Selling shovels

You will notice I haven’t been posting much at all, much less my thoughts on ebooks and publishing. Wanna know why? I’m too busy with my burgeoning business to put any thought into a) what’s wrong with publishing (because why do I care?); b) how to go about formatting ebooks (because that changes week to week); and c) wondering if I’m ever going to get my historical swashbuckler researched and written (because I’m a writer, dammit!).

In case anybody cares, these are my current random thoughts, none of which rate the time to explore in a full-on blog post (plus, I’ve said it all before):

1) Writers: You’re screwed unless you put out your own stuff and you can market it. The old days are gone. “Getting” published is fine if that’s what you need to validate your soul. If you want better odds on getting to readers and making a little money, do it yourself. But dammit, do it right!

2) Writers: Remember that the people who made money in the gold rush didn’t make it panning for gold, chasing a vein that didn’t exist. The people selling the shovels made all the money. Learn a new skill and sell some shovels. You aren’t going to make a livable income writing for da man. Just don’t make any plans to leave your day job.

3) Book designers: Stop trying to format ebooks on a print paradigm. Ebooks are not print books. They don’t serve the same function. It’s like trying to apply a print paradigm to audiobooks. Stop it. Learn how to format serviceable, good-looking ebooks and forget about Teh Fancy.

4) Editors: Go freelance. Market your name. Make the authors who hire you put your name in the book so you can establish your brand. The curation of books in the future will depend on the editor, not the author, not the publishing house.

5) Indexers: You have a bright and shiny new field to explore. Learn how to index digitally. It’s called anchor tags.

6) Publishers: Get your metadata in gear. Seriously.

7) Publishers: The first publisher to chapter-and-verse its digital textbooks/reference/nonfiction will win the prize. What do I mean? I’ll tell you. Pick up a Bible. Any Bible, any translation, any size, any publisher. Go to John 3:16. That’s what I mean. Develop a system. Patent/trademark it then license it. Make it the standard of any good digital nonfiction book, the way good indexing is. Indexers, see #5.

That is all. I have a mountain of work to get done before I leave for NY next week.


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