Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moving E-Ward

Today I welcome author Daniel Arenson to Terry's Place. With ebooks surging in popularity, many authors are going indie—abandoning their publishers, uploading their novels to ebook stores, earning more money, and selling directly to readers instead of to booksellers. Daniel has some insights to share.

Ebooks are the biggest revolution for reading since Gutenberg... and not because we're switching from paper to digital.


In the 15th century, the invention of print changed the world.Reading and writing were skills few owned. Producing books required copying every word by hand. Print brought knowledge and light to thehuman race and was, perhaps, the most important invention since language itself.

Now, in 2010, we're seeing a new revolution for the book. At a dizzying pace, ebooks are taking over. Millions of readers have already switched to ereaders such as Kindle or Nook. They carry hundreds of titles in their handheld devices whose monitors mimic paper. But it's not the medium--an electronic device vs. a paper book--which is significant. This is a revolution because for the first time, authors can sell their work directly to readers.



Until now, authors did not sell books to readers. They sold books to bookshops or libraries. When promoting their books, they relied on reviews in publications such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews,Library Journal, or Booklist--publications librarians and booksellers read. They promoted their books in catalogs sent to booksellers. And they needed a publisher to do this. Without a publisher, authors would never see reviews in these publications, never see their books in bookshops. Authors wrote for publishers who sold to booksellers; the reader was far down the chain. Some authors self-published, but this was an expensive option, and critics and booksellers ignored these titles, leaving readers unaware of them.


Today many authors are going indie, even authors who already sold novels to traditional publishers.On their own, they're uploading their novels to ebook stores, such as the Kindle store. And these authors are marketing their books directly to readers. Instead of sending copies to critics and hoping for reviews, they're going online; they're hitting the blogs, the social networking sites, the various discussion boards devoted to fiction. They're interacting directly with readers, and they're selling books. Many books. And without a publisher keeping most of the profit, these authors are earning more money than ever.

This is a great time both for authors and readers. We have more books than ever to choose from. Publishers are no longer literature's gatekeepers. For the first time, we're seeing a real author-to-reader relationship. It's an exciting time to write. It's an exciting time to read. Literature is more alive and kicking than ever.

Daniel Arenson sold his first short story in 1998. Since then, dozens of his stories and poems have appeared in various magazines, among them Flesh & Blood, Chizine, and Strong Verse. He also wrote "Firefly Island", a fantasy novel. Now available for Kindle, it tells of a girl who seeks her long-lost brother across an island full of monsters and magic.
For free stories, recommended fantasy novels, writing tips, and more, visit: http://www.DanielArenson.com

16 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

Terry, thanks for hosting Daniel. Great post.

Daniel, you make some great points that from a reader's standpoint I hadn't considered. Doing away with the 'middle man' is helpful to both sides. I don't have an Nook or a Kindle so my e-reading is done on the computer which is a bit of a problem. With a print book, I can read when stuck in traffic, but not with my computer. I guess I'll have to breakdown (when the prices come down more) and get an e-reader in the future. Best of luck.

Lou Belcher said...

I'm getting closer and closer to getting a Kindle or Nook... Thanks for an informative post.

Daniel Arenson said...

Hi, Mason. Ereader prices are dropping all the time. Kindle just dropped their price from about $250 to $189, and the Kobo ereader (a great ereader; I own one) costs only $149. Just be careful reading while driving.... ;)

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Daniel,
Great blog. The price of the e-readers certainy is dropping, in a couple of years time or ess, I think just about every one will own a reader of some kind. good news for us e-writers.

Cheers

Margaret

Daniel Arenson said...

Margaret, I agree. In a few years, ebook sales will eclipse print book sales. Print is losing readers every month; ebooks are gaining them.

Drue Allen said...

Hi Daniel,

I recently joined the e-pub world (yesterday!), though I'm with a traditional publisher. I think both are valid venues, or perhaps I should say, "Who am I to determine what is valid?" I'm only the writer . . . readers have the option to READ however they wish. Thanks for a great blog!

Jim Ingraham said...

Enjoyed the blog from Daniel Arenson. He printed a story of mine in an ezine a while ago. The first Randa Sorel novel is on Kindle, The second in the series is coming from Five Star/Gale. It should be interesting whether one stimulates sales for the other. Going through a publisher does gain the author professional approval of his or her work, but maybe that doesn't matter the way it used to. I'm eager to learn how epublishing plays out. Jim Ingraham

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I haven't as yet placed my books on Kindle, but Daniel, you make a very strong case for it. Very interesting observations.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks to all for your comments. I've been out dealing with "moving" stuff, and Daniel's at work, but I know he'll check in when he gets back.

Daniel Arenson said...

I sold "Firefly Island" to Five Star Publishing three years ago. They printed it in hardcover and gave it an initial push (sending out a catalog and review copies). That initial push sold 600 or so books, but after that, it was tough to sell $26 hardcovers. A few weeks ago, I terminated my contract with Five Star, regained the rights to my novel, and placed it in the Kindle store. I've sold 300 ebooks since then, and counting. I plan to go direct-to-indie with my next book later this year, and keep prices low ($3 for ebook, $15 for trade paperback). Unless you're a celebrity, a publisher won't promote you much beyond a quick initial effort, and after that you're kinda stuck. Now, I don't mean to give the wrong impression here: Five Star is a fantastic publisher, I loved working with them, and have only great things to say about them. BUT as an indie, I have more freedom and make more money. I love that ebooks and CreateSpace made this possible.

Jemi Fraser said...

Interesting post. I don't own an ereader yet - they're not very popular here yet in small city Canada - I've only ever seen one!

This entire area is really interesting and it will be a lot of fun to see how reading changes over the next decade or so.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Daniel: I heard an interesting talk at a conference from an agent, speaking about epublishing, and how the big publishers were scrambling, trying to figure it all out like the rest of us. Some already have a completely different side for epubbing, and they're all reconsidering contracts as we speak. So it's a changing business, for sure, although I think written documents will always be around. I was told that computers would do away with notes and written documents but I sure don't see that happening, as witness my office, with 3 computers and stacks of papers. Interesting post, for sure.

Leigh D'Ansey said...

Thanks for this interesting post. When I was first accepted by The Wild Rose Press e-reading still seemed like a strange concept. Since then I've come to appreciate the almost limitless potential of the new technology. I now see that this is a very exciting time for writers in all genres.

Patricia Stoltey said...

The more information we get on this topic, the better off we are. Thanks to Daniel and to Terry for being here. I now have the rights back to my first mystery, and the paperback version just went out of print. I'm gearing up to hit the ebook market next, and I'm excited to join this new movement. Now if I could only decide which ebook reader I want to buy. :)

Daniel Arenson said...

Thanks, everyone, for reading this post and commenting! Now go read some ebooks! ;)

And thank you, Terry, for letting me be your guest. I hope I can guest blog again sometime.

Daniel

Terry Odell said...

Daniel, the pleasure was mine -- and I've added a little more on my Wednesday post.