‘To the Making of Books there is no End’
This, for anyone who’s interested, is a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the King James Version of the Bible. The verse goes on to say, ‘and much study is a weariness of the flesh’; some versions have it as ‘much reading is a weariness of the flesh’. None of which, for a professional writer, is very good news.
Well, the ancient writer certainly knew what he was talking about, even if he was adding his own book to the endless making. Since I started writing in the 70s, a few million books have been added to the pile: maybe as many as 400,000 a year in the English-speaking world alone (though only a couple of handfuls of those are mine – honest).
Now it seems it may all be coming to an end. Many pundits in the publishing arena see an end to the traditional book as we know it – all because of the rise of the Internet and the emergence of Amazon, Google, ebooks and ebook readers. Thousands of articles have been written on the topic – the future of the book – and I’m not going to add to them… (to the making of ponderous articles about the future there is no end). Instead, what I will do is to write about my personal experiences in getting my backlist books published as ebooks.
Five years ago I thought that ebooks were a gimmick for technogeeks and that self-publishing was merely vanity publishing under another name. Now I know I’m wrong about the former and I’m beginning to wonder if I might also be wrong about the latter.
Will having my backlist as ebooks generate sufficient interest in some of the titles to prompt me to publish them in traditional form? Will it even be necessary? Can a mid-list writer make enough money out of ebooks to obviate the need to publish traditionally? Will the future route for the writer be to publish first as an ebook, which may allow sales to indicate if the manuscript (MS) is worth taking to a publisher… or even self-publishing?
Who knows… but over the next few months I hope to find out. What I do know for sure right now is that ebook readers are becoming mainstream – read this article in Bloomberg Businessweek. It’s even possible now to read an ebook on your own computer screen.
So, I’m diving in: buying a Kindle; maybe even an iPad later on. I’m talking to people about how to get my existing (and maybe future books) into ebook form. I’ll keep you posted via this blog but bear in mind that everything I write will be from the POV of a writer who is techno-moronic. It should be an interesting learning curve.
One thing I do know is that some of the old traditions will still come into play: to be successful in the world of ebooks the writer will firstly have to write a very good book.
In that aspect, nothing will have changed.