The Divining Wand

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Guest Jenny Gardiner on e-publishing

December 01, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Jenny Gardiner (Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me) has recently turned to e-publishing with Slim to None. In today's guest post the author explains why e-publishing, and why now?]

Shortly after I received my Kindle e-reader for my birthday last December, I was reading in bed at midnight, not loving the book I had downloaded, but wanting to continue to read something. So with the magic of my electronic reader, in two minutes’ time, I found another book on Amazon, downloaded the thing, and had begun reading it. How cool is that?

Dramatic changes have been underway in the publishing industry in recent years—changes that–combined with a faltering economy–have left traditional publishing in a bit of a tailspin. While the cumbersome infrastructure of the publishing industry is perhaps not quite nimble enough to as easily embrace and adapt to these changes, authors are on their own figuring out how they can achieve their end goal–to reach readers hungry for their work.

I’ve been fortunate to be teamed up with a literary agent—the wonderful Holly Root—whose agency (The Waxman Agency) is an innovator and has undertaken a bold new program of offering up high-quality books to the reading public via a digital imprint called Diversion Books. I wrestled for a while with whether to “throw my hat into the digital revolution,” as it were, but finally decided that the publishing climate is becoming prohibitive enough that I feel as if writers need to explore all paths to publication and—forgive yet another cliché–I ought to put my money where my mouth was.

Particularly because nowadays most authors already have to do most of their own marketing and publicity, it wasn’t such a stretch for me to publicize a digital book versus a tangible one. Since commercial women’s fiction is a particularly hard sell in the industry right now, it just felt like now was the time to try something different. My biggest worry was that my readers would be able to have access to it since not everyone has an e-reader. But because this book would be available through all e-readers and for POD (publish on demand) through Ingram’s, one of the biggest book distributors, I figured most everyone would have access to it. And because Kindle currently has 80% of the e-book market, Diversion negotiated a brief exclusive in exchange for promotional considerations. With Amazon the book was also available for other e-readers via the Kindle app, so my biggest worry—accessibility–seems pretty much covered.

I jumped at the chance to be part of this program because in many ways I am a convert to e-reading and I believe that society is on the cusp of a major shift in how people read books. I’ve always felt badly that there is a tremendous amount of paper waste with books—that books that don’t sell get sent back to the publishers and ultimately destroyed. And as one who has on many occasions found at least three books lurking in the bowels of her purse (which gets heavy!), I love having all of my reading neatly compiled into one small, lightweight and very portable device. And strangely I find I can focus more readily when reading in a public place with an e-reader. Go figure.

I think that as competition increases with the introduction of new e-readers, and prices come down in the near future, soon electronic readers like the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony Reader and the iPad (of which millions have sold since it’s release earlier this year) will become as commonplace as cell phones (with smart phones already an e-reading option for many).

Are e-books the perfect solution? Not at all. I hate the idea that e-books contribute to marginalizing wonderful independent book stores, and hope that somehow some of the talk—of e-book downloads being available at stores, perhaps, will help to mitigate that. And I hate to sit back and watch layoffs and consolidation in the publishing industry, as really good people, fabulous editors, publicists and artists are squeezed out as the business changes. The music industry experienced these same sea changes and frankly nothing about it is easy. But as the mainstream industry goes more and more toward sure-bet books to the exclusion of the vast mid-list, which is really like the middle class of the writing world, more authors will by necessity seek alternatives to continue to pursue their passion and to reach their readers.

I decided to publish digitally with Diversion Books rather than cold turkey on my own because, alas, I am such a Luddite. Well, not fully. But I am technologically stunted and I don’t have the time in my life right now to devote to figuring out how to do this on my own, and I am happy to be able to work with such wonderful professionals to collaborate on an end-result we can all be proud of. It’s early enough that I can’t tell you how the outcome will be, but so far so good and I really just hope I can get the word out to enough e-readers about the book—I do find that those who are early adapters with e-readers are enthusiastic to buy books, which is a good thing for everyone in a market in which so few books are being purchased. And I hope that my readers will be able to access this book.

Of course tangible paper books aren’t going to go away, but the convenience of downloading books and carrying literally hundreds of them in such compact form is awfully hard to beat. And I’m thrilled to be at the forefront of such exciting innovations and to be able to offer up a book that I absolutely love and think that you will too.

Many of you may know me as a novelist who was able to successfully market my way into a publishing contract with my first novel, SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, which was the winner of Dorchester Publishing’s American Title III contest a few years ago. Back then I sort of stumbled into the frontier of capitalizing on what would soon become the most comprehensive way to market and publicize books—via networking on the internet.

Since that time, the industry has shifted in none-too-subtle ways as the internet has become an integral part of the publishing picture. So much so that e-publishing, which used to be considered an unconventional means of publication, is clearly being viewed now as the wave of the future. The future is already upon us, and I hope that you will join me in this brave new “frontier” by checking out my debut e-novel, SLIM TO NONE, in which Abby Jennings, Manhattan’s premier food critic, is outed on Page Six of the New York Post, and to her chagrin she realizes she’s too recognizably large to now remain incognito in her job. Her editor gives her six months to shape up or ship out, and so this ultimate foodie–a woman who is paid to eat for a living–must vastly curtail her eating in order to continue being able to make a living.

This holiday season promises a huge surge in e-book readers as gifts, so I look forward to a rapidly-growing audience eager to embrace e-books. And if you’re one of the lucky ones to get an e-reader for Christmas/Hanukkah/etc, please remember Slim to None!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Ann Wertz Garvin’s On Maggie’s Watch in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Ann Wertz Garvin and On Maggie’s Watch. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.

8 Comments to “Guest Jenny Gardiner on e-publishing”


  1. Great post. See, if I could somehow go to my local indie and download a book with some proceeds going to the store, I’d do that! I have a ton (truly) of paper books so I’ll probably never completely quit reading that way but I love my ereader and now buy almost all ebooks. I figure if after reading a book on my ereader I love it so much that I want it on my bookshelf, I’ll go to an indie and buy it.

    Thanks for weighing in on such a hot topic, Jenny. And now I’m going to go check out Slim to None!

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  2. Thanks so much for stopping by Mary–I hear ya on the TONS of paper books (but I do love my ereader!). Thanks for having me Larramie!

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  3. Jenny, I totally agree with you that the publishing industry is in the midst of a huge upheaval – and I think much of that upheaval is deserved. Those vast warehouses full of books no one ever buys that later get shredded and pulped are a silly and expensive waste in this day and age. I think e-publishing will ultimately force the industry to be more innovative in all sorts of ways. I do dread the disappearance of bookstores, but I have a bad feeling they will all (both independent and chains) be going the way of record stores in the not-too-distant future.

    As for me, I still prefer reading books the old-fashioned way, but too much of my house is filled with books and they are truly a pain to move. I’m really hoping to get a Kindle or a Nook for Christmas. And if I do, I’ll definitely be ordering SLIM TO NONE!

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  4. Nan Coleman says:

    Hi Jenny! Loved the article. I am probably going to e-publish the first book I wrote, but I’m concerned that the recognizable names of e-publishers will attach a prejidice(sp?) against the book almost immediately. Do you feel like that’s an issue.
    My book also has illustrations, do you know if they transfer to e-readers?

    I can’t bring myself to purchase an e-reader yet, I love paper books and the thought of life without them is kind of sad…..

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  5. I’m so conflicted on this subject. I like the idea of the e-readers but I just love to hold a real book and be able to flip pages back and forth! Now I have more thoughts to swirl around! Thanks for the article!

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  6. I have the Kindle app in my iPod, but haven’t sprung for a dedicated e-reader – yet. Thank-you for the insight into e-publishing. I agree with your thoughts. While I love paper and ink books, e-books are opening up a whole new world for authors.

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  7. This post pretty much sums up how I feel, except that since I haven’t really gotten my foot in the door of the publishing biz yet, I’m less certain that e-publishing/e-reading is a full on “wave of the future.” It could be! I just don’t have enough personal information/experience to know… But all that stuff about convenience, loving libraries, wanting to seize opportunities, etc. — that stuff I know and agree with 100%.

    Congrats and good luck on this new endeavor!

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  8. thanks all for stopping by! BTW you CAN get Slim to None in actual paper book form now–you just need to go to Amazon and you can find it there. So hope those of you without e-readers will check it out.
    It is a crazy sort of wild, wild west in the industry now. As the mainstream houses stick with “safe” bets like Snooki and the Real Housewives for their book deals, writers are looking for roundabout ways to get their books to their readers, and I do think a huge shake-up will ultimately benefit a lot. It’s not so easy to find readers this way, but actually for those not published that’s not such a bad thing–it’s almost a level playing field of getting eyeballs on your writing. it behooves you to put out the best product you can, something well-edited and of course well-written, but you can get grass roots support behind it if you really work it well, and will find readers, so good luck to those trying to go that route. and Hi Nan! I think it’s early days as far as illustrations but trust me, there are many brainstorming on that–I’ve heard them discuss this at conferences. I would imagine the iPad is going to have a huge leg up on that because the iPad has the graphics capabilities and is in color. The Kindle is still pretty rudimentary in its design so has a ways to go with that.
    Thanks again for stopping by!!!

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