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The Publishing Revolution Has Begun, But Will Mom Buy my E-Book?

July 24, 2012
1905 Revolution - 1

The revolutionaries are happy now, but let’s see what happens when they realize that nobody is buying their e-books. (Photo credit: sweejak)

I don’t trust revolutions.  Yes, I’m benefitting from the results of the American Revolution, but I’m glad I wasn’t around when it happened.  Revolutions usually lead to piles of innocent dead people and a tyrant that’s worse than the authority figure the revolution is replacing.  I don’t mind change, but usually revolutions bring too much change too quickly.

Scottish author Denise Mina says that the publishing industry is going through a “revolution” because e-books are bringing such quick changes to the literary world. This author of the award winning book The End of the Wasp Season (I’d never heard of this book or the award it won) calls the growth of e-books a “revolution” because the working class will use digital novels to overcome the shackles that the publishing industry has always placed on them (almost all of that was paraphrased). 

So, the revolution is that anybody can publish an e-book (including we “working class” folk).  That’s great!  But the bad news that comes with this is that anybody (even “working class” folk) can publish an e-book. 

There will be (or already is?) a glut of e-books.  So many people are writing e-books (or will write e-books) that there might be more writers than readers.  And readers are very important to writers. 

All of this is kind of deep for me.  I work at a job that has little to do with reading and writing, so I don’t have time to think about all the implications of the revolutionary stuff that’s going on, even though it will affect what/how I read and write. 

My only question in all of this is: when I write my e-book, will anybody (other than my mom) buy my book? 

From what I understand, most e-books don’t get purchased (or read) much, except by Mom.  That’s a lot of pressure to put on Mom.  I feel sorry for the mom with five or more kids.  They’re all going to write e-books, and she’ll have to spend all her time (and money) reading them.  If each kid writes two or three books a year, she’ll never have time to catch up on the latest Janet Evanovich tale, Incredible Infinity (okay, I made that one up!). 


I’m writing an e-book.  My mom says she is going to buy it.  This is one of the few times in my life when I (kind of but not really) wish that I had been raised in an alternative lifestyle kind of family.  That way I could have had two moms, and that might have doubled my e-book sales. 

My wife has read parts of my soon-to-be e-book and has major issues with it.  That’s the problem with marrying a literary girlfriend; she can’t just read something and say, “You used the wrong ‘it’s’ here.”  She has to explain how my characters are one-dimensional, the motivations are lacking, and my humor is lame.  

Yeah, I know all that, but I still want to know if she’ll buy my e-book. 


Maybe I shouldn’t make fun of Janet Evanovich’s book titles.  I’ve never read Explosive Eighteen, but the title just doesn’t sound right to me.  Authors are supposed to read their words aloud to see if they sound the way the author meant for them to sound (probably a poor way for me to say that, which is ironic).  I don’t always read everything I write aloud, but did Janet Evanovich ever read this book title out loud?  Explosive Eighteen?  That doesn’t sound good to me at all.  It might look good on a cover, but Egg-splosive Ay-Teen?  

Maybe a guy who is about to publish an e-book (that only Mom might buy) shouldn’t make fun of some other author’s (real) bestselling book title.

  1. I know the feeling, man.

  2. On one hand, e-books makes publishing more democratic: it’s up to the people to decide what books are worth reading, not publishers. But on the other hand, there will be such a glut that it will be harder to find good books among all the others. However, the overall price of books will go down, probably.

    • The good thing about the ebook glut is that the overabundance of books wouldn’t take up any additional physical space, and it won’t keep readers from choosing the books they want to read anyway. The only damage (except for maybe less profit for publishers) might be from hurt feelings when ebooks don’t get purchased (or read).

  3. Maybe you need to add a number in your e-book title to make it more marketable. “Fifty Shades of Grey.” “Explosive Eighteen.” “11th Hour.”

    • Fifty Shades of Grey has the number AND the cheesy play on words (Grey is a color AND a name… Ugh). Unfortunately, my planned ebook title has neither element, so I am doomed to failure (unless I think of some nifty alliteration).

  4. … and great cover art.

  5. have you considered trading in your wife for a newer less literary model ? 😉

  6. I receive similar constructive feedback from my sister who is a voracious reader. Is it frustrating and exhausting? Yes. But it’s also great to have passionate readers push and prod you to do your absolute best, to push the level of your writing so it can hold up to Mom’s friend who she showed the e-book to.

    • I completely agree. My wife’s suggestions have made the e-book better, but I didn’t follow all of her suggestions, so any flaws (and there will be plenty) will be my fault. Hey, she tried!

  7. errr…..explosive… I see your point!

  8. Hey DL

    Thanks for this post. I’ve wondered, too, what becomes of a civilisation where everybody is a writer or a musician or an artist. It’s one big graduate seminar where we sit around and critique the latest “work.” We need consumers! And/or, more mums!



    found your blog via Becky Mayhew…

    Addendum: a good reader is an artist…

    • Yeah, a civilization of writers/musicians/artists would probably end up getting conquered/wiped out by another civilization that doesn’t have nearly as many writers/musicians/artists. Your phrase “one big graduate seminar” sounds about right. Thanks for your comment. Becky has a pretty cool blog.

  9. Step 1: Make your book cost one million dollars. Step 2: After mom buys book, invest wisely and retire. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

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