My first experience of using a Kindle occurred recently when I was asked to read a psalm during a wedding service. Until then – being in love with the feel of paper and ink – I was reluctant to forego the pleasure of turning a new page and closing the covers at the end of a satisfying read. The Kindle was handed to me by its owner with the psalm clearly visible. Just before I was about to mount the lectern to deliver the psalm I glanced down at the Kindle. The words had disappeared. I stared at the blank screen, petrified. The owner was at least four rows in front and out of reach. I shook the Kindle, turned it upside down, sideways, breathed hotly upon it, and, as a last desperate resort, prayed over it. Zero result. I was afraid to touch the buttons in case Fifty Shades of Grey or Finnegan’s Wake came up – both seemed equally inappropriate for the occasion.
With seconds to spare, the person beside me, noticing my panic, sorted out my problem with a deft touch and the required psalm flashed once more into view. Since then I’m a converted Kindle user but I tell this pitiful anecdote to alert my readers to the fact that I’m not the brightest spark in the box of matches when it comes to matters digital.
As a writer my task is to write my books, edit and proofread, okay the cover, endure or enjoy the reviews, skulk around bookshops to make sure my precious babies are on display – and sulk furiously when not. But the winds of change are blowing through publishing and e-books have added a whole new dimension to a traditional industry.
Recently, the rights on one of my novels reverted back to me. I’d enjoyed writing this book and it had been well received by my readers. But there it was – languishing on my book shelf, it’s life span spent. I noticed that Stolen Child, my latest book, had developed an on-line readership and was performing well on the Kindle and iTunes Book Chart. This alerted me to the possibilities of publishing my rights reverted novel as an e-book.
I read up on the process. There is a wealth of information available about e-publishing. Sometimes, reading the experiences of those involved in publishing their books, I wondered if learning Chinese was an easier option. One book that proved particularly useful was David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital. It’s full of helpful, common sense information on independent publishing and is garnering quite a reputation on the internet and in print. http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/lets-get-digital/ .
Gradually, I began to understand the process. I sought professional help with formatting my PDF and used the skills of a experienced designer for my cover. The admin work was demanding, the form filling terrifying in case I submitted incorrect data and my book disappeared into the nether reaches of the unranked and unnoticed. Working at the coal face made me appreciate the basic but essential work that goes on behind the scenes when a book is being prepared for publication.
Deceptions has just gone on-line. Seeing it up there is a satisfying feeling. The down-side is that I’m on my own, no longer part of an experienced, professional team, who normally look after marketing and promotion. But I’m enjoying the challenge of acquiring new skills and making new on-line contacts. Most of all I’m glad I was able to avail of the digital revolution to give my book a new lease of life – and an opportunity to be read by a global on-line readership.