The reader, the writer, and technology – where to next?

the book is deadI’m a little late with my last post because I’ve been lost in my PhD for the past few weeks. I’m researching how young adults source and engage with narrative. It’s because I write for the young adult (YA) demographic that I am very interested in the who, what, when, where and why of YA reading.

I’ve written in this blog before about the changing nature of reading, but getting stuck into the research that backs the anecdotal evidence I gather as a convener of YA writers’ groups is both validating and terrifying.

It’s validating because it reassures me that I am lucky enough to have my finger on the pulse of YA reading attitudes and habits. But it’s terrifying because of the implications for writers of YA fiction. At this point in history, we are experiencing a convergence of the flow of media between traditional and multimodal platforms. And it's this that is challenging the notion and definition of what it is to read.

Traditionally, narrative content was developed and presented as text on a page to be read in a linear fashion from left-to-right and cover-to-cover. Reading this way required concentration, concentration enough to allow the reader to get carried away by characters and the lost in the plot. Reading had the potential to transport the reader to another time, another place, another reality, and drop them there for days. But the way in which young people read is changing. Instead of sitting somewhere quiet, oblivious to the operations of the mundane and succumbing to the fictional world between the covers of a book - they are skimming the surface of multiple platforms simultaneously without losing themselves completely, in any.

Story is no longer about deciphering and interpreting marks on a page. It’s become more about a multitude of visual and auditory stimuli concurrently bombarding the senses.  Without fully immersing themselves in any single mode of literacy consumption, young people are browsing multiple platforms in an attempt to maximise their absorption of content.

You’d typically find them sitting on the lounge with their iPad on their lap. They’ll be watching TV, playing Minecraft, scrolling through Facebook feeds, chatting with friends via IM. They could be using an App to game, or edit pics, or interact with random TV viewers. They might be tweeting, googling, pinning. Maybe they’re surfing blogs, downloading software or apps or music. But they’re doing several or all of these things AT THE SAME TIME.

So where does actual reading factor into it? If you accept the various Education, Sociology and Anthropology research reports, you’ll note that the nature of general literacy, and YA engagement with it, is changing. Once upon a time, a literate person was one who could recognise text-based symbols on a page and gain some meaning from them. Nowadays, a literate person must not only recognise the various sensory stimuli created by sounds, images - both still and moving, but they must also have a semiotic understanding of the platforms that both create and disseminate these.

Nowadays, a literate person is one who understands the nature of feeds, walls, search engines, youtube, limited character communication, and not only engages with this multimodal means of consuming content, but is also able to create content to contribute to it. Maintaining effective social connections depends on this. So too, does the ability to sift through the proliferation of independently created content, including eBooks,   and make judgement s about what is reliable information and quality content, and what is not.

And writers must be able to rise above the rabble to remain relevant in this technological battleground. But how? How do we, as professionals, maintain the status quo as authors, as constructors of quality fiction? All the evidence suggests that we are headed toward a paperless society. We’ve already seen the explosion of eReaders and eBooks flood the market. Bookshops are collapsing all over the place, publishers are shrinking and morphing into electronic shadows of their former selves in an often vain attempt at relevance in a marketplace that no longer requires a gatekeeper to fiction, and readers are turning to links instead of chapters.

Does this mean writers must become developers to create fiction that YAs want to read/watch/interact with/consume?

I suspect that strong narrative writing will remain where it’s always been, a place where readers seek respite from their chaotic existences, for the experience of losing oneself in another reality. It may just be that the ‘other reality’ for the writer, will turn out to be in cyberspace.

Writing styles: Is technology changing the way we write?

As a writer-in-residence my teaching program occasionally goes by the wayside in lieu of far more interesting and often enlightening (for me) discussions about writing. Today was one such day. Students in a year eight (13-14 y/o) group asked me if I had read Playing Beatie Bow. I had. When I was young. Very young.

“That explains a lot,” they said, rolling their eyes.

I was intrigued. They were astounded that the book was “that old.” Ahem, actually it’s not ‘that old’ - it was published in the 80s. (I did a double take when I counted back and realised 30 years had passed. Okay fine, so it’s a bit old.)

As it turned out, the students wanted me to give them a synopsis of the book before their next English class. Curious, I asked why. Turns out none of them had actually read the book despite it being on their study list.

I’d loved the book when I’d read it ‘all that time ago’ so I wondered what the issue was.

“It’s boring… nothing happens…too slow… too hard to get into… can’t understand the speech…”

A similar thing had happened the term before when I’d been working with an advanced year 6 class (11-12 y/o), they couldn’t get into it either. It became counter-productive to persevere and the book had to be dropped for a more contemporary tome.

Playing Beatie Bow is a classic. Well, it was… in its time…

So what has changed? Story content? Writing style? Reading habits? Kids?  I’d hazard a guess and suggest that it’s all of the above. But I think the greatest change has been technology. Technology is changing the way kids read.

Once upon a time, kids would sit down and read a book in a linear fashion—that is, left to right, cover to cover. The structural rhythm of dialectal narrative would masterfully draw the reader into a magical linguistic journey. The writer meticulously created a scaffold from which the reader would leap into an abyss of subjective imagination to interpret and create the imagery they’d constructed using words—just words.

But the technological revolution has brought with it instantaneous injections of prefabricated information at the touch of a finger. Images, animations, music, movies, news and advertisements bombard the consumer every time they turn on the computer--which for the typical teenager, is several times a day. Young people have become accustomed to having the world at their fingertips, anytime of the day or night. They consume information, including narrative, in a variety of formats but in shorter and shorter bursts. This, in turn, has (anecdotally) led to a reduction in the capacity of a young reader to concentrate for longer periods of time. And there’s little wonder when we consider Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, wikis and the myriad of other social media modes that dominate young people’s time and space.

Social media, smartphones, tablets and eReaders mean that it is no longer necessary to rely on one’s ability to extend the imagination beyond what is before them. The interpretation of imagery becomes redundant when it’s all laid out for you. As a result, the traditional linear method of narrative consumption is being challenged. I’m not suggesting it doesn't happen; it just happens differently. Conversation and interaction have become an integral part of consuming narrative.

So what does this mean for writers? We know that the marketing of books is currently in the process of great change.

Nowadays, a book needs to have a social media presence to have a chance of being noticed. Once upon a time a reader would go to a bookshop and browse using titles or spine art to prompt pulling a book off the shelf for the purpose of examining its cover and/or reading the blurb. Now it seems it’s the books with engaging trailers using enticing images and seductive music that are drawing readers in.

And while word of mouth always has, and will continue to be, the most powerful means of book promotion, these days word of mouth promotion happens via social media.

But how do these changes affect the way in which writers create narrative? Does it make a difference? Are the students who boycott books like Playing Beatie Bow communicating more than just discontentedness with dated material? I think so. Playing Beatie Bow is a very well written story about a girl transported from her time (the 80s) back to early settlement days some hundred years prior. In terms of content, the story is a classic time traveller tale, most of which is set in 1870s Sydney. The endurance of this type of narrative is indicative in titles such as Hunger Games (future) by Suzanne Collins and Ancient Future (past) by Traci Harding, among many others of note. And it’s not necessarily that narrative set in the past is passé for young adults either, Henderson's Boys (past - WW2) by Robert Muchamore remains very popular among young adults.

So then, what is it? Well, Collins and Muchamore both have author websites where we can find out more about them as writers; but they also both have engaging interactive websites for their books where readers can have a conversation, watch excerpts, sign up for membership, play games and perhaps effectively even influence the plot of future instalments. Readers become a part of the narrative in ways never dreamed of by authors as little as five years ago.

This means that readers can jump around the narrative as they choose. Watch a bit here, read a bit there, blog or tweet or chat, as well as interact and play a bit with other readers—sometimes all without even picking up a paperback or eReader.

Cover to cover, linear reading does not appeal to everyone, but I don’t necessarily think this technological change is a bad thing. It means a higher probability of engaging non-readers in narrative consumption than traditional reading does. And if a young reader engages with text—in whatever format—that can only be a good thing.

But I digress. Back to what it means for us authors - the creators of narrative, and the way in which we write.

To survive and thrive in a changing environment, we must be prepared to adapt our practise and our writing style. Fast-paced, action-based is what appeals most to young people (whether that action is physical, transformational, emotional, or relationship based). I’m not sure that we have the luxury of writing long dreamy sentences thick with superlatives that ebb and flow and create the scaffolding of projection or supposition. Young readers want it straight up. And if they can’t get it straight up, they’ll switch modes until they can.

Generally speaking.

Terrible titles

The header for this post is Terrible Titles, but perhaps it should have been: Creating a Suitable Title For Your Novel That Doesn’t Put People Off Reading it But Clues Them Into What It May be About Without Being Irrelevant or Long-winded. Snappy right? Would you read any further?

Finding a suitable title for your novel is a delicate matter. A novel title needs to be catchy, or at least rhythmic. It needs to roll around the mouth and off the tongue in a sanguine manner that makes the potential reader want to say it over and over again until it gets stuck in their head and they feel compelled to navigate to Amazon and click on that purchase button.

A book title has to speak volumes to the multitudes. It needs to enthrall and entice a reader to download the novel, or open the cover, or at least read the blurb, which ideally should build the magic. It needs to be indicative of the genre, to allude to the content, even if in a very subtle way. A book title needs to create intrigue and engage the reader. And it needs to do it all in just a few words. No problem, right? I wish! It was easier to name my child.

So how does an author come up with a title that does this for their book? It’s a process. And like most things relating to writing, it is subjective. I guess it’s a bit like naming characters, sometimes the names just pop into your head when your characters begin speaking to you. Other times you change the name so many times your character can’t help but develop an identity crisis.

The title for my first novel—the one that still sits in the drawer unpublished—came to me the day I started writing it, and hasn’t changed since. It doesn’t need to. It fits. My second novel Fake Profile began life as Turning Point. I thought it was poignant; market research of the target demographic didn’t get it. They thought Fake Profile fit better because it’s about a group of friends who create a Fake Facebook Profile for someone. Go figure.

The novel I’m about to finish has had three title changes so far. And will probably have another few before publication. But I have learnt enough about appropriate naming to realise the value of consultation. After all, it is the reader that needs to be drawn to your book if you want it to sell. It’s counter-productive to stick with a title you absolutely love, but no one else relates to. Check your demographic. If you write romance, there’s little point in giving your book a title akin to the horror genre. And vice-versa. Ask your potential audience. Come up with a few options that you think might be suitable and create a poll. Most people are happy to give their opinion, especially if it is sought. Listen to your audience.

I’ve seen book titles I get bored with before I’ve finished reading them, but others that I’ll click through and bookmark so I can return to read the blurb later on. Of course it’s subjective, but you can give yourself a head start by doing your research. Google your potential title to see if it’s already being used. Consult. Try it out on people. Say it, write it, ensure that it fits with your cover design.

A title is the first thing you share with your audience. Make sure it’s a good one. Oh, and if you come up with an awesome title for a Young Adult Crime Fiction novel, let me know!

Dodgy deals in a murky market

A few months ago, I posted my thoughts regarding the need for Literary Agents to reinvent themselves so that they may remain relevant in the context of a changing industry. Since then it seems that some ‘enterprising’ persons and/or organisations have done just this and developed a business model that looks to address increasing demand in ePublishing.

These emerging models seem quite profitable to the agents themselves, but (and it’s a very big BUT), to the financial detriment of the author. Ordinarily, agents charge a percentage of income earned by the authors they represent. They don’t charge fees to read submissions or to sign an author up. Typically, literary agents liaise with publishers on behalf of authors.  They take care of submissions, and negotiate contracts that are in the authors’ best interests. Basically, it’s the agent’s job to sell the author’s manuscript.

But that is not what this new mob of ‘literary agents’ are doing. It seems that some persons calling themselves agents are targeting authors in rather unscrupulous ways. They are charging huge (sometimes even exorbitant) upfront fees to represent authors, as well as claiming a portion of any royalties earned. And some are less than forthcoming in explaining the extent of the representation they’re offering.

Some agents do not even bother trying to get the author a publisher―for eBooks or paperbacks. They simply take on the role of distribution with the currently available eBook distributors. At best they might secure a contract with emerging ePublisher such as the new Penguin venture (discussed at length here).

Not cool!

Once you have parted with your hard-earned cash, these contracts do not involve the promotion of your eBook, but leave you locked into a contract where you lose control of the rights, sometimes for years at a time.

There are legitimate businesses who will design your eBook cover and format your manuscript for the various eReaders available. And of course, you can always do your research and engage a reputable editor to go over your manuscript before you submit or self-publish.

I’m not suggesting that authors should avoid agents. I’m just saying authors need to be aware. Do your research. Know what you can do yourself and what you need help with. And if you are unsure about anything―ask!

While the publishing industry is undergoing the technological metamorphosis it's currently experiencing, I guess it's inevitable that the rapidity of change will leave many confused about how best to establish or maintain themselves, their work and their profiles as authors. When the dust settles a bit, it will be interesting to see what we're left with. But in the meantime, just be careful about signing any contract with anyone.

There are plenty of organisations that can advise. The Australian Society of Authors has written about this very issue. And there is a great website called Editors and Predators that monitors the behaviour of agents and publishers, and keeps tabs on other matters relating to publishing for writers.

The impending changes are exciting for authors. We just need to move through them with eyes wide open.

Penguin. Playing the game or playing authors?

The journey of a self-pubbed eBook author is an arduous one. They go through the same challenges during the drafting, editing, redrafting, editing, writing, rewriting and polishing stages of developing their manuscripts as any author worth their salt. The difference lies in what happens then.

Traditionally, when an author was accepted by a publisher, the cover design, layout, formatting and promotion of the book were all taken on as part of this contract. The author might maintain their own website and even maybe write a blog, but the majority of promotional work was taken care of by the publisher (most of it by the mere use of their name).

I’ve written before about the changing nature of the publishing industry―as have many others―and I’ve expressed views about the need for publishers to adapt their game to remain relevant, so the other day when I heard that Penguin was jumping into technological relevance to be publishing eBooks of eAuthors I was overjoyed. Until I read the details.

The imprint Penguin is using for the self-pubbed author is Book Country, and by all accounts it presents reasonably well on initial examination. It’s not until you actually read through the entire process they propose that the hackles begin to rise. And I’m pretty sure you’d only recognise the issues if you’ve already experienced the eBook publishing process.

To have your eBook published by Book Country will cost you $99. And they say they will pay you 70% royalties. But that is NET royalties, which means 70% of the 30% royalty you’ll get from Amazon for example. It’s a little misleading. And what concerns me more about the Penguin eBook publishing proposal is that what they are offering to do can be done by the author, with relative ease at no cost. They don’t tell you this.

Penguin/Book Country will not take on any of the cover design or manuscript editing that a traditional publisher (or even print self-publisher agency) does, nor will they do any promotion. The Author still has to manage and/fund that crucial part of the process themselves. But they will convert your Word.doc into the appropriate format for eReaders. And they will distribute it to the major eBook retailers. So does Smashwords―for free! Amazon does the same thing―also for free.

Both Smashwords and Amazon also provide space for an Author Profile, and both provide informational assistance to point you in the right direction to promote your work. FOR FREE. They also both provide very clear instructions about how you can best format your manuscript for submission. It’s hard work and it is time consuming, yes. At least initially. But being an author is not an easy ride. And you can get someone to format your manuscript for you for much less that what Penguin is charging, without having to sacrifice your royalties.

Forgive me if I’m coming across a bit cynical, but it sounds to me like, rather than delving into 21st century book publishing in a positive and innovative way, Penguin recognises the possibility that they (along with other traditional publishers) may eventually sink into oblivion, and so are desperately attempting to assert their technological relevance by staking a financial claim on new and emerging authors. Seems a little disingenuous to me.

Have a look for yourself and see what you think: Penguin's Book Country

Do you write to live or live to write?

They say that when you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. I get that. When I write, I am at peace with myself, the universe and everything. I love creating characters and plots and watching them come to together to form ‘story.’ I love being woken in the middle of the night with that flash of inspiration and having to scramble around to find a pen before I forget it. I love the excitement I feel when a new story idea comes to mind. And the satisfaction when a character finally finds ‘their’ voice.  I even quite enjoy the battle with procrastination I sometimes (okay, often) have.

I just love being a writer. At least, I do when I can just write. Fiction is my first love, but I’m also happy writing creative non-fiction and other articles. But writing for a living these days involves so much more than just writing. Writers are finding themselves increasingly responsible for the marketing, publicity and promotion of their work. And if they publish eBooks, they often have to format, design and distribute themselves as well.

We are in the midst of an industry metamorphosis where the only certainty is change. It’s hard to navigate a constantly evolving landscape, and what the publish industry will look like in a few years time is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, authors are left wondering what the best course of action might be to get their work into the public domain.  Especially emerging and developing authors.

Traditional publishers seem less likely to take a risk on a new author and if they do, author advances appear not to be as common as they once were. One emerging author I know was recently offered —as a first contract, a three-book deal with no advance and 7% of net royalties. 7% of NET royalties. An enormous amount of time and hard work goes in to writing a book. Then there’s the redrafting and editing and agonising. I don’t think any writer worth their salt would accept such an insulting offer. And luckily, neither did the aforementioned author. She told them what they could do with their 7% of net royalties.

That brings me back to the business of being a writer. If traditional publishers cannot adapt to a changing industry quickly enough, it is up to authors to take the reins to ensure that readers are not left without enough new material available in emerging formats to keep them reading. And this is where it becomes challenging.

Creating an eBook is not just a matter of writing the narrative and sending it off for someone else to do the work. Learning to format the manuscript into the various document styles required by the different eReader technology is both challenging and time-consuming. And just as time-consuming is designing the cover for the eBook, which needs to be a jpg image file. There are plenty of people out there who will do it for you and small businesses are cropping up purporting to manage everything for you—for a price.

Problem is, without an advance on the manuscript, writers often don’t always have the initial outlay required to get their manuscript eBook ready. And then there's the publicity side of things to be concerned about. Writers need to let people know that their book is ready for reading. This means marketing and promotion. And of course, the best means of marketing and promoting an eBook (or any book for that matter) is by using social media.

An author website, a blog, a Facebook fan page, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, have all become necessities. And that’s before you start thinking about a YouTube book trailer. All these practices are incredibly time-consuming and labour intensive, and though you may be able to outsource some of them, they still need regular and consistent input and maintenance.

Yep, writing the book the book is the easy part and probably makes up about 15% of the journey. The hard work begins when you complete that manuscript.

Adapt or die

The publishing industry is changing. Rapidly. Sales of eReaders are tripling every year, and competition between the available readers is stepping up. The impending sales battle between the new Kindle Fire and the Noble Nook Colour is attraction attention, meanwhile the price of eReaders―industry leaders as well as generic brands and android devices―has dropped significantly, making them accessible to a broader range of consumer.

Sales of tablets such as the iPad are increasing exponentially and are set to rival those of eReaders in the next few years. While the primary form of reading on the tablets at the moment is newspapers, I don’t think it will too long before we see a parallel increase in ebook sales.

This is good news for authors. Well, mostly. It’s good news for those authors who choose to publish their work themselves, electronically. Perhaps not so good news for authors who enter into publishing deals with mainstream publishers who write electronic rights into the contract, returning very little in royalties to the author. I recently learned of an author whose publisher threatened to sue for breach of contract because she had an anthology of short stories published as an eBook. Of course they had no basis for this because the anthology was published before she signed the contract. They terminated her contract instead.

I recently wrote about the need for literary agents to adapt their practice in order to survive the changing nature of the publishing environment, but the rapidity with which change is happening means publishers also need to be very wary. As in, adapt or die. When I published my novel Fake Profile as an eBook, I earned more in royalties in the first few months than a colleague published by a mainstream publisher did in his first year. It wasn't because I sold more copies, I didn’t. It was because I received a much bigger slice of the royalty pie.

It’s food for thought.

So what if I think in emoticons?

I’m beginning to think I may be spending a tad too much time at the computer. It’s true as a writer, for much of my day I am staring at my computer screen. This in itself is not the problem. It’s also true that when I am not writing, most of the people with whom I interact are sitting at their computers as well. Somewhere else. Often in another part of the country, or world. I don’t see this as a problem. We live in a global context, no loner isolated by geography. And I can interact with people via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, Skype and a myriad of other social media type applications any time of the day or night. And I do.

The thought that I might be spending too much time online came to me upon reflection of a reaction I had to an email I received. Just to give you a bit of background, the email was in response to a submission I wrote about conducting social media literacy workshops for authors. It was along the lines of showcasing the technological options available to authors who wished to publish and promote eBooks themselves. I’m aware that not everyone is familiar or comfortable with emerging technologies, and the workshop was along the lines of what I already do with high school students in my role as eLiteracy Consultant.

Anecdotally I know there are people who wish to publish and promote eBooks in an attempt to get their work out there, but are not necessarily comfortable enough with the technology to do so themselves. There are people who will do it for you, but their services come at a cost. And with a bit of know-how it is reasonably easy to do it yourself. Fear of the unfamiliar is the greatest inhibitor. Most authors know it is a changing world, and even if you are published by a ‘mainstream’ publisher it is increasingly necessary to play a role in your own marketing―online! I would have thought there’d be a fair amount of interest in such a workshop.

The email response to my proposal was to say that there was no demand for a workshop relating to ePublishing or social media.

My only reaction was this:

That was all. No words, no other thoughts. Just the image. It wasn’t until later when I was walking the dog that I began to put words to the image thought. Yep, you guessed it, in 140 characters or fewer. Ugh!

Too much time online? Or just the concept of neuroplasticity at work? Should I be worried?

Reviling reviews

I’m reviewing books at the moment. It’s a challenge. Not because I don’t know how write a review, but because before I even sit down to read the book, I have to figure out whether I am the best person to write it.

Those who know me personally will know that I am a fairly straightforward person. I say what I think. In fact, sometimes I only become aware of what I think when I hear the words coming out of my mouth. Writing at least provides me with a slight buffer between the thought occurring and me presenting it. I can consider the reviews I’ve written (at least I can now that I’ve learned not to review straight into the online forum, but rather write it out in Word, let it sit, then come back to it and post sometime over the following few days), before anyone else reads it.

When I first agreed to take on reviewing books, it did not occur to me that I would be required to engage in a degree of ‘reading between the lines’, or have to navigate the myriad of motivations behind the author's request.

I thought, as some might, that having a book reviewed meant receiving honest (albeit subjective) feedback on technical aspects of the writing, as well as character development, plot, narrative flow, and if necessary, grammar and structure.

Reviews serve a dual purpose. They can offer constructive criticisms that give the author an opportunity to develop the work and build on their writing skills, particularly early in their writing career; and they provide prospective readers with an orientation to the work. No matter the experience level of the writer, reviews give an invaluable opportunity to continue to develop as a writer.

Reviewing, as with reading, is a very subjective thing. What one reviewer likes, another may hate. But one would assume that a reasonable reviewer is able to recognise a strong narrative and/or a quality piece of writing, even if the story line is not their cup of tea. One would also assume that authors seeking reviews do so with the expectation that the reviewer will be honest and give constructive (if not always diplomatic) feedback that the author may not necessarily like.

I guess it depends where you are on your writing journey as to what your understanding of the reviewing process is. Now I know I'm making a huge generalisation here, but my recent reviewing experience suggests that perhaps there exists a code of which I am not familiar.

When a writer says: “I’d love you to review my book ______. Could you publish your review on XXXX site when you can?”
They really mean: “I want you to hit 5 stars and write a few bland sentences saying what a fantastic book it is. Oh and you don’t have to spend time reading it. I just need the review.”

When they say: “I don’t need to study writing, I’m just a natural writer.”
They really mean: “Ignore the fact that the manuscript is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors and that the plot is unidentifiable or missing, I don’t care about that. My arrogance will carry the book and make me a motza.”

When they say: “Be as honest as you can.”
They really mean: “As long as you don’t say a critical word about it or it will crush my spirit and stop me from ever writing another word.”

But when they say: “What gives you the right to say my main character has no depth or substance? Who are you to tell me anything about my story? You don’t know anything about the character or story, you’re just the reader.”

… Um... okay… ? I'm just the reader? Well yes I am...

* Oh and if you'd like your book reviewed, don't ask me to do it if you are not prepared to receive honest constructive feedback. It's a waste of the many hours I put into reading and considering all aspects of the book. And I'm getting cranky. The crankier I get the less diplomatic I tend to become. Be warned.

eAuthoring pays

I got the first royalty cheque for my novel today. It’s very exciting. Well, it’s not exactly a cheque, and I don’t actually physically have it yet, but I know it’s coming. At least that’s what the sales report from Smashwords tells me.  I published Fake Profile as an eBook at the end of June and the sales report was for the month of July.

I made around $100, mostly from iBooks on iTunes. $100 doesn’t sound like much but considering that most first-time authors get between 7% and 10% of royalties from paperback sales (and often without an advance), I would have had to have sold one hundred copies of the paperback version to make as much. I didn’t. I sold 18 copies. Again, it doesn’t sound like many, but I didn’t do anything to promote the book either. I just uploaded it and let it sit while I sorted out how I would go about getting it out there.

I don’t know what the statistics of eBook sales in iTunes are, but I do know that Amazon holds a huge majority in the world of eBook sales for their Kindle. I’ve just listed Fake Profile on Amazon as well. It will be interesting to see what happens to sales  the month of October when I have my marketing plan in place.

My marketing strategy will be exclusively online as I continue to harness social media to promote my work. Lots have looked down their noses at me for choosing this path, as if it is a second-rate option. They’ve criticised me for snubbing mainstream publishing, especially here in Australia where eReaders don’t yet have the popularity that they do in America. They assume that by me giving up pursuing mainstream publication that I am acknowledging my writing may not be up to standard. They’re wrong about that, I know I’m a good writer; I have worked hard informally (by writing in different genres for years) and formally (writing course and a Masters of Creative Writing) on developing my writing skills for many years.  And I’ve won awards for it.

I’m ready for this, the time is right for me. The naysayers also tell me my impatience will be my downfall—and it might be, if my goal was to achieve fame and fortune from my writing. But it’s not. I don’t care much for fame and fortune. It’s not attention or accolades I want.  I just want to write.  Sure, one day I’d love to be able to support myself just by writing fiction, but in the meantime, I’m very happy supplementing my income by teaching writing to young people. And playing with social media to see where it leads me.

Many writers (particularly in the States), make a comfortable living out of writing for the eBook market and with technology dissolving globally barriers, there’s no reason an Australian couldn’t do the same. You see, I’m at my best when I’m writing, regardless of what I am writing. I’m more motivated (inspite of the procrastination that is the bane of all writers’ existence) and healthier and happier when I’m writing.

I love the solitude that writing affords me, I love being able to set my own writing agenda. And I love that my writing is portable, I can take it to the park, to the library, to a cafe. I can write where and when I like. But most of all, I really love getting emails through my website from people who have read and enjoyed my books. Just love it!

I’m happy with the path I’ve chosen, and I have a good feeling about my writing future.