Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guest Post: Ebook Possibilities by Michael Haskins


Here's a guest post by my friend and Hardboiled Collective member Michael Haskins. Check out his blog as well.
As the two or three followers of mine who read this know, my newest Mick Murphy Key West Mystery – Stairway to the Bottom – is now available as an eBook and on Amazon as a trade paperback. If I had gone the conventional way and presented it to my publisher it would have been sometime in 2013 before it was available. I wrote Car Was Blues right after Free Range Institution (published Feb. 2011, written in 2009) and it will not be available until Aug. 2012, by my publisher.

Since eBooks begin to make money, or have the possibility to make money, as soon as they become available, logic says go eBook. Small, conventional publishers do little to help the author on book signings, to get exposure on radio or TV, and so forth. From what I’ve heard from a few writers I know who are with the larges house, the support they receive from their publishers is receding too. Of course what we all know is that the publishing world on the ‘90s is gone and reinventing itself in the 2000s.

As a newly published writer (2008) this change has left me in a quandary. Like many wannabe writers, being published was a dream and when it happened, I expected my life to change. In a way it did! I learned that I was not only a writer, but a public relations person, travel agent, and the list continues to grow. Not all the things the larger houses offer a writer are available from the small houses. Maybe that’s why they’re called “smaller publishing houses.”

Nothing will ever match the feeling I had as I opened my box of hardback books and held my first book in my hand. It was something! Or the first time I walked into a bookstore and saw my book on the shelf! Wow! What an ego trip. Too bad, it didn’t go all the way to my bankbook balance.

The eBook revolution came and I have friends who’d never published that are making money; more money than me, a traditionally published writer. My advance, small as it was, went the way of the unicorn as I did my self-arranged book tour and PR.

It didn’t take me long to join the revolution, but I haven’t walked away from my publisher. They have Car Wash Blues and as I begin to rewriter my third, and last of the ‘lost manuscripts,’ they may be offered it when finally done. It’s not a Key West Mick Murphy, but one of the first three I began writing. (If you care to know more about the ‘lost manuscripts’ you can find a story by Shirrel Rhoads from Solares Hill news on my website – www.michaelhaskins.net – that explains it all).

There is one major downside of eBooks. Many of the awards for books shy away from eBooks. That is slowly changing in both the MWA and ITW. That’s a good thing.

For writers like me with only a few years and/or books it is also unlikely that a major publisher will ever consider anything I writer. I know there are exceptions. But let’s get real, the odds are
against eBook authors ever getting the four or five figure advance from the large publishing houses. Of course, the large houses are growing smaller and even some of their favorite authors have switched sides and come over to the revolution.

I don’t know, on one side I have my ego that is great at remembering the feeling of holding the hardback in my hands and seeing my name on the cover. On the other hand, my banker (not half as exciting as my ego) loves me, as my small balance seems to grow a little each month.

Maybe I’ve not joined the revolution totally. I would like to see the publishing world come into the eBook world and work something out that would benefit writers and publishers. I am losing faith in that possibility as the days go by, especially when you hear of a top selling author leaving his/her publisher and going into the self-publishing eBook world.

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