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Creative Writers Look To Ebook Future

Gurmeet Mattu

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So what does the writer set out to achieve?

Well, the novelist wants to be read, the poet and radio writer wants to be heard and the screenwriter wants his stuff to be seen. Otherwise it's a waste of time.

I don't believe in writing for yourself. Oh, and for those that didn't know, poetry is written to be heard not read. But the best prose should read like poetry.

So, whither writing and whither the writer?

The writer will always exist because humanity will always require information and entertainment. It is the delivery methods that are changing. Digital and broadcast will continue to thrive but to my mind the printing press and publishers are obsolete.

So what does that leave? You're sitting there with the manuscript of your novel and nowhere to go? Or are new opportunities opening up before you?

Now I'm no eco-warrior but anything that helps save the planet sounds sensible. A lot was made of the digital revolution and how it would lead to the paper-less office. Didn't happen.
Our generation, brought up on books made of paper aren't going to see the death of books.

Being born, however, are two technologies that might increase access to markets for the writer.
Firstly, there's Print On Demand (POD) which is the younger brother of self-publishing, which is the off-spring of vanity publishing.

To explain, some writers who couldn't find a publisher would pay for the printing of their work themselves. This cost big bucks and left you with a warehouse full of books and looking for a sales team and a marketing strategy. Never very popular it became somewhat of a leper colony and vanity publishing seemed akin to masturbation. Sensing a bad rap vanity publishing became self publishing and was just as popular till the technology caught up. Now, using computer printing technology publishers don't have huge printing bills. They store a script on computer and don't print till the orders come in. And the

POD people can print as little as one copy at a time.

There are companies on the internet who will allow you to self publish with POD but they charge you an arm and a leg and you're still cutting down forests for the paper, even if the remainders bins are abolished.

Secondly there are ebooks, which again haven't really taken off because we're tied to the concept of a book we can hold in our hand. This might change with Amazon's Kindling which looks to have solved the problems of many ebook readers. Creating an ebook from your material is still self-publishing, but you are in total control of the process.

The ebook has also been hijacked by writers of what aren't really books at all. To call 10 pages a book is laughable, it is hardly a pamphlet. Yet the internet is swamped with so-called ebooks telling you how to become an overnight millionaire or build a bird table. These how-to ‘ebooks’ with their
associated Master Resale Rights, Private Label Rights and similar marketing techniques have soured what could have been a worthy outlet for the creative writer. Information is useful, but when only basic is useless. The strategy with these ebooks is to get them onto the market in numbers, selling them very cheaply or even giving them away with the hope that, as they are branded with the original creator's web link, someone along the line will actually go to their site and be pitched some other dream.

As they say in my native city, “Do you think I came up the Clyde in a banana boat?"

But these clowns do prove one thing, that production of an ebook is easy. The joy for the writer is that he can write, format, design and publish an ebook all by himself, thereby bypassing an entire industry. Write in a word processor, format, convert to pdf, design a cover and you're in business. All the software to do this is available for free on the net. Anybody with a PC can create an ebook.

My work has seen the light of day in print, on stage, on radio and on TV but I still have a mass of unpublished stuff. It's still going to get a chance because I'm going to convert it all into ebooks and put it on a website. No saying if anybody will ever pick up on it, but at least I've given it the chance to live.

No forests are cut down for paper and the books themselves don't need to be shipped across the world. It seems the perfect publishing solution. If writing specifically for ebook publication remember that they do tend to be much shorter than regular novels and written in easily readable chunks. Of course the reader could always print them off, but that would defeat the point.

Also, with your ebook sitting in the bowels of your PC you still need to deal with marketing and selling it, and that employs a whole new set of skills. You could sell through an auction site or set up your own website. But Ebay have recently banned the sale of ebooks on their site and other auction sites don't have nearly the reach. Setting up your own site isn't difficult and needn't be expensive, till you then face the problem of getting visitors to your site, hopefully to purchase your masterpiece.

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Gurmeet Mattu is an award-winning writer with a track record in print, stage, radio and television. He currently has two operational websites which offers an ebook packaging service for self-publishers and from which he runs an online creative writing course.


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