Thursday, October 4, 2012
Some Day My Print Will Come
Hint: it’s okay to answer “both.” For a lot of writers, publication is the ultimate goal, with the medium secondary. My first full-length novel (over 50,000 words) was released as an ebook. And yeah, I did the happy dance and ate chocolate and called all my friends. I’d been published before with stories in magazines, but this was a freakin’ BOOK. A lifelong goal finally struck off the bucket list.
Happy as I was, though, I still missed the thrill of finally, after years of subs and rejections, holding a finished, physical book in my hands. Somehow, even though I had my ARCs and I could see the sales mounting up in my author’s account, without a print-and-paper book to hold it didn’t seem quite real.
I love books. I like to sit up in bed with a book in my hand and read until I’m tired enough to sleep. I keep reading material next to the couch for those hideously long commercial breaks that are the bane of cable TV. I love to wander through a bookstore and check out the covers and flip through the pages. Barnes and Noble (and Borders, in its day) were even nice enough to put chairs out so I could skim whole novels before deciding whether or not to buy them. Try doing that on Amazon.
I’ve already blogged about the downside of that in my “Clutter” posts. I’ve got books stacked all over the house. Some people compulsively buy shoes and handbags. I go in for paperbacks. Back when I had disposable income I thought nothing of dropping $30-$50 a shot at the Waldenbooks in the mall. They’re all crammed into the book room, waiting for me to get back to them for the third or fourth or fifth time.
Electronic may be nice. It would certainly cut out the clutter, and you can’t beat a file for portability. I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort and heavy lifting during my last move if I’d had my library on Kindle.
I wouldn’t know. I don’t own a Kindle or Nook, and I’m in no hurry to get one. Maybe it’s because I grew up in one of the last non-electronic generations, but I still look for the physical comfort of a book in my hands when I want to read. If I ever move again I might change my mind, but I don’t think so. (I can always hire hunky young guys to lift the boxes for me.)
Besides, I’ve heard Amazon can delete files from your Kindle, even if they’ve been bought and paid for. What the hell? I paid for it! It’s mine now! Try taking one of my paperbacks away and see if you make it to the door. Not to mention I’ve lived through a computer crash. Paper doesn’t crash, and Amazon can’t delete it behind your back. Granted, computer files don’t go up in a house fire. I’ll just have to take precautions.
And what’s more impressive—a library with floor-to-ceiling shelves of books stretching back to your childhood, or a Kindle on a coffee table? I don’t think anyone’s ever looked at a Kindle and exclaimed, “Wow, you’ve read all those?”
What brought this on was Harper Voyager’s open call for manuscripts, no agents needed. I had a book I hope matches what they’re looking for, and if I get off my butt before October 14 I might just have another. Here’s the drawback, though: the deal ebook only. There may be a chance of print further down the line, but Harper’s not making any guarantees.
I don’t know if that’s good enough. I happen to like the book I sent, and the book I may also send, if not to Harper then to somewhere else. Both are lengthy enough to justify print, even if it’s just POD. I want my print copies. I want that tangible proof that I’m writer enough that somebody paid me in order to read my stuff.
So what do I do if Harper makes an offer? I’m already thinking that over. I still harbor dreams of seeing my books on the shelf in a bookstore, before bookstores go down the tubes. If Harper can’t promise me print to go with the electronic, or doesn’t want to let me keep my print rights so I can commission my own, I might have to turn them down. I can always go the self-publishing route.
That first book? Eventually it did go to print, and you betcha dupa I got a copy. I’m building a library in a shelf in my bedroom of my scanty output in print. Every now and then I pick one up, riffle through it, and grin like an idiot. Somehow a file on the laptop just doesn’t have the same impact.
Though ask me again if I ever have to pack up 40-odd years worth of book collecting and move them from one location to another. As long as I can get paper backup, I might give Kindle a chance.