Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adventures of an e-Book Bookie, 1

I am a bookie in both senses of the word. I love books and I'm taking bets on books. I am betting my career and future livelihood on books. More specifically e-Books. And for the first time in a long time I have hope.
When the advance copies for my autobiographical Young Adult novel Norman Babbit, Scientist arrived at my door in April of 2006 I couldn't have been prouder. Although it was my third published novel I had written it first and had sweated out eight years of publishing limbo as Joy Books, Cakebread Publishing, Highlights Books, Random House and other publishers held the book for up to a year (all expressing interest) before passing. At last it had arrived. I unwrapped it and when I saw the price I felt like someone had kicked me in the balls.
Norman Babbit Scientist is a sweet and funny little book with pre-teen pathos and (I think) an insight into what friendship really means. But the 32,000 word, 137 page book that I had lovingly slaved over wasn't and never would be worth $17.95. For all practical purposes the book was dead.
And I went into a professional depression.
I kept writing and shopping screenplays (more on that in later blogposts) and writing short fiction and non-fiction articles and jokebooks but, man, I am a novelist. And all three of my novels had barely sold enough copies to fill the trunk of a car.
An extremely small car.
I had pursued readings and personal appearances for all three novels and drove many miles to sell not so many books. I had a reading at a big-time independent, Book Passages in Corte Madera CA. So I took a night off work and had a great time reading and playing the celeb-of-the-moment and answering questions.
I sold 12 books, making about a tenth of I would have in a six-hour shift waiting tables. It was obvious that Egon's prediction in Ghostbusters had come to pass: "Print is dead."
But I keep writing and between 2006 and 2011 knocked out three more novels, a collection of short stories and several non-fiction titles. Sales languished. But what was I supposed to do, quit? I'm a writer, I can't quit. I'm like a predator. I'll keep hunting. If the prey dries up I'll perish, but I won't quit hunting.
And then I started hearing words like "e-book", "Nook", "iPad", "Kindle," and "Smashwords".
A new audience and market. A new vista. A new opportunity.
I have learned to upload books to these e-platforms (three so far, one pending: many more in the queue) and I'm teaching myself to market, market, market. This blog, Adventures of an e-Book Bookie will document my struggles (and failures and mistakes and hopefully successes) in this new e-Universe.
Through my local writing club (Redwood Writers, a branch of the California Writers' Club ( I announced the Smashwords e-publication of my magnum opus a 726 page 140,000+ word jokebook called, A Man Walks Into a Bar...A Compendium of Filthy, Uncouth, Lewd, Lusty, and Lascivious Jokes. The president of the club, Linda Loveleand Reid ( emailed me saying; "That's it! I'm buying a Kindle today. Who wouldn't want 700 pages of jokes for $2.99!"
And that sums it up.
I am an old school "Nothing-is-a-book-except-a-book-man" but the future is here, right now. If we, as writers, are too proud or stubborn or stupid to embrace and utilize the burgeoning technologies we have no one to blame for being left behind. Humanity has been captivated for millennia by stories told around the campfire: Kindle (and the others) are the latest, and brightest, campfire.
Stayed tuned to Adventures of an e-Book Bookie.

What kind of writing earns the most money?
Ransom notes.


  1. Rob,

    Best of luck to you. I may go the e-book way soon as well.

    Mary Lynn

    PS: I like your taste in backgrounds!

  2. Yea Rob! No such thing as too many bloggers, especially when the blog is as interesting and entertaining as yours. I look forward to more. The joke at the end will keep me coming back also.

  3. Excellent Rob. Keep that momentum going! You are absolutely right about ebooks and putting your works out as them. ePublishing is like a tsunami - a sea storm - thrashing the traditional publishing industry. (my About page at talks about this.) In fact, I launched a new indie publishing biz, SeaStorm Press, in February (

    My first author is my brother Jim Lindsey (, a writer in all fields for over 45 years - from fiction to poetry to tech and everything in-between, like being a former newspaper news editor/writer and photographer (and he sings the blues & is an actor!) His first ebook is 'The Flaw in the Fabric, Book 1 of A Travellers Guide for Lost Souls (lost souls being ghosts, lost in the in-between realms), an historical fiction, paranormal fantasy set in Nova Scotia. Within a month of it's release, a traditional publisher in Halifax ( picked it up and will bring it out in print later this year! Not only that, but they are so impressed with his blog that they will bring that out in print first even!

    So keep up this excellent blog! Ya never know :)

    We're releasing this month a 'companion volume of verse' called 'Snapshots of the In-Between'. We'll price @ 99 cents or give away free as a loss leader, i.e. generating interest in his novel (which sells @ $2.99 now, but we're already offering Smashwords coupons and will offer discounts on Amazon too.)

    After founding the company in February, I epublished the first book in March via Amazon, Smashwords, Scribd, Google Books, Barnes & Noble and made sure that Goodreads was set up properly. I created Jim's website, helped him create the covers (our next ebook is being published this month) and established all the social media sites which am now managing.

    Meanwhile - he's been creating like mad! He's produced the first 20 minute episode ready to upload to iTunes, Audible and others. With a few more under his belt, we can upload those to Smashwords' partner site '' as episodes that will broadcast weekly. When we get all the podiobooks finished, we'll compile those into an audiobook.

    Best of luck to you! Hope this info gives you some ideas as you forge ahead in your own epublishing efforts!

    Leigh Anne

    p.s. I too like the theme you chose...two of my blogs are setup with the same one! is about The Science Behind the Science Fiction, and is about my efforts along the way "to becoming a sci-fi author." My writing website is, the novel is a futuristic thriller called 'Deadly Deeds' which I'll publish via SeaStorm when it's ready! :D

  4. Okay, Rob, that's it. You've now convinced me w/ this eBook Bookie blog to buy your "Man walked into a Bar" joke book on my Kindle. Tired of being told to read the "full of tension" books. We all need to laugh sometimes.