Well, I decided to do it. I’ve made Kindle editions of three of my novels available through Amazon.com at a price of $1.99 (if you paid less than a dollar, admit it, you’d think of it as a throwaway!), even though I realize I’ve blown myself out of the water as far as New York publishing is concerned. I feel so strongly about there being an audience for these works that I wanted to put them forward now, in time for Christmas. You can read a sample for free, and you don’t even need a Kindle . . . if you have software that’ll read the Kindle format (.mobi), you can read it on your PC.
I’ve also gone to Smashwords with these three novels so that users of the new B&N Nook as well as people who use other e-readers or PDAs can try them out. Smashwords formats include .PDF, .EPUB, .LRF (Sony Reader), Palm Doc, and even .MOBI (for those who don’t want to mess with registering their e-reader on Amazon–you can use various public domain software to read that format). Smashwords gives away a sample that’s 40% of the novel, which I think is pretty generous! Or you can download the rest of the book, if you like the sample. The price is still $1.99 at Smashwords. I would give the books away free, but (again) people tend to instinctively sense that something gotten for free isn’t worth what they paid. *grin* I suppose each person will have to decide for herself or himself, there.
(Yes, the Smashwords crew told me to make my own arrangements with Amazon, as they feed B&N. They’re cool with this. I haven’t decided yet whether to pound the final nail into my career by making Lulu print versions.)
I published the urban fantasy as Shalanna Collins, but used my birth middle name and married name for the mainstream books. It probably won’t hurt that there is now a famous soul singer named Denise Weeks, and I’m constantly getting her referrals in searches. I’ll take any accidental publicity I can get. (grin)
I thought long and hard about doing this, but in the final analysis I decided that the facade of traditional publishing is crumbling, and that the economic downturn is going to dictate changes in the way books are delivered to readers. If I want to be read . . . well, I can’t wait forever; we don’t HAVE forever, alas.
I feel very strongly that e-books are the future of the market. Personally, I still prefer paperbacks and hardcovers, but that’s partly because of my visual infirmities and partly because I’m old-school; I know that the younger generation is accustomed to reading text on screens, and I want to find my audience. (I do believe my audience is out there; I’ve had good reviews all over the ‘net from teens who’ve found _Dulcinea_, and although it’s not for everybody, no book really is one-size-fits-all.)
I’m still sending my newer work to various New York houses. They may well Google these works up and decide I’m loser scum, which will mean the queries lead to nothing. That’s their privilege, of course. The solution might be to file a DBA (“doing business as”) in this county under a new pen name and use that name for the newer work, but I suspect they’d see that as deceptive. It is what it is. I yam what I yam. So it goes. Poo-tee-weet?
ANYway. I hope that if anyone here does download a sample, you’ll feel free to e-mail me with your thoughts about the book(s) or to post a comment here. It would be nice to have some reviews, but I’m not twisting any arms. Remember that not all books fit all audiences; I don’t care for the Twilight series or even very much for the Harry Potter series, and look at the size of their audiences. I think Nora Roberts is just phoning it in, and that Dan Brown writes clunky prose, but all that means is–I’m not in their audience. So if you aren’t in my audience, no hard feelings. If you are, though, please do let me know. It’s always a serendipitous discovery!
(BTW, Dennis Havens has also published with Smashwords. You can find his novel COLOR RADIO on their site, as well–and probably more will come.)
I seriously do think this is where things are leading: most publishing taking place through authors handling their own work, while only the lucky few (celebrities and established authors) will get print editions and contracts from the large houses (because the large houses will have to do fewer and fewer books–it’s just an economic fact–which means that more of us will be orphaned.) I’m sorry that readers will have to dig through lots and lots of typical not-ready-for-prime-time slush in order to find things they enjoy reading, but I’m not sorry that the gatekeepers are no longer the One True Way In. It’s time that readers had more choices. Someone compared it to cable television, which opened up the market with hundreds of channels and provided many specialty shows and a great variety of things that the four major networks hadn’t been offering to the viewing public–but which also meant that a lot of the time, despite all the choices, you wouldn’t be able to find anything that you liked at that moment, and that a lot of things that might not be “worthy” would have a chance. Hey, something might turn out to be a hidden gem that YOU love. Or it might not. So it goes. Poo-tee-weet?
It’s similar to what happened with recorded music within my lifetime. In my adolescence, the only bands taken seriously were the ones that got signed by a major label, and the local yokels could strive all they liked, but still had very little exposure and success. Then indie music really came into its own in the late ’90s, when the MP3 arrived on the scene. Now just about anyone can record a beautiful track and upload it to one of the providers, and the entire world then has a chance to sample it. Now there’s no one singer that EVERYONE listens to–no Cher, no Andy Williams, no Doris Day, you get the idea–but there’s also a much smaller fan base for most bands/singers. It does mean that you can find exactly the type of music you love to listen to, instead of having only “the top forty” to choose from. I think that’s a fair trade-off, myself.
Have fun out there!