Wednesday 15 June 2011


The last article 'Into The Void' was about the impersonal world of the e-book. No first editions. No more having to attend book signings. In fact no face to face interaction with the reading public.
In response BHW writer Chap O'Keefe, who has just released a new e-book version of 'The Sheriff And The Widow', had the following to say:

Your post "A Kind of Void" last Sunday covered the aesthetic side of the ebooks v. print books debate perfectly for me. The commercial side, of course, is something else. Ebooks will be available for ever; no more going out of print ... or so we are told. And no longer will publishers' employees be "gatekeepers", determining what should or should not be read. Authors/would-be authors can easily put their books before the public, who will become their own gatekeepers. But how will the public find what it wants, and what it collectively considers worth buying, when the choice already runs into tens of thousands of titles? The answer so far seems to be that they will be led like sheep through the Internet fields of social networking by authors who spend as much time on marketing as they do on writing books. Some ebook authors have no talent or liking for such promotion. Others are very good at it, and it appears to ensure their by no means exceptional books top various sales charts. Will writing genre fiction return to mild profitability? Perhaps, for the few successful self-promoters. The experts in blogging, twittering and facebooking will lead their followers like pied pipers to the right places in the ebook retailers' ever-lengthening lists. For authors who choose to rely on a professional publisher, I'm not so sure. The other day I was approached with an invitation by a UK publisher planning a new Western line (ebook and print). Their offer was 25% of the 70% or 50% of the download price that they would receive from a retailer (e.g. Amazon). Authors can, of course, collect the full 70% for themselves alone, if they self-publish. But to do this effectively, they have to provide their own covers, formatting and promotion. It doesn't follow that someone who writes a good book can do all these things well, or vice versa. For an author, the ultimate question to a publisher launching into what has quickly become the fiercely competitive ebook scene is: "Does your company have the ability to sell four times more downloads than an author working on his own?" At this stage of the game, publishers can only answer that one speculatively. Can I add a brief plug to this? A couple of weeks ago I prepared a new cover and reissued my 1994 Black Horse western The Sheriff and the Widow as a 99c (69p) Kindle ebook. Two other O'Keefe titles are also available, all languishing somewhere up the Amazon where only typing the right enquiry into a search box will allow a reader to come across them.

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