Vanessa Gebbie and various literati (with yours truly holding a watching brief) have recently been discussing e-books and self-publishing generally on Facebook. Now that there is Kindle anyone can put a reasonably professional-looking produce in front of readers, so this is timely.
Vanessa – rightly – raised the queston of quality. And whether, despite the ease of acquisition with a Kindle, one would WANT to upload something on a whim from someone one’s never heard of. I got a new Kindle for Xmas (whoo-hoo!) and have been uploading free classics and Kindle originals by friends, friends of friends and people I’ve never heard of. Fascinating. Quality is, indeed, variable: by and large one can see why the writer hasn’t been picked up by a publisher. Yet. The slush pile is now peer-crit sites with a promise that the cream will be skimmed off to be read by a publisher or an agent. What if a writer isn’t tagged as ‘cream’? What else is to be done with that draft s/he’s slaved over? Tart it up and bung it out on Kindle. Why ever not?
Some good out of print stuff is turning up on Kindle too. That’s another plus – and another story.
So the discussion plus my voyage into Kindleland has led me to some pondering in the bath this morning (yep – I have one twice a year, whether I need it or not: I’m that kinda gal). The web has been good for visual and musical artists when the technology made large files uploadable (U-Tube and digital art etc). And a thriving Indie scene developed from that. U-Tube etc isn’t as helpful to writers (although I know a lot of writers have an interesting presence there): we aren’t visual. Unless we’re performance poets or read work in front of a webcam.
I wonder if e-books will foster an Indie publishing scene? The Kindle’s only been out just over a year and already it’s elbowed its way into readers’ lives. How will it develop? Are writers happy with the control agents and publishers have over our professional lives? Money’s tight: lists are closed. Do publishers even edit any more, or do they expect to pass your e-file straight through to the printer without input of any kind?
As far as I can see technology has revolutionised the music business. Musicians and record labels have had to rethink how to make money out of content. So should writers.
My book’s Kindled. Is yours?