Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why I should, or shouldn't, write an e-book

A few weeks ago, a very dear friend emailed me with a simple sentence. Something along the lines of, "When are you going to pitch me an e-book?"

My lovely, talented friend caught me off guard. I mean, she works in publishing, so I should not have been surprised that she was looking for content. But frankly, when I imagine my future book (and I do more imagining of it than writing of it), I picture something with pages that flip. Something that would be soaked through should it fall in the bathtub. (I think I can say this without offending aforementioned friend, because we've always been on the same wave when it comes to writing and authorly things.)

But then I started thinking. "This is a great opportunity!" I told myself. Because it is. Every step I've taken in my life has gotten me to this point. It's a fantastic feeling.

Penelope Trunk has a long missive about why she chose to self-publish and the pitfalls of the publishing industry. I think there are some valid points there. I worked in book publishing just long enough to know, well, they don't know what's coming next. They're all waiting for the next 50 Shades of Crap to carry them through financially until the next mainstream hit. 

(And as someone who worked in books, I should tell you that this method isn't the worst thing ever. The Dan Browns and Charlane Harrises of the world, well, they actually fund the losses the publisher usually takes on that first-time author. So don't be so quick to tsk tsk when your friend reads Twilight.)

Why do we devalue the digital? Why is an e-book not as meaningful as a printed book? Why do bloggers obsess about getting their writing in print? (I'm speaking from experience here, as both a blogger who wanted to get published, and as an editor who fields daily requests from other bloggers).

I am a digital content strategist who manages an award-winning web team. I know first-hand that the most beautiful thing about the web is not the speed (though that's a bonus), it's the data. In digital, we know who likes us (and even who pretends to like us). In digital, I am like Jonah Hill in Moneyball: I'm using the numbers to tell me what to do next and where to put my dollars.

I'm also using a fair bit of gut instinct. In digital nothing is permanent. There's a lot of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks, without major financial repercussion if it doesn't. I like that, because it allows me to own up to my mistakes without shame. (The digital sphere also allows me to quietly fix a typo without flogging myself over the error.)

Anyway, I'm all over the place with this post. (I should be asleep). I guess what I'm getting at is that as a digital person, I should be embracing new media, including the e-book.

Penelope Trunk says, "if you want to have a good life, you shouldn’t focus on happiness, but rather, on making your life interesting." I've definitely had a crazy "interesting" year of pursuing things that scare me (more on this to come), so I'm on the right track. And in that vein, I'm going to embrace this opportunity and spend the summer writing my outline and reshaping some MFM essays. Let's see if that spaghetti sticks.


Laural Dawn said...

It took me a really really long time to embrace ebooks. And I had this whole stance on them. And then my husband got sick of my discussions and bought me a kobo for Mother's Day. And I haven't looked back. I mean - I still love books (so much) but I actually read way more with my kobo because I commute and read on the train and it is easy. (also - so much nicer to read 50 shades when no one sees the cover)


No matter how you publish your book I'd buy it and read it.You're an amazing writer! Go for it.

micdan said...

I would read your book1 I went the self-pub route as it was for a vanity project. I have turned them into ebooks reluctantly. Kids books should be hard copies, checking them out of the library etc. I adore ebooks for the portability. When my kids konk in the car I have 'me time.'
You are a great writer.

Louise said...

Cannot WAIT to see what comes next. I am a fan (huge!)

Lora said...

I used to be anti-e until I got a Nook. Now I'm almost anti things that are not -e. Funny how things change.

In other things, are you coming to NYC next weekend?!? I hope so!

Anonymous said...

Is it a "but" or an "and"? Is there any reason why an ebook couldn't be a springboard for a paper book down the road? I see both in your future, should you choose to embrace them...but then, I'm selfishly always looking for you to share more of your thoughts!

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