have several devices available for patrons to check out and try before investing in one. (At least ours does.)

But maybe I’m being naive. I’m sure there’s something out there that’s new in a field I’m not familiar with that LOTS of people know about and I’ve never heard of. This would be the same thing wouldn’t it? I’m still scratching my head over this one. I really don’t know if it just happened to be those 50 people or if you’re running into people who aren’t familiar with digital books.

Now, I don’t own an e-reader, yet. But with prices plummeting and becoming more affordable I have no doubt I’ll have one in my hot little hands before the end of the year. What about you? Have you bumped into many people who either 1) refuse to read ebooks or 2) have never even heard of them? Inquiring minds want to know.

Okay, so I just got the rights back to a trilogy. I LOVE these stories. I wrote them originally in the hopes that they would be printed in one anthology. And though they went out into the world, they never made it to print. They ran their course at the publisher and I got my rights back.

Now I’m doing allllll kinds of research. I’m looking at other publishers, even an agent or two and now I’m wondering about publishing them on my own.

Easy. Don’t faint on me. There’s an interesting blog post by Jon Konrath where he’s talking about the explosion of ebooks purchased through Amazon for their Kindle. He has uploaded his own books and has been tracking the sales and lists them in terms of dollars earned. The facts for his direct sales numbers are staggering.

And with Amazon lowering the price of the Kindle there is no doubt in my mind that this market is going to explode exponentially. Add the over 3 million in iPad sales with it’s e-reader applications as well as Sony e-reader and Barnes and Noble’s Nook and you’ve got millions of readers out there looking for another book to download.

Which brings me to my quandry. What to do with my books so they reach the largest number of readers and in turn bring in the most income. I’m actually toying with the idea of uploading them myself rather than going through a publisher. It can be done easily enough through Amazon, either on your own or with the help of sites like Smashwords. Authors are doing it all over the place.

But I don’t want my books to get lost in the cracks. I don’t want them to sit idle while other ebooks fly off the virtual shelf. I market myself. I get out there and tell the world I’m an author and where they can find my books. But this “going out on my own” isn’t a type of marketing. It’s me OWNING the rights to my books and becoming my own publisher. Definitely a leap of faith.

Part of me thinks … What have you got to lose? And another part thinks … I’ve totally lost my mind. But then again if Jon Konrath’s numbers are any indication of the type of money an author can make on their own it’s hard to pass up taking the chance. (NOTE: I’m not talking about self-publishing books. Lord knows there’s no way my stuff could go out into the world without a good editor smoothing the rough edges.)

So I’m wondering where you get your ebooks from: straight from a publisher’s site, amazon, barnes & noble, third party vendors? And would you try a new-to-you author if their book was priced right? And what about you authors, are you thinking of dipping your toes into this new world of publishing?

If you ask a writer if they could do anything they wanted what would it be? You most likely will hear … write. And from the writing we hopefully birth books that go out into the world and find readers. Yay! But all writing and publishing does not a successful writer make … unfortunately.

Nope. There’s that four-letter-dreaded word … marketing. (Yeah, okay, not really four, but it shivers through most of us like a curse.) This week I’m going to focus on different avenues of marketing and today I thought I’d start with the online variety.

Even NYT Best selling authors need to go out and press flesh at book signings. Adoring fans want to meet the person who whisked them away to another place or time or helped them remember what it was like to fall in love again. New authors have it even harder as readers don’t normally flock to the table of an unknown entity to buy a book they know nothing about and get the signature of a writer they’ve never heard of. Yeeeeeah, that’s the nightmare booksigning of authors.

And what if you don’t have a print book? What if it’s only electronic? Obviously marketing at bookstores isn’t going to help you. You need to go where your readers are and that means the internet. Marketing your book on the internet can be as time consuming as writing it if you use all the social media avenues out there. Besides your website there are a couple of places where your readers will be looking for you. And that’s facebook and twitter. These two avenues offer you the opportunity to interact with readers and let them get to know you and your book. (There is also the lesser known/used Linked In and GoodReads … I didn’t bother to mention MySpace because I think it’s gone the way of the video player) … but these two biggies are where you’ll find the tech-savy reader who will very likely being buying their books online.

Marketing effectively in that medium not only means touting your newest book, but spending time talking about yourself, not necessarily that you just finished your third chai tea and no have to pee, but interesting snippets of your life that engage people. And “chatting” with people on these sites also brings them into your world.

Readers are more likely to pick up your newest book if they know that you went to your local fire station to talk to the fire chief and you managed to trip up the paved walk, skinning your knee and requiring a bandage or two from the EMT guy before you could go on the tour. It has nothing to do with your hawt fireman vampire, but it does make them feel a little more connected to you. Those types of anecdotes are just the things readers love to share with other readers. Besides that makes your tweets and status updates humorous and engaging. Trust me when I say people will stop following you if everything you say is about your latest book and where to buy it.

Another place ebook authors hang out is Yahoo loops. There are more Yahoo loops for readers and authors than there are leaves on the maple tree outside my office window. And here again, I caution you to go easy. No one wants to read the same excerpt on 18 loops for a month. If you’re on a yahoo loop, try (and I know it’s not always easy with our busy schedules) to respond to the posts of other people now and again. Don’t be that author (or promotion company) that becomes an auto delete just because your name showed up in my inbox. Trust me when I say I have search parameters that send certain emails directly into the DELETE file, never to be opened. If you’ve become one of “those” then no matter what you post, it becomes moot because I won’t see it.

Marketing is a tightrope we all walk. After all … if you’re not writing you’re not really doing your job. But if you’re not doing some promotion … readers won’t know you’re out there.

On Wednesday and Friday I’ll talk about paper products vs “things”, contests, blog hops, multi-author promotion and whatever else I can think to cover. Feel free to throw out ideas as well.

I’d love to hear what you think of marketing both as a reader and an author. What methods do you find work the best?

I love the library. I’ve been browsing the aisles of my local library since I was a little girl. When I was in college the library became my haven for research (which I looooove) and studying (which I love even more … well, the learning). As an adult my local library became the place where I found my escape to other worlds. We live in a small town and I’m not kidding when I say I read my way through a better part of the fiction section.

But now? Now that I’ve found the world of publishing and actually meet and talk with authors on a daily basis, my need for the library has dwindled. Because most of the books I’m reading these days are electronic.

They’re great. The same wonderful stories on my laptop. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy snuggling up in bed with a print book, but as soon as my next royalty check rolls in … I’m getting an ereader. Yep, one of those hand held wonders of modern technology that can hold a whole library of books in the palm of my hand.

Electronic books are generally less expensive and I can shop from the comfort of my office chair and download and be reading the books within minutes. Oh, you gotta love that!

This week, March 7-12, is the week of the e-book. Come celebrate! Buy yourself an ebook and enjoy! There’s lots to choose from out there…but of course you want to pick up one of mine!

Wow!

What an earth day celebration we had here yesterday! Thank you everyone for taking time to enjoy the view and comment!

But a GRAND PRIZE winner has been chosen … drum roll please …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The winner of an inbox full of
Liquid Silver earth friendly ebooks is
Anne Marie

And the winner of any of her
choice of my backlist is
Amber Austen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Congratulations ladies! I will email you both off line. Thank you all again for joining me yesterday. Truly, I had a wonderful time. Don’t be a stranger to my blog. I love chatting with people!

 

St. Patty’s Day Blessings to all!

I feel a bit o’rambling coming on. I took Little Boy Blue to the doctor’s last week. (At 18 and 6′ 5″ he’s a bit bigger than most of the little ones showing up at the pediatricians. And the nurses just love him.) Poor thing ended up having an infected head … eyes, sinuses, throat, and ears. Poor kid, no wonder he felt like poop. But this isn’t about him.

It’s about his pediatrician.

My kids have been seeing her since they were itty bitty. She’s a hoot and I love her. After she’s checked over whichever one of my kiddos she’s seeing we inevitably start talking about books. She’s an avid reader. Probably goes through several books a week. But she was complaining that she was reading this wonderful book before she went on vacation but it was too big to take with her on her trip.

“What?” I looked at her, my expression no doubt the same as a mother who just found out her son (who already doesn’t fit into his clothes) is going to grow another 6 inches.  “Please tell me you own an e-reader.” (Now did I mention this woman is single? … and a doctor? … and I have no doubt she has huge school loans … still … she spends more money on books in a month than I spend on groceries, okay, not that much, but a significant layout of the green.) Anyway

She had no idea what I was talking about. I was floored. Yes, I am immersed in the electronic book industry. My books only come in the electronic format … Still, Amazon and the Kindle were all over the news. Especially when Miss O endorsed them on her Christmas special and gave away one to every audience member. I just couldn’t believe she had never considered buying an e-book reader!

The Kindle is a bit pricey IMHO and as far as I know, specific to Amazon downloads. (Though with some finagling I do understand you can download other formats.) But look how cute it is. For around $350 you can carry with you 500 books!

Sony also has an e-reader …

and it comes in all kinds of colors. And if I understand this, it is backlit for easier reading in low light. All this for around $300.

I’m not advocating either of them… just suggesting that you may want to put these on your wish list for the
Birthday Fairy or Santa Claus. Electronic books are not going anywhere. In this day and age when natural resources are not being renewed as quickly as the demand destroys them, doesn’t it just make sense not to eat up trees printing thousands and thousands of books?

Oh, and I already hear your argument. You want to curl up in the recliner with a hot cup of tea, the afghan over her lap and cozy around a good book. But these ereaders are lighter weight, bookmark your place and hold a library! You just can’t beat ’em. Of course if you owned one you could download all my books for a fracture of the cost of print. Now, just that fact alone makes you want to go out and get an e-reader of your own, doesn’t it? 😉

Pirates. We love them. Johnny Depp played the perfect badboy we love to watch in Pirates of the Caribbean. That swashbuckling rogue with plenty of flaws, but enough heart to make our knees go weak with the hope of saving the poor boy from himself!

I love those pirates.

But … there seems to be an epidemic lately of internet pirates that makes my toes curl. Maybe as I have more and more books electronically published I’m just becoming acutely aware of the lengths that some readers are going to to steal books.

Yes, stealing.

Now, for those of you who faithfully read my blog and buy my books. Forgive me. This rant isn’t about you. It’s not about all the support you’ve shown me and other authors by stepping up to the plate and plunky down your hard earned cash and legitimately downloading books from a publisher (or second party vendor). We love you. We appreciate you. And we continue to write books that we hope you’ll buy and fall in love with.

I’m talking about people who buy an electronic book then forward to 10 of their closest friends. Or worse … set up an internet site and share files! Oh, this happens. It’s heartbreaking … and ILLEGAL!!!

My bread and butter comes from the royalties I receive from each of my books legitimately purchased. When someone sends my books through cyberspace to a friend I lose out and so does my publisher and the cover artist and the editor. Lots of people are affected. Not just me. It’s not innocent … it’s wrong.

How is this different from sharing a print book? That’s property. You own it. When you buy a book at a bookstore you have something in your hands that you can read and then share with your best friend/sister/mom. Like loaning your best leather skirt to your sister and she never returns it … oh, sorry I digress. Anyway, it’s tangible. You can put your hands on it. There are some statistics that say a romance novel is purchased once and read by seven people. Would the author/publisher like the other six to buy the book? Sure. But did anyone do anything illegal? Nope.

But an ebook is not the same. You have purchased the rights to use it for YOU. That means you can download it to your blackberry and your laptop and your e-reader. YOUR personal use. When it is forwarded to another person it’s considered “pirating”.

The only other comparison I can make is music. If you buy a CD it is yours to listen to and to share. But it is illegal to make 10 copies of it and give it to your friends. It happens … but it is also illegal.

Pirating is a federal offense and is punishable with up to $250,000 in fines and five years in jail.

This is serious business. Authors and publishers are vigilant about shutting down illegal sites. Unfortunately, there are some people who close down one site only go move to another corner of the internet and set up shop once again. They know what they are doing is wrong and still they continue. Please don’t support these sites. They offer books from NYT bestsellers and new authors just starting out like me. Neither of us is happy about our work being offered out in share files.

Chances are these words aren’t making it to the people who really need to hear them. Loyal fans of ebooks know that sharing files is not ethical. But I throw this out there in hopes to educate some people who truly may not have known that forwarding an e-book is considered stealing.

Okay, I’m stepping off my soapbox …

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