Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The Art of Writing No. 33
I was reading blogs yesterday about the art of writing for ebooks. There were many interesting asides in them, comparing ebooks to traditional paper based literature.
The first one was the splendid (for the author) notion that a book is never out of print once it has been fired into the stratosphere. It hovers forever to be discovered by generation after generation whereas books go out of print and an author is very lucky indeed for resurrection to occur once the publisher has disposed of the last copy. It also means that as fads and fashions come and go, a novel can come into its own at a time the zeitgeist chooses. Since one of the lines of argument in these blogs is that we authors are satisfying a desire for some kind of legacy through our writing, ebooks may be our eternal children, or our virtual tombstones with extraordinarily long epitaphs written upon them!
The second is the malleability of an ebook when compared with the traditional form. I spent so many months with illustrators and printers producing Azimuth to get the quality of cover image, paper and a layout that does justice to the complex multi-leaved essence of the story, but with an ebook this final form is never reached. I know that subsequent editions of a successful paper based book usually bring with them changes in art and format, yet the process is still static once these decisions have been made. With an ebook that does not sell, you can change its appeal. You can write a new, more dynamic synopsis, add a new front cover and even change the label (this being the way the book is pigeon holed; crime, romance, SF, fantasy…). It makes one think of Paul Valery, the French poet, who said “A poem is never finished, merely abandoned”. Thus it is with enovels. Indeed, should your reviewers all point to a passage in your book that that they feel undermines the book’s general quality, you can re-write it and insert the change.
Third, it is liberating to feel that your novel is not a hostage to fortune in the shape of the preconceptions and subjective judgments of agents and publishers, nor, if it leaps those hurdles, the reviewers in the press. It all comes down to your work and the reactions of your readers. Will they enjoy it? Will they text their friends and tell them how good it is? Will the book snowball on the back of a gathering storm of readership? However, your book is not in a bookshop. It is not a physical entity. And this classical way of selling stories is the one where currently the big money is made. Not for much longer, though. To counteract traditional selling techniques, you have to shepherd your audience to your ebook by equally effective, but innovative forms of marketing.
I write this blog and hope it directs readers to Azimuth. If they like what I say and how I say it, it can help persuade them I am genuine and the book should be a great read. I tweet aphorisms every day to a similar end: @profjacksanger. Today’s first one is:
Religions are insurance companies offering a single policy, life after death, asking you to take it on trust that there will be a payout
Then there’s Facebook and Linkedin. But marketing is hard work. Are you prepared for the daily grind and will your imagination’s well never run dry?
Azimuth (the paperback trilogy) by Jack Sanger at www.azimuthtrilogy.com
Azimuth by Jack Sanger in ebook in 3 separate volumes Amazon Kindle
Jack Sanger also writes under the nom de plume Eric le Sange and his work appears on Amazon Kindle