This morning I came across a blog post that basically asked the question – “Is Amazon in league with demonic forces?”
The blog took a look at the notion that traditional publishers are some how the “good guys” while the folks at Amazon go to work every morning leaning on pitchforks and might very likely be sporting cloven hooves beneath their highly-polished black Oxfords.
It got me thinking about whether or not Amazon is in league with the devil.
Which got me to thinking about a blog of my own that I have been intending to write for sometime now. I’ve been wanting to address the fact that I am basically two completely different writers. I write two VERY different lines of books and the two don’t necessarily mix.
I’m either mult-talented, flexible or seriously f****d up.
Still, being active in both traditional and regional as well as near-independent e-publishing offers me a unique position for looking at both sides of the situation.
The books I release through my regional publisher Nimbus aren’t exactly “Big Six” material – but they turn up in bookstores all over the maritimes. I’ve sold thousands of copies and they’ve done miraculously with and I am very happy with the results of my Nimbus releases. I’ve got another book coming out with them this fall and I have at least two other books in various stages of completion.
They look like this.
That’s HAUNTED HARBOURS. It is available as a traditionally-published book that you can pick up or order in any local bookstore.
It’s also available in Kobo format – http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Haunted-Harbours-Ghost-Stories-Old/book-T1PoKGZ4Sk6QcsR5w27bIA/page1.html.
It’s also available in Nook format – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haunted-harbours-steve-vernon/1100085326?cm_mmc=affiliates-_-linkshare-_-je6nubpobpq-_-10%3a1&ean=9781551098081&itm=8&usri=steve+vernon
And I’ve just found out that it is available in iTunes for your iPhone, iPod, or iTouch – http://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/haunted-harbours/id430596808?mt=11
The same holds true for my books THE LUNENBURG WEREWOLF or WICKED WOODS.
However, my middle-grade novel SINKING DEEPER and my children’s picture book MARITIME MONSTERS are still only available in traditional format – which is a shame because I am awfully, awfully proud of that book SINKING DEEPER.
(There is a secret easter egg link in that cover that will bring up a chapter one excerpt)
Before I yield completely to the compelling lure of self-promotional spam allow me to refocus my thinking.
I’m happy with how these traditional releases continue to work for me. They bring me a lot of local reknown which in turn brings me a lot of local appearances.
Paying appearances. Signings. Radio and television gigs.
All of which contribute to my perpetually inflating ego and my likewise perpetually deflating bank account.
A lot of the more radical sorts of e-book writers would no doubt tell me that I am wasting my time staying with traditional publishing – but it still suits my own business plan.
My e-books are currently released through Crossroad Books – which means they do most of the gruntwork. They convert the manuscripts I write into the various formats. They take care of the distribution, the conversion and up until the last couple of books the artwork. So I am not exactly what you call a typical writer of e-books. So far that suits me. I haven’t had to learn any new ways of doing my work. I just put together a manuscript and they take care of all of the various clockwork details.
Which is why I think of myself as a “near-independent” writer of e-books, rather than a true indie.
So far I have kept my e-books and my traditionally published works completely segrated. I’m that dude with a wife and kids in one town who takes periodic “business trips” to visit a wife and kids in another town. I am Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde – living a totally split life. I do not encourage my traditional fans to hunt up my e-books because they are COMPLETELY different animals.
Now, if I had been a smarter fellow I might have explored the possibility of releasing my e-books under a psuedonym – they are that different in focus from my traditional releases. My e-books, so far, have all been written in the horror genre – suitable for adults and folks who are less than easily offended.
I live in constant fear that a few of my more conservative regional fans is going to stumble across some of my more radical and/or graphic works of horror. I worry that they are going to rise up and lead a crowd of pitchfork-bearing villagers to my front lawn where they would burn me on a heap of flaming e-books.
All right, so I have a pretty good imagination. I am a writer, after all.
To make matters worse I am currently looking at further complicating the situation by pursuing my work in a third direction. Admittedly I am hoping that this third direction will somehow bring the two other facets of my writing career into more perfect harmony.
So, being as immersed as I am in both ends of this business I feel I’d like to throw in my two bits into the argument – is Amazon in league with the Devil???
Currently, traditional Big Six style publishers are trying to use e-books as if they were nothing more than just another form of traditional product – that is, one to be milked for the lion’s share of profit – with the author settling for whatever pittance they care to pass their way.
They are, in effect, trying to use the e-book as if it were nothing more than a variation of the traditional hardback and softcover. This is further complicated by the fact that a great deal of the smaller publishers are leaning on larger conversion-based companies to turn their back catalogue into e-books. They are jobbing the clockwork details out-of-house.
It’s the way that big businesses think. It is the same reason why you go to your local grocery store and pay big bucks for a hunk of beef that was raised in Argentina while local beef farmers are giving up the ghost left, right and centre.
I put it to you that Big Six Publishers need to learn how to handle the clockwork details themselves – just the same that local grocery stores ought to rethink their dependence on foreign-grown product and build up the network to support local food producers.
Amazon has figured out a model that works. Traditional publishers need to put on their crow-eating shoes and try to emulate Amazon’s plan. The fact is – creating an e-book OUGHT to be a whole lot cheaper than creating a traditional book – ESPECIALLY when that e-book is nothing more than a recreation of a traditional release.
Traditional publishers need to re-think and re-evolve their way of doing business and they need to do it FAST! Simply bumping up the price of their e-books isn’t going to cut it. They need to come up with a way of doing business that is more compatible with the Amazon way of doing business.
I think they can do it.
To bring us back to my original metaphor the fellow with a wife and kids in one town and a wife and kids in another town needs to Brady Bunch the situation and bring both wives and both kids into the same town and live in complete harmony.
All right. So I have a lot of imagination. I’m a writer after all!
So, tell me what you guys think. Is there a way that traditional publishers can pull up their socks and compete with the Amazon model? Does it naturally have to be “us” against “them”?
Why can’t we all just get along?
yours in storytelling,