Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ahh technology...

I now have a kindle. My next novel is out as an e-book as well as in print. I am putting Jack the Viking 2: Magnetic North out as an e-book as soon as I get my A into G. It seemed like the right time to embrace the revolution. Is it better or worse then reading the paper version? - well, no, it's just different. Some things don't work as an e-book. And cuddling up with your kids in bed with a good book will not work with a kindle for several reasons. And I don't think it will work with an I-pad either. I like print books. But I like the electronic version as well. E-readers are here to stay. They are not a flash in the pan, fly-by-night trend like tamagotchi or furbies. They are a practical and smart idea that makes sense for a lot of people. And as an author I should know how it works and what it means and how I get my books on to these devices. Whether I liked or approved of the e-reader trend was never the point. The fact is, readers have embraced the new technology and it would be dumb for me to stick my head in the sand now.

Yet technology can be a mixed blessing. A few contentious issues have been flaring up on the interweb recently: Authors at odds with agents and or publishers over content and contracts. First we had a couple of authors horrified that an agent was suggesting they cut a gay character from their novel in order to make the book more saleable. The agent responded saying the authors were using the situation to find a publisher. It all became he said, she said, but whatever the truth of the matter is, it raised an interesting point about what Sarah Rees Brennan calls the Circle of Suck and you can read about it here - As a white middle class female, an awful lot of literature is aimed at me and I have nothing to complain about because I can easily read about people just like me, in books that reflect my circumstances right back at me. Thats one enormous comfort zone of reading for me. But if I was gay or coloured or some other minority group I would have to be reading about straight white people because thats what is mostly out there. That would suck. I don't know that I could write with an authentic voice for other groups, but I would like to think that those who could were free to write their stories and able to get published. However the original issue gets resolved (if it does at all), debate like this over the content of books is hugely important.

And then there is author Kiana Davenport who apparently fell foul of her print publisher because she was releasing short stories in e-format by herself. I found her story via Welshcake here - Although self-publishing these e-books shouldn't matter, depending on what Kiana's contract with the publisher says, like Welshcake I hesitate over what the truth of the matter is. I was a little shocked to see it all layed out in a globally public forum. I was horrified that the publisher could dismiss Kiana so unprofessionally. Was I missing something? Is there more to this story? Can e-books and self-publishing really be causing this sort of reaction? Is telling her story on her blog going to help or hinder Kiana?? I hope she can sort it out. I'm interested to know what happens.

A few more points...1) as my wise and wonderful friend Maureen Crisp pointed out on facebook, if you are in this writing business, it pays to know your rights. It is your writing - a publisher cannot do or expect more than what has been agreed in the contract. And 2) it is your writing - whatever happens to it is up to you. Know what rights you are handing over to the agent/publisher. Make sure you know exactly what your relationship is with them. You are responsible for what happens to your writing.

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