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Why authors need ebooks

As I earlier have been writing about how news shifts from print to digital editions, I happened to discuss the matter with a friend of mine, who has written lots of short stories, but does not know where to turn to get his works published.

After been digging into how citizen journalism is reclaiming their right to exist in news business, I realized that there must be ways out for my friend. This post is written with the purpose to help him and other in his position.

Initial problems

For a first-time author the situation is not easy, partially due to lack of experience. Except for the normal self-critical thinking about one’s quality of writing, which I assume most people have, I have listed some important questions based on the mistakes first-time authors often do:

  • Which way of publishing should I choose?
  • Do people read books from authors they never heard of?
  • Who will be reading my stories and how do I find them?
  • How do I get published?

How to get published

After doing all the research and the writing, one ends up with the next problem. Essentially, after deciding to publish digital, there are different ways to go. One way, is to go through a publishing house, which, without well established contacts or a very good agent, is like going along an intense trafficked highway in bad weather at the wrong time of the day and at the same time learn to drive. In short: hard.

Is there no other way?

Is there no other way?

Secondly, and as an alternative of the above mentioned, is to self-publish, for example through Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble Nook. Self-publishing in digital avoids the maybe largest obstacle how to finance a printed edition. Obviously, and since there are not production costs, the profit margin for all involved parts will increase, which economically means lower price on a competitive market, but most importantly, that more authors can publish and be read. However, the economic split between the two parts might not end up in favour of the writer. And how the split looks might also vary between companies.

Ebook reader – or not

Some people might at this point intervene and claim that not everyone is having an ebook reader, and that the best choice of publishing is the printed traditional way. If you consider this to be true, I want you to read this article about how the usage of ebooks in Russia is spreading. Anyone who, like me, has been travelling with the metro in Moscow surely remembers what the travellers are doing on their way to and from work. They don’t text their friends. They don’t play games on their smart phones. They read. They read mostly books. And now they use ebook readers. If not yet discouraged from the idea of a paperback edition of your book, read what Lynn Serafinns, a succesful book promotion expert, is advicing other newcomers to do

Even stronger claims comes from GeekWire’s Frank Catalano, analyst of digital education and consumer technology, who argues for the extinction of paperbacks, when ebooks are getting more popular.

Ebooks - the slow death of the billy bookcase

Ebooks - the slow death of the billy bookcase

Choosing your own platform

Another direction to go is to publish your works on your own platform. This takes time to create and effort to spread your message. In a long perspective however, you enjoy the benefits of setting the most suitable price, getting a better share of the profit, but also building a community. On the flip side though, one should keep in mind that one will not be exposed as much on the big sites, as Amazon which normally generates sales. Also customer service and copyrights will be managed by no one else than yourself.

Does this platform serve my purpose?

Does this platform serve my purpose?

Sunshine stories

There are some first-time authors who choose to self-publish even though they have the possibility to go with a publishing house. One example is Jack Bergstrom, who finds the hardest part of being a writer to find the right platform for the book. His main reason for self-publishing was basically an economical decision, but he also very strongly believed in the capacity of his own platform.

A person who under four different pseudonyms has managed to reach high on the Kindle ranking lists is Bob Mayer, largely viewed upon as a high priest in this business. Getting to where he is, is a result of many factors. Not only must the targeted group be identified, the title of the book must appeal to them, the content must be right. Some basic knowledge about consumer behaviour obviously also have been useful for Bob Mayer when making strategic decisions, because he states that “people are willing to impulse buy an unknown writer’s book when it’s under three dollars”.


8 thoughts on “Why authors need ebooks

  1. Hi Mattias,
    I really appreciate the mention and the Ping back!

    Just to clarify, I’m not a first-time author. I have two full-length published books (both over 400 pages) in print and Kindle, plus another, smaller Kindle eBook (with many other eBooks to be released in 2012). I was also a ghostwriter and editor for 4 other published books, and I am a promotional manager/marketer for authors. I’ve helped launch and market dozens of print books and eBooks to help my clients become bestsellers. Many of my authors have had #1 bestselling Kindle eBooks.

    Just thought my background might render some weight to your citation. 😉

    Many thanks, and stay in touch!

    Lynn Serafinn

    Posted by Lynn Serafinn | January 9, 2012, 1:16 am
    • Hi Lynn,
      I appreciate you commenting! I’ve made some add-ons after reading what you wrote as well.
      Since I’m speaking in terms of being in the position of publishing for the first time, your opinion on where to start as a first-time author would be very interesting to hear.

      Thank you for contributing,

      Mattias Lundin

      Posted by Mattias | January 10, 2012, 11:32 am
  2. Hey Mattias,
    I like the way you accompany the reader through your post by using anecdotes, metaphors, subtitled images and the anticipation of doubts! -Particularly the Moscow-example…it feels like being exposed as an unthinking person texting all day and then: the contrast BÄÄÄM the Russians read everywhere, so don’t complain about eBooks, let’s use it to combat mediocrity!
    The only thing I was wondering: How is that platform supposed to look like? I know, not like the one in the water, but as the stereotype-kind-of-writer who lives in his uncommercial dream world (sorry!) I wouldn’t know how and where to start concretely although your last quote might push me into the right direction.

    Posted by Larissa | January 9, 2012, 6:33 pm
    • Hey Larissa,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m happy to hear that you like my way of writing!

      I write about platforms, and thereby I mean that some people who choose to publish a book for the first time are appreciated in certain fields and are already having people following them through social media or homepages. They are already established.

      My example in the text, Jack Bergstrom, is an appreciated speaker and thought himself to have a network strong enough to sell his books through his website. One reason for doing this could be that Amazon or the publishing houses demand a too big share of the profit or simply that the authour looses the connection with the readers.

      Thanks for your question!

      Posted by Mattias | January 10, 2012, 11:46 am
  3. Hey Matthias, there are several things I like about your post and one I would have solved differently. You did a good job structuring your post clearly: Introduction! You stated very clearly what this post will be about (took readers by the hand 😉 ) You did not miss to mention economic aspects and at the end even gave examples – nice!!! But I think the headline could have been chosen more appropiately since the post as such is not about why authors need ebooks, it is only a small part of the post. You most probably did not want to chose a header which is too obvious, but I would have solved it differently 🙂

    Posted by Pia | January 11, 2012, 9:24 am
  4. Hey Mattias,
    Although I am a big fan of traditional books (as I don’t like reading from the screen that much) I found your blog post really juicy. I think it is because of your writing style and your anecdotes! Like Larissa I also liked the Moscow example. In Berlin I haven’t seen a lot of people reading e-books so far, but the reason for that could also be the missing money as Berlin is way poorer than Moscow is. I think e-books are a very good alternative to a standard book especially for first-time publishers as it is way easier to get their work published. Furthermore e-books are handy and not as heavy as traditional books. This is a big advantage for daily commuters. Good job!

    Posted by Kathrin Schneller | January 11, 2012, 2:56 pm
  5. Mattias, thanks so much for this great blogpost. I found it really interesting to read and the pictures you chose clearly show that you thought about your topic a lot. I especially like the billy bookcase photo!
    I think your style of writing- at least in this post, I will try to read other post of yours and compare- is just excellent. You definitely caught my attention right at the start when you talk about the difficulty of publishing your first work. “In short: hard.” Unlike other blog post you actually got me to click on the links you provide to check for more detail. I guess that is a good thing. Even though like this I spent a lot more time reading your article than I had planned to.
    Great post, great work. But I still prefer to read real books instead of an ebook!
    You might just write another post to convince me.
    Good luck!

    Posted by Martin | January 12, 2012, 4:32 pm
  6. Interesting article, thank you! In the US, especially small presses like folded word and others are leading the way with new media — often combining small, handcrafted print editions with attractive ebook deals. I’ve blogged at large about many of these issues—especially about the new role and centre responsibility of authors towards their work and their (potentially, for a majority of writers) much large audiences— I’ll keep in touch with your juice(s)! Cheers from Berlin.

    Posted by Marcus Speh | January 12, 2012, 7:05 pm

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