Author Jennifer Ashley spoke at tonight’s meeting of “Valley of the Sun” Romance Writers, and what she said was enlightening. She’s a multi-published, New York Times best-selling author of over thirty-one print books with houses like Berkeley and Dorchester. But she also publishes her own e-books with Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.
Now, in the past, I’ve pooh-poohed e-books–I guess because they’ve seemed so ephemeral. There are no pages to turn! No physical books you can hold and put on the bookshelf! And yet–Jennifer made me start to think about e-books in a whole new way tonight. Here are some points I learned from Jennifer:
E-publishing is a vast new untapped market for writers. There are no rejections, so you can jump into the game, write whatever you want, see it published, and (hopefully) make some money.
E-publishing is especially helpful for authors to re-publish their older backlist books after they’ve gotten the rights back. (I once asked Barbara Dawson Smith where I could find an old romance novel of hers, and even she didn’t have one! After a month on bookstore shelves, they just disappeared.) Now when someone asks, “Where can I get that older book of yours?” an author can cheerfully say, “It’s on Kindle!”
E-books are gaining respectability. They now appear on the New York Times best-seller lists.
Most readers today are pretty adamant–they read either e-books or print books, but not both. So why not multiply potential readers by targeting both audiences?
It’s free to put a book onto Kindle, Nook, or Smashwords. Jennifer uses all three. Then the author sets the price of the book. E-book readers like cheaper reads at 99 cents, and they can get pretty nasty online about e-books being priced at $14.95. So it’s best to build readership by offering a cheaper price (at least, to begin with).
These books receive no editing, so you have to be able to edit, format, and turn out a professional product if you want readers to keep buying your books.
E-books can be published fast. No longer do you have to wait a year or more from selling your book to seeing it appear. In her series of Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries, Jennifer has a new book out every month in 2011! So e-books can accommodate a prolific writer.
The author chooses her own book cover. She can use stock photos or purchase special covers from a company called hotdamndesigns.com.
Readers choose books that look interesting, but it helps sales if (1) you have a recognizable name like Jennifer Ashley, and/or (2) you promote your books.
E-books have made writing fun again. Whenever I go to Valley of the Sun meetings, I’m amazed. Instead of the long faces and hopeless laments of “I got rejected–again,” members are piping up with “I have a new book out, and it’s getting great reviews!”
Many print houses are now going to both print and e-books, and it’s driving them crazy. This is such a new phenomenon that print houses aren’t quite sure how best to handle their e-books. But e-books aren’t a fad–they’re here to stay, and exploding! It’s a new industry out there, and it changes almost daily. So it’s very interesting to watch.
Well–I’ll never give up my print books. I still have the first paperback I ever bought as a child–Little Women. But tonight’s program made me look at the e-book phenomenon in a whole new light. Will I buy a Kindle or Nook? Will I re-publish my romance novel? E-pub new ones? It all remains to be seen, but I feel inspired. It puts a whole new spin on writing/publishing that seems kind of exciting and fun.
Thank you, Jennifer!