Saturday, April 16, 2011

Interested in Creating Your Own E-Book?

Sometimes it seems like we’ve been talking about e-books around here forever. We’ve certainly been deeply aware of, interested in and involved with them from both a technology and professional level for more than a decade.

Some readers will remember that January Magazine spun off an e-book magazine a little over 10 years ago. The world wasn’t ready and we discontinued Backlight Review after a year or so. Remember the dot-com bomb? Backlight was one of the casualties. Aside from that, we were lucky to get through that period relatively unscathed. But it was a little ahead of its time. People were talking about e-books for a while in that period, sure. But very few people saw it in their hearts. No one saw what was coming or, if they did, they weren’t talking about it too much.

Then in 2007, when Amazon introduced the Kindle, we at January Magazine joined the technology press in making fun of the online bookseller’s new release. At the time we said it “looks goofy and has a funny name,” even though we thought it might “kindle e-book sales.” (Groan.) We didn't realize at the time that the wave that we’d been waiting on for such a very long time had finally arrived. When it got here, the wave was puny, after all. Hardly even a lap on the shore.

So we’ve been watching pretty closely and writing about the e-book revolution for as long as it’s been something that could be called that. Sometimes passionately.

Most recently, I’ve entered the fray in a very personal way. Muscling part of my own backlist, as well as those of a few friends and colleagues, into e-book form. January Magazine art director, David Middleton, has backed me in these efforts, which is why the covers of my own electronic books are as sharp and professional as any in the business. David knows his stuff.

I found the whole process to be not nearly as scary and frightening as I’d feared. It was actually pretty fun. This was due in one part to my own deep experience in matters of technology and, in another, to equally deep experience in many aspects of the book industry. There are moments, while you're doing it, that it feels a bit like you’re herding cats. In the end, though, it is incredible to stand back and look at the finished product and know that it’s something you’ve created with your own hands.

And so David and I started talking about that: about how some authors were feeling overwhelmed by the new roles being thrust upon them and how we could see a path through the forest, when maybe a lot of people were beating their way through the most thickly treed part. And wouldn’t it be fun, said we, to put what we know about publishing -- electronic and otherwise -- into a really enjoyable week-long intensive. Gorgeous surroundings. Good food. Camaraderie. And a lot of talk about the subject closest to our hearts: books and how they’re made.

We decided to mandate it: have people bring a manuscript and their own computer and, before the week is through, we’ve helped them design a cover, format their e-book, do all those necessary fiddly bits and upload it, ready for sale. Along the way, we’d talk about marketing and promotion and all the things that authors really do need to be thinking about these days.

Almost before we even knew what was happening, our E-Book Intensive was born and began to take shape. It will take place June 19-24th at Dancing Deer Farm and Retreat Center near San Luis Obispo, California, in the central coast wine region. We’re planning on making e-books. And we’re planning on talking about books, books, books. And we know we’re going to have fun. If you want more information, it’s here.



Anonymous Adam iWriteReadRate said...

Interesting post. Publishing an eBook really isn't scary. We think it's the future (and it's here now!). It's better for both writers and readers, and really excellent for instant literary gratification!

Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 9:14:00 AM PDT  

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