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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's Not a Bubble and It Won't Burst

Yeah, okay, so there's kind of a bubble. The 1849 feel the ebook market has taken on isn't necessarily a bad thing, but naturally there are big changes ahead.

There are two or three major issues at play, here. The first is that the low barrier to entry has flooded the ebook market with substandard books.

The second is the free book market, which is already a serious force to be reckoned with.

The third issue is probably the notion of an upcoming 'bubble' event.

In the long run, these details will only enhance the careers of quality writers. It will take more work at marketing to stand out from the oceans of dreck out there, but good writing will take over at that point.

As writers, we're going to have to accept that there are distinct classes of ebook readers. Some download free ebooks exclusively. Some buy everything they read. Some people exist between these two extremes. The important thing is to recognize the difference, and incorporate both into your marketing strategy.

Don't put too much energy pitching to people who aren't going to buy it anyway, but throw them a bone. A free book or two can go a long way by word of mouth. A good author can actually, by nature of their personality, convince someone to lay down cash when they could get the same text for free elsewhere. Be that author.

Site like Goodreads and Shelfari will be the filter that the ebook industry needs to separate the good, bad, and the ugly. Crowd-sourced reviews will make or break some ebooks in the upcoming years. Again, stay on the side of good writing.

I posit that there will be no bubble, as not too many people are really making a killing at self-publishing at the moment, anyway. Give it a few years to grow into a monster, then, bubble, sure.

But what we'll see first is more of a sifting and culling process. And presumably a slow down in the flood of new titles hitting the shelves. Who has time to read all this stuff?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Young Adult Market - Bugger Off

Naturally, it didn't take me long to figure it all out. To place my cold finger on the very pulse of what's wrong with the book market out there. Let's share, shall we?

First of all, there is the fact that it's a book market in the first place, and not a story market. In the 3D world of print, it's name authors, slick covers, and trends. The content is somewhat immaterial. Now, I'm guessing, here. Reaching. But I daresay the bulk of those mass market hard and softcover copies of "Twilight" and the Harry Potter series were sold at Wal-Mart.

The Young Adult market. What that means is a sort of captive audience, provided you stay within certain guidelines. So this new category of literature is misnamed from the start. Why someone stuck the word "adult" in there, I couldn't tell you.

Ok, so it's not for young adults. Is it written by young adults, then?

Nope. Invariably, it's all written by a forty-eight year old divorced woman with children. Possibly the same woman.

So we have non-young adults dictating to young adults, who aren't in fact adults, what their tastes are. Well, so what, you say, their peers aren't really a generation of writers. Someone has to write for the children (and call it Young Adult fiction).

It's not bad in the least, on the outside. Young Adult imagines a Lewis Carol era where you began to read books around the same time that you got a learner's permit to drive a carriage.

Here's where it affects the writer. There is a growing rift between the YA market and contemporary fiction. You will increasingly find that some sites will not review anything that doesn't meet the standards of YA fiction. They can't risk offending their primary market, the non-adult young adults. More to the point, the parents of the hypothetical book reader in question.

"So?" you ask.

I'm just sayin' it's on, that's all. That hefty chunk of the print world can be achieved if you can write a truly compelling story and narrow your aims to meet the demands of the distributors. But if you want to turn the ebook market into an Oprah at the check-out line impulse purchase for children, stick to the print world.

The ebook scene is kind of nice in that the enthusiasts got here before the mass market did, which is why we have great sites such as Goodreads. But there is a battle brewing, to be sure. So it's worth keeping an eye on, and determining on which side your own writing leans.

My advice? Branch out, and release titles for both markets. Pure business cunning, sure, but it's also a good exercise for an author. Gonzo writer? Try and write a PG novel. YA author? Let's see you write like a big girl, now.

 Besides, YA or not, we can all agree the real enemy is bad writing and editing. And that is something you definitely can't find at Wal-Mart.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Cruel Winds of Destiny Can Blow Me

I can't sleep
Thinking of you
And how the fates do meddle
I saw the Black Knight
Tonight
He's a mailbox

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Woe to You, Oh New Writer

Life's really not fair. Can we all agree to that? Even for myself, who  has an ideal family and looks forward to being married to the girl of my dreams, our situation doesn't really feel as perfect as it could be.

If I have complaints, I can imagine what the lives of others must be like, lacking the ideal companion.

The eBook revolution, as I call it, is both a blessing and a curse. Consider the plight of the new author. You have a single novel you've written. Your name is as of yet unknown. Perhaps you're not deeply ingrained with the ins-and-outs of computery things. You're not a promotion wizard. You just like to write, and you've decided to make the leap to ePublishing.

So you diligently type up the one novel, lovingly hand-written. You begin to struggle with formatting. You see that you need to make word changes in the text you previously thought was perfect. You squash typos and spelling mistakes, and introduce new ones.

Maybe you realize you didn't add chapters, or chapter titles. Perhaps what you had been calling the novel is already taken, causing you to rethink that, as well.

But let's assume you manage most of that. You have a good debut novel, you've started writing a second one. How exciting. And you're going to publish.

And you hit the wall at the uploading process. Maybe Smashwords' Meatgrinder has chewed you up and spat you out, rejected. Change all of my tabs to paragraph indents? Font size errors? A copyright page?

But I just want to write!

Suddenly, you're forced to become an expert on Microsoft Word, or the equivalent. Time that should be spent writing is now spent relearning  a tool you thought you knew how to use already.

Let's assume you fix the mechanical errors. You're published! Yay!

You bug all of your family and friends, and get a few polite purchases. And then...nothing. So you start to work Facebook. A few more sales, perhaps.

And then watch your sales ranks drift slowly back down to #786,023 out of 984,857.

So you get on Goodreads. You solicit reviews from ebook reviewers. You make additional editing passes, as your readers deserve nothing but the best possible reading experience you can offer them.

Suddenly you realize that you haven't written anything in days. Weeks. You have somehow morphed into an editor and publicist. It's almost like the writer is another person entirely, and he or she is M.I.A.

Welcome to the horrors of ePublishing.

I'm really lucky. I have a name firmly established in several areas of the Internet. I wrote several novels before publishing. I have an editor who types up my pages and makes sense of my scrawl.

But even then, that doesn't directly, immediately translate into sales. It is a long, slow slog up hill, I assure you.

But guess what? It's still better than trying to deal with the print world...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Say No to Review Exchanges

So, I've had my books online for a month now, and reviews are starting to trickle in. They're great reviews, four and five stars. People are saying great, sincere things about them. That's good.

But when I first got them online, I offered to do some review exchanges. That's bad.

I have to back out of that arrangement. That's bad.

But it's better than reviewing books I don't like, so that's good.

There is no way I could possibly give the first book I was given to review more than three stars. And I would give almost any book three stars for effort. So you know this one must be pretty bad. All I would be doing is setting myself up for a bad review from the author, so there is absolutely no benefit in me reviewing the books of others in exchange for them reading and writing about mine.

Just a word of warning to people starting out in the ebook game. It may seem like a good idea. It's not. Be patient. The reviews will come. Don't be afraid to hand out review copies like popcorn. It's much better to get honest reviews than filler, and you can maintain your integrity that way.

Because a writer without integrity may as well not write...

Pageburner, Zombie Killa, Perfect Me, Hurricane Regina, Radar Love
http://www.amazon.com/Jason-Christie/e/B006P7E0K8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Monday, January 16, 2012

Darn It, Amazon!

I signed one of my books, Pageburner, up for this Kindle Select Program, or whatever it's called. It's some sort of paid service that allows members to download a free book each month, and then Amazon divides the money they have set aside between all of the 'borrowed' books.

Here's the thing: you can't sell your book anywhere else when you're locked into the program for ninety days. That's bad.

But you can give your book away on Amazon for five days each ninety day period. That's good.

But I didn't get any borrows at all during December. That's bad.

But if I had, I'd have gotten $1.70 per borrow. That's good.

What I don't understand, and haven't looked into, is how much are they paying per month to download one book per month, if the author gets $1.70. For $2.99 you could just buy a copy outright.

Something doesn't make sense economically, and I suspect that it's a loss-leader designed to take books away from other sites. Many others in the industry agree.

So, unless Pageburner starts getting a lot of borrows, after March 10th, it goes back on Smashwords, Lulu and Barnes and Nobles. I like the idea of giving away free copies, like the 1000 copies of Pageburner I gave away in December, but not so much that I want to lock my other books out of competing markets.

Honestly, though. Has anyone ever bought an ebook from Lulu? ; )

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In Which I Welcome Myself

Well, I'm back to blogging. I tried this with Livejournal years ago, and I didn't stick with it. Now I have books to promote, so I'll probably try and write something at least every week. Updates on the new books, promos, whatever random stuff I have that I need to talk about.

Maybe it'll be fun...

Here are the Amazon copies of my books:
http://www.amazon.com/Jason-Christie/e/B006P7E0K8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

You can get Zombie Killa free from Smashwords.com and Lulu.com, I have to tell you. They're all $.99 this month, though.

I also did two interviews this week, which was fun:

Smart Weiter's Blog
http://smartweiters2.blogspot.com/2012/01/episode-7-putting-smart-in-smartyeah.html?showComment=1326499723296#c8014108889500941850

MusikDiv India:
http://musikdiv.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/interview-with-jason-z-christie/

Thanks for checking in. I hope to be more entertaining in the future...