This post is the final of a trio of posts looking at the affect of eBooks on the literary industry.
Susie Wild is associate director for The Raconteur and Parthian Books. In 2010 her first book, The Art of Contraception, was published. This was followed by Arrivals, an eBook novella, which was published this year. With its publication Susie became the first Welsh writer to have her work published as a Kindle Single. These are shorter eBooks, designed especially for eReaders.
Arrivals begins as 19-year-old Amy steps off a plane in Los Angeles. She has come to meet Alan, her estranged father and to find some space after the death of her ex-boyfriend Dan. It is split into two parts and the second of these focuses on Amy’s mother Maggie, who remains in England. It is a fast paced, enjoyable read. Events and emotions trigger flashbacks, giving the reader an insight into the mood swings of the main characters, allowing empathy with them.
How long have you been writing for? How has technology affected you as a writer since?
Since I could hold a pen. I still use pens, but my writing has got harder to decipher. I also use a laptop. I can edit on screen but I prefer to print out drafts and take them out of the office to read. Poetry usually starts in notebooks, stories also, but stories move to the screen faster. Journalism is always straight to screen.
What do you prefer? To have your work printed on paper or published digitally?
My preference is that my work is read. I have a Kindle, which is helpful in my line of work as an editor and a book reviewer.
I also like to buy individual short stories from the likes of Shortfire Press. Generally though, I still buy physical books and borrow them from the library. I prefer beautiful printed books, there has been a resurgence in popularity of the book as art object.
How has the introduction of the Kindle Single been helpful to writers?
It is good for people who write novellas, short stories or essays. It is helpful in terms of getting topical content out quickly, as many publishers have a backlog in terms of getting printed books out, which can stretch into two years or more. It also increases the reach that a title may have, as distribution becomes less of a problem. Newpapers are certainly embracing similar formats for hot topics.
Which is more beneficial financially, an eBook sold or a paperback sold?
Most writers don’t earn JK Rowling’s salary. That is why most have another job. It works out about the same, but if my eBook suddenly were to become a bestseller I’d make more from it than the paperback, as my terms change in relation to sales once overheads are covered.
Are there issues with eBook pricing and marketing?
I organised a launch for a number of Parthian’s Kindle eBooks and it was a strange event. There were no physical books on sale. People didn’t bring their Kindles and iPads along and buy the book there and then, though there was wifi so they could have done so. Still I wanted to mark the occasion, and we read from our Kindles on the night.
Amazon’s monopoly is another worry. I encourage people to support their local independent booksellers and small publishers by buying direct, where possible or using services like hive.co.uk. Best of all, go to an author event and buy the book direct from the author. That’s often when they make the most money. There are other arguments in relation to eBook pricing to do with the fact that authors don’t get paid much in the first place, a 10-12% cut of sales for new writers – considering that a book can take several years to write – and that though eBooks reduce overheads of printing and distribution, there are still the costs of editing and proofing and for publishers to cover.
More on the subject: Author Amanda Hocking makes millions from eBooks
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