Sunday, 29 August 2010

Flying Shrapnel, no, I mean, Goods.

August is almost done and all the pieces of Rosa Mira Books are still swirling around me in a (mostly benign) cloud. I pull a few down each day and work on them. Now and then I complete one: this (next, next) draft of the contract; that letter towards finding out how much of a problem it is that eHarlequin have copyrighted and registered 'Mira'; editing this chapter of The (or Her?) Glass Harmonica; re-reading the short stories that have arrived so far, and sending letters to (half of — I'm getting there) the writers — including those letters that say no.

That's my least-liked job. I know about rejection letters. I've received plenty — the rude and raw; the empathetic and helpful — and sent plenty, I'm sorry to say one or two of the former, but I try to write only the latter these days. Every creator deserves respect — although not everything written fits with what a particular publisher means to publish.

However, beyond the traditional model, digital opportunities abound for those determined to put their work out there, from the personal blog or website, to the the all-comers' distribution platform such as Smashwords; sites like Naked Reader which consider manuscripts already polished and proof read, as well as backlisted books; and those sites where selection, editorial input and marketing are part of the deal: Carina Press, Online Originals, and Rosa Mira Books, to name three.

Now, last time I posted, questions were posed about the biggest challenge to any business: reaching the market. With so much still shaking down in the new publishing model, some of those questions can only be answered by trial and error. Beyond anecdote, it's not easy to find out who in NZ is buying reading devices — but we can look beyond our shores for trends. Twelve million iPads are being bought each month — by those at the young end of my target market, but its owners are reputedly eager to use it for 'everything' (and they grow older every day). Kindle's new version 3 is selling at half the price of the original, with Amazon predicting that at current rates, ebooks will outsell paperbacks within a year. I'm counting on those former paperback readers making up some of our readership. I'm watching the prices although no one can yet say definitively what readers are prepared to pay for exceptional ebooks, or who's going to read what on which device.

As for how Rosa Mira's books will be found, beyond search engine optimisation on the site, I believe it's my job to find readers for our particular flavour of ebooks, rather than the other way around, and I'm looking forward to the 'social networking' and learning adventure that promises.

DV, I'm in for the long haul, so if I don't know the answers yet, I'm living the questions until I do.

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