I had my first Kindle book experience (on my computer). Here are the steps I took:
- Purchase (= download) the book (30 seconds)
- Install the Kindle Reader for PC (3 minutes)
- Read the book (30 minutes)
- Write this blog entry (3 hours)
This post is about my thoughts on the first bullet: purchasing an e-book. The next entry will deal with the third: reading an e-book. I might be chopping a blog post in half too many times. I will deal with it—in a two-part blog entry.
When I downloaded the Kindle book in 30 seconds (including the check-out process), I felt that personal publication has been liberated. Amazon.com says so too. Gone are the days of an author tracing a myriad of distribution channel threads before reaching his audience, a situation described in a blog post written by a literary agent.
He'd paid to print 500 hardcover copies, and was pursuing local and national bookstore chains and distributors. But he'd hit a brick wall, finding that most buyers and distributors were not interested in talking to him.
Let’s picture a suit-wearing backpacker carrying weightlifting plates in the form of hardcovers and pleading the bookstores to adopt his love child (= books). The agent’s advice to this author was straightforward, which is always the best way to give it.
But I told him that his problems getting distribution are the main reason self-publishing doesn't work for many people. If you don't have a channel through which YOU can sell your book, then self publishing usually isn't a profitable option. And by a channel, I mean something you're doing yourself: You're out speaking and selling your book in the back of the room. You're the pastor of a 10,000 member church and you sell it through your church bookstore. You have a terrific website or blog that gets 100,000 hits a month and your book is featured for sale there. Or something like that.
She talked about two issues: getting distributed and getting recognized. The writer thought the former was the key to get published. She reminded him it was the latter. The story is sad, but I think ultimately it is about hope. I guess the reason she could focus on the more important aspect, recognition, is because the distribution problem is becoming irrelevant. Do you count thirty seconds and three clicks away a considerable barrier that stand between the author and readers?
The recognition, the Holy Grail, deals with a resource that cannot be duplicated: our attention. Hugh Macleod summarizes it dryly: “Human beings don’t scale.” We aren’t closer to this Holy Grail than ten years ago, but it is visible now. How encouraging is this for writers?
P.S. At least on the Kindle platform, if we set the price right, we can instantly have a kick-ass marketing campaign. Enjoy a threesome: 3 seconds, 3 clicks, 3 dollars. I am sorry; I won’t do it again, in this post.