Totally Irrational Thinking

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The one thing that every writer, whether traditional or Indie, whose books are published in e-book form have in common, particularly in non American markets like here in the land of the literary curmudgeon where the printed book is still preferred, is the vehement prejudice against the relatively new publishing format we choose to use. Because they hate the idea of the e-book, they are missing out on so many great tales. Whether they like it or not, the e-book is the next evolution in the history of publishing.

As far as they are concerned, if they can’t hold a book in their hands and physically turn the pages, from their completely illogical point of view the electronic file is not a proper book.

What utter bilge!

I wonder if any of them realise how totally irrational they sound? Whether they like it or not the e-book is here to stay.

Before the first seed change in publishing occurred when the printing press was introduced to the UK in the fifteenth century by William Caxton, the only way itinerant storytellers could pass on their stories was by word by mouth. What the printing press did was to collect their stories in one place, the printed book, for everyone that could read and write, long after the stories would have disappeared when the storyteller eventually died.

Despite the gate keepers, today’s storytellers can be published in a format available to literally everyone who owns a smart phone, laptop, desktop, tablet or a purpose-built ereader such as the Kindle. What the traditionalist stick in the mud’s simply fail to understand is that they are a rapidly diminishing minority.

From the point of view of today’s publishers, it makes good financial sense to publish in e-book form rather than paper. This is a second seed change in publishing that is slowly being accepted by all five major publishing houses. From their point of view, if an e-book doesn’t sell they haven’t lost much financially, unlike remaindering, where to sell the printed copies in stock they have to offer them at a much cheaper price. Either that or pulp thousands of them after taking a financial gamble on what they thought would be the next best seller.

If the publishing houses fully adopt the e-book, it would not surprise me in the least if they cease incentive payments in the form of a financial advance to writers they are considering signing up in the future. Every publishing house is driven by the fact that to remain solvent, above all else they must make a profit. If they spend a lot of money on their stable of writers, they need to recoup it for every book they publish before they show a profit and can afford to pay out royalties. That simply does not occur with an e-book…

A thought just occurred. Maybe the reason why curmudgeons hate the e-book so much is because they cannot bend the ereader back on its spine like a paperback, nor fold the top corner of a page over to act as a book mark. What do you think, am I right??

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Definitely a wood for the trees moment?

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This post follows on from the other day – https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/a-message-to-the-slackers/ where one of the commenters (Ken Thackerey) questioned my thoughts on reviews being the author’s only real means of knowing how many people actually read a free copy of a book. He got me thinking further on the subject.

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Why do some books become best sellers? Is it the fact that the author promoted their book, hoping for sales, by initially giving it away once it was published? Perhaps it’s because the author publicised it on every book and social media site, not to mention their blog? Could it be because the author let it sit for a while in preorder mode, prior to publication? Maybe its the cover? Maybe its the fact that it was edited by a professional, or that a lot of money was spent having it promoted? Each one of them is standard practice, and yes they all help. But only up to a point. Might it have anything to do with genre? Not necessarily.

Then the penny finally dropped. It’s none of them or any combination you care to come up with. I’ll tell you why some books succeed while the rest don’t. It’s only taken me twenty years to finally figure it out. Call it a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees if you like. It’s blindingly obvious once you see it. The answer was staring me in the face all the time from the books in my library. It’s in yours too.

In this day and age, no matter the genre, or how much time and effort you put into bringing that story to life to make it stand out from the crowd, what any book needs is reviews. It doesn’t matter how good the story might be. Nor does it matter how eye-catching the cover is, or how much money was spent on having it promoted. To become popular, and therefore by osmosis, to be considered a best seller, if it doesn’t have glowing reviews prior to publishing, quite simply you are wasting your time. I’m not talking about those written by the general public after a book is published. Instead I’m talking about presale reviews.

Look at the cover of any book coming out of any traditional publishing house. Whether the author is a known quantity or a newcomer, all trad publishers ensure that each book they put out receives a smattering of excellent reviews prior to publishing, one or two on the front cover. Others inside after the title page, and maybe one on the back cover along with the author’s bio. It’s simplicity itself when you think about it.

What about Indies? Does this apply to them as well? Emphatically yes. I known what I’ll be doing with my next novella or novel before I publish it. Oh, and no more free samples…

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Answer Me This If You Can

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Editor at work – Yeh right!

For as long as I’ve been writing full time (since 1995), one aspect of our chosen career path has always bothered me. We all know that writers in publishing house stables are expected to apply all the corrections that their editors deem necessary. More fool them!

Why should Indies suffer this totally illogical practice as well? For many, myself included, we parted company with traditional publishing to get away from this less than satisfactory aspect of the writing game, and the often dictatorial way in which publishers rule over their writers, amongst other things.

I’ve given up counting the number of times I’ve heard fellow Indie’s complain about their editors, and the hard won money they’ve spent on their sometimes dubious services.

If you take the sensible decision to go it alone and self edit, you’ll soon find any errors and correct them. Whereas if you pay for an editor’s services, while they give the impression of doing a so-called professional job, what do they actually do for their often exhorbitant fee? Not enough! They only do half a job, then send it back to you to do the rest. What’s the point of that? A writer can do it all themselves and for no cost to them except time.

Yes your editor will tell you that they have judiciously gone through your manuscript, purportedly working their way through your story word by word, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, picking up on bad grammar, spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation, plus suggesting you change this or that aspect of your story as if it was them who wrote the darned story in the first place, so that when pedants, armchair critics and literary snobs challenge you (and believe me they will), you can honestly say that your work was professionally edited.

Big deal!

Logic dictates that if someone is employing you as an editor to find all of the errors, that once found, you should correct them yourselves, not send the manuscript back to the writer to do your job for you! Otherwise, what’s the point of employing you in the first place. If a writer does the sensible thing and sends their manuscript to a few dedicated beta readers, hopefully they will point out any and all errors for free!

Remember this, no book is ever perfect. Even the very best editors employed by the major publishing houses will miss the minutiae, after all they are human just like the rest of us. Paying for an editor’s services, as they stand at the moment, is a waste of money. Before you even begin to show a profit from the sales of your books, you have to recoup your financial outlay first, ie, editing, layout, cover design. From a financial point of view its far better that you do it all yourself. Thinking about it, so-called professional editors are little more than failed writers.

If you are a truly dedicated Indie writer, don’t think that once you have written your manuscript that you have finished. You haven’t. Your work has only just begun. Above all don’t fall into the trap that your manuscript need the services of a paid ‘professional’ editor. It doesn’t. If you are any damned good, you will do it yourselves!

Here endeth today’s lesson…

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