Tag Archives: E-book

The Literati: Who Says Your Book is Bad?

The Literati. Who are they? What are they? From whence do they hail? I would define the Literati as the literary gatekeepers. They are the sophisticated readers. Generally, they have degrees in English–usually a Ph.D. or something like that. They are the editors of giant publishing companies; they decide which books to print and which to not. Because of them, you have received hundreds of rejections for that book you spent so many long hours writing. But because of the Internet, the Literati are losing power.

Because of the Internet and similar technologies, the ebook is becoming the wave of the future. One can find a whole horde of ebooks on smashwords.com and other sites ranging in price from just a few bucks to even free. Many of these ebooks are by self-published authors. The Literati tell us to avoid these self-published authors; they have not taken the traditional route; they have not passed the gauntlet… hence, their books are inevitable of poorer quality than those anointed with the blessing of the Literati.

I’m inclined to agree, but only to a limited extent. A book blessed by the Literati is probably going to be of higher quality than one you download for free from some random website. But there is a subtle issue here: how sophisticated of a reader are you? Will you pick up on all the flaws that a “lower-quality” ebook has? I have friends who read a lot. They are smart people… but they aren’t English majors. They probably would not notice a number of problems with a book that the Literati would certainly jump on. Yet, they still read quite a lot. Basically, my point is that the Literati suffer from literary skills that are too developed, as far as the marketplace is concerned. While it is good to refine your literary skills to such a high degree, one must realize that after a certain point it becomes esoteric. Only a select group of people will understand all the critical points and distinctions that separate a literary classic from the mass market. Like any other discipline, be it philosophy, mathematics, biology, or what have you, the Literati run the risk of submerging themselves in their own private language. Although there is such a thing as terrible writing which most educated individuals will recognize, there is also such a thing as “good enough” that will pass muster for all but the most exacting and technical minds.

It goes without saying that a writer should always want her book to be as good as possible, and,

given the choice, she should always go with an industry-level editor to improve her book, for improve it he will. My point, however, is that after a certain stage, the improvements gained will be lost on the bulk of the readers–at least for mass market readers. And mass market readership is where the bulk of profits come from.

What does this mean to readers and writers alike? Please, feel free to share your thoughts.

Blog Tour: Stops #10, #11, and #12

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

Its August 31st and my blog tour for my vampire fantasy novel, Drasmyr, finishes up today. So far we’ve had a good number of reviews and a guest post or two. To wrap things up today, we have a pair of reviews and a guest blog:

Stop #10: Lindsay’s Scribblings

Stop #11: Review: The eBook Reviewers (WARNING: Adult Content Site)

Stop #12: Guest Post: Zombiegirl Shambling

Please check all three out and show them your support. Also, check out the company that promoted the tour: Goddess Fish Promotions. It wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Book Review Blog Tour for Drasmyr

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

My blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” begins today. It lasts until August 31st. It was originally scheduled to be a Book Review Only Tour, but after some re-evaluation we’ve added a few non-review sites to the list. There are a total of twelve stops, nine of which are going to be book reviews. Below you’ll find the complete blog tour schedule. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Make sure you check out the sponsors of the tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

 

Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

Reminder: Book Review Blog Tour Approaching for Drasmyr

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

Reminder: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” during the latter half of August. The tour will begin on August 20th and will last until August 31st. It will be a Book Review Only Tour, meaning that every visit will be a review of my book. Below is the blog tour schedule, as it stands now: currently 2 slots remain to be filled. Hopefully, we’ll get word on those shortly. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Also, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

 

Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!

Reminder: Drasmyr Book Review Blog Tour

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

Reminder: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” during the latter half of August. The tour will begin on August 20th and will last until August 31st. It will be a Book Review Only Tour, meaning that every visit will be a review of my book. Below is the blog tour schedule, as it stands now: currently 5 slots remain to be filled. Hopefully, we’ll get word on those shortly. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Also, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

 

Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!

Reminder: Book Review Blog Tour Approaching

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

Reminder: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” during the latter half of August. The tour will begin on August 20th and will last until August 31st. It will be a Book Review Only Tour, meaning that every visit will be a review of my book. Below is the blog tour schedule, as it stands now: currently 5 slots remain to be filled. Hopefully, we’ll get word on those shortly. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Also, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

 

Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!

Eating My Own Words: On Free Ebooks

It’s official. I have to eat my own words because I’m now “selling” my dark fantasy ebook “Drasmyr” for free. Yep. I took the leap… or I fell on my own sword, I don’t know which. I’ve written a number of blogs on the changes ebook publishing are bringing to the industry. “Oh no!” I said. “Free ebooks are going to force all the other books out of production. Why pay five dollars for any ebook, when you can get something of comparable value for free?” I gloomily prophesied the imminent end of writing and publishing as the tsunami of free books forced down the prices of all books everywhere until profit margins shrank to nonexistent levels and the entire publishing industry collapsed in on itself. Well, I’m still waiting for that to happen; well, not eagerly.

 

Anyway, I guess it’s a question of branding. And the brand of an author is his (or her) name. I’m a beginning author. “Drasmyr” is my first fantasy book. At the moment, no one on the planet knows who Matthew D. Ryan is. And it’s my job to change that. The theory behind giving a book away for free is to develop a following. The first book acts as the hook; the rest of the series is where you will make your money (I hope). I spent several months trying to “sell” my book, but sample downloads were few, and actual purchases were even rarer. In the beginning, I was hell-bent against giving my book away for free. I mean, I had literally spent years slaving away, writing the best book I possibly could and now you expect me to hand the product of all that labor away for free? No way! I thought.  By the time month four of sales had rolled around, however, my perspective on the matter had changed. I see now, that it’s not enough just to write a good book, you need exposure. And the best way to get exposure is to remove as many barriers to purchase the item in question as you can. The biggest barrier is price. Hence, I cut the price to zero. The number of downloads is increasing—not as quickly as I’d like, but it’s a positive sign.

 

This approach is more effective when you are writing a series. People are more likely to buy your next book, if they are already invested in the characters and plot that has come before. Fortunately, since “Drasmyr” was always intended as the prequel of a four book series, that’s a plus for me. I look forward to publishing the next book and actually charging money for it (Let’s hope the entire industry doesn’t collapse in the interim).

Experimental Promotion: Drasmyr Now Available for Free

The dark fantasy novel, “Drasmyr” is now available for free at Smashwords until Friday, June 22nd with the coupon code: DR66V.

 

When I first started my blog several months ago, I was dead set against giving my e-book away for free. It seemed so counterproductive. Indeed, I am still somewhat hesitant to do so; the book represents several years of labor on my part. I would prefer to earn some kind of financial reward for my book, but let’s face it: I have very little name recognition. Matthew D. Ryan… who’s that? Between twitter and my blog, I have about one hundred followers to date. Which is good—it’s certainly better than ten, or say, zero—but I have to grow a little faster. Sales are sluggish, partially because of the lame economy, I’m sure. Anyway, now that I’ve been at this a few months, I can more clearly see the “reward” inherent in giving the book away for free. Basically, it helps build name recognition, something a beginning writer desperately needs.

 

So, given that, I’m going to run a little experiment. For the next few days (until Friday, June 22nd), I’m going to give the book away for free at Smashwords. The coupon code is: DR66V.  I will see if the increased number of sales is significant enough to make this a more permanent retail price. If not, then I guess it’s back to the drawing board. But, well, we’ll see…

DRM, Intellectual Property, and E-books

There is a nice primer on DRM technologies on wikepedia, although I think some of the information may be dated. Basically, DRM (which stands for “Digital Rights Management”) refers to technology that allows the publisher of certain content to place restrictions on said content, inhibiting unsanctioned reproduction and transmission of said content. It can be applied to virtually anything digital: from music to movies, from computer games to e-books. Obviously, our interest here is in e-books.

 

Here’s an old post written by an DRM opponent. At times, it almost sounds like paranoid delusions, but it does raise some very good points (and perhaps, computers should be a cause for paranoia).

 

Anyway, here’s the issue in a nutshell. You can write a book over the course of a year or two, slaving away, toiling day in and day out to dress it up in elegant prose, make your characters multi-dimensional and full of all-too-human charm, devise ever-more intricate plot twists and turns to produce the next literary masterpiece. And all that effort and work can be encapsulated in a few thousand kilobytes of data storage, whereupon it can be copied almost instantly by the click of a mouse. It is so easy to copy digital information. In fact, it is too easy.

 

Enter DRM. DRM is an attempt by the big media and technology companies to protect the intellectual property of authors and other artists from exploitation by unprincipled people who want to consume their works without rewarding them for their efforts. Unfortunately, the solution is a bit of an Orwellian bear. The classic example of overreach occurred when Amazon remotely deleted copies of (ironically) George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” (again, see the Wikipedia link for further details).

 

The fear, and it is a legitimate concern, is that the big technology and media corporations like Apple and Amazon and others, will gain access and control over more and more aspects of our digital lives through the use of DRM. Do I really want someone from Amazon snooping around my computer, or setting up software that will snoop around my computer automatically (which is far more likely), in the name of DRM? The potential for abuse is nearly unlimited.

 

But I, as a writer, still want to be paid for my work. And as competition drives the prices of e-books lower and lower, I am filled with increasing concern that I’ll never be able to make a living at what I love to do; so, every sale counts.

 

In the end, I think I must rely on the goodness of strangers (I know that sounds cheesy). But really, I think most people are generally good and most people will generally choose to pay for an e-book if they are aware of the relevant issues, particularly if the e-book is priced reasonably. So, I think the potential abuse of DRM is the greater evil here. Even though I am a writer, I think DRM should go.

 

That appears to be the way the tide is shifting, anyway. Check this out.

Fantasy Literature: E-books vs. Print Books: A New Dilemma

The following thoughts don’t apply to just fantasy books alone, but probably to all forms of literature. While ruminating about what to write for this post today, I had an odd thought, one that was inspired by an e-book I read recently. I’ve read about four or five such books using the kindle app on my smart phone. So far, I have enjoyed the experiences with the e-reader. I had misgivings at first, but they were soon put to rest. Now, however, I have developed something of a new misgiving, one based on my experience with the e-book, not just pre-use prejudice.

The books I’ve read on the e-reader have been either very short, or just of average length (probably no more than four hundred double-spaced pages). The last book I read seemed almost to be written in an “abbreviated” fashion. That is, the action moved very quickly, was described at the barest level of detail, and still amounted to a semi-decent read (not 5-star, but perhaps 3ish). I was wondering if the medium, namely the e-book, affects the whole nature of the book. I don’t just mean in terms of formatting and technical use. I mean, does a print book become a whole different book if it is transferred to an e-reader? Does the different medium affect the quality of the reading experience even though the exact same words are read?

With the print book, you have the book opened to your page, but you actually read two full pages before you have to turn a single page. The e-book (at least on the smart phone) only allows about half as much information to be displayed on a single page. It is broken up into easily manageable chunks that you flick through with a simple finger motion. Also, the pages can only be read one at a time; they appear sequentially; so, at any given time, you have about one-fourth the information in your field of vision that you would find in a print book. The result is that you are flicking through pages at a much accelerated rate compared to the print book. Does this affect your reading experience? Does it favor, say, action-packed books with a marked brevity of description, that spur you on e-page after e-page? Are long, elegant descriptions inhibited because they won’t fit in an easily manageable chunk?

I don’t know. But as a writer, I am very interested, particularly, because, at least for the moment, I am only writing e-books. The “abbreviated” e-book I mentioned above is what started this train of thought. The writing was such, that I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it in a print book. On the flip side, does a classic like “Lord of the Rings” make an effective transition to an e-book? That is something I intend to investigate… eventually (when I get caught up on all my reading).

What do you think?