Monday, August 22, 2011

New Challenges Facing the New Wave of "Kindle Authors"

Hey, I'll be the first to admit that I love being a Kindle author. I know Teresa does, too. It seems to be like the wild west of publishing these days, and boundaries are being pushed every which way. And this is a good thing. But the sheer quantity of material available on any of the e-book platforms is truly daunting. And there are more than a few stinkers out there. But for the most part, it is a positive thing for both authors and their burgeoning readership.

Yet still I wonder if and when the Kindle flame will burn out. I remember not too long ago-ca. 1990 or so-when e-books were the wave of the future. Several publishing companies created fledgling e-platforms so people could download a book onto their desktop. And the trend went...nowhere. Until Amanda Hocking made the news and Kindle commercials became, well, cute. Booyah, there you go: Kindle-ification of America. Soon NOOK, smashwords, iPad....the plethora of applications, platforms and services exploded into the American consciousness like the Big Bang of the prose industry.And it is realistic to say that desktops will soon phase out in favor of the pad applications even for every day use.

I feel like such a plebeian because, well, I don't actually own a Kindle or similar device...ok, yet. The debate is whether to get a color Kindle, a NOOK...or iPad. Choices, Sophie, choices. 

Still I enjoy browsing the titles and seeing what's out there. It's really exciting. And it makes me wonder how one stays competitive when so many new titles appear each day. In the old print and ink days, there was a benchmark: number of copies sold. With the low pricing and emphasis on cool cover art, even mediocre titles are selling, and far exceeding the benchmarks that used to-theoretically at least-be set by a higher quality of writing.

So where does this leave both the reading and writing industry? Certainly new authors will have to be multimedia savvy; proficient in code and formatting numerous platforms for e-books. And it isn't an easy task, even for a twenty-something. One will have to have access to ever-evolving cover art - are flash covers too futuristic right now? I don't think so. I think that would be hot actually.

We have genre morphing where certain distinct genres blend together into a new hybrid that works more often than not. And why not? Can one blithely categorize life into genre bits? Of course not, but the business that loves to label things "a" and "b" will have to accept "abz". And that will be a challenge for publishers. The authors seem perfectly content to field that ball.

As an author, you will have to be less about the greatness of you and more about the good storyline that pops in a mini blurb. And yeah, I'm still stuck on the flash cover thing. But even the static cover will have to pop louder than any others. I suggest finding the good professionals and hiring that work out. There is nothing worse than pixelated, goofy looking covers to really hack you off. Even if the writing is good, covers do sell titles.

Authors also have to be competitive about pricing their product appropriately. You sure you want to charge what the local bookstore charges for a paperback? I would study the other authors in your area and see what they are charging. Keep it real.

Yep, it is true: Kindle authors are moving into a cool new wave of publishing. I am pleased to be riding that wave. We'll see if I get tanked or stay on top for a while. Either way, the ride will have been worth the effort.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I've been wondering much the same, although Amazon's investment in Kindle as a business platform seems to be much stronger than one would expect for a "fad" that might be about to fizzle out.

    As for how this affects what skills a writer needs to have going forward, I just wrote a post on my own blog about this very idea:

    would love your thoughts!

    (deleted previous post cuz link wasn't working)