Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Electronic Brick in the Wall

The coincidence of Amanda Hocking, the successful ebook author, signing with a print publisher and Barry Eisler, the successful print author, going the full ebook route presents a different angle in the usual ebook arguments. Kate Richardson hits on many of the same points I would make--that the decision of how and with whom authors publish is a business decision, but also an editorial one and, of course, a writerly one.

As someone who finds it hard enough to write without getting distracted, the idea of epublishing on my own gives me anxiety. Despite claims to the contrary (by folks who have, frankly, no idea), it's a lot of work. I do want to try it at some point, but I find myself grappling with catch-22s everywhere I turn. So, it's easy to sit back, let my print publisher handle it and let the dust settle some more. Today. Tomorrow, who knows?

If you look at what Kat, Barry and Amanda actually say---you'll notice an aspect of the ebook discussion that doesn't always get a lot of play. Namely, it's a business decision for writers, which means there are going to be as many reasons to publish one way or another as there are writers. It's not just about new tech or evil gatekeepers or presumed inevitabilities.

Amanda has been successful with ebooks, but she recognizes she can reach more readers with print right now with the added bonus of less non-writing work. Barry sees a financial model that, on paper (!), looks better for him. And Kat sees benefits in working with a print team that she doesn't have to build independently (i.e., editing, marketing and a sales force). They are all making trade-offs in their careers that they hope will benefit those careers. You'll also notice none of them say they will never never change. Barry and Amanda are testing the water with new approaches. Kat (like me) is happy to let the whole mess sort itself out a little more. Whether they succeed or fail is their decision--and they're all the right decisions. For now.

As for me, I'm somewhere between Barry and Kat. I see the magic numbers, but I also like having someone else worry about and help with a lot of stuff. I'll probably dabble with an independent ebook, but right now I have a proposal out with my agent and I'll be more than happy to evaluate offers.

Because at the end of the day, as much as I love doing this writing thing, I also have to manage my time and money. Like everyone else.

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