Writers Forge a New Frontier with eBooks
River View Observer cover story
Â by Sally Deering
Â During the 2010 holiday season, Amazon.com sold 2 million Kindles and Barnes & Noble selling 1.5 million Nooks, stats that are a wake-up call to big name book publishers and a “Yahoo!” to writers everywhere who can now self-publish their Great American Novels their way. Ebook publishing is the new frontier for writers to boldly sell their fiction and non-fiction – and find their niche – and a possible income – utilizing 21st Century technology and the social media network that connects us all.
Â Electronic Readers have transformed the way we’re reading biographies, textbooks, cook books, you name it. Â Books of every genre are now available via download and ebook publishers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google (and more) are giving writers the chance to see their books in electronic print not only on Kindles and Nooks, but IPads, IPhones, Droids and other techno gadgets.Â Of course, the Big Kahunas of book publishing like Random House, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster are still doing big business in hardcovers and paperback, but the stats indicate more and more people would rather click a button on their handy electronic reader than turn the page of a dog-eared book.
International Digital Publishing Forum which tracks wholesale ebook sales reported $304.6 million in ebook sales in 2010, a rapid-growth from the $200 million in ebooks sold from 2002-2009. And in 2010, Amazon.com reported sales of its ebooks outnumbered sales of hardcover books with 180 Kindle books sold for every 100 hardcovers. One ebook industry analyst predicts global e-book sales at Amazon could reach $2.5 billion by the year 2012.
Writer Tom Dwyer of Jersey City took the traditional route with his first two books “Broad Street,” a mystery/crime novel and the children’s book “What the Man in the Moon Saw,” which were sold through publishing houses and did pretty well. For his third book, “’60s Song,” (ebookit.com; 165 pgs,) a gritty coming-of-age novel about three Philly teenagers during the 1967 “Summer of Love” – Dwyer chose to publish it as an ebook that can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google and other ebook publishers.
Â “It’s a business that’s changing and a lot of people are jumping in,” Dwyer says. “E-books allow writers who tried to get published in the big publishing houses, the opportunity to get their books read. It’s shaking up the publishing industry and the publishing industry now is using ebooks a lot. If they put a book on the bookstore shelf and it doesn’t sell, it’s going to be taken off that shelf and they lose money. So, they test the waters with ebooks now.”
Â Dwyer says ebook publishers and book writers have Stephen King to thank for legitimizing the ebook industry to the mass public.
Â “Stephen King was one of the first writers to go on Amazon and he put his book up for free,” Dwyer says. “This was a couple of years back and when he did this, he said this is a great tool.”
Of course, Stephen King can put his book up for free he’s a successful writer with a huge following and millions in book sales. Writers who aren’t as famous, even first-time writers can find their niche publishing an ebook and even earn an income. Amazon.com gives a 70% royalty to writers for each ebook they sell that’s priced from 99-cents to $2.99 and a 50% royalty on books priced $2.99 to $9.99. Reading through the forums of writers who post messages about their book sales, it’s advisable to price your first book in the lower range. A writer can also hook up withÂ an ebook publishing company that will first publish their book in soft-and-hard-cover and assign it an ISBN number, which is required when publishing ebooks to Google and Barnes & Noble.Â (Amazon doesn’t require an ISBN number and therefore allows a writer the opportunity to see their work published right away.)Â The advantage of working with an ebook publishing company is that the publisher will have connections to all the outlets and will advertise and market the book, where a self-publisher will have to do all their own marketing.Â
“What you’re doing is jumping in there and doing it,” Dwyer says. “You really need to do the marketing, get reviewed, get quotes. One of the biggest things in ebooks are ebook blogs, book reviewers who write blogs. I’m having two reviewed now and will get them back in two or three weeks, I’m spending almost no money to do this, I created the cover myself and photoshopped it.”
In a recent interview with ebook publishers Smashwords.com, Dan Poynter, who has sold millions of ebooks on skydiving and self-publishing and is the author of the “Self-Publishing Manual,” a guide to independent authors, says building a self-publishing career begins with a passion to write and succeeds with social networking.
Â “Write what you love and sell to your colleagues,” Poynter pointed out on Smashwords. “This could be the definition of social networking for books. Go where your heart is. Write about your favorite subject: The one that gets you so excited, you wake at four in the morning to find your eyes are wide open and your head is spinning with ideas. You are so jazzed, you can’t sleep. So, you get up and head for the keyboard. I started with books on parachutes and skydiving. Sell your book to people who have an interest in your subject. They are easy to find with online searches and social media.”
Many self-published writers are turning to ebook publishing rather than the typical and very frustrating (and rarely successful) route of getting a literary agent to represent their book and a big publishing house to publish the book. (Publishing houses rarely accept unsolicited submissions from writers and only go through trusted literary agents to secure book deals.) Ebook publishing breaks through those barriers and gives writers the chance to share their stories, their passions, their knowledge and insight with the world.
“If I had gotten this book published by Random House, this book wouldn’t come out for two years, that’s the time it takes,” Dwyer says. “It’s all about people having the freedom to self-publish. I don’t have to have someone tell me I can’t publish my book.”
Â Excerpt from “’60s Song” by Tom Dwyer
Â “The hot morning sun was already moving through the housing project on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. It created a haze that blanketed the city with a sweltering heat that seemed to have the whole world moving in slow motion. Frankie Johnson, a skinny, black teenager with a slight limp in his right leg, knocked on the front door of his best friend’s house. They had been friends ever since their families moved into the housing project on the same day ten years back. Frankie knocked again and heard footsteps in the house. The door opened, and George Bannon, a muscular Irish kid with wavy black hair and deep dark eyes saw Frankie standing on the steps.
“We going swimming today or what, white boy?” Frankie asked. George looked through the beat-up screen door that was hanging off one of its hinges, and then waved him in. Frankie entered the small two-story house where George lived with his mother and a younger sister. The family was on the waiting list with the housing authority to move to a bigger house up on the hill but it could be years before a vacancy might open up. The small dirty kitchen had dishes in the sink and bags of trash waiting to be put out. George opened the refrigerator and helped himself to a soda for breakfast.”
To order Tom Dwyer’s ebook 60s Song https:www.ebookit.com/books/0000000042/60s-song.html
60s Song is also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many other internet outlets.