What to do?
I’ll admit it. I’ve sort of at a loss for what to write about today. It’s not that I’m having trouble finding topics. It’s that my must has been anything but kind of late. After spending months trying to finish Nocturnal Challenge, I’ve discovered two things. First, the basic outline I had for the novel was really an outline for two novels. That’s bad but not unworkable. The second, and more problematic issue, is one that has had me beating my head against the wall the last few days. It seems my muse, aided and abetted by the lead in Challenge, has decided that I’ve written not only that book but the entire series in the wrong POV. Worse, it now wants to be only first person POV. So, I’ve been fighting and negotiating and, well, pleading with said muse to get her to behave and let me work. No, I’m not changing the POV — at least I don’t think I am. But it has left me with little brain space for anything else.
However, there are a couple of posts I found this morning that I thought might be of interest. The first comes from HuffPo and lists 10 reasons why print books are better than e-books. This isn’t a new topic. After ignoring e-books in the early years, traditional publishers have been arguing that print books are better pretty much from the sale of the first Kindle. Here’s what HuffPo has to say about it.
1. Print books have pages that are nice and soft to the touch. Huffpo goes on to compare reading an e-book with looking at an ATM screen and who wants to curl up in bed with yet another screen? I could be a bit facetious and note that printed pages also can be seen as deadly weapons. Who hasn’t had a paper but before and don’t they hurt? But the truth is, I do miss turning a page. However, the page turns with most tablets now at least simulate a “real” page turn.
2. Print books are better at conveying information. And they have a study, one cited by the Guardian. The source of the cite is enough to make me doubt the veracity of the statement. However, I can say that I know some folks who retain more from e-books while others are the exact opposite. I think it depends on the person and their reading habits.
3. Print books are yours for life. The books you bought in college will still be readable in 50 years. Do you really think that in 10 years your e-reader – or book-reading watch, or virtual reality goggles – will work with today’s e-books? For life or until they fall apart, something they seem to do much sooner than they used to. I have books that are more than 100 years old and have been read by generations of my family. Those books may be a bit battered but they still have their original bindings. Then there are the books printed in the last 10 years or so that seem to fall apart after a short drop to the floor or a simple reading. Yeah, right, a print book will be around for years. As for my e-books. You bet they will work with future tech, at least as long as the books aren’t filled with idiotic DRM. Why? Because I can use programs like Calibre and whatever will follow to convert the original files into something else. I have multiple backups to protect my digital library.
4. Print books are physical reminders of your intellectual journeys. Physical reminders that can’t be carried with you in bulk. My e-books can be loaded onto my phone or tablet or e-book reader — or into the Cloud, onto my PC or whatever — and I can have all of them available no matter where I am.
5. Print books are great to share. I have to give it to HuffPo here. This is the one way printed books are better than e-books. You can simply hand the book over to your friend or family member and they can read it. Of course, whether they return it or not is another matter. Sharing an w-book isn’t as simple, especially if that e-book comes from a traditional publisher. Many of those e-books aren’t shareable, at least not unless you break the DRM in the book and that is illegal to do in many jurisdictions.
HuffPo goes on to note that it is easier to write in the margins of a printed book, a printed book has a cover so others can see what you are reading and that reading a print book is better for your health. Most of us don’t write in the margins of a printed book, unless it is a research or text book. Not everyone wants everyone and their dog to know what they are reading. As for the health claim, that is a two-edged sword. Yes, doctors tell you to turn off electronic devices at least half an hour before going to bed. But ophthalmologists and retinologists tell their patients that reading from e-ink devices like the Kindle is better for their eyes. Then there is the claim that print books are theft-resistant. After all, how many times do you read a report of a car break-in and see that a book was taken? Can you say “tongue-in-cheek”?
But it is this claim by HuffPo that had me shaking my head. According to the article, “Print books are fairer to writers.” You see, publishers pay a lower royalty percentage, according to The Authors Guild, than they do for print books. The problem with that sort of twisted logic is that e-books aren’t responsible for the lower percentage, the publishers are. It also completely ignores the indie movement and the royalties we get for our e-book sales. Not that it surprises me. HuffPo has often showed its bias for the traditional publishing end of the business.
Anyway, you can read the post. I’d love to see what you think about it.
Then there is the second post I wanted to bring to your attention this morning. One of the questions I’m often asked is what is the best method to get your work into the public’s hands. Not everyone is comfortable putting all their eggs into the Amazon basket. I even recommend against it, at least until you see if it is worth the time and effort of publishing your work in other markets. But that begs the question of what is the best way to get your titles out there. Smashwords is the granddaddy when it comes to that. It has been around for years and offers a wider array of sales outlets than just about everyone else out there. But it comes with its own pitfalls, not the least of which is the Meatgrinder, its proprietary conversion tool.
But this post by Alice Sabo echoes issues I have run into with Smashwords. Sabo had used Smashwords and had been part of its “premium catalog”. Basically, if you choose this outlet, your work can be published across various outlets, including Kobo, BN, iBooks and more. That’s great for authors looking for wide exposure. The problem, as Sabo found out, is that some of these markets then distribute your books to other markets. Compounding the problem, Smashwords takes no responsibility beyond sending notice to the original markets if you decide to take down your book. It is left up to you to keep on top of whether or not your book is removed from sale at the original markets you approved of and it is up to you to discover if those same markets have distributed your book in other markets.
The problem with this is that it can, as Sabo discovered — and as I have as well, come back to bite you in the butt. If you decide you want to publish your book as part of the KDP Select program, To be part of the KDP Select program, you have to agree that the title will be exclusive to Amazon. Part of the Terms of Service for the program include a warning that you face having a title pulled and your account suspended if that title is discovered to be on sale elsewhere. Sabo received such a notice and, on a couple of occasions, so have I.
In my case, one such notice came when Amazon’s bots discovered one of my titles on a pirate site. All it took to clear that problem up with Amazon was to send a take down notice to the site and then send Amazon an email saying I had done just that and noting that the site was a pirate site and I had never given it permission to list my book.
However, on the two occasions when pirate sites weren’t involved, it was problem getting take down notices generated through the Smashwords system. When you take a title off sale at Smashwords, it looks automatic. Sure, the small print says it can take time to promulgate through the expanded market. Like Sabo, I waited a month or more between removing my books for sale from Smashwords and then enrolling in KDP Select. Both times, a month or two later, I received an email from Amazon saying that it had found my book for sale elsewhere and I had to either remove my book from the Select program or remove it from sale at the other sites.
Once, the offending site was BN. A simple e-mail to them, sent after receiving an email from Smashwords that they had done all they could and they were not responsible for how long it took one of the external markets to remove a title, took care of the issue. Within 48 hours, my title was no longer for sale on BN.com. Kobo, on the other hand, was another matter. It took several weeks before I managed to get my book taken down there. If I remember correctly, there were several emails back and forth where Kobo basically said it would only remove the book after receiving word to do so from Smashwords. Smashwords said they had sent notice. Kobo said they had no record of such a notice. Finally, I sent them a copy of what Smashwords had sent them, suggested they remove my title ASAP and then waited. All in all, it took almost three months to get the title off of Kobo. Amazon, however, was more than reasonable, in my opinion. While the book couldn’t be part of the Select program during that time, Amazon did not take any other action. It was enough that I kept them in the loop about what was going on.
I’m not saying this will automatically happen if you use Smashwords — or any other aggregater — but it is something I suggest you keep in mind.
Now I’m going to go find another cup of coffee and start the daily wrestling match with my muse.