Thinking about electronic books versus paper books, specifically my decision to focus on the Kindle. Hardly anyone in New Zealand has one, which means my ‘local’ market basically doesn’t exist, it’s only through iPhones and such that people around me can buy my books. I’ve read a lot of people saying how they’ve encountered a kind of pity, when they tell people that they publish electronically, but I have to say I haven’t encountered anything like that at all. What I’ve gotten has been curiosity, about the process and how it all works, and quite often disappointment–that they can’t easily buy my books, as they don’t have a Kindle or similar device. But never the kind of “Oh, so you couldn’t get traditionally published” reaction that other people have reported.
I actually never tried to get traditionally published. For a start, I live in a small city in a small country, and our publishing industry is not the largest. Most New Zealand writers get agents based in New York, but to me that seemed like a huge amount of hassle. Also, I was always so worried about losing control, I’d heard so many horror stories from people who’d actually managed to get a publishing contract but felt they’d ‘lost’ their book, that they had no control over the cover, that they were required to make changes–I literally had nightmares about this, in one of them Miya Black got picked up but the cover was a photograph of a pretty blonde girl with an eye patch, “Oh, we’ve changed Miya to be blonde and pretty and tall and now she actually looks like a pirate” “NOOOOOOO~” etc.
I did investigate agents, way back when, but none of them seemed right for me. Maybe if I had been able to meet with them, to talk with them–but, again, small city fellow here, no agents nearby. I’d have to go to Auckland or somewhere even to meet with them, not an easy (or cheap) trip. For a while I went through Createspace, and my books are still available from there, and I may publish more through them in the future, but I never felt quite comfortable–for a start, ordering my books cost me so much in shipping that I couldn’t bear to sell them for anything resembling a profit. Putting them in local shops was out of the question, nobody would make any money at all. Since then there has arisen a new printer in Nelson, Copypress, and the books they produce are of comparable quality to Createspace’s–but they’re still very expensive, over ten dollars a book with no discount for bulk.
Electronic publishing is … it’s great. I love it. I love the concept, I love the execution, I love the Kindle. I love that it allows me to potentially reach millions of people without leaving my office. (Well, couch.) I love that there are no overheads and that I can sell books for 99 cents each and still make a profit–that’s mental, don’t you think? I still can’t get over how amazing that is, I feel like running into the street and grabbing people and saying, “Have you HEARD about this?”. I love that I can see this becoming a career, that this could actually lead to my having some freedom, that I could even maybe sometime in the future have the opportunity to move my family to Japan for a while–impossible right now, because of our financial situation, but I know my wife would love it, and I would too, and it’d be great for our daughters to properly experience that side of their heritage. My wife has a huge extended family too, the opposite of what I have here (which is a close, tight family), and every time I’ve been over there I’ve loved that feeling of belonging to such a wide, lovely group of people. So I guess that’s part of it, too, I’d like to be successful enough to have the financial freedom to go wherever I wanted, to live wherever I wanted … and that I could do this from anywhere, I could write and publish from anywhere.
Maybe there is still prejudice against electronic publishing, even if I haven’t personally seen it. But I think that’s going to change, and soon, and drastically. The big publishers are already running damage control. The old models and systems are collapsing. I see the future as one of individuals–freelance editors, designers, writers, marketers, all of us working together to create great things. We’re riding the wave, and the future is bright. Things are just going to get better.