Tuesday, October 25, 2011

E-Book Revolution Alive And Well

I had meant to write about a post I recently read by Derek Haines over at The Vandal, that is before the proposal bug swept through this past weekend. So here I am a day late, but the conversation is still timely.

Derek wrote about e-book garbage in his post titled Who's Killing The E-Book Revolution?

The argument is quickly becoming a tried and true, old-hat kind of discussion found throughout the indie publishing world. JA Konrath calls it the race to the bottom and he repeatedly denies that it exists. The race to the bottom, not the discussion. 

The basic viewpoints are as follows:

  1. There is a glut of self-published authors who have saturated the market to the point where it is impossible for readers to find authors and authors to connect to readers. Derek refers to a pond of writers becoming an ocean.

  2. JA Konrath opines that cream rises. Basically, there has always been a glut of writers and somehow readers find what they want. He has in the past pointed to the internet as an example how there are millions of sites and still, the best of them get the views while the rest are ignored.

Where do I stand? I don't believe there ever existed a guarantee that completing a book or a short story meant people would read what you wrote or that they would pay for the privilege. There has to be a confluence of conditions met in order for you to succeed, and writing well is just one condition. I don't want to call it luck alone but luck too is a needed condition for success-

Okay. Here it is. The e-book revolution is just fine, thank you much. I was trying to sound all diplomatic and smart when in fact, I chafe at diplomacy and being smart is overrated, especially when it is used to obfuscate rather than illuminate (see, that's me being all smart and such and not saying a damn thing).

The truth is, too many indie writers are not getting it. There is work involved beyond writing and if you don't want to put in the work, then you have almost no chance of getting ahead. You certainly can't count on a paycheck. You have to learn about your craft and you have to learn the business. It is about writing well, it isn't about writing period. Indie writers who know the market, have connections, make smart business choices, they can worry a lot less about writing because presumably, the writing is the least concern for a writer.

If you are a writer, the words come, but sales? That's another matter. The e-book revolution has a glut of authors who won't or can't promote and that is because they consider the e-book revolution as simply a matter of writing. Stop that!

The successful writers will continue to sell and make livings and too many good folks will sit and be baffled by why they have sold a couple copies of their books (probably to enthusiastic friends and family).

The e-book revolution is alive and well for those who understand what the revolution means. Get on board. Put in the work. Support, be supported and learn the business instead of bemoaning how difficult it is to get paid. I haven't been paid for thirty-five years and yet here I am, still plugging away and the only difference now?

I am not as stupid as I once was. I'm learning. You all should, too. Let's get the revolution rocking, already.


Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Let's not forget luck - you're right, a confluence of circumstances. Sometimes because you've worked very hard, sometimes because you were in the right place at the right time with the right concept.
As a writer, I always hope quality leads to sales. As a realist, I'm not convinced of that.

MT Nickerson said...

I'm less convinced that quality is the defining condition that must be met for success. Too often it comes down to other factors.

I suppose I should have just said, "work hard at the things you can control... and hope for the best."

That just seems defeatist. Effort and quality should matter more than luck. Trying to stay positive, trying not to start from a position of negativity by thinking that everything is just some huge cosmic crapshoot.

Anonymous said...

You're right on, Michael. Those who are arguing a glut of writers is killing the e-book revolution are using old-world thinking. A glut of writers could kill things if the costs of doing business in e-books were significant. They aren't. Print books maybe, but not e-books. This sounds like a subject for a blog of my own. Look for it soon. ;)

As for luck, I agree that a certain amount of luck is involved, but my father was fond of quoting Branch Rickey: "Luck is the residue of design." With e-publishing putting design in the hands of authors instead of other people and companies, it becomes possible for hard-working, savvy writers to create better designs (for luck) than a publishing company. Thus, it is much easier to make your own luck.

MT Nickerson said...

John- I look forward to reading your future post. I completely agree that hard work is key. Maybe you won't be a success if you work your tail off, but you can be assured that depending on luck is like trying to fall out of a boat in the middle of the ocean and staying dry.