A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Ok, I admit it – the title above is just a tad exaggerated (for poetic effect, you know), but it’s perfectly true to say ebooks have, if not saved my writing career (I don’t have one: it’s my vocation. My career is as a University PA) then at least given it a thoroughly delightful and much needed shot in the arm.
I’ve been a jobbing fiction writer for about twelve years now. When I started out in Y2K, I did what I was told to do: I won or was shortlisted in a good mix of mainstream competitions and then spent a long time hunting down elusive agents and publishers in order to get that supposedly desirable paperback book deal. I came close a couple of times, and once even had an agent for a while but it never happened for me. What paperback deals I did get were with very small publishers who didn’t sell much, and I also self-published a couple of other novels with Lulu, including Thorn in the Flesh, which was longlisted in the 2006 CWA Debut Dagger Awards. Ah, happy memories.
When I started writing seriously I promised myself ten years to make some kind of success of it so about two or three years ago, I gave careful consideration to not writing any more as it was becoming too much effort for very little reward. Then, slowly but surely, I began to get more ebook deals with commercial e-publishers, and actually began to sell my books regularly, if not in large numbers.
What I find very interesting indeed is that now most of my best-selling work is short stories. I think the rise of the e-reader has given a whole new lease of life to writers, such as myself, who happily write short stories as well as novels as we can sell our work individually to a variety of publishers without having to spend years getting a collection together for paperback publication. Readers enjoy short stories more than the mainstream press would have us believe, and they’re getting these stories via e-readers. These days, my stories are published by Amber Allure Press (gay erotic romance), Untreed Reads (literary, lesbian and biblical fiction), Riptide Publishing (gay erotic/literary) and Musa Publishing (gay romance).
Later this year, my first children’s book, The Origami Nun, is being epublished by Karabeth Publishing under my pseudonym Lori Olding, and I’ve just been commissioned to write a gay short story for a specific line at Amber Allure Press which I’m currently working on. So, because of ebooks there are at last other perfectly viable outlets for the overlooked writers amongst us.
And, as you can see, a large part of the joy of being an ebook writer for me is the astonishing opportunity to write for publication in a wide variety of genres. I really hate the thought of sticking to just one type of fiction. I don’t read just one type and never have, so why should I be constrained to write it? I love romance, thrillers, historical fiction, literary fiction, comedy, fantasy and everything I can think of really, except I’m not that keen on graphic horror. On my “now reading” shelf is a gay erotic short story, a Christian book, a romantic comedy, a poetry collection and an historical biography. This is the kind of literary freedom ebooks have given me which I don’t think I’d ever have found in the mainstream paperback press.
In addition, as a super-keen reader, I also welcome the rise of the ebook. Not as a replacement for the paperback, but as a marvellous addition to the family. After all, TV hasn’t replaced cinema, and computers don’t mean people no longer need pens – there’s a place for all these riches in our lives, and paperbacks and ebooks are no different. They’re not in competition with each other, but are instead complementary to each other – long live them both! That said, I must admit that my eyesight rejoices in the fact that I can make the font of an ebook larger (thank goodness) and my bank balance rejoices in the relative cheapness of ebooks. My husband is also very happy indeed that my holiday book packing is now only one Kindle, and he no longer has to pay extra for taking my huge numbers of paperbacks abroad in a stuffed-to-the-brim suitcase …
So for me, and speaking both as a writer and a reader, ebooks are a blessing and a delight. Anything that gives more opportunities to hard-working good quality writers and widens the choices of book formats available to readers gets my vote. Happy e-reading to all.
[Anne is a part-time writer and full-time reader, originally from Essex and now living in Surrey. Her latest ebook is literary paranormal short story, The Gift of the Snow, published by Untreed Reads.]