"We've read all your Kindle Bestsellers Mr. Zandri! Honest we have!"
I was invited to be the guest author at a local ladies book club this past week. I don't mean "ladies" in a demeaning or male chauvinist sort of way. By "ladies" I just mean that no men are invited to this particular book club. And because no men are invited the ladies like to dress up the way they want, drink what they want (and a lot of it!), and chat loudly about whatever they want, whether it has to do with books or not.
This group of women were for the most part all married, 50ish with kids either graduated from or just about to graduate from college. They were college educated, funny, sincerely interested, seriously interesting, collegial and just plain nuts....in a good way.
The books for discussion were my latest, The Remains, and a not so oldie but a goodie, Moonlight Falls. We also discussed the transition of As Catch Can to The Innocent, which was just recently re-published by StoneGate Ink. We talked about the ending of Moonlight, the twist that no one has yet guessed and that has many people talking. We spoke about the haunting theme of The Remains and how, despite its scary plot, it's also a good read for Young Adults. We spoke about my spending a night and two days locked up in Sing Sing Prison back when I was researching The Innocent.
It was "all good," as people like to say nowadays. But then the topic of conversation shifted to something else.
"I'm never buying one of those!" barked the host, a slim blond-haired energetic woman wearing leather pants.
"I prefer paper," said another, far quieter woman. "A kindle would hurt my eyes."
"What's a Kindle," said yet another.
And so the conversation began. And so I began a short tutorial about the Kindle. Not about how it offers up far more convenience for obtaining which books or stories you want when you want them, but it also offers relief for your wallet. Kindle books are, for the most part, far less expensive than paper books. Also, there are offerings on Kindle that you won't find in paper, such as my digital shorts and a new special combo edition put out by StoneHouse Ink of Aaron Patterson's "Sweet/Dreams" and my "The Remains ("Sweet Dreams/The Remains"), both No. 1 Amazon hard-Boiled Kindle Bestsellers. And when I commented that not only are Kindles far easier to read than many print books, but that when the old eyes get tired, you can set it to a mode that reads for you, the quiet woman almost fell out of her chair.
But at that point the conversation shifted yet again. I mentioned how difficult it is to make money in traditional publishing, how authors only make a fraction of book sales. And now that paper book sales are slowing to a crawl and bookstores like Borders going out of business, it's virtually impossible for an author to not only make up his or her advance, but to make a living from that point forward. Add into that how major publishers can hold onto your rights for up to a decade at a time, and your have a system that is seriously broke.
In a word, I had these woman staring at me with gaping mouths. And it wasn't because of my good looks. It was because I then went on to reveal that my publisher pays me 50% of the profits from E-Book sales which is far greater than I would ever receive in a traditional deal. Sure, my agent takes a portion of that, but it's still leaves a sizable chunk of change in the final accounting.
Am I against traditional publishing in NYC? Not at all. My first two books were the result of a major NYC contract. I believe all authors should pursue a mix of both indie and traditional publishing. Fact is, you can't beat the distribution powers of traditional publishers nor their ability to get you reviewed in the NY Times or Post or both. Plus its fun to party in NYC! The point here is that now we can do both and on top of that, if we feel so bold, we can also self publish. That adds a third money-making dimension for the author. And it's all because of the Kindle (which doesn't hurt your eyes!).
I can make a living again from my fiction, or so I revealed to these kind, fun-loving women. But only if I write great books, I added, and they wholeheartedly agreed, while inviting me back for another meeting at Holloween.
"By then," I said, "you will all be reading from Kindles."
At that they all sort of looked at one another, not wanting to be the first to admit it. Then the quiet one chimed in.
"Yes," she said, "I might buy a Kindle this weekend."
Party on Ladies!!!!!