Saturday, January 30, 2010

Congratulations! Audra Harders!

Another Seekerville Friend Gets the Call!

Audra Harders' Steeple Hill Inspirational romance is scheduled for release in January 2011.

Here’s what Audra writes the story is about:

“Let’s begin at a place called the Circle D Ranch in Hawk Ridge, Colorado.

Gabe Davidson struggles with the endless responsibilities of the family ranch after his brothers escape the tediousness their small hometown like rats escaping a sinking ship.

Stung by deceit and disapproval, single mother Melanie Hunter operates on a tight budget and strives to make a life for herself and her son, guarding her wounded heart against any chance of further pain.

When a lucrative job opportunity arises in the mountains of Colorado, she jumps at the chance to leave her past behind and build a new future. Unfortunately, things don’t go the way she’d planned. Melanie is stranded in Hawk Ridge when she wrecks her truck until a surly rancher offers a solution to her problem. Together, Gabe and Melanie discover the spirit of compromise and sacrifice as they learn to let go and let God.”

Way to go Audra!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

“The Bartered Bride” is full of Surprises!

The Bartered Bride

Erica Vetsch

Heartsong Presents, 2009. 170 pages

“The Bartered Bride” is full of Surprises!

I bought “The Bartered Bride” because I just wanted to read a book by this author. I didn’t know what to expect because “The Bartered Bride” is not so much a title as it is a theme like “The Hidden Child” or “Baby on the Doorstep” or my favorite, “ The Marriage of Convenience”.

However, I did have expectations. I thought the book would take place in Regency England and I thought the heroine would be bartered to a rich titled older man so as to save her family from ruin because of her father’s gambling debts. None of this is true. This bartered bride is a surprisingly different, fresh, and new story.

The story takes place at the turn of the century (19th to 20th ) America on the Great Lakes in the city of Duluth. It is a very exciting time. There is great energy, homes have gas lights and electric lights, the streets have horse drawn carriages and automobiles, there are even suffragettes and planned demonstrations. This is all in addition to storms, shipwrecks, piano recitals, high society, tycoons, oppressive mothers, and absolutely wonderful descriptions of home interiors.

The author’s attention to detail and the research that must have gone into the short novel is amazing. I am very excited about reading more books by Erica Vetsch. I hope her publisher allows a little more creativity in the next title. For example, I would have preferred a title like: “The Unsinkable Melissa Brooke” – that’s not too far off. ‘Melissa Brooke’ is pretty closer to ‘Molly Brown’ and the young heroine is certainly feisty given her secret nighttime activities. (You’ll just have to read it yourself!)

By the way, the book is also a very nice example of Christian fiction.

As much as I loved the book, I would have edited two sentences towards the end because the reality presented is so strong, for me at least, it stepped on the happy ending and lessened the good feelings I expected to enjoy. However, other readers may enjoy the realism. If you read the book, and I hope you do, I’d like to know your comments on this matter.

Excellent Reading Enjoyment!


"Do You Know It’s Erotica? "

The Demon Next Door

Kate Austin

Cobblestone Press, eBook, 69 pages, copyright 2009

“Do you know it’s erotica?”

That’s what the author asked me when I chose this title from among her many books after wining a romance blog drawing.

“No but that’s not a problem. I've read erotica before,” I said.

Now here’s the problem. I’ve only read about six female erotica stories in my life and I didn’t ‘get them’. Maybe that’s because they were all paranormal stories. The problem was the heroes. One was about a werewolf, one a vampire, one a beast (it seemed like a big dog), one was a jaguar, one was a shape-shifter, and one was a demon – but not just any demon, this demon was one of the mean nasty demons and in fact the leader of the mean nasty demons.

From reading all this erotica, one message comes through very clearly: if you are female and you want great sex, don’t choose a male human. It would seem that almost any non-human creature is better than a man.

I must say that of all the erotica I’ve read, “The Demon Next Door” is the best. In fact I’d give it my highest rating of five stars.

The hero, Ali, was once the king of the really mean nasty demons, but he has since left the demon life and is trying to learn how to be a human. He lives on an almost abandoned cul-de-sac in a failed housing development on the edge of a forest. The other house belongs to the heroine.

Now both heroine and hero are hiding out and never have anyone over to their houses. Ali, who has a perfect body as shown in the cover art, has his demon brothers trying to track him down so they can torture him forever. The heroine is into very casual sex with many one night stands. Given that some man might get attached to her, she keeps her home address hidden from everyone.

I think the story setup is ideal for the characters involved. What makes the story so good however is the writing style. Kate Austin’s voice is fresh, new, surprising, exciting, strange, and great fun to read. If there were no erotic passages, it would still be a great story. Everything is in this story that you’d want in an serious romance. There's great motivation, the goals are very clear, and both the hero and heroine experience tremendous personal growth and are different people by the time the story is over. Also sex becomes elevated to an abiding love with the couple caring deeply for each other.

I don’t know how this story could be written any better. Nevertheless, I still don’t understand this erotic passion for non-human lovers! At least, Ali is a ‘human-in-the-making’ with a perfect male body. (The cover art is very accurate with Ali, the roses, and the night setting.)

If you are comfortable with erotica, “The Demon Next Door’, is a great read.

Five Star Erotic Reading Enjoyment!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Marketing Janette Marie Sherrill & Her New Book: Part 1

This conversation covers:
* “Edgy” Writing, * People Media
* Marketing, Publicity, PR,
* Personal Marketing,* Specialty Advertising
* Rewards-per-page
* Selling ‘the reading experience’

VM: Welcome to the “Philosophy of Romance” Blog. Do you know that you’re our first author interview?

JMS: Yes and I hope I’m not the last.

VM: Well, we’ll have to see how this interview goes first.

JMS: It’s good to be working with you again.

VM: I guess we should disclose that you were a fictional character in my book, “Characters in a Romance”.

JMS: Yes and that was a lot of fun.

VM: Did you turn out in the end to be a real character or a fictional character?

JMS: You don’t know? I thought you wrote it.

VM: There are over a hundred characters in that book. I had to use an Excel spreadsheet designed by Myra Johnson just to keep track of them all. I could open the spreadsheet but it would be quicker if you just told me.

JMS: OK, I turned out to be a real person which is ironic don’t you think since I’m actually a fictional character in real life?

VM: Well, I like irony and having a fictional character play a real person fit in well with the spirit of the narrative.

JMS: Don’t you think you should mention that the book starts with a cosmic cataclysm and all the fictional characters are knocked out of their novels and get mixed up with the real people and neither group can remember if they are fictional or real because everyone has partial amnesia?

VM: No, but you’ve already done it. I might add, however, that having everyone wondering if they were real or fictional did add to the tension.

JSM: It was also hard on the characters. Who wants to fall in love with a fictional character if, at the end of the story, you turn out to be real person?

VM: Or vice versa. But let’s talk about your book.

JSM: It’s an ‘edgy’ Christian fiction book that takes place mostly in west Texas in 1876.

VM: What do you mean by ‘edgy’?

JSM: I guess I mean what everyone else means. Is there more than one meaning?

VM: Let’s think about it. Is the book ‘edgy’ because of the type of characters in it? I’m thinking here of gamblers and prostitutes. Or is it ‘edgy’ because it is a little more sexually adventurous than a typical Christian romance? You know, a couple kisses and are almost carried away but pull back just in time to overcome temptation. By ‘edgy’ here I mean the hero and heroine almost sin, realize it, and feel the proper remorse for what they almost did.

Then there is also ‘edgy’ in a dogmatic way where you might have ghosts or a dispute between the hero and heroine about the truth of the belief in predestination. There are probably a dozen ways to be ‘edgy’. How is your book ‘edgy’?

JMS: I’m ‘edgy’ in that my characters talk to God and He answers them.

VM: Do you mean God answers in ‘signs’ or does He actually talk from heaven with a deep resonate voice?

JMS: Let’s put it this way, the characters hear voices that they take to be God’s. Whether it is God or not is up to the reader to decide. But the characters hear voices with their ears.

VM: And you got this book published?

JMS: Here’s the book -- all 476 pages of it.

VM: “When God Answers” It’s an appropriate title, I’ll say that.

JMS: It was the editor’s choice. My title was “Echoes from Heaven -- Traveling the Goodnight-Loving Trail”.

VM: I like your title better. How long did it take you to write this book?

JMS: Ten years. It’s taken me a long time to learn the craft.

VM: As I understand it, you want me to market you, your career, and your books as they come out.

JMS: Actually, my husband wants you to do it. He only trusts you.

VM: That’s because I saved his backside when I marketed all those spec homes he was sitting on. He may be a little biased in my favor. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you my best marketing advice and you can take it or leave it. How’s that?

JMS: That’s more than fair. My husband’s company is taking care of the bill, right?

VM: Yes, but we don’t need to get into that here. Now before we start I have to know this: what is your goal in writing?

JMS: How do you mean?

VM: Do you want to write the great American novel and win a Pulitzer Prize? Because if you do, there is very little I can do for you. I’m all about marketing and selling books.

JMS: No, my goal is to make money with my writing. We have two children in college and I’d like to be able to make enough money to support them and myself if my husband were to become unable to work.

VM: In that case you don’t plan to Diva me or the publisher. You’ll be willing to change your writing if it means you’ll be more successful in advancing your career and making money.

JMS: Yes, absolutely.

VM: And you don’t intend to take ten years to write your next book.

JMS: I want to write two books a year to start out and work my way up to four to six books a year.

VM: Well, then you are going to have to write shorter books.

JMS: The publisher also as a 172 page line of shorter romances. I’m working on proposals for that line right now.

VM: That’s great. If you do this, I can help you the most. But here’s something else. Marketing, even the best marketing, can’t make you successful alone. In fact, good marketing will kill a bad product faster than anything else. That’s because with good marketing everyone runs out and tries the product right away and then when they find out it is not good, their bad word of mouth kills the product before the manufacturer can fix the problem. So if you have a bad product, it really helps to have bad marketing as well. Fortunately this is often the case.

JMS: I don’t have a bad product. I think it’s good and will get better.

VM: I’m not only talking about literary merit. I’m talking about a product that provides the most enjoyable reading experience on a page- by-page basis. This involves my research on ‘rewarding the reader’ for reading. You know, I’ve written over three million words of direct response advertising copy and since people will not be bored in print, I had to write copy that people would read and read all the way to the end. To do that I had to become an expert in rewarding the reader, paragraph by paragraph, so they would not stop reading.

JSM: How do you reward a reader other than have enough tension to keep them turning the pages?

VM: I’m glad you asked that. I am going to give you an advanced copy of my six-hour seminar workshop manual to read. The title is, “Rewarding Your Reader: Workshop Manual". Please, don’t let anyone else read it. It’s not finalized and no seminar dates have been set yet.

I want you to study the manual. The best selling authors that I have studied all reward their readers many times per page. It’s important that you know how to do it.

JMS: You’re giving me a homework assignment? You want me to read your workbook on ways to reward readers?

VM: Yes, if we are going to exert the effort necessary to grow your career and sell your books, then I’d like us to have the potential to make you one of the mega selling authors in your field. To do this we need books that reward the reader as much as the best selling authors do. We also need books that are reader friendly.

JMS: Reader friendly?

VM: Yes, absolutely. Just as you get points for rewarding the reader, you also lose points when you are not being reader friendly.

JMS: Why would an author do that?

VM: I am sure that they do not know that they are doing that. But we will get into this in more depth the next time. Right now I’d like to cover a few marketing terms that it is important for you to know.

JMS: Marketing terms?

VM: Yes, when we talk about marketing in the future, I want us to be using the terms in the same way or else there will be a lot of miscommunication.

JMS: What are the terms?

VM: First is ‘marketing’. Marketing is everything you do that involves your product. That’s yourself as an author and your books.

JMS: Everything I do?

VM: Yes, marketing covers everything: advertising, publicity, public relations, personal marketing, and people media.

JMS: So marketing covers everything.

VM: Everything. Now, advertising is paid and placed commercial speech. With advertising you are paying to run an ad with your message in a given medium. On the other hand, publicity is what the media says about you. You can try in influence publicity but often you cannot. You don’t pay for publicity.

JMS: Can’t you pay for publicity. You know, pay money and the medium runs a favorable story about you or your book?

VM: You can do it but it is as dishonest as hell. We used to call newspapers ‘whores’ that would run favorable news stories about you based on how many column inches of advertising you bought. I will not have anything to do with paid publicity which is designed to deceive the public. So then, publicity is what the media says about you.

JMS: What about PR isn’t that the same as publicity?

VM: Not at all. Public Relations has to do with how you or your company interacts with the public. For the most part you control this. Often it deals with product return policies and price guarantees and making in-kind donations to charitable events, how your employees behave, things like that.

JMS: What about personal marketing? Is that like holding book signings?

VM: Yes. Personal marketing is how you as a person interact with other people. Book signings are a form of personal marketing. They are also part of marketing. What you wear to a book signing is also part of marketing. How you handle the book signing is also part of marketing. Often the best thing you get out of a book signing is the publicity in announcing it. Your book signing itself might reach ten people while your publicity could reach 250,000. You’re going to find out that you’ll be doing a lot of personal marketing in order to generate publicity.

JMS: Is having a blog and being a guest on blogs part of personal marketing?

VM: Yes and no. ‘Yes’ if you actually manage your blog and ‘no’ if you are not personally involved in the running of the blog. That is, if it is just a picture, bio, and catalog of your books.

JMS: What’s ‘people media’?

VM: It is well known that ‘word of mouth’ is a very powerful form of marketing. Advertising people have tried to co-op this area by saying they can actually do things to create favorable ‘word of mouth’ advertising. By doing this they can earn more money. It’s not all smoke and mirrors because advertising agencies, at least the good ones, measure results. They test, test and test to see what works best. So instead of ‘word of mouth’ being something an advertiser has heard about and hopes to get at some point, it is something that can be manufactured by advertising.

JMS: I don’t see how they can do that.

VM: It’s not easy. It would involve tie-ins to other products for which there in a natural affinity. I also think this is dishonest to an extent. For example, you have a lady who sells you cosmetics and she is paid to mention how she tried a new product and how good it was. This looks like a sincere recommendation and it could be but it is still a disguised advertisement.

JMS: I don’t like the sound of that.

VM: I don’t either and I don’t think it has been very successful because it is very hard to get your sales people to do it. However, the term ‘people media’ has taken a foothold and when I talk about it, I’ll be taking about our efforts to generate favorable word of mouth.

JMS: What about giving away bookmarks and pens and other things with your name on them?

VM: That’s called specialty advertising. It is a very big market in the U.S. With an author it is going to be part of her personal marketing. But we can get into all this next time. I just want us to be clear on what we are talking about.

JMS: So what is my homework assignment?

VM: First read my workbook on Rewarding the Reader. I need you to understand the concept and be able to count the rewards in a piece of writing. The workbook is divided into six chapters which represent one hour of lecture. Try to do the exercises at the end of each chapter.

I’m going to give you three books. One each by: Louis L’Amour, Janet Evanovich, and Nora Roberts. I want you to read the first 50 pages in each book underlining each place the author has rewarded a reader. When you are done, add up the rewards and divide by the number of pages. Write down each author’s reward per page score. I’ve already done this so we can compare scores. Then I want you to do the same for your book. Do the other books first, however, so you can get some practice.

JMS: What if I don’t do it right?

VM: It’s not science yet. A machine could not do this. At this point it is an art. I don’t get the same exact rewards per page when I count the same writing over again at a later date. Since I cannot get reproducible results, it’s not science. But that’s not important because the system works. The best selling authors that I have scored have very high scores. I want you to also have high scores. The best way to get good word of mouth is to have readers who really enjoyed reading your book.

Remember this: You are not selling a book. You are selling a ‘reading experience’. Best selling authors produce the best ‘reading experiences’ and not necessarily the books of greatest literary merit. All this is explained in the workbook.

JMS: Will this change my writing style?

VM: It will make your writing better, more reader friendly, and keep the pages turning --but it shouldn’t change you style or voice.

JMS: What are you going to do?

VM: I’m going to read your book and see how often you reward your readers and how reader friendly the book is. Next time, I will critique it in a basically different way than you’ve probably seen before.

Everything all the romance writing books teach you is fine. You don’t have to unlearn anything. I’m interested in improving your reward score and that is something I don’t believe anyone else is doing, at least, not in a direct fashion.

JMS: OK, until next time. We both have work to do.

VM: Just to be clear then. We will meet often over the next year. Each session will be spent on specific ways to market you and your books.

JMS: Will we be able to talk about anything personal? You know, to give it more human interest?

VM: A little bit, maybe. Like what’s the name of your horse?

JMS: Archibald. But we call him Archie.

VM: Until next time, give Archie a hug for me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Philosophically, What Would Constitute the Ideal Romance Series?

There are strong marketing reasons why a romance author should write books that are part of a series.

If one author is writing all the books in the series, then the basic research only needs to be done once. This is a great time saver. Additionally, well developed secondary characters can be used over and over again. This efficiency should allow the author to write more books each year. This in turn produces more publicity for the author, more book reviews, and more reasons to appear on the various romance websites.

From a marketing point of view, each book in a series acts as a gateway to the author’s other works. If the reader likes the first book, then she has a very good reason to buy more books in the series -- both now and in the future.

This will become even more important as eBooks begin to dominate the delivery system for romance novels. (Downloads are now becoming the dominant method of music distribution). An author will be in a much better marketing position in the future when all her books are always in ‘print’ and available as eBooks.

If the series varies in location and/or themes, then the likelihood is greater that the reader will find at least one book in the series to be highly desirable and buy it. Thus another reader enters the author’s world.

This is very important.

Romance fans do not need a reason to buy a romance. However, they do need a reason to buy a specific romance title. Each author needs to ask this question: “What will make fans buy my titles as opposed to the thousands of other titles available?”

Many Types of Series are Possible – But Which Would Be Ideal from a Marketing POV?

Philosophically, this is what I think would make an ideal series:

1. Forward and backward compatibility. That is, the reader should be able to read the books in any order and still feel a part of the enjoyable whole.

2. Open ended expandability. That is, there should be no limit to the number of books that can be added to the series.

3. Action simultaneity. That is, all actions in all the books should happen within the same time span. What happens to characters in one book should not influence what happens to characters in all the other books. Everything is happing at the same time. Simultaneity produces an equality between books since no reader has an advantage by virtue of the order in which she reads the books.

4. Loyalty & Emotional Attachment to a central hub. That is, the reader feels emotionally invested in some central hub which makes her want to read additional books. If you do not have a continuity of characters through time, then you need something else to engage the reader’s emotional investment in the story concept.

For example, each story could begin at an emotional event that takes place on Wednesday, April 17, 1906 -- the day before the San Francisco earthquake. The series might be called “Earthquake”. The stories could show how different heroes and heroines deal with the chaos of the earthquake’s aftermath.

Each book might end with an epilogue involving a survivor’s reunion at some logical point in the future. (When you go to such a reunion, it is not expected that you will know everyone there. The reader who has only read one book will experience one version of the reunion. Readers who have read more books in the series will have a different reunion experience. Anyway that’s the idea.)

The Challenge for Authors

It’s one thing to philosophically create the framework for an ideal system. It is quite another thing to instantiate the theory with concrete examples. I would be very interested if any authors can come up with a series that can actually meet the above criteria for the ideal series.

I’ll start with this idea:

Frontier Hospital: female nurses, midwives, doctors, and veterinarians, from back east, head west to find husbands and career satisfaction. Each goes out on assignment, from the hospital, to her own adventure. The hubs can be the arrival reception and the wedding reception.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why Do We Need So Many New Romances?

How many books do you have in your TBR pile?

I have over 200! That’s over two years reading I could enjoy without having to buy another romance. Mind you, my TBR pile is full of good books that I selected because they especially interested me. So the question is: Why do I and so many others buy new romances each month?

Sometimes I feel like the kid in the phone commercials who tries to throw away his old ‘rollover’ minutes so he can use the fresh new ones issued that month. His mother has a fit and tells him the ‘rollover’ minutes are perfectly good and to use them.

What Do You Do With Your “Rollover” Romances?

Well, there are tens of thousands of perfectly good ‘rollover’ romances out there that have already been written and that most fans haven’t yet read. I know I would enjoy reading many of these books. Every once in a while I actually read a book from my TBR pile and wonder why I put off reading it for so long.

Authors Suffering Deadline Agony!

Right now, as you read this, hundreds of authors are suffering through deadline agony because of the industry’s insatiable demand for new romances. Is this necessary?

Do Romances, Like Bread, Get Stale if Left on the Shelves too long?

The idea of selling books from newsstands as if they were monthly magazines was probably a great marketing idea. In cities, newsstands were everywhere while books stores were few. The newsstand owners were already conditioned to replace magazines when the new ones came out. New magazines attracted old customers back again and again. Even the possibility of the new magazines having arrived was enough to attract the attention of potential customers.

Subscriptions – Why Not?

As a side benefit, monthly romances could be sold by subscription just like magazines. This would give the publisher a guaranteed number of sales for each new title. It would also take a lot of the risk out of publishing new authors. The monthly marketing model was sound except older titles often went out of print very quickly. This is sad. Is there any reason why an author’s new book, her 34th, is really that much better than her 31st which the reader has not yet read? Yet the reader is really excited by 34, while 31 is already out of print. This is not rational but it is the system.

But Aren’t Most Romances Not Monthly?

Probably, but most romances that are available everywhere (that is, outside of bookstores) are issued monthly or have a given date for removal from display. Even non-dated romances come out each month with the monthly romance magazines reviewing these books as if they were monthlies. Readers know that each month there will be a new crop of romances.

How eBooks Threaten the Whole System

The newsstand magazine model was designed to serve the needs of the early 1900s. That system is nearly dead at this time. The eBook will deliver the final blow. An eBook can be published at any time and on any day of the month. Also, eBooks need never go out of print. Shelf wear is not an issue. Eventually, eBook readers will be priced under five dollars. When this happens, paperback books will be looked on as a wasteful indulgence. When most romances are downloaded, new books will be issued daily. Readers will check bookstore websites each day to see what’s new. The cycle will become even shorter.

What’s an Author to do in this Changing Environment?

First realize that they are selling a product to people who already have a supply of the product.

“Ah, but my book is a one-of-a-kind, I’m the only one with that product.” That is true in one sense. In another sense you are selling an ‘enjoyable reading experience’ and so are all the other authors. “Reading experiences” take time and there is only so much time in a day. These factors should be considered in the author’s marketing plans.

What stimulates buyers to buy another romance? Especially when they already have many in their TBR pile?

Here are some of the reasons:

1. The author is on their automatic buy list. (Building your auto-buy list should be a priority.)
2. The book is part of a series that they are following. (Continuity books should be a top priority.)
3. The book’s theme is one they like better (or have a immediate ‘craving’ for) than the remaining themes in their TBR pile. (How is your theme mix?)
4. They have met the author in person and liked her. (Personal marketing & book signings.)
5. They ‘know’ the author from her online blogging and want to experience her writing and be able to say they have read new her book. (Personal marketing.)
6. They read a review of the book that was favorable and it’s a theme they like.
7. Friends are reading the book and they want to be part of the discussion.
8. The book features a location they like reading about. (Use locations that have a big appeal to readers or have been visited by millions of tourists.)
9. The author is new, (one they have never read), and as ‘hope springs eternal’, they hope to ‘discover’ a new favorite author.
10. They hear that a given theme is very popular and they want to sample one. (Vampire & Amish).
11. They are not sure that they want to buy the book right now but they buy it anyway, ‘just to be safe’, because next time the book may be gone from the shelves forever.

What Does This Mean For Marketing?

It would seem from the above list that an author can learn a lot from successful politicians. A politician knows that he needs to ‘press the flesh’. If you actually touch a person, they are more likely to vote for you. Most authors don’t like to do this. More might if they understood how important doing this is in building a following. When planning marketing activities, an author should think beyond friendly book signings. She should also think in terms of big venues like a booth at the county fair or other big crowd event.

Next, the author should try to ‘reach out and touch someone’ electronically. Make the reader interact with you when possible. As a guest blogger try to answer all comments and then leave a question in turn. This flatters the person who made the comment and makes you more memorable in their minds. (You do this to new people. Not regulars to the blog.)

The author will also profit by planning the next book with marketing in mind. Is the theme popular? Is the location powerful? (A book that takes place in a national park with a million visitors a year will appeal to many of those visitors when they get home and also such books are often sold in the area of the park.) In other words: write with marketing success in mind.

There is much more about marketing that I will present in future posts.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Congratulations Tina!

Seekerville Friend Gets Call!

Tina’s Steeple Hill Inspirational romance is scheduled for release in January 2011. The story has been a finaling manuscript in 8 contests and of those, won three. The novel takes place in a fictional town near Tulsa, Oklahoma. The sequel is almost finished. Tina will be writing under the name: Tina Radcliff.

Way to go Tina!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Printed Book is Terminal…

How eBook Readers Will Change Everything.

There is a lot of buzz going on today about how many Kindles were sold this Christmas and how eBooks outsold paper books for one day at Amazon. This is not the story!

The printed book is terminal and its death is coming much faster than generally expected. It’s not just the death of the printed book that’s important. It’s the unexpected changes eReaders will bring to publishing in general and authors in particular.

Here’s the game changer: eBook readers will become virtually free. Like the box of film that became a free camera, eBook readers will come free with eBooks in the future. If you think this sounds implausible, think of the greeting card that plays a full song when you open it. Then think how this dedicated digital tape player, plus the greeting card itself, cost less than five dollars.

What happens when eBook readers are free?

Think about the highly political and highly ‘corrupted’ school textbook industry. What if, overnight, excellent quality textbooks became free? This would be a blessing to school districts and students alike. This will happen one day and I hope it will be one day soon.

Here’s what will happen. First, eBook readers become virtually free. Next, non-profit institutions commission textbooks to be written for a flat fee from noted authors. These books will be offered for free to any school system that wants them. Textbooks would be updated as often as needed and available for students to download at any time. Students would have only one book: an eBook reader. Gone are big book bags and backpacks. The readers will be so cheap that it will make no difference if they are lost, stolen, or damaged.

Young ‘Turk’ professors, from lesser known universities, will ban together and write a chapter each (or several chapters each) of a textbook for use by their students. They will offer this book free to all -- even other university students. This will help make their ‘reps’ and bring them much praise and perhaps a full professorship years earlier than is customary.

It has been said that the key to growth in the future is knowing how to give away a product for ‘free’ and still make money. The advent of virtually free eBook readers will open an entire industry to this money making high speed ‘freeway’.

Where Do Authors Fit In?

So where do authors fit in this brave new world of paperless books and competition from free books? First, they need to read the book “Free” by Chris Anderson (which was offered as a free download on Sony's eBook site) and be planning now on how they can profit by giving their work to the public or having it purchased for free delivery by an entity that can make money by doing so on there other products.

This will be the subject of a future post. I have to figure this out myself! I have a basic real estate textbook that I might update and give away for free – if I can figure this out. Stay tuned.