Book Gadget v0.72

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why I'm Not Publishing Paper Books

Every now and then a reader asks me if my books are available in paper format.  With the exception of the copies of Wild Child that are still floating around and being sold secondhand on Amazon (read that interesting story here), the answer is an unfortunate "no."  I really hate the fact that some readers won't have a chance to experience some of my books (yet) because they at present do not own any type of e-reading device.  But when I carefully weigh the economic and other issues (which I weigh often), I just can't justify publishing my books on paper.

First:  sales of paper books are shrinking and sales of ebooks are growing.  That's a hard fact.  In June Amazon reported that sales of ebooks has exceeded sales of paper books, surpassing even their most optimistic forecasts.  At present, the market for paper books is similar to that of the market for typewriters in the early 1980s, when the PC market was exploding.  Yes, people are still using them, but the writing  (if you'll excuse the pun) is on the wall--they're going away, and going away fast.

There are still many die-hard paper book fans who resist this notion, don't accept it, don't want to believe it, and cling to all sorts of "logic" explaining why this isn't going to happen.  Trust me.  It is going to happen, and it's happening as we speak.

One reason the demise of paper books is inevitable because ebooks have so many advantages over them.  You can become overwhelmed just trying to make a list.  Off the top of my head:

- much easier and faster to buy and receive, and you can do it from virtually anywhere
- cheaper (in general)
- take up no physical space/you can carry your entire library everywhere you go
- can't be lost (your retailer always has a copy)
- have an adjustable type size so you don't ruin your eyesight
- etc.  (I'm sure you can name many more reasons--feel free to add them to the comments with this post)

When you've been in the ebook market a while, the objections you hear to the idea that paper books are going away start to follow a pattern, with many of the excuses rather unconvincing.  For example:  "I like to hold a book in my hands."  Well, if you buy a fold-over cover for your Kindle or other device, it feels very much like holding a book in your hands.  Interestingly, what I've noticed is that nearly all the people voice this objection do not yet own an e-reader or a tablet computer.  They seem to be basing their concern on reading books on a computer screen. It's not remotely the same.

Another objection, which makes me smile, is, "I love the smell of paper books."    The reason it makes me smile is that my wife used to say this all the time--she was the most die-hard paper book person you can imagine.  "I will NEVER use an e-reader," she would say.  "Never never NEVER!"

Ten minutes after I bought my Kindle, I downloaded a copy of one of her favorite books onto the gadget and handed it to her.

I never saw my Kindle again.  She's an avid reader, and within a week she was espousing the benefits of the device with the zeal of a TV evangelist.   It was almost scary.   That's what convinced me that even the most stubborn readers are going to become converts (I soon realized I would have to buy another Kindle, too)

But there are two broader reasons that I'm convinced that paper books are going away.

The first is that, as a university teacher, I can clearly what's happening in this area with textbooks.  University IT departments all over the world are scrambling to develop systems to deliver all textbooks electronically to students, who will all presumably own tablet computers (like the iPad) within a very short time, or will be required to own them.  Once that happens, you will have millions of students who are already well-accustomed to e-reading and will take all those advantages for granted.  Paper books will look as old fashioned and clunky as as cassette tapes look now.

But on an even broader level, environmental pressures are going to force the shift.  The world simply can't stand the amount of paper we're producing now, and--more importantly--the energy required and pollution produced from carting all of it around!  Wood and paper are one of the heaviest products to transport--we all know how much a box or suitcase full of books weighs.  This factor alone is enough to drive paper books "out of business."

So, that's a long way of explaining why I'm not publishing on paper.

There's simply no future in it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wild Child Now Free - Sequel Out Soon!

To help make readers more aware of my entire array of books, I've decided to give Wild Child away free of charge in all formats--Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony, and even in PDF and .rtf formats for onscreen reading and printing out. The book can be instantly downloaded in the sidebar to the left.  (If for some reason this does not work, please click here)

Also, due to popular demand, I am writing a sequel to the book, which will be out sometime this summer.  To be notified of its release, please add your name to my mailing list here.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Tribute to the Late, Great Sidney Sheldon

Author Sidney Sheldon
A few days ago, a reviewer of my book Lust, Money & Murder said “Not since Sidney Sheldon has a male author captured the female perspective so well.  You’ll be hooked!”

I was deeply moved by this comment.  So moved, in fact, that I decided to write a post about Mr. Sheldon. 


Because Sidney Sheldon was my favorite contemporary author, and he was my hero.  It’s not at all surprising that he had a tremendous influence on my writing.

Born in 1917, Sidney Sheldon first worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood, winning an Academy Award, and then went on to become one of the world’s bestselling novelists, penning 19 books over the last 35 years of his life.  Sidney Sheldon books have been translated into over 50 different languages and sold over 300 million copies.  He died at the ripe age of 89, still writing.

Sidney Sheldon was not my hero because of all the books he sold.  Sidney Sheldon was my hero for the countless hours of entertainment he gave me and millions of other lucky readers.   Curling up in a chair and reading the latest Sidney Sheldon book was the literary equivalent of eating a moist slice of Death by Chocolate cake, an experience you relished every moment of and left you hungry for more.

His plots were packed with twists and surprises.  Do you remember in The Other Side of Midnight when you found out that the obnoxious bum that came on to the hero was actually a decorated air force pilot?  Or when the assassin in Memories of Midnight turned out not to be one of the three men you suspected, but the meek office boy the hero befriended?  Of course you do—these literary moments are unforgettable.

But Sidney Sheldon’s books provided far more than entertaining plot twists.  His heroes were truly inspirational, strong women who also maintained their softness and femininity.   Even though I'm a man, his books gave me hope when I was down, inner strength when I was weak, and gave me the courage to pick myself up again after my most dismal failures. His books were so engaging that I could become completely absorbed in them, so much so that when I finished, I often had new perspective on things.

Who can forget Jennifer Parker’s struggle to become a successful lawyer in a men’s world in Rage of Angels?  Or Tracey Whitney’s determination to avenge her mother’s death in If Tomorrow Comes?   Sidney Sheldon’s characters never gave up, yet even the most ambitious protagonists always showed tenderness and compassion.
But probably the biggest reason that Sidney Sheldon is my hero that he wrote to entertain.  Unlike many authors, he did not put on airs, show off his knowledge of obscure French phrases, or try to impress you with how beautifully he could describe a sunset.  He entertained you.  Period.  He nailed you to the first page and kept you turning them all the way the end of the book, increasing the tension to the point where you’d stay up all night just to know how it all turned out!

This is precisely what I aim to do in my books.  Whether I succeed or not is up to readers to decide.  But it’s not surprising that many people see similarities to my work and Sidney Sheldon's.

For Sidney Sheldon was not only my hero. 

He was my greatest teacher.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Romance Novels Enjoying Renaissance Thanks to Kindle

If you look at the Kindle bestsellers list, it’s easy to see that the romance genre is enjoying quite the renaissance these days. From contemporary romance to fantasy romance to gay romance to historical romance to paranormal romance, even erotic romance and erotica. The Kindle bestsellers list, bot the free and paid list, is loaded with romantic fiction titles.

Classical romances including love story books and Jane Austen titles are also quite popular. With summer heating up, it’s clear that readers are stocking up on romance novels of all types.

Recency romance is a particularly popular genre at the moment, however, most popular, by far are the paranormal, fantasy and vampire romance genres. Sparked by the Twilight phenomenon, many who have already read the Twilight series multiple times, are looking for something new to satisfy their romantic vampire craving. Many authors are eager to fill these readers desires, with a slew of vampire and werewolf romance and fantasy novels released in time for summer. Most are from lesser known authors, even first-time authors who are taking advantage of the ease of publishing allowed to them by the Kindle platform. Many romance novels are available for as little as 99 cents.

Classical romances are also filling up Kindle’s, with the advantage to them being that they are mostly available for free.

As usual, murder mystery novels and something called the cozy mystery novel are also lighting up the bestseller charts, with no shortage of mystery and crime based novels on the bestseller list. Novels featuring female sleuths are extremely popular, with Janet Evanovich enjoying the top spot for her latest in the Stephanie Plum series.

No doubt that the summer of 2011 will be the summer of e-reading, thanks to the massive popularity of e-readers like the iPad, Kindle and Nook. You might even see a few people by the pool with that old standby, the paper book.

This article was reposted from JotZoom

To download a free sample of Cosmic Casanova or buy the book click on the appropriate retailer below:

 Amazon USA Amazon UK Barnes & Noble
 Apple iPad SonySmashwords

Note:  Versions formatted for the Nook, iPad/iTouch/iPhone and Sony ereader can also be purchased from  Smashwords (above)

Wild Child Chosen for Reading List for Writing Courses at Austrailian Colleges

Wild Child has been added to the reading list of the "Become a Published Author" course at Macarthur and Nepean Community Colleges in Sydney, Australia.  The reading list includes short stories from Hemingway, Somerset Maugham and the work submitted by previous alumni.

"Wild Child is a cracking good read that just flows, and there are numerous teaching points one can glean from it to demonstrate pace to the writers," says Perry Gamsby, leader of the course.  "As well, characters, conflict, dialogues and plot are all in there doing their bit to make it a great story."

The Australian writing course is highly innovative.  Its aim is to not just advise writers as to how to write, but to publish their work in a book they can then use how they wish.  "So far we have had two courses graduate," Gambsy says, "with the first producing 'The Rorschach Collective' and the second 'The Rorschach Continuum.'

Read more about the course and why Wild Child was chosen for its reading list here.

Anyone in Australia interested in taking the course should contact Perry Gambsy at perrygamsby (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Wild Child is currently out of print and has become a collector's item—the current price in the UK for an original copy of Wild Child, unsigned, is £78.87, or about $125.00.

However, you can download the ebook for the much more reasonable price of $4.99 from any of the following stores (click links): 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why I Give Away Free Books

Since I started offering Wild Child and Lust, Money & Murder (Book 1) as free downloads, I frequently receive questions from people asking me why I'm doing it.  "Don't you lose money?"  "Doesn't it bother you to give whole books away free?"  I thought I would take out a moment to explain why.

First, all of us love to get free stuff.  I know I do!  The offer of a free product has universal appeal.   A more common method writers use to promote their books is to offer sample chapters.  But somehow, offering free sample chapters doesn't sound nearly as enticing as offering entire books for free.  To me, "sample chapters" conjures up images of a ragged sheaf of papers held together with a paper clip, not a nice, neat finished polished product wrapped in a pretty package.
But there's a second and more important reason I give books away free.  If you are a reader who does not yet know me, asking you to fork over your hard-earned money on the blind faith that I will provide you with an awesome reading experience...well, that’s asking too much.  Your time is just as valuable as mine, and that’s what I’m asking you to invest—your time.  I’m taking the gamble that if you like my free book, you will reach into your pocketbook (or, more realistically, "click" on a Buy This Book button on Amazon or your preferred online retailer) and purchase one of my other novels. 
In reality, the amount of time that I ask you to invest is relatively small.  My philosophy is simple:  if you’re not immediately drawn into my story and reading forward because you want to, then put the book aside and read something else.  There’s no reason to push yourself through a novel, not in today’s world, where there are so many other pleasurable distractions available.  Reading fiction should be a fun, entertaining experience.  The last thing it should be is work!  Work, and the pressures of our daily lives, are precisely what most of us are trying to escape from when we sit down to read a good novel.
So, in summary, what I ask new readers to do is invest a little of their time—usually not more than five minutes—to download and start reading one of my free books.  In return, they (hopefully) discover a new author who can give them many, many hours of reading pleasure.
Is that a good deal, or what?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What Lady Gaga Taught Me about Fiction Writing

Yesterday I watched Weird Al Yankovic’s video parody of Lady Gaga, and I ended up reading a lot of  posts criticizing her.  The usual stuff.  How her music is "superficial crap," how she is nothing more than a Madonna clone, and how her weirdness was carefully crafted for marketing purposes and is not who she really is.

First, I want to say that I’m not the biggest Lady Gaga fan, but whenever millions of people are responding positively to something, I pay attention.  I pay attention for the simple reason that I don't believe they can all be wrong.  Plus, I don't want to miss out on the fun!  Is her music superficial crap?  I don't know, but I happen to like some of it, and I like some of her outrageous videos as well. 

Second, yes, of course the woman has influences!  She is an artist. She acknowledges that Madonna is one of her sources of inspiration.  She also cites Queen and David Bowie.  If you look at her work, you can clearly see the mark of all those superstars.  In turn, if you study Madonna and Queen and David Bowie, you will see their influences, too.  And so on, all the way back to the beginning of music.

But third—the accusation that her weirdness is not genuine—well, this brings me to the subject this post.
The Paradox of Weirdness

One of the most interesting things about success—and I’m talking about success in any field, not just the music business—is that being weird or different is ultimately the most important factor.  Yet, ironically, when you first set out to be successful at something, it seems everyone you encounter pressures you to be like those ahead of you who have already established themselves, to conform to the formula that results from studying the already-successful group as a whole. If you succumb to this pressure, you will inevitably be lost in the sea of other wanna-bees who are following the same formula.
Two perfect examples are Cindy Crawford and Arnold Schwarzenegger. When Cindy Crawford began her modeling career, she was repeatedly told by agency owners to have the “unsightly” birthmark removed over her upper lip or she would never make it as a model.  Yet that “unsightly” facial feature became her trademark, the characteristic that set her apart from every other model she was competing against.  It played a significant role in her rise to stardom.

Similarly, Arnold Schwarzenegger was repeatedly told that he would never be successful in Hollywood unless he lost his Austrian accent—“American audiences don’t like foreign accents” was the mantra.  Yet who can ever forget those famous words, “Hasta la vista, baby!” that made motion picture history.  Had they not been uttered in that deadpan, self-assured accent that is pure Arnold, would they have had the same impact?  I think not.

I’ve personally run up against this paradox over and over again in my own work.  It started with my very first novel, Wild Child, which the big NY publishers said was too short.  But I tend to write short books, it’s my style and a way I’m different from many other writers, especially the long-winded ones.  I tried lengthening the book to please the industry experts, but it slowed down the pace.  I eventually published the novel myself, and it went on to be a very successful book.  What is one of the most common praises? “Wild Child is a short, super fast-paced read!”

The same type of thing happened with my book Lust, Money & Murder—the publishers said the protagonist, Elaine Brogan, was “too plain,” that she needed to be more of a superhero.  But that was the whole point!  This is a thriller about an ordinary young woman who goes on to do extraordinary things,  butts heads with one of the most dangerous criminals in the world.  She's able to do this not because she’s a superwoman, but out of sheer tenacity and determination, simple qualities that are within everyone's reach.  I withdrew the book and published it myself.  Readers love this story, and one of the main reasons is that Elaine Brogan is an ordinary person that everyone can identify with. 

Similarly, I was told by the big publishers that readers would find an “evil” baby offensive.  And later:  no female readers are interested in the romantic affairs of a New Age playboy.  Yet my novels Baby Talk and Cosmic Casanova are both receiving outstanding reviews.

Odd, isn’t it?    

The very elements the experts criticize and want changed always turn out to be the strongest elements of my books.

It takes courage to fly in the face of all that criticism and advice (well-meaning, I'm sure) and stick to your guns, to maintain your uniqueness.  At times you really wonder if you're shooting yourself in the foot by not conforming. 

So, back to Lady Gaga, and the third criticism I mentioned.  Is her weirdness natural, or is it part of her act?

The answer is, it doesn't matter.  The fact that she's different is a major factor in her success, there's no doubt about that.  It took a lot of guts to do what she's done.

Lady Gaga, even though I know you will never read my words on my little blog, I thank you for the inspiration.

You dare to be different.