I suppose it was a year or two ago that e-books began picking up steam. I recall some skepticism regarding the Amazon Kindle and other e-reading devices when they were first released, but must admit my recall is a little hazy because I had no intention of ever having anything to do with e-books or e-readers. Paper and ink for me, baby, and no mistake. But then the economy went south, and a certain writer started pontificating about the terrible state of publishing, authors being dropped by book companies (including him), and the success of his work on the Kindle. He wasn’t entirely wrong, as my dear friend and fellow author Rebecca Forster was one of those writers dropped by her publisher, and her struggles in this racket have been very sobering as I began my assault on the citadel. Other articles appeared in business publications mentioning how hard a time Big Publishing is having these days--about the same amount of trouble as everybody else, really, but the tone of these articles was grim indeed. If there is any good publishing news in recent months, I haven’t found it.
I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, though the dream probably began back in the 7th grade when I discovered Ian Fleming and after that began gobbling up any other spy and adventure novel I could find, regardless if I had full comprehension of the plot and nuances of the stories or not. (Rereading some of those books as an adult proves I had no clue what I was reading at the time and I enjoy them much more now.) That dream includes printed books. Paper and ink. A real editor and real publisher. Not ones and zeroes. No “independent author” status--and is that title full of PC garbage or what?
But the reality is, the publishing world is a jungle and it’s not getting any friendlier (it probably never was very friendly, but there was a day when books outnumbered televisions; and back in the ‘80s, the latest bestsellers were always hot conversation topics). With the economy as it is who knows how long before the industry recovers, if at all, considering the poor sales reports that are not hard to find, and highlighted by those who now have a vested interest in electronic books.
E-books apparently are the future, though I’m sure print books will survive in a niche form. If motor cars ever go fully electric, we’ll still have gasoline engines for driving enthusiasts who need internal combustion for their sports cars. The car replaced the horse and buggy, but horses still occupy an important place in our culture.
So it’s with that realization in mind that I began putting my work out for the Amazon Kindle and other electronic reading devices; it’s why I’ve taken on the “independent author” title (gak!); and why I’m making the herculean effort of publicizing my work and build an audience. If I can bring an audience to a publisher instead of having to find one once a book is published. . .
My latest is called Justified Sins and it’s an action thriller with hard-boiled elements; fans of The Executioner and “Dirty Harry” and many of Charles Bronson’s films will find something to like; if you’re of the hard-boiled and noir school you will appreciate those aspects of the story. At 35,000 words it’s short, but I think it would have found a home with Gold Medal back in the day. Or maybe Ace. Or Pocket. One can only imagine. I guess that’s the nice thing about doing an e-book: I don’t need to write a 100,000 word door stop. But coming up next is a spy thriller called Heroes Wear Black, a 90,000 word story, which will not only be released for the Kindle but also shopped to real agents and real publishers as I continue my assault on the citadel.
Because e-books are not my dream. Until paper and ink books go away forever, they will always be my preferred format.
"Manhunter" by Arnold Hano (1957)
45 minutes ago