Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh, Brave New E-World.

About a year (two?) ago, Jared Folkins came into the store with a story he had started writing about a sloppy, drunken, over-the-hill space captain named: Duncan McGeary.

It was grand space opera, and I liked it quite a bit.

"Except the name," I told him. "No one would believe a name that outlandish."

Anyway, I told him he should send those three chapters to an agent, and that I bet if he finished the book at the same quality, he'd get published.

"Oh, no," he says. "That's not the way I'd do it. I would do it myself, I have it all figured out."

He told me all the technical ways he thought it would work, and how he'd go about it, and it all sounded rather cool and got me thinking....maybe so.

You know? Maybe so....

But at the time, I was still wedded to the old fashioned publishing world.

Stuck even though, at the same time, I was completely disenchanted by it.

Well, to me, the last six months have turned me completely around. I'm a believer in the online world, the connectedness. There is a community of creativity that exploding out there, while publishers are still trying to figure it out. My blog, for instance, has kept up readership.

I think Jared's right -- the old fashioned way is not the way to go.

There are going to be a whole lot of professional writers who are going to hesitate. There are going to be even more writers who won't hesitate, but don't really have the chops to pull it off. I think the time to write in the e-book world is NOW.

So when Jared offered to do for me, what he'd planned on doing for himself, I agreed.

So, if nothing else, it will be an adventure.

(And yes, I'm fully aware of the irony of owning a bookstore, and making plenty of blog entries on the importance of physical books and physical bookstores. Let's just say, I wear two hats....)


Duncan McGeary said...

I encouraged Jared to keep writing, but he has a full time job and a new baby, and he says he can't do both the technical and creative at the same time.

So we're combining my creative work with his technical know how, and we'll see if they make a whole.

Anonymous said...

You always have the option to upsell the e-customer to a physical book later on.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Duncan McGeary" is a perfect name for the type of character you describe. I'd make him a Scot -- red hair and beard, tough as nails, heavy accent, swears a lot.

RDC said...

There is one major problem with the issue of direct publishing. In many ways it is the exact opposite to your past arguements about the role of bookstore.

The problems is that the hurdle to direct publishing is extremely low. Anyone can do it. Because anyone can do it you will have lots of very low quality, self published books. This in a market where there is far far more books then people can effectively sort through.

Now one of the roles that bookstores fill is that they act as a filter and reduce the set of all available books to a smaller number that people can deal with. One could say that their buyers act as a quality filter by what they buy and what they don't buy.

That is one role that bookstores do, that the online e-book sellers do not effectively do at this time.

Publishers do the same thing. They filter out works that they don't like and act as a filter at another level, as well as providing editing, checking, formatting and other services that improve the quality of the end product.

While I am an avid supporter of e-books. The down side is the large amount of low quality works that will appear and the lack of an effective mechanism to sort through the large volume of books to find the authors/works that one has both the time and desire to read.

RDC said...

The problem is not that it is too difficult to publish directly in an e-book format.

The problem is that it is too easy.

Anyone can self publish an e-book and get it offered by Amazon. Anyone can create online promotion activities. Because anyone can do it the challenge becomes on of how can you elevate your work above the noise level. A noise level soon to be much higher than it is today.

The biggest issue that publsihers are having is dealing with the copy protection issues (an major error).

So how many copies do you expect to sell via this self publishing mechanism?

Anonymous said...

I wrote about this saturday AM, and now tuesday its feeding down the line, GE stock is falling, TEPCO is going to get a $40B bill and pass it on to GE. Funny that the US Airforce was used by HRC last saturday to deliver coolant. GE/MSNBC/NBC is one of the biggest contributors to OBAMA-PARTY, and is the MIC ( military industrial complex ), most nuclear reactors and weapons worldwide are GE.


The Idiocy and Hubris of Engineers: Will GE Get Whacked for the Catastrophic ...
ThisCantBeHappening! - Dave Lindorff - ‎Mar 14, 2011‎
(TEPCO) liable. But if it were found that it was design flaws by GE that caused the problem, presumably TEPCO or the Japanese government could pursue GE for damages. In fact, the design of these facilities--a design which, it should be noted, ...

Anonymous said...

Back in November, President Obama was in India pushing that country’s government to pass legislation exempting GE from liability for nuclear “accidents.” That idea is probably not going to go very far now.

Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman and CEO of GE and a big friend of Obama’s (he was named to an unpaid post as “jobs czar” by the president 'OREO' earlier this year, despite the company’s long record of exporting US jobs to places like China and India), says it’s “too soon” to assess the impact on the company’s nuclear business prospects of the nuclear “accidents” in northern Japan.

Duncan McGeary said...

Oh, I get what you're saying, RDC.

But I do think that is changing. That some writer's are finding it more convenient and profitable to skip the middle man. (Yeah, I'm also the middle man...)

That's where Jared comes in.

If Jared can do what Jared thinks Jared can do.

If not. The book is out there, in a readable format.

I don't think I could ever go back to trying to publish the way I did in the 80's with all the hoops and long-waits and uncertainty and ---capriciousness?

I think one of the reasons I got published is because I didn't know any better. I can probably never regain that faith and blissful ignorance.

From all accounts, it's worse now.

So it will be out there, forever. It may be forever ignored, I'm well aware, but it also means I can be forever hopeful, eh?

H. Bruce Miller said...

RDC: "The down side is the large amount of low quality works that will appear and the lack of an effective mechanism to sort through the large volume of books to find the authors/works that one has both the time and desire to read."

That's where reviewers and word-of-mouth come in. If a new book is good, the word about it will spread very quickly on the Web. Likewise if a new book is very bad.

You're right that it will be hard for new, unknown authors to make themselves heard above the general din. But hasn't that always been the case, more or less?

RDC said...


If you have never looked at it, you might take a look at the forum over on Baen's website. They seem to be doing a very good job on giving new writers a path to get published efficiently. They also tend to team writers with successful existing writers to help bring them along. Plus there is a lot of interaction between their authors and readers and as a result a number of those readers have now become published writers themselves.

RDC said...

I think known writers with a strong following that have a strong following might be able to direct publish successfully, though the question is they will make more money would be up in the air.

I think that unknown writers might make a few bucks going that way, but not be competitive with an author that successfully goes through a publisher.

Let me put it this way. If you sell more than 3000 copies of the book self publishing I will buy you and your wife dinner at the establishment of your choice.

This is considering that 30,000 sales in the first year is a successful number for a science fiction author.

Anonymous said...

The biggest issue that publsihers are having is dealing with the copy protection issues (an major error).


90% of the world doesn't believe in intellectual property rights. Largely a figment of lawyers in the USA.

The future will be India & China, which don't have IP. Get over it. You write for EGO, not for MONEY.

Duncan McGeary said...

I write for Ego AND the hope of money....