The Kindle

I just concluded teaching “Blogging for Bucks” at the Midwest Writing Conference at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and sat in on a presentation from an e-book publisher. The same gentleman now setting up to publish in e-book formats was an agent when I sat next to him at lunch in Chicago at “Love Is Murder” a few years ago. Now, he and his wife—and me—are pioneers packing our wagon train and heading for the New Frontier of Kindles and Nooks.

David Morrell thinks that agents, in the future, will take over most of the functions  of print publishers. I have an agent. I would rather not use her and take care of business myself, but, then, I founded and functioned as CEO of 2 previous businesses  (Sylvan Learning Center #3301 and Prometric Testing Center #3301), so I don’t mind it that “the buck stops here.” In fact, I prefer it that way.

I  just attended the BEA (Book Expo America) in New York City for the 8th time, BlogWorld, WorldCon (in Austin, TX) and the Book Blogger conference at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. All the talks and presentations and panels eventually talked about  e-book publishing and what to make of it. Here’s what I make of e-book publishing and I will echo J.A. Konrath, one of the leaders of the charge.

Why not?

“Writers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains! Give me your hungry-to-publish, your poor struggling authors, your wretched masses yearning to write free. I lift my E-Lamp beside the golden door.”

The “tipping point” for e-books versus print books has already been reached. By Christmas, the deluge will be unleashed as waves of Kindles and BookNooks and Sony Readers are gifted. The new generation (Millennials) are growing up playing with complex technology and hungry for it. My two-year-old granddaughters see anything electronic (camera, cell phone, Ipad) and immediately want to glom onto it.

There is no turning back.

The new frontier is upon us. The print publishing industry is circling the wagons. [They’re humming Cher’s song, “If I Could Turn Back Time.”] In reading David Morrell’s blog, I saw that he had revised his opinion on when e-books would overtake print books downward from 5 years to 2 years. Reading the new E-book “How I Sold 1 Million Copies of My E-Book in 5 Months” by John Locke, I learned that GBL (Guaranteed Buy Lists) and OOU (One of Us) and blogging to spread the word are all going to be part of the Author-of-the-Future’s repertoire.

In my own case, my paperback books are not self-published. Small, independent publishers thought enough of my work to put out the print copies.  I paid Pattishall, McAuliffe, Newbury, Hilliard & Geraldson LLP (Chicago) to retain all e-book rights. I publish the same book as an e-book under the imprimatur Quad City Press. I make more money from virtual book sales and I know I’m being paid what I’m owed.
What are the advantages? Control, for one thing.


I had one publisher who slapped a cheap cover on a good book and nearly ruined it. (One reviewer even said, “You can’t judge this book by its cover.”) This would never have happened if I had published it as an e-book title and developed the cover myself. That same publisher kept my book a year, never paid me one cent of royalties (despite being contractually obligated to do so) and then, after I protested, sent me a check for $32. I knew, for a fact, that the book had sold that much in one book signing at a Barnes & Noble store, but how would I prove that I had been cheated? I licked my wounds and moved on, got a new (better) cover (Amish men don’t wear blue jeans, shirts with rick-rack and pork pie hats!) and published it as a Kindle title myself. It’s new and improved, and it stays up until I say it comes down. Plus, I don’t have to worry about being cheated out of my royalties or not getting paid when the company goes under, as is happening now with Leisure book authors.

If you price your book under $9.99, the author retains 70% of the money paid directly to his or her bank account. I was recently offered 35% royalties by an e-book publisher to publish my 80,000 word novel The Color of Evil. The company wanted extensive rewrites of one section. There was no upfront money, so promotion would still be all on my dime, as has been the case with the small independent publishers with whom I’ve worked. Why not publish this myself as Quad City Press, not have to rewrite in a different voice, and reap two times the royalties? (70% versus 35%). Also, you can do creative things with pricing books in a series, which is my plan with The Color of Evil, Red Is for Rage and the third book in the series, (which I am at work writing now.)

E-book publishing is both a godsend and opening the floodgates. True, some drek will be published, but if you have a person who has been writing for pay for 55 years (as I have) and has won national awards for his or her writing (as I have), your odds are pretty good that, if you like one title by this proficient author, you’ll like the others.

Pricing is key. Perseverance is key, but watch out, world. Here we come: the E-book authors are on the move! Get ready!