The following is a guest post by Paul E. Cooley.
For an author, e-books can be their own special kind of hell. They’re inexpensive to produce, should be inexpensive for the reader, and allow writers to include all sorts of contextual information that is impossible to duplicate in their paper brethren. However, who wants to purchase an e-book at a book signing?
The idea of a book signing is to gather an interested audience, perhaps perform a reading, and then sign books your readers have bought and brought. Book signings are fantastic PR opportunities and, of course, readers who can’t afford your book or are not familiar with your work may attend just to find out about the author. If they like what you have to say, or your reading, perhaps, just perhaps, you have won yourself a new customer.
However, what about these e-books?
The market has changed significantly in the last few years. E-book only publishers are beginning to pop-up and sign authors to better deals than their traditional counterparts. Even authors whose work is printed tend to have a significant e-book presence. Therefore, why should authors be forced to eschew their digital copies?
I am a software architect, as well as a writer, and more than a little tech savvy. In 2009, I offered my listeners a deal: if they submitted a donation to Shadowpublications.com, my free podio-fiction outlet, they received a free e-book version of my latest novel. Since said novel hadn’t been published anywhere else, it was a pretty neat deal.
But not only was I going to send them a draft of the novel no one else would ever see, I was going to personalize it for them. For each of my patrons, I took out a sheet of paper, addressed it to them, and then wrote some kind (or nasty) words of thanks. I scanned the letter and then placed it in the ebook. The ebook was then e-mailed to the patron.
This process would take anywhere between ten and fifteen minutes per copy. As you can imagine, it was a nightmare. I sent out over fifty e-book copies in this manner and thought to myself “I’m never going to do this again.”
What happened? The patrons loved it. Not only did they love it, they told others about it. Suddenly, after the promotion ended, I had readers begging me to open up the promotion again– they wanted to donate and get a signed e-book too.
Other authors heard about what I’d done, and suddenly I was deluged with tweets and Facebook messages asking for an instruction manual on the process.
At the prodding of a friend of mine, I began designing a method to automate the personalization process. At first, the software was only to service my titles. While I was working on it, however, I realized that I could make the service generic, allowing other authors to use it as well.
MyWrite was born.
At Balticon 2011, iPad in hand, I demonstrated the service to both writers and readers. I sold e-books at the bar using a Square credit card swiper on my iPhone and then personalized them using the iPad, MyWrite, and a stylus.
At my book signing, I signed both digital and print copies of my books.
Since Balticon, I’ve sold e-books at restaurants, bars, smoking areas, you name it. I frequently give them away, too, if I think it’s someone who will end up being a paying customer. In all cases, it’s the promise of the personalized copy that made the sale.
I am an author. Authors are by and large not wealthy people. The MyWrite service was constructed to be author-friendly. Instead of charging exorbitant monthly fees or taking a percentage of each e-book sold, our business model is designed on a yearly subscription fee per title. In most cases, a few e-books sold using the service will recoup the cost for that title.
MyWrite is designed to help authors find another avenue to increase their revenue. Instead of forcing authors into using another business model, MyWrite allows authors and their publishers determine how they will sell their books.
The e-book revolution is well underway. Traditional media is falling beneath its own expensive weight while its digital counterparts fly through the internet to readers and listeners. The only question is how authors are going to take advantage of it and what tools they will use to increase revenues.
I hope you will give MyWrite its due consideration as one of those tools. The market for digital personalization is growing. Pay attention to it. You might be surprised how many of your readers will be asking for it.
Please visit http://www.mywriteapp.com for information regarding our product.
Paul Elard Cooley, AKA The FiendMaster, is a writer, podcaster, and software developer from The Woodlands, Texas. He has been nominated four times for Parsec Awards and the podcast of his novella Tattoo was a 2010 Parsec Award Finalist. He writes dark and twisted fiction and doesn’t believe in happy endings. Earlier this year, his story collection “Fiends: Vol1” was published by Blue Moose Press.
You can find his work at http://www.shadowpublications.com