Writer’s Craft #60 – Digital is Dandy
S. A. Bolich’s first novel, Firedancer, was published by Sky Warrior Books in 2011, to be followed by Windrider in 2012 and Seaborn in 2013. Her short fiction has appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, and the anthologies No Man’s Land (Defending the Future IV) and Wolfsongs 2. She is a full time freelancer, an historian, an ex-military intelligence officer, and a riding instructor, among other things. Find links to her work at www.sabolichbooks.com and learn how to make your fictional horses come alive in her Horses in Fiction blog series on Words From Thin Air.
Digital is Dandy, But…
My first novel, Firedancer, came out first in e-book form, which is wonderful for royalties, with a much higher split than from traditional print publishers. It also makes for a much faster turnaround from manuscript to edited final proof and the book’s appearance in bookstores, and length is not as big an issue. My convention handouts feature a QR code (the square squiggly image that looks like you’re trying to brainwash someone into assassinating the Martian ambassador) so that people can just swipe it across their smart phone and instantly download the book.
All these things are quite dandy, but the-novel-as-e-book does have its drawbacks. Many reviewers and awards committees won’t accept e-books. Many readers don’t like them. Many people assume an e-book is the same as self-published, with all the attached stigma. Print books still own the market for the moment, and despite the many clever ways authors have found to “sign” a digital book, it’s still not the same as having print copies in hand at conventions and book signings. I remember moderating a panel, sitting between J. A. Pitts and William F. Nolan, flanked by Mike Moscoe and Steven Barnes, all of whom had piles of books on the table, and me with my wee little flashcard. Somehow it didn’t make the same impression on the audience.
People still expect “real” books from “real” authors, despite the success of such digital powerhouses as Amanda Hocking. I am very happy to be able to satisfy the whole range of readership now with editions for both print and e-reader aficionados.
Should the way the book arrives matter? Thoughts on how to make the most of digital? It’s definitely here to stay, so how can we overcome its drawbacks?