Enrico Antiporda's Blog - Posts Tagged "exchange-program"

Today, I decided to chronicle my journey as an author into the world of Kindle. Mind you, I am no expert on E-book publishing and am now just getting my feet wet on this new paradigm I know will dominate the book industry in the decade to come. Actually, we may be talking a few short years. Amazon just announced that its Kindle book sales have overtaken its paperback sales for the months of January and February. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-2.... Now, that's something to sink your author's teeth in. Granted Amazon has been known to exaggerate at times, but the writing on the wall, bold as a freeway graffiti.

To think that only a few months ago, I was pooh-pooing the idea. E-books taking over? "Bah, it will never happen," I scoffed at a writer friend when he mentioned his intention of publishing with Kindle. "Total waste of time," I added. "People like to feel the paper, mark the book by folding the page. They love the smell of an old book, the crispness of a new one."
"You mean dinosaurs like you," he countered. "Look around you, man." He waved a stubby hand across the café whose tables were crowded with latte-sipping, tablet-toting, I-phone squinting Berkeley students. I followed his gaze. Almost every person in the room had an open laptop, netbook, or tablet.

My mind went bling! It was like a foreshadowing. The world was changing and I had been ignoring it all along. The plane is on the runway. If I don't get on, I'm in danger of getting left behind.
I have an out-of-print book titled THE BAND OF GYPSIES published in 2000 to good editorial reviews. I did the usual Barnes and Noble book readings when it first came out but it had gone out-of -print and been languishing in book limbo for a few years now.

Perfect! I thought. Maybe I can resurrect the book and have people enjoy it again, especially those who love to relive their youth and go on a vicarious romantic journey in Spain's Basque Country. The novel, after all, averaged 4-1/2 stars in Amazon and received rave editorial reviews. I mean, it had a fan base going all the way up to Whidbey Island in Washington State!
That night, I scoured Amazon's FAQs and set out to create a Kindle account. To my technology-challenged relief, the process was painless. Just follow the yellow brick road, the Kindle munchkin said. The system asks you to enter pertinent information such as the price of your book (I'll be damned if I'd price it at 99 cents like so many others have done, so I settled for $4.99), your preferred royalty arrangement, the account where you want your royalties sent, etc. Then you upload the book cover and the manuscript, and viola. You're in print again, electronically. You can even preview the book before it goes live.

Let's do this, I thought in glee. I was about to push the PUBLISH button when I stopped myself. Whoa, man! Think about this for a moment. What about your agent? What will she think? You see, I was represented by a big literary agency in New York. There are certain things I'm not allowed to do contractually.

A short back story on this. When I entered my latest novel, A LIGHT IN THE CANE FIELDS in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award competition, it received a tour-de-force review from Publishers Weekly. The PW reviewer called it a riveting epic of loss and transformation and included the adjective "a masterful choreography" whatever that meant. The novel made it as a top semifinalist that year, receiving over fifty 5-star customer reviews, a good number from Amazon's Top 100 reviewers. My soon-to-be agent must have seen dollar signs because she asked for the manuscript on the same day I queried her. Two days later, she tied me up with an extended contract. Heck, I was seeing dollar signs too. Who wouldn't? In fact, another agent wanted to represent me but I already signed up with my agent. As you can imagine, that sent my heart soaring. I was in writer's heaven. Finally, finally, finally! An opportunity to make it big. I had scrabbled up the graveled slope and the summit was now in sight.

But the high was short-lived. When half a dozen editors passed on the novel for one reason or the other, I found myself falling off the proverbial cloud. As the months dragged on, I fell into a funk. My agent, after only a few short months, seemed to have given up on the book. I couldn't eat, I couldn't write, I couldn't sleep. It was as if the creative energy had been sucked out of me. Each day that passed without any activity elicited a simmering condemnation of the publishing world. Negative thoughts assailed me. It confirmed to me that commercial editors were the clueless gods of the book world. Really, they can make or unmake a writer with a wave of the scepter.
It has been over two years since I signed up with my agent and the book remains unsold. So I terminated the contract (in good terms). The agent from the other agency promised to reconsider it after I groveled to him, hat in hand.

It was with this frame of mind that I stared at Kindle's PUBLISH button that evening, the key glowing like a forbidden apple. Do it, baby. Do it! it coaxed. I took a lungful of air. Should I? Come on now, baby. Don't be shy. Do it!

I held my breath, ground my teeth, and pressed the PUBLISH button. Quick as a finger-snap, I beamed THE BAND OF GYPSIES into the Kindle abyss.

A month passed and I forgot about the whole thing. I mean, who would find my book in that black hole? There are over 800,000 titles on Kindle. Then, a couple of days ago, my wife who handles our finances asked me about a series of electronic credits from Amazon on our February bank statement. I scratched my head, completely bewildered. So I checked my Amazon reports. Lo and behold, the credits turned out to be royalties (35%) from sale of my Kindle book in the last week of February.

It's alive again, I thought. My baby is reborn! I thought of the possibilities. Do I really need my agent now? But then, I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Slow down," a voice in my head said. "Traditional publishing is still much better."
"Yeah," I told the voice. "But for how long?"

(Stay tuned for next week's blog when I beam myself into Barnes and Noble's Nook world).

July 2011 Update: I finally signed with a new agent in New York. He is wonderful. Very supportive and professional and I know he is going to work hard on marketing my "baby." The Band of Gypsies is doing okay. Each month, when I receive my royalty payment from Amazon, I can't believe that people are still buying my book a decade after it was first published. Thank you Kindle!