Tag Archives: books

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Not Tell People How to Read #amwriting

Every so often, I run across an article predicting the demise of print books, or ebooks, or books altogether, critical thinking, libraries, and so on. Every time I see one of these articles, I read it to see which argument the writer has elected to trot out, whose numbers they’re paying attention to, and whether they have anything new to add to the conversation.

Spoiler alert: most of them fail at that last thing.

I have ebook and print versions of all my books. Here’s what I know.

Ebooks are cheap and easy to produce. Once the final proofing is done on a story, I can bang out a perfectly acceptable ebook in an hour. No fancy razzmatazz, but the story is there with all you need to enjoy it. I typically spend a few hours to make it a little prettier than that. For most of my ebooks, I make about 70% of what you pay, and the distributor takes the rest.

Print books are less cheap and less easy to produce, but still not a huge investment. My print books typically take about a day to format. I can do it in four hours or so with zero razzmatazz, but as with my ebooks, I prefer taking a little time to do it right. For most of my print books, how much I get of what you pay depends completely on where you buy it. Unless you get it directly from me at a show, a $15.99 book sale pays me anywhere from $1-6. The rest goes to pay for printing and those pesky distributors. (Before you get excited about how much I earn from a book sale at a show, remember that I have to pay to be at that show.)

Major publishers can charge less for the smaller-sized paperbacks because they can print 10,000 at a time, which makes them super-cheap. They make money because a $1 profit on 10,000 sales is still $10,000.

Like most indies, I get my print books from a Print-On-Demand service, which means my print books are not super-cheap. They are still relatively cheap, but I have to charge what I do because my volume is much lower and I like doing crazy things like eating food, using electricity, and sleeping in a bed.

Major publishers would like ebooks to die for a lot of complex reasons that boil down to the fact they don’t control the sales channels for ebooks, but they do control the sales channels for print books.

You see, indies price our ebooks cheaper than our print books because there’s no paper involved, and it’s easier to get ebooks distributed around the world than print books. If I want to get my print books into a Barnes & Noble, I have to convince a store manager that they want my books in their store, then go through some hoops and provide a method for them to return the books to me for a refund if they don’t sell in an allotted amount of time. And also not get very much money for them.

By the way, when publishers get those returned books back, they still counted as sales for the bestseller lists.

But I digress.

Even if I do all that for Barnes & Noble, that gets me into one (1) B&N store. Not all of them. One.

That thing you just thought upon learning this information is about how I feel about it, only tempered because I’ve known this for a while.

To get worldwide distribution for my ebooks, I upload the file to three different websites. That’s it. No haggling, no convincing, no crap.

An in case you happen to still think indie books are inferior, I challenge you to visit the bestseller lists on Amazon and pick out all the indie books in the Top 100 of any given category. Author services has become an industry. Artists of high quality have turned to cover art as a way to pay the bills. Editors have gone freelance. Indies are teaming up in collectives and co-ops like Clockwork Dragon to trade skills.

Ebooks aren’t going to die. Print books are also not going to die. Each has inherent strengths and weaknesses. It’s okay to like one and not the other. It’s also okay to like both.

As they tell kids in school, what matters is that you read and support the people who make the things you love, in whichever format you prefer. When you stop supporting us, we stop producing it. Because we’re people who like to do silly things like eat, use electricity, and sleep in beds.

P.S. I left out audiobooks for a reason. Whole other topic.

#CapitalIndieBookCon: Aftermath

As I type this, it’s Sunday night and I’m tired. Saturday, I got up at 5 and couldn’t get back to sleep because I knew I had to run a book fair that day and fifty billion things bombarded my brain–things to remember, things to do, things to take to the car, things not to do.

Folks, I put on a book fair, and it rocked. Jeffrey Cook, my ConBuddy, handled the volunteer side of the affair, among other things. A dozen people did that volunteering to make it really work. My part was all the logistics and venue management. Bookkeeping, paperwork, contracts, payments, spreadsheets, lists, badges, phone calls, emails, maps, arrangements, dragons, tacks, safety pins, tables, chairs, disaster management, tact, mailings, setup, and teardown. So everything I normally do, but times fifty.

From about 6am to 7am, I kept remembering things I needed to put in the car. I’d packed it up the night before, but of course I didn’t remember everything.

The venue is five minutes from my house. I wasn’t supposed to have access until 7:30. I left at 7 anyway, figuring I could unload by the door and move the car. To my delight, the door had been accidentally left ajar. I walked in and got to work.

By 8, I had everything unloaded and tape on the floor to mark table spots. This tape turned out to be one of the early jokes. I will never claim to be great at straight lines. The tape job followed the Pirate Code–it was really more of a guideline for where the tables should be. In the end, we had to wiggle it all to fit everyone. Why? Because I hadn’t actually been able to get into the room prior to the event to measure things out and get a perfect map. I went in knowing I had to wing it. Which is probably why I couldn’t sleep past 5.

Authors arrived starting at 9am. I won’t go into the minor disasters, because they were mostly on the order of “Oops, I didn’t think of that.” It did turn out that my Pirate Code tape was a little more off than I thought, and we had some authors who were extremely gracious about making changes.

The show began at 11. Which is to say that I got someone to shout that the show was technically live then, but we didn’t actually have any attendees for a while.

It turns out that Olympia has a giant festival in mid-July, called Lake Fair. It happened to coincide with our event, which is something we had no way to know about or prevent when we booked the venue, because the dates weren’t announced that early in any of the places I looked back in December. We also didn’t have a lot of choices for the date by the time I was able to get in to see the facilities manager in January. For next year, we’re already looking for a good date.

After that, we had some people come in, most of whom knew one or more of the authors present. Random strangers came too! It was exciting and wonderful.

For the most part, because we’d never put on anything like this before, we positioned the event as a chance to get in on the ground floor, to meet other regional authors, and to find new books. For a first year event of its type, we had a good showing and a good time.

I learned. So. Much.

Dealer’s Room Liaisons, I respect you all so much more now, even when you screw up.

Special thanks to Jennifer Brozek, for being wonderful and forgiving. To Madison Keller, for doing me a solid when someone didn’t show. To Matt, for answering with an oddly emphatic and uplifting “YES” when I asked him to do something minor. (I think he was just pleased to hear me admit I needed help with something, since I rarely do.)

CapitalIndieBookCon will happen again. If you’re an author, reader, or relative of a reader who lives anywhere near Olympia, WA, and you think you might be interested in the event, sign up to be notified about CIBC2 news here, on the Clockwork Dragon website.

Though some folks started tearing down early, we waited until 7 and mostly facilitated everyone else before getting our stuff packed up and out. Post-event dinner at a local burger joint featured much chatter about how to make the next one even better. We’re looking forward to it already.

For the record, I got home around 10:30. Jeff left Olympia around then, which means he didn’t get home until much later. My poor co-author, Erik Kort, had to go even farther and probably didn’t get home until after midnight. It was a long day. For all of us.

 

#CapitalIndieBookCon: A Book Fair in Olympia

This Saturday, July 16, 2016, my friends and I are holding a book fair in Olympia, WA, specifically in the Longhouse at Evergreen State College. If you’re nearby and don’t have transportation, bus routes 41 and 48 both go there and run normally during the entire duration of the fair: 11am-7pm.CIBCFlyer1

We’re hosting over 40 regional indie authors for the day, and it’s not restricted to any particular genre. You can find romance, fantasy, science fiction, children’s, horror, chick lit, literary, and more at the fair. This is a chance to meet authors from the Pacific Northwest who will be happy to sell signed copies of their books, and many of them have one or more bestselling titles, either on Amazon or the USA Today lists.

If you’re not in the area, please share this information with your online friends. Some may know local or regional folks who might be interested.