A Foot in Both Worlds

That sinking feeling in waterskiing when your skis get separated by the wake and you find yourself suddenly splitting in half? Kind of like what an author feels when one foot’s in traditional publishing and the other’s in the wild and crazy world of ebooks. On one side, you give up a huge hunk of royalties for the security and prestige of an imprint, retail distribution and whatever promised publicity your publisher comes through with. With ebooks, you’ve getting a substantial cut of revenues but also the feeling that you’re tossing on an endless sea of competing titles.

Okay, so I have a non-fiction book , Writing With The Master, which came out in February 2014 from a traditional publisher with all the standard practices; galleys sent out to reviewers, promotion with the big retailers, a launch party and hopefully wildfires breaking out and attracting attention to my book. Writing With The Master is the story of creating a thriller under the tutelage of John Grisham. Though the novel I wrote with him, Sleeping Dogs, ran into a glut of similar stuff in the marketplace and didn’t find a publisher, a couple years later I decide to write a book about penning a book with John.

So I’m paralleling the traditional model by epublishing the novel Sleeping Dogs, hoping that readers of Writing With The Master will be interested in reading the novel and will create a lift effect for Sleeping Dogs.

Though a couple publishers expressed interest in Sleeping Dogs, I decided I’d try the ebook route. Here’s where the skis start to come apart. How many people who buy Writing With The Master are going to be interested in downloading Sleeping Dogs? And at what price? Do I set the price at $.99 for two weeks and see what happens, then raise it gradually if it starts to sell? One thing for sure, I’m going to be all alone out there on the plank making that decision.

Then I’m going to raise the stakes, on the “Also By” page of Writing With The Master, in addition to Sleeping Dogs, I’m going to note two forthcoming novels by Tony Vanderwarker. Will readers of Writing With The Master and Sleeping Dogs (if any turn up) be interested in other novels by Tony Vanderwarker?

So here’s where I’m really out on thin ice. Though I don’t have a lot invested aside from formatting and cover art in either Ads For God or Say Something Funny, is it worth tossing in a few bucks in promotion? If so how much? And where? And what’s it look like?

One thing for sure, the two comic novels are well-done, Ads For God is Mad Men taken over the top and Say Something Funny is a hilarious takeoff on reality television. But will I have established enough of a readership with Writing With The Master and Sleeping Dogs to create interest in Tony Vanderwarker’s other titles?

It’s waterskiiing, walking on thin ice and rolling the dice in Vegas all at the same time. Though it sure beats sitting in your garret watching a publisher backburner your new book because of disappointing sales, there’s no question authors who join in this game are putting themselves on the front lines.

But for a writer who’s spent days, weeks and months waiting for answers from publishers, agents and promoters, it’s a nice feeling to at least have your hands on the wheel.