Back in the days when the Earth was flat and there be dragons beyond the edge of known waters, intrepid sailors set out in wooden vessels, dependent on wind and currents, to explore for new lands. I’d like to say that I’m a rightful descendent of these bold explorers, but, alas, I’m not. Or at least, I’m a very pale copy of them.
Of course, the bold new world I’m speaking of is e-publishing. I’m not a TOTAL newbie. My first ebook, BROKEN PLEDGE, came out in 1999 from Hard Shell Word Factory, one of the first e-publishers; it’s still in business though now they are an imprint of Mundania.com. This was followed in 2000 with COMING TO TERMS and by the time it came out, I pretty much had a handle on how to market my electronic books.
Back then, BP & CTT came our on “floppy disks” (for my younger readers who might not know what a floppy disk is, it was a 3 1/2 inch computer disk, now made obsolete by CDs, flash drives, and The Cloud). We did have print books. Because both of my titles were 50,000 words, they were both printed in one book, back to back, like the old Ace double-back SF books. The only difference was the Ace books were mass market, cost around $0.75, and were distributed by the publisher. Because the early print books were produced in smaller quanities and as tradebacks, they cost a heck of lot more. That’s when Print On Demand got it’s roots, from us early explorers.
In the case of the early eBooks (as they were called back then), the publisher DID sell the books by disk, download, and print, but because of their size, the author had to do a LOT more selling of their own book. To be honest, that’s when I did most of my book signings. I even talked a bookseller in Bartlesville to put the disks on sale at their store. And the bookseller was encouraging, placing the books at eye level, up front on the shelves behind the cash register. But after six months, not one sold.
All that is history now. With the onset of cheap, electronic readers (my first one, the Rocket eReader cost $350 and weighed in at a whopping 10 oz.), electronic books took off like a…well, like a rocket. Readers got cheaper and easier to handle. Authors have a lot more choices on how to publish their books and more control over selling.
So far, I have only dabbled in the waters. I got back all my rights. I’ve had covers made for half my stories. I even laid out the bread for my own private ISBNs. But I can’t say that I’ve surged into production like I should have. I always thought it was because I didn’t have time. That’s somewhat true, but now that I’m retired, I’m still not as far along as I’d hoped I would be. Part of that isn’t so much fear of dragons as it is experience.
When I first entered e-publishing, I was new, dumb, and excited. It didn’t take long until I learned all the handicaps, all the ways e-publishing could work against you. So this time around, I’m being more careful. I’m watching what new authors are doing. Most of them are young authors who grew up with computers, so they aren’t afraid to make mistakes.
Me? My days as an explorer are over. Now, I just want to pack my ship with quality goods and settle for sailing the charted waters these pioneers find.