Thrive in the Maturing ePublishing Market
Strap yourselves in, children-ePublishing, and the Indie authors fueling the movement-are zooming into hyper-drive.
On April 4th, Pew Research reported that 20% of American adults had read an eBook in the past 12 months and that 29% of American adults now own at least one type of eReading device. More striking, the average eBook reader churns through 24 books per year versus the paltry 15 books read by the poor fellow still stuck on physical print. And folks with eReaders tend to buy whereas print readers trot off to the library to borrow.
Add to this last week’s Wall Street Journal report of Amazon’s 1st quarter earnings: $13.2 billion, up 34% from the previous year. In case you haven’t been keeping up, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is on track to invest $2 billion in capital expenditures this year-and, yes, some of that growth will further support eBook sales.
Big money brings big talent, and the rank and file of Indie authors is changing. This doesn’t frighten me-I’m damned excited, actually-because my 2011 debut, Treasure Me, and my March 2012 release, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, carry high rankings on GoodReads and Amazon. Readers who purchase one of my novels invariably buy the other. Now add my third release, Second Chance Grill, which will soon arrive in the marketplace.
To my new career I bring thirty years experience in PR and freelance writing. My novels aren’t dashed off then published. They’re painstakingly edited and revised before critique partners vet them. After that, my graphic designer in the UK reads. Finally, the manuscript reaches my editor in Canada for merciless, line-by-line scrutiny.
In case you’re wondering, I didn’t start out as your typical Indie novelist. I spent several years working with literary agents. Both Random House and NAL expressed interest in my novels though they weren’t sure, exactly, whether to brand me in Romance, Women’s Fiction or Literary. But the traditional publishing model with its genre restrictions and soul sapping branding is now disappearing with hundreds of dying bookstores. My critique partners urged me to go Indie, and I’ve been happily building a readership ever since.
Going in, I knew my debut must stand head and shoulders above the many independently published books flooding the market. Treasure Me was heavily edited and flawlessly proofed. The plot was fast-paced and amusing. The eBook went live in April 2011 and I immediately began querying book blogs for review. Those great reviews posted on Amazon, GoodReads and FaceBook drove sales. Recently USA Today featured the novel as one of the best of the Indies, and The Midwest Book Review has it featured on Bookwatch as ‘highly recommended.’
Of course, I’m not focused on any one review or the day’s sales. I write contemporary fiction bordering on literary and strive, with each book released, to expand a loyal readership. As any financially secure novelist will tell you, it’s all about building the backlist.
My advice to you?
You’re experiencing the good fortune of arriving as the Indie Market comes to full flower. Millions-no, billions-of people worldwide are becoming hooked on eReading. They’re searching for great content. The demise of the traditional publishing model, the restrictive bookstore shelf with each genre stuffed together in one lane, is disappearing. Experimental fiction and genre-blending stories now flourish. Readers hunt for new talent with a tap on an iPad or by scrolling with a Kindle or a Nook. They buy at whim. And they’re increasingly hungry for the Next Great Read.
They’re looking for your book if you don’t publish a novel that’s thin on plot, littered with cliches and poorly edited. If you’re serious about a publishing career, become familiar with the superb Stein on Writing by Sol Stein and the equally informative Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Strunk & White’s Elements of Style and Elements of Grammar should sit on your bookshelf. And if you’ve been writing in a cave, consider joining a critique group. You need the company and feedback of other serious writers to help you achieve your dreams.
Christine owned a public relations firm in Cleveland, Ohio that she closed after traveling to the Philippines to adopt a sibling group of four children. She has been writing fiction full-time since 2004.
As well as The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, Christine is also the author of Treasure Me
The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge
Now Ourania D’Andre will learn the Great Oak’s secrets as construction begins at the Fagan mansion. She can’t afford to turn down a job that promises to stir up the long-buried guilt-and the passion-she shares with powerful Troy Fagan.
She’s already juggling the most important job of her career with her new responsibilities as a foster mother for young Walt and Emma Korchek. And there’s a hard, older man on the construction crew with eyes void of emotion-cold and killing. The secrets of his brutal past will pose a grave threat to the children in her care. Will she find the courage to face him?
Excerpt, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge:
He returned to the bar. With his back to the dartboard-which drew a delighted murmur from the crowd-he poised the dart between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. He settled his attention on Jeffrey, who smiled with anticipation, but he visualized the seal. He had a near photographic memory and the honing instincts of a wolf tracking a kill. Two other strange traits bequeathed to him alone from the Fagan gene pool.
‘Now,’ Jeffrey said.
Troy sent the dart sailing over his right shoulder. The thud of impact, and the tavern roared with approval.
Sitting, he tapped the side of his glass. Jeffrey poured another drink. The biker, slack-jawed, gathered winnings from disenchanted patrons all the way down the bar.
Taking the cash, Troy swiveled around to examine his handiwork. Sure enough, he’d hit the center of the seal.
Immediately his sense of self-congratulation died.
A man strode to the board and yanked the dart free. He was taller than average with hair as deep a chestnut as Troy’s but with strands of grey mixed in. When he turned around, Troy blinked. The guy was working at the mansion. With the masons or the carpenters? It was impossible to recall every man hired by his subs.
With a start, he recalled seeing the man yesterday. The bastard had been talking to Ourania near the forest. She’d appeared angry. From the second story of the addition, it was too far away to hear their voices. Troy was about to go out and protect Ourania if the guy made a pass. She’d stalked off before intervention was needed.
Clearly, she hadn’t liked the guy.
It was easy to understand why. There was something vaguely combative about him, something off-center. He approached the bar, and instinct pulled Troy to his feet. They stood gauging each other like two combatants called into a battle neither understood. Troy connected with the man’s vacant eyes and sensed something missing, a spark of compassion. He knew instantly that the man didn’t land a punch quickly or often. But when he did, he aimed to kill.
Evidently he wasn’t looking for a brawl. Turning the dart between his fingers, he unleashed a voice bleached of emotion. ‘You’re pretty good,’ he said. ‘But you aren’t great.’
On impulse, Troy curled his hand into a fist.
Catching the movement, the man smiled. The laughter didn’t reach his eyes. ‘Cool down, boy. I’m not here to fight.’ He nodded at the cash heaped on the bar. ‘I want your winnings.’
‘What?’ Troy couldn’t recall the last time he’d felt so unnerved. Then his features hardened. ‘I’m not giving you my winnings, pal.’
‘I’m not asking for a hand-out. I’ll get them fair and square.’ The stranger drew his gaze to Jeffrey. Sweat glossed the bartender’s brow. ‘What else you got in that folder?’
Speechless, Jeffrey slid the folder across. ‘Ah. Here we go.’ The man chose a tax form with a state seal no bigger than a dime. He regarded Troy. ‘I’ll hit this without looking. When I do, you’ll hand over the cash.’
Troy would’ve laughed if his gut hadn’t warned against it. It was impossible to hit something the size of a dime from twenty paces unless you were staring straight at it. Even then the odds weren’t good.
‘Go for it,’ he said.
He suffered a growing unease as the stranger went through the same paces he’d executed a moment ago. The man instructed the biker to put the tax form on the bulletin board. He walked up to the board slowly, measuring his steps. When he returned, he faced Jeffrey with the dart poised in his left hand exactly as Troy had done.
Jesus. Troy stiffened, his blood running cold.
But the man didn’t wait for Jeffrey’s signal. He threw the dart over his right shoulder with the precision of a robot.
And hit the center of the seal, dead on.