Friday, May 18, 2012

The future of the world, I mean, ebooks

Today I read two very different blog posts about self publishing that were both right. 

The first was Konrath's "Exploited Writers in an Unfair Industry" which did an excellent job as usual of explaining the history of publishing and the changing distribution of power in the industry.  I agreed with all of it and appreciated the polished nature of the post.  But I didn't really care anymore.  Or at least not as much as I used to.  

I assumed this was due to newfound cynism on my part with regards to the publishing industry.  And while I lamented that fact (innocence lost!), I couldn't really change it without a little 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' action.  

But then I read a different blog post by an equally brilliant author, Scott Nicholson, where he talks all about ads in books being the future.  But he starts the post out by mentioning that the whole indie/traditional argument only matters to a small number of people. 

--AHA!  Yay, it's not that I'm crazy cynical.  I'm just not in that group that really cares about big publishing, its fate, or its authors.  Thanks, Scott.  You're a great listener and this couch is really comfortable.  Same time next week? 

Anyway, I agree with Scott about ads and sponsorships being the future of ebooks since there are sooooooooo many free ebooks.  We writers are going to need to make some dough, somehow.  Gotta eat, right?  

But what would that look like?  As far as putting ads in our manuscripts, I don't think Amazon will take too kindly to usurping their business model-- they already have the kindle with ads.  Heck, they may even have a new option that will be available in 2014 where we can enroll our book in the ad program.  Maybe we get paid based on our sales rank (and therefore views).  Maybe it will be based on click-thrus only since the fire is basically a storefront from which one can buy almost anything. Who knows? But I doubt they will let us writers put little commercials in our books right now or in the future. 

That leaves product placement-- I'm pretty sure they can't tos ('terms of service') that one out of our toolbox.  This seems pretty intuitive if one is at least a midlist level author.  Striking a deal can't be that hard, especially after a few name brand authors do it successfully. But even before then, it's a basic sales call.  Now THIS might be something agents could be useful for and diversify themselves away from the Big 6's pockets.  Granted, it is just a different pocket, and similar relationship structure, but with the right contract, it could be doable. 

Of course, the risk here is that we don't sell ourselves out--at least not obviously: "Jane sips her refreshing Coca-Cola as she ponders her love for Dick."  But we're writers.  We can get creative about how a Volvo totally saved the spaceship from burning up when re-entering the atmosphere.  Or something.  You get my point.

And then there is the time honored 'patronage' method where a rich person just pays for you to write as happens often with painters in the 18th century.  Or something.  Today, that's morphed into marriage more than anything else.  Get the right spouse for your writing career!  Okay, that might be selling out. But where's the line? 

There is also kickstarter, a non-matrimonial version of patronage that really favors real world and online extroverts.  If that is you, start a campaign today because this one is the present rather than the future.  

Another direction ebooks can go in to get readers to fork over money for their fiction rather than get it for free (nonfiction will still be able to command money) is 'enhanced ebooks.'  I hesitate to even use that term because it makes me think of Vooks which really, really didn't work.  For good reason.  

What I mean by enhanced is like dvd extras.  Earlier drafts, outlines, research materials, interviews, alternate endings and the like all being included in the (e)book. I think this will become the norm in the next few years as authors need to convince readers of a book's value before that author has built a brand with their name (by that I mean autobuy based on name). 

Okay, this post is getting book length so I better wrap it up.  I hope everyone is enjoying May and its flowers, sun, and bugs. 

Happy writing!


And in other news: more H'wood glory for a beloved self pubbed author

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