Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Ever Changing Publishing Industry...

It seems like every time that you turn around, something else is happening in the publishing industry, either here in the United States or elsewhere abroad.  After many, many decades of stagnation, the pace of change is mind-boggling.

Consider the recent news from Kobo.  They have signed deals with one of the largest book retailers in Britain as well as (I think) the largest book retailer in France.  These retailers will carry Kobo ereaders in all of their retail stores, and Kobo will administer their online ebook stores.  This happened in the past 2 weeks.

Or think about the implications of the latest posting by Blake Crouch on Joe Konrath's blog.  He just returned from China where he was invited to speak at a large convention that had all of the major book publishers in China present.  Over there, authors are putting out new content BY THE DAY!  They are mastering the art of serialization of their content, and making a handsome payday to boot.

Of course, most of you (I'm guessing you are all from the U.S.?) know about Amazon's new offerings of different Kindle devices, plus the fact that they are snapping up authors, both new and established, at quite a pace.  And the fact that ebooks now represent a significant portion of sales across the board for publishers and retailers (well, at least those who sell them).

All of this has happened in just the last month or so.  Imagine what things will be like a year from now.  How many countries will you be able to sell your ebooks in?  Will you become a huge hit in Spain?  Maybe you'll strike a chord with people in Japan or Australia.  What happens when some company comes out with a color e-ink screen?  What happens when you can start incorporating video segments on ereaders for a more immersive experience?  Who will come up with the next innovative idea on how to use ereaders in new ways?

Writers have always been entrepreneurs, they just didn't really know it or were told that they were.  Every time they write something new, it's like building a new business.  Will customers (readers) come?  Will they like it?  Will they tell their friends to check you out?  What if everyone hates it?  Now, writers have a chance to spread their wings and try things that they've always wanted but just couldn't.  Those who have spent their lives in the traditional publishing mode can dip their toes in the new epublishing realm with something new, something different, something that their current publisher/agent had or would turn down in a heartbeat.  And they just might find some success.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  Now is an incredible time to be a writer!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Novel Update

Figured that it was about time that I provide a little bit of an update on my first novel.  Things are going well, but like anything else that you try for the first time, it's going slower than anticipated.

All in all, I can't complain.  I'm getting to try something that I've wanted to do for years.  I highly recommend people try to write a novel, even if they never publish it.  It's just a lot of fun and you can explore things that you otherwise may never get to.

So where am I with my novel?  I hate to say it, but I'm only about half-way through my first draft.  I still have aspirations of getting it done, edited, beta read, and uploaded for sale by the end of the year.  If I get my heiny in gear, I could still make that deadline.  But in the end, for me it's not that I hit the deadline, it's that I actually make my goal of finishing and publishing my novels.

Yes, I said novels, plural.  When I'm done with this first one, I've got more that I'm already planning to write in this same series.  Plus I have a fantasy series that I'm throwing around in my head.  But first things first: finish this first novel.  I'm at what I consider a really fun part of the story.  I just introduced the yin to my 2 other characters yang.  I have a feeling that I'm really going to enjoy writing the rest of the story!

If you want me to let you know when the novel is done and out, just send me an email:  dlk (dot) writer (at) gmail (dot) com.  "Coordinates For Murder" will have a lot of action, drama, technology, and just be a darn fun read.

Okay, I best get back to writing it.  I want to see how I'm going to end it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

If You Were J.K. Rowling...

...what would you do?  If you haven't been keeping up with the efforts of J.K. Rowling, she had the audacity to want to "go it alone" and offer ebooks of the Harry Potter series herself.  Not through Amazon, not through Apple or Barnes & Noble.  Nope, she wanted all ebook sales to happen through her own special website:  Pottermore.

Now, many months ago when I had first heard about this, I thought it was a potentially brilliant move on her part.  Actually, what was brilliant on her part was years ago keeping control of the ebook version of her books by leaving them out of the publishing contract.  The next step was setting up her own website just for fans of the series where they could, in theory, get all things Potter.  Brilliant.

Now, after many months of development, testing, etc., it is beginning to come to light that things are not going so well in the world of Pottermore.  Delays have become common, communication is barely existent, and people are getting frustrated.  Probably the biggest No-No that happened was the delay in releasing the Harry Potter ebooks until 2012.  Couple that with the recent release of a whole new line of Amazon Kindle readers (including one that is $79), and you've got a disaster in the making.

Exactly how much business will be lost by the delay of the ebooks this holiday season?  It's hard to say, but I'm willing to estimate loses in at least the hundreds of thousands, probably more.  Will it be made up?  Possibly, as long as things rapidly improve with the website.  Otherwise, what she's running the risk of is pirated copies of the Potter ebooks.  Now, I know what you're saying:  haven't I been the one to tell people not to worry about pirating?  Yes, I have, but I believe that this is a special case.  She's a well-known quantity, and there are oodles of fans that would love to have the ebook versions of the books; many of them wouldn't care if it wasn't the "authorized" version.  Will that happen?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  But why make that an option?

In the end, if the ebook versions are ready to go, why not hide most of the other stuff until next year and just offer the ebook versions in time for the holiday season?  What this would gain her would be 1) sales of the ebooks at a time when the ereader revolution is exploding even more, 2) time to debug and refine the extras that she would like to offer fans on the website, and 3) a chance to reverse the ill will that has been generated due to the current issues.  It wouldn't take much to make this happen, in my opinion.

But what about you?  What would you do if you were in Rowling's shoes?