Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Step Forward, a Step Back: On Stephen King's New Non-eBook

The publishing industry continues to change.  The ebb and flow of that change is nicely showcased in a few headlines lifted from today's Digital Book World's daily newsletter.

A step forward: Big-Sixer Simon and Schuster hired an ex-AOL-er to fill the newly created position of head of eBook business development and strategy.  Hard to criticize that move; it's an acknowledgement of the landscape change and an effort to get in step--or even ahead of--the paradigm shifts that digital publishing technology has triggered.  This is the same company that gave self-published dystopian science fiction writer Hugh Howey of Wool fame a print rights contract while allowing him to keep his eBook rights, a hybrid trend that's continuing to grow, but an admirable and forward-thinking step for one of the industry stalwarts.  I'll take one small potshot here: the digital publishing wave broke . . . when?

A step back: Stephen King announced in the Wall Street Journal that his new book, Joyland, will *not* be available as an eBook. This is presented as "an attempt to drive traffic to brick-and-mortar bookstores."  I watched  the WSJ newscast on the topic, and buried in the dialog is what appears to be a more valid reason: the book is published by a small crime and mystery press, and by Steve signing with them for this release, he can give a little guy a welcome shot in the arm.

Come on, Steve.  Nixing the digital version of the book in an effort to help bookstores is like buying tapes instead of DVDs or digital downloads in an effort to keep VCRs alive.  King is a big gorilla, but he's not going to save B & N or Mom and Pa's Books with this gesture.  The changing business model will force a marched evolution on those businesses; those that adapt will survive, if any survive at all.

This is coals to Newcastle, buddy.

And on the small-press-only gesture?  Admirable . . . but hey, don't you think they would reap enormous benefits if they went through the not-very-complicated effort of publishing a digital version of the book?  Help me out, Peeps; I'm scratching my head here.

On the home front: as I alluded to in my last post, I've settled on an editor for The Winds of Heaven and Earth.  This morning I ended my search and signed a contract with Rebecca T. Dickson, aka "the Beckster."  The feedback I received from the client list she supplied me with sealed the deal: not just high praise for her technical competence and vision, but how she brutally, honestly, relentlessly kicked their asses and forced them to dig deep and not just produce a better book, but to become a better writer while preserving each author's unique voice.  As I told the Beckster when I signed, I'm looking forward to our association like one looks forward to a visit to the dentist for a root canal: I know I'll be much better off afterwards . . .

I'm about halfway through the second draft now; I expect to ship it off for the first editorial pass in about three weeks.  Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Fist Pump--and an Editor

According to numbers complied by Digital Book World this week, not only are 6 of the top 10 bestselling eBooks in the .99 to 2.99 category self-published, 6 of the top 25 of *all* eBook price categories are self-published.  The landscape continues to evolve, and I predict that by this time next year 80% of the eBooks under 3.99 will be self-published, and perhaps a third of the overall digital bestsellers will be as well.  And I may be underestimating.

On the home front, revision work on The Winds of Heaven and Earth is still progressing smoothly, with about 40% of the first edit / second draft completed (which is also why my blogs are getting shorter and less frequent; I don't have any deadlines, other than a self-imposed one, but I'm in serious crunch mode.)  The manuscript is still hovering at around 160,000 words, but I expect that to change in the downward direction after another revision and a pass through professional editing.  Maybe.

Which leads me to the next item:

What I am really excited about is that I may have found my editor.  We're still discussing and feeling each other out,  but I've been looking for the right person for a while, a person who was not just a copy editor, but someone who understood my writing, who let me keep my voice, but at the same time saw the trees and the forests and would push me for not just a better book but to be a better writer.  And someone who I could work with for an entire career.

Serendipitously I stumbled across a gem, highly recommended by clients, and I reached out the other day and got a sample edit of my opening scene.  Bingo.  I'll release the name and more detail after we close the deal, but again, I could not be more excited over my discovery.

Later, Peeps, film at 11, all that.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Short and Sweet

Just checking in with a WIP update and a few comments on the industry.

The Winds of Heaven and Earth is coming along nicely, although at times I vacillate between "this is shit" and this is pretty good stuff."  I'm about a third of the way through editing the first draft into a second, and I'm busy in parallel with re-writing the first chapter; I was never completely happy with it.  I think the release date is going to slip from June to July, but that's OK--it'll be ready when it's  ready.

On the publishing front, I Tweeted a fist pump last week about the state of the top ten digital titles, but never followed up with a blog post: five of the top ten titles were self published.  Take that, gatekeepers!

This week, Digital Book World reports that six of the top twenty titles are self-published, still an amazing accomplishment, and something not many people would have bet on even a year ago (except for maybe Joe Konrath); that's hugely encouraging for writers toiling away on current projects.  Only a select few will have a shot at that measure of success, but that's true for any profession or endeavor.  The real take away is that the barriers formerly imposed by the Big Six no longer matter, and that readers are free to make their own judgements about the merit of your work. More and more readers and writers are discovering that the supposed value-add of the gatekeepers of the Big Six is nothing more than an illusion; authors create the product, not the industry.

 You can't win if you don't play.  Get cracking.