Amazon, Kindle, indie publishing, and the joy of reading

It was almost exactly 4 years ago when I wrote a previous blog post about my tentative introduction to eBooks. I haven’t gone on to become a big fan of eBooks as a substitute for having paper in my hands. I continue to buy more books than I can get through because they are so tempting, and our house is filled with piles of books on most flat surfaces. It’s who we are. But although I have not switched to eBooks as a substitute for piles of books, I have embraced it as a way to obtain and enjoy some extremely well-written, compelling, enjoyable, and/or informative books by self-published authors – or indie (independent) authors. In many cases, it’s the only available format for these books.

I don’t claim to be an expert on why it seems difficult to impossible for good authors to get in the door of a publishing house. I get that the business model for paper-based book publishing and bricks-and-mortar bookstores is changing, similar to the music, movie and TV industries. However, I do not understand why, in the process of figuring out how to continue to make money from selling books, the book industry turns away so many good books. And this is where the blogosphere has stood me in good stead. I have “met”, even feel like I have become friends with, a number of bloggers who have a passion for writing and a wealth of ideas for stories, and who have self-published one, two, or even many books in the past five years that I have been in the blogosphere. I stand in awe of their talent and their resolve. And I would have paid full bookstore value for their books, which in some cases instead I have only been able to get as a Kindle download from Amazon. Having said that, the books are in fact eminently and conveniently readable on my iPod – and very cheap. But there is little to no difference in quality between these books and many of the ones that cost far more through publishers. One set of authors is making a living from their writing and the other set is doing it as a labour of love. And therein lies the rub.

That having been said, I love that so many people, including my blogging friends and some of my colleagues, have embraced the world of indie publishing. I just wish more people knew about the treasure trove of good reading that isn’t as well advertised as it might be.

This topic came to the fore for me because of an email of encouragement I got from Amazon a month ago. I’m sure most of you have gotten these, the personalized emails announcing new books that they think you might like based on past purchases. I don’t usually pay much attention to these come-ons, but much to my surprise and delight, this particular Amazon email came up displaying a new book by one of my blogging friends, Roy McCarthy from the Isle of Jersey in the Channel Isles. There was his name in large letters at the top of the email. So cool. So, one answer to how an indie author can increase his or her book sales is to: (1) write a first book that’s a good read, and (2) work hard to get people to buy and review your first book so that Amazon will subsequently do some proactive advertising on your behalf.

royamazon

In fact, Roy’s first book, Barry, started my adventure into the world of buying Kindle versions of books from Amazon (because it was only available in that format in North America). As I reported in my blog post of four years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed Barry, so much so that I had ordered 3 others since (A Jersey Midsummer Tale, Tess of Portelet Manor, and Barry2), which Amazon’s algorithm clearly noted. With Roy’s new book I had the choice of Kindle or paper, and happily went with paper. It arrived in my mailbox a few days ago and my plan was for a leisurely read while on holiday next week. However, I made the mistake of starting A Contract of Honour yesterday … and I was enjoying it so much that before I knew it I was done!

I won’t turn this post into a full book review, but if you think you might enjoy a story set in rural Ireland, with a variety of threads through multiple generations and some Irish gentry magic mixed in for good measure, then you should enjoy this new novel, A Contract of Honour. If you think you might like a story about a middle aged couple in England whose lives have their ups and downs and twists and turns of mid-life challenges and disappointments – and the man is a runner! – then you should definitely enjoy Barry and Barry2. And the gentle historical fiction of A Jersey Midsummer Tale and Tess of Portelet Manor provide a fine introduction to the history of Jersey. Roy always does an excellent job of bringing his characters to life, both men and women. It impresses me no end. Roy and I connected in the blogosphere because of our common declared interests in recreational running and writing, and look what he has achieved since. As I say, I stand in awe!

I have several friends and acquaintances whose writing I admire, so while I’m on the subject, let me add a few others to the list for those of you who might be looking for some good reads by indie authors. You can google them and see what you think, then head over to Amazon!

David Charters, Beneath the Rose: A Tale of Terror and Love. This book of Dave’s is a riveting spy novel, and a spy novel largely set in Montreal and Ottawa at that! One does not want to give away the plot of a spy novel, so I will leave it at this: I simply could not put it down. Not for one minute.

Francis Guenette, The Crater Lake Series (all 3 of this series for $5US in Kindle), Disappearing in Plain Sight (the first of the series). Fran, who lives on the stunningly beautiful west coast of Canada, has written an eminently readable series of novels set in her home territory of rural Vancouver Island. Her well-developed characters all carry their own baggage, and the twists, turns, and tensions they encounter compel to you to keep reading. I’m looking forward to the her next novel, currently a work in progress.

There are so many talented writers out there who are not being picked up by traditional publishers at all. Not even a nibble. All of us who love to read lose if more doors aren’t opened for us to be able to discover the wealth of worthy indie authors out there – and also for them to receive better compensation for the time, passion, and talent they put into their work. From an admiring reader – thank you, indie authors!

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8 Responses to Amazon, Kindle, indie publishing, and the joy of reading

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    Ah, thanks so much for your kind words Jane. For most of us indies it’s enough that a few people out there read us, and hopefully enjoy what we’ve written. And to be mentioned in the same breath as the craftswoman that is Francis is an honour 🙂

    But among the good, well-written indie e-books there really is a heap of nondescript stuff, carelessly edited and presented. I did some reviewing for a website at one time and, except for the odd jewel, I got to wishing for death as sweet release. It’s always good to fall back occasionally on a household name that you can rely upon,

    • Jane Fritz says:

      But one can say the same for many publishing-house books. I felt the same way after reading Margaret Atwood’s most recent book; I much preferred all those I mentioned in this blog. Maybe I’m just lucky with my blogging friends and UNB colleagues! 🙂

  2. alesiablogs says:

    Yes!! WE have met new friends through our writing! I met you! Very interesting post.

  3. I will add all of these to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list and look for them on Amazon as well. I’ve become a big audiobook fan for my bi=monthly trips to Covington and back (one hour each way). Radio just doesn’t entertain me anymore but a good book is always on my list. Thanks for the referrals.

  4. Many thanks for inclusion in this great and informative post 🙂 Hobnobbing with the likes of Dave Charters and Roy McCarthy – I’m on a roll today.

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