Remember the good old days – no not as far back as inkpot and quill – I’m thinking of when you finished typing your precious manuscript, placed it carefully in an envelope addressed to the publisher, put a stamped, self addressed envelope inside and trotted down to the post office.
For authors living outside of the North American continent, the above process was infinitely more difficult. For various reasons including terrorists and postal changes, many publishers updated their policies and refused to accept International Reply Paid coupons. This meant hunting through friends and relatives who might have contacts in the United States who could then be coerced into sending American stamps. Problem One solved.
I remember carefully carrying my manuscript to the Post Office and placing the package gently on the scales. “How much?” I croak as caring people help me get up from the floor. I wonder if I can increase my mortgage to finance posting my submissions.
E-book publishing brought a welcome relief to my financial and physical requirements for sending manuscripts to America from New Zealand. Now when my manuscript is ready to fly, I have a much larger choice of publishing houses to choose from. It no longer costs me a fortune to send a synopsis or completed manuscript. My process is the same as US based authors, I attach the necessary documents to my query email.
Of course this means the rejections pop up in my inbox at a much quicker rate, but so do the acceptances. Looking on the bright side a quicker rejection means a faster turnaround to send to another publisher. Acceptance means a celebration dance while I still remember the intimate details of the book. Wait too long for a reply and I’m so involved with the next work in progress it’s often a struggle to drag myself back to a manuscript I may have finished over a year before.
In my corner of the world e-books are gradually becoming a popular form of reading. Some of this is thanks to Amazon and the new iPad. Most of our population prefer reading a paper book when they retire to bed or flop out on the beach or in the garden. Thankfully for ebook authors this is gradually changing.
One of the reasons for change is the price of readers and e-books. Paperbacks imported from far corners of the world tend to cost more due to shipping. Sometimes books are printed on a lower quality paper to keep the cost down. A book in a local bookshop can cost twice as much as it would in America, depending on the exchange rate at the time of purchase.
So hurray for the e-book world. In one swoop it has reduced my submission and reading costs. It has also allowed me to read books from authors I would never have known about before, mainly due to the availability and cost of their novels via the internet.
So apart from the obvious advantages, what does being an e-book author mean for international authors - specifically me?
My name and books are out there with the best, just waiting for readers to buy them. Because my readers buy my book on line, most of my promoting can also be done on line. This gives me a chance to interact with authors from all over the world. Imagine trying to explain to someone in another country about your book - a paperback which is only available in your country of origin. E-books and the internet take care of details like this. My books are available on my publisher’s website, Amazon.com and various other online bookstores so my readers can go and peruse the offered excerpt to see for themselves if they’d like to buy the book.
I find talking with other e-book authors on line, no matter where they live, helps enormously. When there is someone else to share your worries with the problem seems to disappear before your eyes.
Research is helped by interacting with authors and readers. Expense again enters into the picture when research rears its head. Yes the internet has bridged a lot of the gaps, but nothing beats personal experience. The trick is – it doesn’t have to be your experience. Do you want to know about visiting a particular spot in Disneyland? While the trip would be enjoyable the cost would be prohibitive if it was purely for research. Ask your friendly authors online and one of them is sure to know the answer. Problem solved. Easy isn’t it.
Writing is said to be a lonely profession, but I think the arrival of e-books has changed this. There’s usually someone on line who wants to chat or help. It doesn’t seem to matter that my day is approximately twenty hours ahead of North America. I’ve never met my publishers or fellow authors, but talking the language of e-books, no matter what genre, has definitely made the world smaller for me.
I love introducing people to the marvelous world of electronic books. My sister had never heard of them until I became a published e-book author. After buying a reader she found there were many advantages. She travels a lot. Now instead of hauling two or three books in her suitcase she can take as many as she likes on her e-reader. This means her husband doesn’t complain about the suitcases weighed down with books, although of course more space and less weight means other things can be packed for the trip.
My fellow New Zealanders are gradually embracing the electronic book as more reading devices become available here at the bottom of the world. Until then I shall carry on waving the e-book flag and converting my friends reading habits one at a time.
Happy reading everyone.