A couple of weeks ago, crime writer Seth Harwood wrote a very popular piece here — How I Sold My Book by Giving It Away. Now he’s back and telling us about the new challenge of writing in the digital age. Take it away Seth (and check out his new book JACK WAKES UP )…
The number of ebook readers and reading devices is growing rather than shrinking these days. We’re entering a world where individual readers will decide not only what books they want to read, but how they want to read them. And here there’s something to think about for authors: As readers choose the reading platform they like best, they’ll see a certain set of books in that space. Different books show up at Wal-Mart than at your local independent bookseller. On the Kindle there are different books—with different prices—than on the iTunes App store. And even within the iTunes store, you’ll find different books in the Audiobooks section (owned by Audible.com), the Podcasts»Arts»Literature section (where many of the titles are free), and in the App store.
As an author, I want to be wherever a reader can look. On every platform and every new platform, I want my book to be available. My novel JACK WAKES UP started out as a podcast (via iTunes, RSS Feed, & MP3). People liked it. It got to print on demand, and Amazon sold it in print and Kindle formats. Guess what? It did pretty well. Now, it’s out from Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, and readers can find it at all the online outlets, as well as brick and mortar bookstores nationwide—both big box and indy. But that’s still missing part of the market: soon more and more people will be buying their books on their iPhones as Apps—both audio and text—or on Kindle, Scribd, eReader and who knows where else. All I can do is work toward making JACK WAKES UP available in as many places and ways as possible.
At the Publishing 3.0 panel session during April’s LA Times Festival of Books, the experts spoke about the problem of publishing in the 20th century being demand—how do you generate the interest in your book and get people to buy it—and that the new problem in the 21st century is supply. With so many books published, many will fail. There’s literally just too much, a glut of books that no one has a good idea how to fix.
The other supply-side issue is platform. As the publishing game steams quickly toward different platforms, virtually unlimited choices for readers, different pricing models, reading experiences, and preferences, my duty as an author now involves making sure my work is offered on as many platforms as possible to ensure my book is an option for the greatest number of readers.