I received an email from a print journalist last night about a proposed interview. He wrote that he didn't interview ebook authors. I would not have contacted him at all, but a journalist with whom I'll be doing a live radio interview on March 30th suggested him. After sending him the information on Among Women and a bit of information on me, I thought it was a done deal. After all, I am the author and/or contributor to thirteen print books, several of them well known anthologies from Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort, and I have a print novel in circulation. I am not just an e-book author.
The journalist's attitude surprised me, but it shouldn't have. Let's face it, as much as we like our electronic marvels and toys, we are only committed until the next new electronic toy comes along. I have an eReader and used it a lot at first, but the book choices are limited, which is my fault for buying an eReader with a limited inventory. I should have bought a Kindle or Nook or some other more mainstream eReader so I'd have a lot more choice. As a result, I seldom use my eReader, but it was a bargain and I couldn't afford a more expensive electronic toy. I have bills to pay, food to buy and a roof to keep over my head.
I also received a response to a query about a review from another journalist who wrote that she didn't have an eReader but was hoping to get a Kindle for Christmas; this is March. That's a long time to wait.
As I come up against these hurdles, I wonder just how the successful ebook authors are getting publicity and how they are marketing their books. I do know that Joe Konrath also has his ebooks available in print and he has quite a list of print publications before he became the guru of e-book publishing. He has clout and a name and that counts for something. Let's face it, if you can get a first edition Konrath for $2.99 or less, then you'll buy it even if you have to buy an eReader first.
The Japanese are far ahead of where electronic devices and eReaders are concerned. They have a lot less space (have you seen some of their hotels that are little more than cubbyholes in the wall?) and use anything that takes up less space. There are Japanese authors who sell millions of dollars of stories and books that are delivered to cell phones. The stories are about 140 words per entry. The finished story is available when it has finished its electronic run as a print book and in ebook form. You don't see much of that here, even with Twitter and cell phones.
I freely admit that I like the convenience of an eReader and that I can read in bed with the light off, but I need a wider selection of books. I can buy just about any book in print form, and have, and my house is full of stacks of books -- review copies that I have yet to geet rid of. Some of those I'll keep, but most of them need to be boxed up and sent to the Goodwill or Volunteers of America or donated to the local library. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I like print books, even if I do often fall asleep with the bedside light on. I've no doubt that most people feel the same way; they like the feel of a book in their hands and seeing the colorful spines on bookshelves. I'm like that, too.
What I want to know is how do strictly ebook authors compete with print authors? This is the twenty-first century, isn't it? Aren't we supposed to have flying cars and time machines by now? Since we don't have those, why is it so hard for us to embrace ebooks and ebook authors and accord them the same respect and access as print authors?
I made a choice to publish Among Women myself as an ebook because I had trouble finding a publisher or agent willing to look beyond the surface, beyond the salesmen and booksellers who want a book that is easy to categorize, and I made that choice knowing that others have gone before me and done very well. Maybe it won't work for me, this whole direct to e-book publishing, even though it works for everyone else. I have the same problem with diets that work for everyone else and end up making me cranky and heavier. I'm just not a one-size fits all kinda gal, never have been. So where's the up side for me? I don't have a name like Joe Konrath. I don't write paranormal fantasy like Amanda Hocking. I do have solid publishing experience and a unique voice; why is that not enough?
I don't know if I will ever sell as many books as the big ebook authors or even if I will ever be able to get a journalist or publicist, agent or publisher to take me seriously, but I will keep trying. It all boils down to what happens on the eReader front. When eReaders cost $50 or less, I have a feeling my book will take off like a rocket. Until that time, I keep wondering whether I will ever know whether it is nobler to E or not to E. That is the question.