Kindles, e-books and the future of authors

I am an author. I love writing stories for the page and screen and right now I’m also writing some non-fiction. My work is with words. So I must say I’ve been following all of this e-publishing stuff with great interest…and not just a little concern. My words are my trade. I work with my own words, I edit the words of others and I write – hoping that someone will pay me for those words now and then. I don’t get a paycheck for writing this blog, or for the Girls, God & the Good Life blog – I write for blogs because I love to do it and it allows me to connect with my readers.

I can’t help feeling like our words – in today’s world where so many think everything should be free – are becoming worth less and less. I received a Kindle for Christmas so I have joined the growing ranks of those with e-readers. And I’ve noticed a few things:

1 – Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but I’m not a huge fan of not having the actual book. Perhaps I’ll get used to it eventually, but I still love to hold an actual book more than a device.

2 – I haven’t actually paid for anything. Instead, I have found myself the recipient of “free Kindle downloads”. So all the books on my Kindle? They were free. In several of the cases, I may have actually bought the book at some point but now I don’t have to. I’m kind of confused by this new phenomenon. I suppose it could be very helpful if it’s the first book in the series that is given away free. And I suppose that releasing one book for free may cause me to get other books by the same author if I like it. Maybe I’ve had too many psychology courses, but it seems to me like what we’re really doing is training people to just wait for books to be free.

3 – If the writer’s trade is de-valued, how will we earn a living in this new marketplace? Some writers are publishing their own materials as e-books instead of allowing the publishers to do it for a percentage. And some are earning a nice living. But the whole publishing world is a little bit messy, a little bit wild right now.

And yet, I am about to sign a book contract for my 6th novel! I’m quite excited about it. I still love books. I love to hold books. And this will be my very first hardcover. For now, I won’t worry too much about all of it – I’m just going to keep writing, keep blogging, and hope that I’ll be able to earn enough to keep the kids in school. A vacation would be really nice though…

And several years ago I made my own venture into a blog book that I wrote primarily for fans of my Becoming Beka series. There wasn’t any interest by the publisher to continue the series (or any other YA novels for that matter) so I wrote a spin-off novel called Totally Unfamous and released it online. It was fun experiment (and you can still read it at Totally Unfamous for a few more weeks).

So what will the future of authors be? I know that people will always want stories. And there will always be a place in the marketplace for those stories. But where will that “place” be? Who knows? I’m going to go write now:-)

~Sarah~

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2 thoughts on “Kindles, e-books and the future of authors”

  1. I’m an author and will never play the Amazon “Kindle” game. You won’t see ANY of my books on Amazon’s kindle ever. However, I do offer a free DRM free PDF with the purchase of a hardback or for $3.99 by itself. And that can be transferred into any format you desire, Kindle, Nook etc . . .

    Amazon isn’t training anyone to be anything. They’re basically taking liberties reserved to a publisher and not telling anyone. Such as allowing returns on kindles without giving the publisher the right to determine this. Any publisher who publishes their ebook as a Kindle on Amazon has basically lost rights of their book all together. And Amazon gets away with this all day long. Sad. Very sad.

  2. Returns on kindles? Yikes – as someone who can read an entire book in a couple of hours, that’s a little scary…

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