Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why I LOVE Kindle!

Many readers out there may not understand how DIFFICULT it is to break into the big bad world of publishing. Well, let me enlighten you:

It's a LONG, HARD road of writing (and re-writing and re-re-writing) query letters just trying to find an agent, because nowadays, a writer needs an agent to do their bidding with the big guys (major publishers). So really, the first step is WRITE A WINNING QUERY LETTER. This alone (the learning process) is very time consuming. There are whole books, courses and conferences dedicated entirely just to the process of writing THE PERFECT QUERY LETTER. (Ugh)

Then the writer starts sending out those query letters. Of course, there are easily ten million writers out there querying (feels more like begging) agents. Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating the number of writers out there, but only a wee bit, and I guarantee you, there aren't ten million agents, so odds are stacked against the writer, TRUST ME. Been there. DONE that.

So a writer can spend YEARS just trying to find an agent (not a publisher yet, keep in mind - just an agent). Now, I'm not one of those lucky ones to find an agent willing to shop my book. I did that for two years. TWO YEARS. I spent so much time trying to find an agent, that I wasn't writing my second book. I didn't have the time. Not to mention, that after a while, those rejections CAN start to get to you, no matter how many encouraging articles you read about the umpteen NY Bestselling authors that got over 200 rejections before landing that dream agent. Rejection always hurts - even if just a little.

But let's say I DID find an agent after that amount of time. Here's how it goes after that: my agent MAY or MAY NOT find me a publisher. That agent could take months or years just finding Editor Joe Book at Publisher XYZ willing to publish my little masterpiece. THEN, Publisher XYZ could take two years printing my book and getting my promised modest advance to my editor who takes 15% off the top, then gives me the rest. And I've lost control of my book. Publisher XYZ calls the shots now. I don't like not having control. I'm a CONTROL FREAK. I'm not a happy camper. And how about my sales? I don't get any sort of daily accounting of my sales figures. I could go for months not knowing how my book (my baby) is doing out there in Bookstore Land. One a day? A hundred a day?

Now REMEMBER - I never got the agent, so never got the publisher, so my knowledge of the above is based on experiences related to me through those writers WHO HAVE been so lucky.

But I have to say, I feel lucky for a whole different reason, and now I'm getting to the meat of my story: Why I LOVE Kindle!

One day, after getting a rejection I really wasn't expecting - I really thought this small publisher was going to take me on - I sat in my room, drying my eyes, deciding my future with this book. Do I quit? Do I keep taking it in the gut like this? I've never been a quitter, so even though I felt lower than low, the ultimate answer for me was to keep moving forward.

"Karen," I said to myself. "You don't really want an agent OR a publisher. You want readers. You wrote a book for people to read and well . . . no one is reading it."

Hmmm . . . I was right. I needed readers.

Somewhere, way back in the darkest recesses of my mind, I remembered someone saying that they had published their own book on Kindle. I ran to my computer and googled, "Publishing on Kindle."

Angels sang and trumpets blared. I read with excitement. Could it really be this easy? Would Amazon REALLY just let me upload my book at NO COST TO ME and on top of that, let me pick my price? AND make my book available right alongside all other books Amazon sells on Kindle? AND pay me a royalty? AND let me track my sales hourly? Was this all a dream?

Well, it turned out for me - it was a dream come true. On June 17th, 2010, my funny little book, Take the Monkeys and Run, went on sale at the Amazon Kindle store, and four months later, it has sold OVER 4000 copies and collected 34 Amazon Customer Reviews, with an average of 4.5 stars. Those are READERS. And fans. The people I wrote the book for in the first place. And all of that time I spent researching agents and writing and sending query letters? Now that's time spent writing The Chronicles of Marr-nia, Short Stories Starring Barbara Marr (due out soon) as well as the second novel in the Barbara Marr series. SO MUCH MORE FUN let me tell you!

Can anyone do this?


Should anyone do this?

Only those who have put a good deal practice into the craft of writing, have spent time (blood, sweat and tears even) into editing, re-writing, and producing a quality piece of work. Because what readers want is QUALITY. A great story, interesting characters, a compelling read - THIS IS WHAT A READER WANTS. Above and beyond that, they're not going to care WHO published it.

There. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

And that's why I LOVE Kindle! (and Amazon)

How about you?


JC Phelps said...

Great post! I have to agree 100%. However, I never really tried for the elusive agent with the exception of one. But that was after I had already self published. After several months of waiting for a reply and not receiving one I figured either my spam filter had eaten the rejection (very professional on my part) or they hadn't found the time to reply.

I may still try to approach agents at a later date because I haven't had near as many sales as you have. But, I also like having control over my work. Only time will tell.


Pam said...

Good post. Sounds like a plan. Dean and I self-published his 400 page book Please Lord, Make Me a Famous Poet Or At Least Less Fat way back when the only non-publisher option was self-publish in paper and market through conventional means (reviewers). Getting ready to re-publish and I was going to use Lulu, butthis sounds very good as an option!

Maria said...

I'm one who made it through the agent stage--and spent two years with her doing her level best to find a publisher.

I'm feeling pretty lucky to be alive at a time when Kindle/Amazon has made publishing possible. I'm enjoying the heck out of interacting with readers.


Carol said...

Those of us that own Kindles love them for much the same reason - it brings us great books from authors that we might not ever have heard about otherwise - and to top it off - we usually get them at great prices! Looks like a win/win situation to me! ;-)

Congratulations on the 4,000 book sales in 4 months!

Markee said...

I can't say amen enough on this post. You are SOOOO right. I agree, too...I don't like publishers and agents determining what to write according to what THEY deem marketable. That's controlling the market and not letting readers read what they want to read.

So well done and I'm REALLY glad you self-pubbed. You've done a GREAT job on your book, too. Thank you!

Karen Cantwell said...

JC - I agree, having control is really a determining factor.
Pam - you SHOULD try it! Amazon has made it so easy and it is a lot of fun. :-)
Maria - I feel lucky too!
Markee - I think the publishing model has worked in the past, I just think with the advent of eReaders, their strategies will need to change to keep up.
Carol - I agree with you about being a Kindle reader! I forgot to talk about that in my post. Not only am I a writer, but a reader as well, and I have found SO many affordable novels with Kindle that I would never have found before. It's been a joy, I must say. :-)

Thanks everyone for your comments! I love great discussions like this!