Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tip O'Day #331 - Gratify Me!

Guest blogger Hugh Ashton on 99 cent e-books.

A phrase which has been swimming into my mind over the past few weeks has been "instant gratification," both in connection with those producing books, and those reading them.

For those who produce books, the process has never been easier. Sit down in front of a keyboard, hammer out 2,000 words or even less, upload it to a Web site and "I have a book out! Hey! I'm a published author!" This entitles you to put "Author" before or after your name in your Facebook profile. Of course, this isn't true of all self-published or independently published authors, but there are still enough instant authors out there to tarnish the reputation of independent books as a genre (and at times e-books in general).

In my opinion, books should demand a little effort to produce. After all, we don't automatically assume that because we can hold a knife and slice up a roast turkey, we are then qualified to perform brain surgery. Or because we can ride a bicycle, we can take part as a competitor in the Tour de France. These things take some extra effort, not to mention skills that have to be honed over several years. Why should writing a book be different? I am glad to see that in large parts of the Indie community, there is a growing recognition of the need for quality.

The instant gratification applies to readers as well as it does to writers. The tendency to turn a book into a $0.99 download (or even free) may be good for Amazon, but is bad for writers, bad for readers, and bad for books. Why bad for writers? Because if $0.99 becomes the standard, it become more difficult to sell a good book for more money (and it actually costs money to produce a book - let alone the time it takes to write it, there's editing, cover art, and promotion costs).

p>Readers have little patience if they have paid little or no money for the book, and will expect to be entertained in the first few pages, or else it's simply a matter of ... flick ... change the channel and go to a new book. If the book is slightly more expensive, and is therefore not so much of an impulse buy, there's more incentive to carry on. The gratification from reading the book must be there, of course, but it doesn't have to be instant.

Rather than gratification, we should be using the word "imagination" in conjunction with books - reading a work of fiction should be an exercise in imagination. It's the difference between climbing a mountain and taking a helicopter to the summit. At the end of the day, the reader will feel more rewarded by using the brain than being spoon-fed. You, the author, will have written a better book for which you feel justified in asking more than $0.99.

Check out Hugh’s blog and writing here.

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