Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Letting Marc Vun Kannon do the Talking

Ebooks and Authors

When I first started as an author, I was very reluctant to have anything to do with ebooks. The reason was simple: I was equally reluctant to do what is known in the trade as ‘marketing’, sending out press releases, advertising, doing all sorts of things to get your name and the name of your product in front of people who might buy it, without any real connection between what you do and whatever results might come.

At least that’s what it was then. It may sound strange to hear, from a philosophy major, computer programmer, and fantasy novelist, but I don’t do well with abstractions. Activity without a direct connection to outcome was just too abstract for me to even know how to begin to do it. So ebook versions of my stories were allowed by me to languish, in favor of physical books, which I could sell to people who were standing right in front of me. I created a bookstore business to do it, and I’m pretty good at it.

Along came blogging and tweeting, and my publisher (Echelon Press) began nudging me to become more active in those arenas. Still I was reluctant. To whom am I talking? Would I just be writing down random sentences to throw into the air? I had the accounts but rarely used them.

Then something strange happened. I have studied foreign languages (German and Chinese, if you must know) and the phenomenon of thinking in another language was familiar to me. I found myself suddenly thinking in Blog, so to speak. I just wrote a post one day, rather quickly. Then the next day I wrote another. And then another. I posted every day for weeks. That was actually rather silly, since it pushed those early posts out of the way before they had a fair chance to be read by anyone, but what did I know then? Drafts were abstractions. I wrote and I published. Then I tweeted about my posts and found people tweeting back.

As a result I’m becoming more comfortable with ebooks. It helps that I have a number of short stories that are only available in ebook form, so I have to learn how to promote them. One has done especially well, which I credit to the title, STEAMPUNK SANTA. I have another Christmas story, BITE DEEP, which is about vampires at Christmas and hasn’t sold nearly as well. Take away from this: titles matter, if only to draw attention to covers. Like titles, taglines and loglines--single sentences that capture aspects of the story--are very important, also with links prominently positioned. Links are very important, they are the closest I can come to putting my book into your hands.

There’s the rub. In a bookstore, the reader can just stand there and see all sorts of covers, which draw attention to titles he hasn’t seen before. The bookstore guy (that’s me) can point him in the right direction if he’s looking for a particular type of book. Ebooks need to be much more actively searched out by readers, although the use of coupons and coupon codes gives us booksellers something tangible to present. The place that makes it easiest for readers to find ebooks is the place that will sell the most. The title that is easiest to find, or which the reader has the greatest desire to find, is the title that will sell.

Like many writers, I started when a story came along and decided that I should write it. Don't ask me why. Others followed, until now I'm afraid to go out of the house without a recorder or notebook in my hand. But I show them, I refuse to write the same story twice!

He blogs as authorguy.