Friday, March 25, 2011


The neverending e-book story...

Speaking, or rather blogging as someone who has gone on record, many times, stating I'll never become an e-reader user, it's funny how I often return to this topic. Not that I'm planning to buy one...yet.

But as a writer, e-books are not to be ignored. Every day there's an announcement on Facebook or on a blog or digest from authors publishing an e-book. Many are new writers, what we would have called self-published at one point but I understand the term might better be Indie-published. Others are established authors who have dug back into their desk drawers for previously un-published stories or they have chosen to give new life to a book that's gone out-of-print. Vicki Delany springs to mind in this last category.

But the way is being led by American writers. For instance, well-known thriller writer Barry Eisler has had much press recently about his unprecedented refusal of a $500,000 contract with Random House (count the zeroes!!) and opted to publish his latest output as an e-book. Wow...gutsy or what! He's even cut loose from his agent.

I read a conversation between him and another US thriller writer with a long publishing record, Joe Konrath, who has been doing this for years now and wouldn't go back to traditional, or legacy publishing is the term they use.

These guys are making a good living from this. Their royalty percentage is much higher, which is a good start, although there is still a lot of work to be done in the percentages columns, according to them. The Lost Coast, a short story that Eisler recently published as an e-book, has brought him $1000 within a few weeks, that's after an initial outlay of $600 for design, cover, etc. And sales will continue growing.

What does this mean? To writers, it's all good news although I like the Delany approach. After finally finding an agent and publisher, I'm not about to ditch them. But then again, no one has offered me a $500,000 contract. In my dreams!

The traditional or legacy publishing market has gotten increasingly tougher to break into over the years but now it's a whole new playing field with a new rule book, too.

I'm still not going to run out and buy an e-reader. By the way, the March issue of Real Simple has a helpful column on e-reader eyestrain.

What about you -- is publishing an e-book in your future?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
Book Club Mysteries coming April 2012 from Berkley Prime Crime
Murder by the Book


  1. Hi Linda,

    Very timely post about e-Books. I was like you - didn't think I'd like to read on an e-reader, but my husband gave me an iPad for Christmas, and I have to tell you that I'm a convert. I enjoy being able to use the different e-reading apps. But the best part is that I prefer the ergonomics of reading with my iPad. I have shoulder issues, and holding books while reading in bed was a problem for me. I can tilt my iPad horizontally, prop it on its leather case/stand, and not have to hold it. I just tap the screen. Because the iPad has a larger screen than an e-reader, the horizontal view shows two pages - just like reading a book.


  2. I've had a Kobo and now have a Kindle and I enjoy using them. I like not having to lug books around but miss being able to donate books to my local library.

  3. I think I should give it a try. I just have so many screens in my life. So ... ask me again in six months. I might be singing a different song.

  4. I've heard good things about the iPad, Pam.

    Joan -- don't you miss actually holding a real live book? It's like when we moved from LP's to CD's. The jewel case was not a jacket, no matter how much information was put on it.

    Hope I'm not becoming a bah, humbug type.

  5. Another screen! Hadn't looked at it that way.
    No way!

  6. Never forget that Eisler and Konrath have a huge following already. They've been promoted and nurtured by agents and publishers for years. They are not starting out with their first book.