With so many wonderful writers in various groups to which I belong, it’s only natural that we get into some fascinating conversations. The hot topic for over a year now has been The E-Book Phenomenon, of course. Everyone has such diverse opinions that I decided to pose the question of how e-books have changed their lives to eight of the finest writers I know. But before they share their reasons, I’ll relate mine.
I can honestly say that e-books have made my writing journey easier, quicker, more fun and much more economical. I now get more royalties for one small book than I got for a full-length novel from traditional print publishers. All that and there are no dead trees, no ink and no postage. The postage alone used to kill any joy I had in getting a meager ten percent royalty. Yay for e-books and double yay for the e-readers. Love my Kindle Fire too.
Author Wayne Zurl: A Dinosaur Rolls Over
I’m a dinosaur and proud of it. I worked long and hard to attain that status and wear a lapel pin to prove it.
Electronic publishing is advanced technology and I’m techno-phobic. I shy away from anything new. I still use a spinning reel purchased in 1964 and wish I had never bought a personal computer. (laughs)
What does this have to do with how e-books changed my life? I’m getting’ there…
When I finished my first full-length novel, A New Prospect, I began the epic chore of querying agents—a dozen or so at a clip. Agents spend hours a day writing blogs telling potential clients how busy they are. The process of getting their rejection letters took ages. After a hundred of those buggers sent me “not interested” notes, I attacked publishers willing to accept submissions directly from writers. That process was even slower.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I began writing shorter stories, novelettes, for practice. I needed a creative outlet in my retirement and manuscripts seemed a lot easier to store than model airplanes or oil paintings. Somewhere along the line, I ran across a publisher who wanted novelettes, stories between 8,000 and 11,000 words, to create one-hour audio books and e-books. I submitted something called A Labor Day Murder and a month or so later, I received something new and different—an acceptance letter. That began my career as a fiction writer.
So far I’ve seen twelve novelettes accepted, recorded by a professional actor and simultaneously turned into Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony and other e-book formats I never heard of. The things I’ve written can be listened to or read on eReaders, personal computers, iPads, iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, blueberries and gooseberries. (laughs)
Thanks to all the formats available and the low prices, ($1.99 or less) e-books outsell the audio versions. Thanks to e-books, the Sam Jenkins mystery series made it to the publishing map. Eventually, I found a small publisher who would take a chance on A New Prospect. It’s not only in print but in all variations of e-book, too.
This dinosaur rolled over and accepted a bit of technology that helped boost his ego and kept him interested in writing.
Ann Swann Never Dreamed Her First Book Would Be an E-book
Who knows what future opportunities lie in store for authors and readers? All I can say for sure is that we’ve arrived in the era of e-books ever after–lucky us!
I first discovered e-books three or four years ago when my handsome hubby, Dude, bought me a Sony reader for Christmas. I fell in love with it because I have so many books that I am always dusting, needing to dust, or sneezing my head off while complaining about the dust. (laughs)
Mind you, I do miss turning pages late at night when Dude’s working and I’m reading in bed with my dogs at my feet and my cat, Maggie May (yes, that Maggie May), curled up under my arm. It just isn’t the same when I doze off and the e-reader—I’ve graduated to Kindle now—falls over on my face and bonks me in the nose. Paper books don’t bonk, they just sort of slither. But enough bonking already, Betty asked how e-books have changed our lives as readers and authors.
As an author, I never dreamed my first book would be available just as an e-book. When I sent it in to Cool Well Press, I was so used to rejections that when the acceptance e-mail came, I could scarcely read what it said after the line “We like it! We want it!” (Okay, maybe it didn’t say that exactly , they are professionals, after all, but that’s how my brain interpreted it.)
So, was I disappointed when I learned that the novella-length Phantom Pilot qualified only for e-book status? Perhaps for a moment, but after we discussed the possibility of a series of Phantom books, I was satisfied. I’ve just signed the contract for Book Two: The Phantom Student. It will be novel length, thus qualifying it for both print and e-book status.
So, Betty, I guess the main way digital changed my life as an author and as a reader is this: it made me a little greedier. Now I want all my books, the ones I read and the ones I write, to be available in print and digital. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you? (laughs)
Author John Zunski: Invigorated by Writing E-books, Loves the E-readers
Easy as A, B, C… You know, another blog concerning d’em e-books. (laughs)
“ ‘ey hair farmer,” he cried stomping snow from his boots. “Put down that library machine and get me a beer, huh ennit.”
Translation from Montanan: Mr. Bartender, when you finish with that portal into worlds infinitely more interesting than drunken prattle, would you find it in your heart to pour me a fine, mass-produced libation, please?
Somewhere I’ve heard that the customer is always right, and in this case, he is! It’s wonderful carrying a library in the palm of my hand. E-readers have reinvigorated my reading experience, or more accurately, have provided literary crack-cocaine to a once on-the-wagon book junkie.
On-the-wagon not only because I was running out of shelf space, but the words on the page were harder to read. So, why don’t I build another shelf and get reading glasses?
The short answer – I’d rather live with my wife than bunk with the librarian and my ego had a difficult time admitting needing glasses. E-readers, you have given me the best of both worlds: I can resume collecting books and never have to worry about losing my glasses. Font control is a wonderful thing.
Plus I will never get back strain from lugging around the equivalent of the New York Public Library. Yes, how great is life that with a push of a button one can go from shivering on the soaked streets of London to baking in the Egyptian desert, or go from experiencing the world of an innocent child to understanding the motives of a mafia don?
E-readers are better than any TV remote control I know; not only do I control the picture, but there’s no flippin’ commercials. But, what is really cool, in someone’s portal, a reader is slipping into a world I’ve created and is experiencing it through the eyes of my characters. That has truly rocked my world.
Author Barbara Watkins Changes Mind about E-books
I have to admit when I first heard of e-books I thought to myself, this concept will never fly. Boy was I wrong!
My publisher insisted that it was the wave of the future. Boy was she right!
My first full-length novel Hollowing Screams was released in e-book format October 31, 2011 and sales fared quite nicely. The print version was released a few weeks later with disappointing sales. Not much has changed…
When a reader can purchase an e-book copy of their favorite author at a fraction of the cost of the print version, more times than not they will choose the less expensive path. For me, as an author, having these options of selling in e-book format, as well as print, improves my odds tremendously when it comes to sales.
What does this all mean for the readers? A reader can place a book in print in their hands, turn the pages, and when finished, strategically place it on the shelf. However, a reader that purchases an e-book can download that same book onto their kindle, iphone, nook tablet, computer, ipad, and other electronic devices…again for the fraction of the cost.
There will always be a place for paperback and hardback versions of your favorite authors. Imagine for a moment that you could no longer purchase the best-selling book in the world in physical print: the Bible. However, having the choice to purchase literary works in physical form or as an e-book download to your electronic device… Well, it’s a win, win situation for both reader and author.
Husband-and-Wife Writing Team Matt and Danielle Drake
Founded Kourageous Kids for Ill Children to Star in Own Books
Danielle: When Matthew and I first started writing we finished our first manuscript, then set out to find an agent. We were excited, until the dreaded query letter came along.
Matthew: We were part of several writing groups, forums and critique clubs. It seemed everyone had the “right” way to do a query letter. However, none of the “right” ways agreed. Felt like religion or politics…
Danielle: (laughs) Don’t encourage him. It was rather painful. We wrote and re-wrote the query what… ten times…?
Matthew: Closer to thirty, I think!
Danielle: We only got form rejections, so we trunked the novel. Gave up…until we discovered e-publishing… That first novel still rests in the back of the hard drive, but we are now learning everything we can about editing, writing and being our best.
Matthew: Most days I would be happy to never admit that first manuscript even exists. The grind really made me hate that book. (laughs)
Danielle: After so many changes…yeah… It’s toast. Honestly, I prefer the freedom to write the stories I want to, not the ones that agents think they can sell.
Matthew: I do think that e-books will revolutionize writing in much the same way that Youtube revolutionized indie film-making. I have really enjoyed the exposure to artists I would have never had an opportunity to discover on my own.
Danielle: It isn’t about selling; it’s about reaching readers. We have amazing stories to tell. I don’t want an agent to tell me they “love the idea, but don’t think they can sell it.”
Matthew: Also I wanted to say it seems fitting that our “coming out” interview is on Betty Dravis’s blog.
Danielle: She inspired us to be our best. She put us in our place, but did so in a kind manner and helped us get better.
Matthew: When she told us how horrid our writing was, she took the time to explain why and get us the writing guides to fix it.
Danielle: Matthew! No, you are right… (laughs) It was horrid, but those are your words, not Betty’s.
Matthew and Danielle: Couldn’t have done it without you, Betty!
Special Note from Betty Dravis: Since Matt and Danielle wrote the above, they have shelved their former books until they can have them properly edited, but something magnificent came out of this delay: They had been reading about terminally ill children and came up with the idea to write books for each individual child, making them the heroes of their very own picture book. They named their group Kourageous Kids and have already written several books that they’ve presented to some of the kids whose parents contacted them…or vice versa.
Needless to say, Matt and Danielle’s project has already blessed a number of children and their families. I’m so proud of them and encourage all our readers to check their websites and perhaps join their efforts. And please send them the names of ill children you think would like their very own book. Following is the Kourageous Kids Storybooks Mission statement:
Our goal is to bring hope, joy and laughter to children fighting cancer and other terminal illnesses. We write picture books for children and their siblings depicting them as the heroes and heroines they really are. Whether they are braving the pouring rain, or being part of a heroic Search and Rescue team, or learning sign language to befriend a lonely girl, our stories carry messages of strength, love, compassion and courage. To personalize the messages, the main characters’ names are those of the children who are living with and fighting their diseases. Included in the short stories are these brave youngsters’ favorite foods, their dreams and their aspirations. We want to give the children an opportunity to live through the stories we create for them.
Matt and Danielle are also gifted book-cover designers, graphic artists and illustrators. Check out both their websites.
Tess Thompson Hardwick’s ‘Riversong’ No. One at Barnes & Noble
As a writer, the rising popularity of e-books has helped me tremendously. Last October my debut novel, Riversong, rose to the #1 spot on the Nook Book bestseller list. As an unknown author, without the popularity of e-books, I would never have had the opportunity to have such success.
As a reader, ironically, although I own a Kindle and love it, I still find many books at the library. As a mother of two on a strict budget, I love the library; I still feel like an awestruck child when I enter a library and realize I can take any book home I want. When I was young and single and making more money, I used to buy a lot of books, feeling that it was important to support writers however I could. Now, similarly, I love my Kindle because I can find all my favorite indie authors and read their novels, which are almost always less expensive than a latte.
Bio: Tess Hardwick is a novelist and mother. She lives in western Washington with her husband, two young daughters and their puppy, Patches. She writes a blog called, Inspiration For Ordinary Life at and is currently working on her second novel.
Author Melanie Saxton: ‘It’s a Smorgasbord Out There’
What isn’t there to love about e-books and the wonderful tools we use to read them? After all, the advent of e-books has loosened the stranglehold of traditional publishers, allowing emerging authors across all genres to bloom and e-publish. The number of books available to readers has risen exponentially, almost all at prices we can afford. Without even owning a Kindle or Nook readers can still download books in PDF format right off Smashwords, while iPad owners can simply download free Kindle and Nook apps. Perhaps people are reading more than ever due to this phenomenon . . .and that’s always a good thing!
E-reading devices are near and dear to my heart, especially since they also work with many magazines. As a contributing editor for six publications, you can bet this delights me. We are still in the Wild-West days of e-books and e-publishing and the only downside is the minor risk involved in buying an e-book that hasn’t been properly edited. But then again, I’ve read hardbacks that could use some help in that department. The point is that works we’d never, ever otherwise read are now available without the blessing of the brick and mortar publishing houses. We can choose our books all by ourselves, and it’s a smorgasbord out there!
Link to Melanie’s interview of former First Lady Barbara Bush:
Author Joe Perrone’s E-books Earning Big Bucks;
E-reader Saving His Eyesight
When I published my first novel, Escaping Innocence (A Story of Awakening) I’d never even heard of e-books. It wasn’t until my son-in-law, Brad, told me about them that I decided to investigate them, which I did—extensively!
Now, nearly four years later, I have published a total of five books, and all of them are available as e-books—in both Kindle versions and multiple other formats through Smashwords.com.
Thanks to e-books, my life will never be the same. I am earning in excess of $25,000 a year in royalties, more than 80% of that coming from—guess where?—yep, e-books! Just last weekend, I elected to offer Escaping Innocence and my latest Matt Davis Mystery, Twice Bitten, as free downloads through the Kindle Select Program. In two days, readers downloaded 2,132 free copies of the books.
As for reading, I am so grateful to have my Kindle. I have had two detached retinas, which left me with some minor double vision. Thanks to my Kindle, I am able to read for hours on end by utilizing the font size option.
So, my answer is that e-books and the associated reading devices have changed my life forever—and for the better!