HOPE SPRINGS ELECTRONIC...
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 (www.redwoodwriters.org) 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 (www.lindalovelandreid.com) 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.
JOKE OF THE DAY
What kind of writing earns the most money?