[[Welcome to my weekly writer’s diary where I’ll share my “Woot Woot!” moments and the not so “woot woot” moments of my writing world. And, yes, I might even share the occasional musing or two about reading and writing, two of my favorite things!]]
It’s Thursday ~ 10/11/12 ~ and…
I’m musing today. I can’t speak for other authors but I have to admit to a bit of confusion (dare I say frustration?) about the apparent disconnect in the book publishing industry between what we’ve all been trained to expect from our books in the past, both as writers and readers, and the market of today. Things are changing so fast that it’s almost impossible to keep up or make conscious decisions before something new happens to change the tide in another direction.
Case in point. Something happened this week that reminded me that I’m still lagging, both as a reader and a writer, in a publishing mindset that’s been around, well, forever. I won’t get into the specific event because it’s not the event that’s important to the discussion, but the subsequent musings it prompted.
I can remember the first time I picked up my new Kindle. (Only last year!) I’d put off adding any more electronic “stuff” to my beleaguered life as long as I could. When I started considering the possibility of publishing my own book through the wondrous “new” technology of digital publishing — yeah, I was one of the last bastions of a land line phone only two months ago, too — I decided I needed to get a Kindle of my own.
Hmmm, where was I? Oh, yeah….lagging mindsets. I swear it’s senility but my kids do occasionally tell me I’m not that old. Or maybe I’m imagining that, too. 🙂
Let’s talk about my reader mindset. Although I loved so many things about my new Kindle, like the ability to make the font bigger so I could actually read the book — okay, no more snarky remarks about old ladies and dinosaurs, please — there were certain things I didn’t like about reading on a machine. Of course, all comments aside about type size (print book fonts are getting smaller to help publishers save printing costs, that’s good economics), I like holding a book in my hand. I like knowing where I stop reading when I toddle off to make dinner for my family. I love the smell and feel of a print book. I love sifting through my 24-foot long, 8-foot high wall of paperback novels.
I miss these things when I read on my Kindle. I no longer know how many books I have waiting for me to open their pages. They’re tidily tucked into my Kindle bookshelves but they’re no longer lined up side-by-side for easy skimming. I read across the genres and sometimes I feel like reading a historical. Sometimes I like reading suspense. And sometimes, I just want to pick up a cute little contemporary or a paranormal or a…well, you get the picture.
With a leather cover wrapped around my Kindle, one that opens up like a book, I can recapture the feel of a print book…sort of. But I love throwing my leather book thong between the pages of my print book when I stop on page 85. I love knowing I’m on page 85. I love knowing that, by eyeball estimation, I still have approximately two-thirds of the book to wallow in before I finish. Yes, I have a love affair with my books but that’s a whole ‘nother topic!
It bothers me I don’t know these things when I read the same book on my Kindle. Why? Because I don’t feel the same sense of completion when I read that invisible “The End” that tells me the book is finished. I’m still used to closing the binding on that physical book and I don’t know how to get that same closure when I finish an eBook. I know I’m 25%, 60%, 85% through the story on my Kindle. But I want page numbers. I want to know that I got my money’s worth.
As a reader, it frustrates me that I’m unsure whether I’ve just read a full length novel of 50,000 to 100,000 words, or a novella. When I hold a skinny book or a fat book in my hand, I know exactly what I paid for.
Which brings me to the other side of my musings.
As a writer, it frustrates me that my readers don’t really know if they get what they paid for either. I know I write full length novels as traditional publishing standards fly. My contemporary romantic comedies are the same size as the Harlequin Temptations (Satin Pleasures anyway, that may be changing with my next book 🙂 ) because the story was aimed at that publisher. My romantic suspense is longer but that’s to be expected because it’s single title…again as the traditional publisher flies. But on the digital devices, you really can’t tell. It’s all too easy to feel cheated without a physical book weighing in on your senses and my suspense might feel as “light” as my contemporaries to some readers. I hope not!
I’m a realist and I know there’s not much I can do to influence reader perceptions especially when the traditional publishing benchmarks are masked or no longer apply. The story is finished when it’s finished. The last thing I want to do is add “fluff” to a story to make it appear bigger. If the story is told in novella length, that’s how I’ll sell it.
I like to believe I’m moving around this digital world fairly well. But questions pop up and knock me sideways once in a while, reminding me that I’m still a baby in Indie publishing, as most of us are since the digital world is still evolving. How many of the traditional publishing expectations should writers carry over into our digital publishing? How much do I, as a reader, have a right to expect of the authors I’m buying? I think we’re still all kind of wandering in the dark on both sides of the question. There doesn’t seem to be any easy answers.
Maybe tomorrow, there will be. 🙂
See you next Thursday for another rousing entry in Karen’s Diary Drop-In….