Are you out to produce an ebook?
It was not too long ago that many people seemed to believe that ebooks were going to take over publishing. Hard copies of books were going to be relegated to antique stores and garage sales, according to this line of thinking.
Ebooks are also remarkably cheap produce. They are also easy to distribute, provided you can build an audience.
So what direction should aspiring ebook writers take?
While it is always interesting for me to guide authors to the best outlets, has the e-book bubble burst, as this article suggests? The LA Times piece, which attempts to balance the idea with some creative counterpoints, is actually a response to Nicholas Carr piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that e-books may have hit their ceiling:
“Half a decade into the e-book revolution …,” he writes, “the prognosis for traditional books is suddenly looking brighter. Hardcover books are displaying surprising resiliency. The growth in e-book sales is slowing markedly. And purchases of e-readers are actually shrinking, as consumers opt instead for multipurpose tablets. It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audio books-a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.”
And David L. Ulin of the Times makes it clear that Carr’s core argument cannot be ignored:
“From the start,” he observes, “e-book purchases have skewed disproportionately toward fiction, with novels representing close to two-thirds of sales. Digital best-seller lists are dominated in particular by genre novels, like thrillers and romances. Screen reading seems particularly well-suited to the kind of light entertainments that have traditionally been sold in supermarkets and airports as mass-market paperbacks.”
Effectively, e-books have filled a niche in the publishing landscape, but they have not eaten it alive. This echoes reported experience of active readers who download what might be called secondary titles – in other words, books we don’t necessarily intend to keep.
Where do we go from here?
While speaking to one of my college classes, author Michaelbrent Collings compared the trend of e-books to Speakers Corner of Hyde Park in London. In other words, e-books help create something close to the ultimate free market. Anyone can speak, or in this case, publish. Good ideas win. Bad ones lose.
But within this seemingly Darwinian milieu, there is great reason for hope among writers. While sales may have slowed, there will always be room for high quality works. The field is still wide open. This Ebook trend is akin the the internet bubble burst in the early 90s. It just meant that investors and consumers stopped throwing money after everything with dotcom after their name. But truly useful products have made the internet thrive and become a solid part of our society. Ebooks will simply evolve.
Write! Just write. And keep writing.
One poem can be split into three poems, based on an idea that grabs its author, from the second stanza. Then that idea can lead to, for example, some historical research. This can then be posted on a university or library website. Later, the information and experience a writer gathers can be great for a historical novel.
The most important for writers thing is simply to keep developing voice. Just keep writing.
As a writer or presenter, the best thing that you have to offer the world is … yourself. Keep honing your unique writing voice, and outlets (print books, ebooks, magazines, websites, mobile, digital, etc.) will take care of themselves.