Like me, you might remember where you were when your book-loving friend came to you and said, "Hey, did you hear that Borders signed for bankruptcy?" I was on my bed and on my computer, promoting my debut novel currently in ebook form. I was surprised because I thought Borders was doing pretty well financially. I love the place. I've gotten great books and wonderful manga there all the time. I would always go there and love to see people just sitting in the wonderful atmosphere by the bookshelves and reading to their heart's delight. It was a nice sight, I'm not gonna lie.
But am I surprised by the surge in ebook popularity? Yes and no, for a few reasons. No because the reality is ebooks are ridiculously convenient for people who want quality and quantity at a great price. And in a world where recession takes away your home, banks use shady practices to foreclose on where you live, where technology is only every moving forward, I think it's safe to say that many saw this coming. And I must also add that geographical limitation in a world like today is no longer something people are willing to accept. If a man from Jamaica wants to read your Canadian novel being sold at an outrageous price at his local bookstore--if it's even being sold there at all--or if he wants to read it and doesn't have a credit card to buy the brick and mortar book online and doesn't trust the sometimes hectic and even more expensive shipping system to get that book to him, ask yourself a serious question. Why wouldn't he hit up Amazon or Smashwords and get himself a digital copy? He may indeed wish to have the actual book to hold in his hand, but maybe they'll add a bookish scent to the Amazon Kindle in a few years with a new slogan, "Kindle. It looks like a book, acts like a book, and now it smells like one."
And why am I surprised by the surge in popularity? I guess because years ago I just couldn't fathom it alongside the sometimes arrogant statements made by some publishers that basically amounted to: "We're busy people. Don't waste our time. If you don't have a bestseller, maybe you should consider farming." I'll tell you. I wrote my debut novel when I was around 18, 17. I'm 24 now. Went to university, came out, fiddled around, decided to get into this seriously. But those years ago, I would have never dreamed that the self-publishing option would be available for me if I so chose it, and certainly a self-publishing option that offered a virtual book.
Before the manuscript for "The Mirrors of Fate" was properly ready (before I went to university) I think I sent a handful of query letters, well-done up, maybe five or so, out to a few agents who didn't know what to do with a story like mine and didn't want it, but thank God they rejected me. I've cleaned up the manuscript so much since then. But I chose not to shop around again after the final product was ready. I'd done a lot of research about the industry and was intrigued by the proliferation of the ebook and the growing popularity of self-publishing that was once upon a time looked upon with a scowl. I'm glad that option is here today. It really has opened the doors for a lot of new talent to debut and for people to try and realize their dreams to someday be an author. I've read some excellent stuff form self-published people that made me say, "How in God's name does this guy not have an agent?" Certainly no one is saying the self-publishing route is easier. It's hard to get your name out there. Hard. But people have done it and are doing it, so learn from the experts. You have to believe you can be one of them too and chase after that dream with tooth and nail. Marketing is a must. You can't just write a book and expect it to sell itself. There are millions of books. What's different about yours? I pride myself on writing original stories. If it's even just taking an old idea and doing something new with it. Definitely my debut novel and its characters are rather unique. I love it. Book 2 certainly falls into the "unique" category as well, I think. But I digress...
Only when you go through the marketing process yourself as an indie do you truly appreciate all the work some publishers and all the other little people involved do for clients to help sell that book. Because of that appreciation and understanding, I would never completely rule out looking for a traditional agent and publishing company. Working with self-publishing marketing can be a tiring process, but it's one that I am oddly enough enjoying. It's kind of like adrenaline. You get knocked down a couple times but why not get back up and try another strategy? And with the recent success of Read an Ebook Week, gosh, I'm encouraged. I say to you all. Chase your dream. It won't chase you. As of today, while I'm saddened that the book industry is, according to some reports, losing money, I love buying both books and ebooks now. I will forever support both causes and forever support traditional and indie. And with the Kindle for PC, and the Kindle, and the Ipad, nothing is going to keep consumers away from satiating their book appetites digitally.