The Game Changer – eBooks vs. traditional book publishing
by Robert W. Walker, ebook author/publisher
Here is the deal – I and many another author am now writing my next novel as a Kindle Original novel, for ebook publication, eschewing traditional publishing for this, my 50th novel.
No one could convince me that any contract short of a film deal would set back onto a traditional paper book path with this novel. Think about that conclusion: a 100,000 word novel I am pushing as “If Michael Crichton had rewritten the Titanic story, you would have CURSE OF THE TITANIC” going straight to the reader via Kindle. Do you get that? I am not going to waste months, even years, trying to convince anyone of the quality and the commercial potential of this manuscript. I am not sending it to three publishers or three agents or twenty five agents in an effort to find someone who sees the potential I see in my novel.
I took that path for some 30 years with my life’s work—Children of Salem (now a Kindle Original ala Robt. Walker Publishing’s #1 Bestseller). My heavily researched Salem book, a HYstery-Mystery Romance Hybrid was turned down by every agent who read the pitch and sample chapters, and it was turned down by every publishing house in NYC – despite my record of having sold some forty novels there in the past. So I am not going to put myself through that again with Curse of the Titanic.
Instead once it has been edited and vetted to my satisfaction, Curse of the Titanic will see print the next day as a Kindle Original, my fifth original title up. All my out of print titles are today also Kindle titles which has given them life after death. I have 44 titles on Kindle, 3 of which are controlled and price set by HarperCollins who insists on selling these titles at the SAME price as the paperback originals, and as a result these three terrific novels in ebook form now are just not selling at all, while those I price are selling so fast that I cannot keep up with the sales.
But in point of fact, I can keep up as I can check in on my sales any time of day as easily as checking stock market scores. I know minute by minute what is happening with each title except those published by HC. Fact is, I have NO idea how badly the sales for those three titles are going except when I get a royalty statement after six months which told me last go round that zip has sold at the 7.00 price tag. By comparison, I get a clear, understandable, no confusion daily accounting of my 1.99 and 2.99 priced Kindle titles that is telling me that I am making five hundred dollars or six hundred dollars per month on these titles in this new, ground-breaking, game-changing dynamic business model that pleases readers and authors but has displeased major traditional publishers who still think that high price is the way to great returns. But the only returns they are getting are Returned Books.
Ellen Degeneres the other day gave away free Kindle ebook readers to her entire audience along with other gifts for their summer reading; not long before Kindle sales spiked for Mother’s Day, and prior to that Easter, and prior to that the whopping three million in sales for Christmas. That’s a huge audience for writers and it is growing. It is enticing for authors today to become a Kindle author, but many are being stymied by their own publishers who had written into their contracts that ebook rights belong to the publisher.
Major publishers have recently gone to “war” with Amazon.com over pricing of ebooks, as such houses like Random and HarperCollins among others want to set prices higher than Amazon’s wish to set all ebooks below 9.99 and thus with the reader rekindle an interest in reading world-wide starting with the USA.
Here is one author’s experience with be caught in this “war” as I have books on Kindle controlled by my publisher (HarperCollins) and titles that I myself have place on kindle as I own those rights, and I have written a number of titles meant as Kindle Original titles—as I believe in this avenue strongly for good reason – more money going into my, the author’s, pocket.
Meanwhile USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, even the Huffington Post if you will, along with every major news outlet and Ellen Degeneres –they are all talking about The Kindle Revolution and the looming demise of traditional publishing as we know it. Publishers at the top are like glaciers when it comes to a new idea and they have scoffed at ebook publishing and denigrated it for over thirty years now but with the advent of the state-of-the-art Kindle reader the times they are a changing. I have sold in this month alone—and there are nine more days in the month—seven hundred books from my various series placed on Kindle. In all my thirty years in publishing with paper books, I have never sold in a month these kinds of numbers out of brick and mortar stores. One reason? Paperworld publishers limit their budgeting dollars to one percent of one percent of their writers, making mega-stars of such authors as Sarah Palin for instance, among others who correctly have earned their status—such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, and more. But even so, where one King is crowned and given huge budgets for advertising, a thousand five hundred other authors are published s I was—put it out on the shelf and see if anyone finds it.
With my Kindle books I have no one to blame but myself if they fail. I write the copy, the book description; I write the ads and do the PR, the marketing, and I decide on title, size of my name on the cover, the cover art, the book design, pricing (so important now!), and publication date. In the past when a book failed or died on the shelf, it was my numbers that failed despite the fact all of the above was done by others; that is I had next to no input on the committee decisions made about my books but I was ultimately the one at fault in the end if my sales were punk. But now, I am responsible for it all and accept that fact except for my HarperCollins over-priced ebooks on Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Sony reader. HC has to take responsibility for these three titles that are sitting like stones in the ebook stores.
I began doing Kindle titles at the urging of my best friend, Joe Konrath who, like myself, has blogged extensively on the NEW economics created for both authors and readers since the advent of Kindle publishing. Joe’s blog – A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing is filled with great information on this subject. One should also look into Amazon.com’s Kindle discussion boards, and do not overlook firstname.lastname@example.org –a great group of Kindle readers from all walks of life for lively discussions on all things Kindle. My wife, Miranda Phillips Walker has her novel up at Kindle as well, entitled The Well Meaning Killer, a suspene novel. As an RN, she has also placed up a seven page information filled tale of how to kick Migraine headaches as she has been migraine free for 20 years. So you can put up short works and long, but do get a professional editor to vet the work. Finally, book descriptions are extremely important and should do two things—be interesting/exciting yes, but also fill in the traditional five W’s – who, what, where, when, why & how if you can. It must be the best short story you have ever written and entirely free of errors! Finally, finally cover art is extremely important. My son is a graphic artists and I work with his company which is http://www.srwalkerdesigns.com For a sample of his work go to Amazon.com and search my name as Robert W. Walker for 44 examples!
I hope this has been of interest to you, and if you want to get started on your journey as a Kindle Author and wish to put something on Kindle, I urge you to get a good editor first to vet the book or novel or short stories you wish to put up. There are many good freelance editors out there; I do this myself in fact. I put nothing on Kindle that has not been heavily edited. To work with Kindle I urge you to go to www.dtp.amazon.com At this site, they walk you through the process of publishing your work.
Robert W. Walker
Free 20 pgs. Children of Salem at www.robertwalkerbooks.com