by Cindie Geddes
Judith (Harlan) and I (Cindie Geddes) were having lunch in Reno, outside on a beautiful summer day in 2010. We were talking about e-books, in general, and Kindle, in particular. We were both excited by the possibilities that were unfolding now that a viable e-reader had made its way to market AND found some competition.
Amazon was opening its doors to small presses and self-publishers. Smashwords made a business out of distributing self-published books to different e-tailers. Barnes & Noble jumped on board too. Seemingly overnight, e-books became a viable source of writer income.
Traditional publishing had been burned on these e-reader gadgets before. As an industry never fond of change, most of publishing took a wait-and-see approach. But what they saw was the writing on the wall. As the sales of e-books doubled and then, just this past holiday season, outsold their paper brethren, e-books became more than a passing fancy.
E-books are now relevant – even though they currently make up only 10 percent of the books in “print.”
E-reader owners have proven to be voracious readers (go figure, being the kind of folks loving the ability to carry hundreds of books on one device), so their impact on the industry has been felt out of proportion to their numbers.
And the tide is not turning back. If you are a writer, you ignore e-books at your own peril. You may love the feel of a book, the smell, the hardiness. But ignoring e-readers as a sales tool is akin to a musician ignoring mp3s. Vinyl is great, CDs nostalgic, but the opportunities had through electronic files are not to be taken lightly.
Scroll forward to 2011: At last, the technology of e-readers (which has been around for a decade) has met a business with a library and leverage (Amazon). Bring on the Nook with Barnes & Noble’s vast library and the iPad with its sex appeal, and we see a world in major shift.
Add to all this synergy, the doors opening for self-publishers and small publishers, electronically and on good old-fashioned paper, and there is finally a system in place for writers to get their work out on their own.
No more waiting for gatekeepers. No being told that the book isn’t marketable because it crosses genres, features minority main character, adds humor to genres usually devoid of it. No getting caught in the mean funnel of 20-year-old New Yorkers schlepping their way through the subway with manuscripts in hand, hoping to find somethinganything in the slush that will bring them their big break.
This is a damn exciting time to be a writer. Never have we had so many opportunities to get our work in front of an audience. Never have we had so much control over own financial destinies.
The problem, as Judith and I saw it, was that we were still stuck in old New York thinking – writer gets 20 percent, publisher gets 80 percent – for the life of the book. This hardly seems fair. A book that sells, sells because of the writing. A story that endures, endures because of the writing. If I handed my husband The Old Man and the Sea written in crayon, he’d still want to buy it.
While we at Lucky Bat Books like to think we’re fathoms above writing in Crayon, we also recognize that it is the story that sells (though, please, no Crayon). Therefore, the writer keeps all copyright to their Lucky Bat Book. The writer keeps all royalties coming in from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, or the books they handsell on their own.
While we wish we could make this strictly a labor of love, Judith and I have 5 dogs to feed between us, let alone the 4 cats, 2 spouses, one child and a roommate (we don’t count the fish, despite their recent protests for inclusion).
But we’ve made our pricing as lean as possible. In fact, for the parts we do ourselves, we’ve both dropped our rates to almost half what they were when we were working as freelancers. We’ve worked out deals with artists and designers to make book covers affordable. We’ve done everything we wished someone would have done for us.
So, in a nutshell, we want to revolutionize the writing business. We hope you’ll join us.