Going Digital

Frédéric Filloux
 Paris based general manager
 French ePresse consortium

The Guardian 

Editor’s Note: As many of you know, I’m preparing to publish my first novel and have decided to publish independently. The book, cross-my-fingers, should go on sale about May 1. Because of my decision, because the launch date is real and approaching, I’m reading everything I can about digital publishing and book marketing. If you’re interested in opportunities to publish in the digital revolution, here are excerpts from a couple of recent articles I found particularly interesting. There’s a comment box at the bottom of this post, if you feel like sharing your thoughts or experiences on self-publishing and going digital.

Mostly sunnyThe need for editing.

 The most potent selection tool readers use for ebooks remains the quality of the product, in the view of Frederic Filloux. He says the iPhone/iPad AppStore, Apple guarantees the overall technical quality of what lands on its shelves. Apple’s primary motive is to avoid poorly coded apps that crash or, worse, interfere with the inner core of the iOS. No such things on Amazon. Once a manuscript is properly formatted (not very complicated), it’s eligible for sale.

That’s where reality barges in, he says in his recent Monday Note column for The Guardian. Many self-published authors insouciantly flog texts replete with grammatical errors and typos. Very few seem to rely on proper editing and proofing, this is the main divide between amateurs and pros. Editing is both a mandatory and costly process – but worth every penny. It is probably the most critical part of the value added by traditional publishers.

In the digital world, it must remain a key component of the process. To me, it’s a no brainer: I’d go digital, especially if I published in English. Among the reasons:

Time to market: I’m not exactly the patient type who’ll wait for a release window that will fit my publisher.

Pricing: I don’t want to compete against well-established authors releasing their opus in the same format for the same price. Mine has to be lower.

Size and scope: I want to be able to publish a book with a number of pages based on the subject’s scope, as opposed to antediluvian dictates saying books should have x hundreds of pages.

Updating capabilities: for a business book, being able to quickly make a new version with fresher data (or thoughts) is a must.

Control: I like the idea of picking the professionals who will help me with editing and design; no such freedom with a traditional publisher. Same for marketing and promotion; there, given the level of frustration I often see authors endure, I’d rather go by myself, or hire the right person to do it.

Permanence: an ebook never dies; it’s as easy to find as a new release in digital bookstores. Great for personal branding.

Revenue: I’d rather bet on volume than on a small number of high-priced copies.But I still might print a small limited edition on dead trees. Because despite all rationale I’ll always love paper books.

Jeff Rivera’s interview with Seth Godin from Digital Book World:

Libraries, Literary Agents and the Future of Book Publishing as We Know It
Jeff Rivera, writer & journalist, interviews
literary and social media opinion leader Seth Godin
Seth Godin

Rivera: Many authors hear your message about being willing to give away their books for free, or to focus on spreading their message but their question is: “I’ve got rent to pay so how do I turn that into cash money?”

Seth: Who said you have a right to cash money from writing? I gave hundreds of speeches before I got paid to write one. I’ve written more than 4000 blog posts for free.
Poets don’t get paid (often), but there’s no poetry shortage. The future is going to be filled with amateurs, and the truly talented and persistent will make a great living. But the days of journeyman writers who make a good living by the word–over.

Rivera: If writers shouldn’t presume they will make money directly from book sales, what other opportunities exist for them indirectly so they don’t have to flip burgers?

Seth: Depends on what you write! The Grateful Dead certainly didn’t depend on CD sales. Are you a chef? A public speaker? If you’re a mystery writer, can you find 1000 true fans to pay a hundred dollars a year each to get an ongoing serial from you?
It’s not the market’s job to tell authors how to monetize their work. The market doesn’t care. If there’s no scarcity of what they want, it’s hard to get them to pay for it.

Rivera: A number of publishers have pulled the plug on library editions of eBooks. Do you think that is a wise business decision and if not, how do you see it being a win-win scenario?

Seth: How incredibly silly. Libraries are like the radio for books. Not a money-maker for all, but a great way to spread an idea. I don’t think you can find a single author who suffered any damage at all because too many people took his book out of the library.
Ebooks for libraries need to be tweaked, not killed.

Once I get my books launched, did I say that? Yup! I’m publishing two books at once. Meet me in the garden and I’ll tell you more about my darlings.

Published by Kate Campbell

Writer, editor, photographer, novelist, short story writer, poet.

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