Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Social Networking - Feh

Sent out a global email to contacts announcing the Dry Hustle e-debut. This was an amusing process because I had to leave out contacts who might be offended by the extreme lewdness of the material. That narrowed the list down to a paltry handful. All my in-laws and even my daughter had to be left out. My siblings are thoroughly inured to my outrageousness over the years (they are mistrustful, actually, that I really have become socially rehabilitated since I got married). So they stayed on the list.
It was also depressing to realize that, unlike my daughter Phoebe Lapine, I do not have 1500+ Facebook friends. This is a good point to plug her wonderful cooking blog, http://biggirlssmallkitchen.com. It's for twentysomethings who are struggling with tiny kitchens in their first grown-up apartments (hence "big girls"). William Morrow is putting out the cookbook - 100 recipes! - in May 2011.

Anyhow, in my email I begged everyone to download free samples or purchase the thing at only $3.99 from Amazon and Smashwords. I implored them to post reviews, too. Then I lurked on both sites to see if my friends were indeed my friends. So far there have been 2 free samples downloaded and 2 books sold. Lesson: don't check my accounts 5 times a day. It's sick. Twice a week is healthier.

Nora Ephron's personal advice to me was: when obsessing, go make some crepes. Excuse me while I adjourn to the kitchen.


  1. Dear Sarah,

    Yes indeed, social networking is a farce (highlighted by Jimmy Kimmel's "Un-Friend Day" campaign) and eBooks is a FEH.

    Who downloads eBooks? I mean, legally??

    Not many. The Internet is not too kind to writers. First off, with eBay, your latest book is bound to instantly have reviewer copies for sale, then used copies within a week. Only the affluent and the die-hard fans are buying.

    Your out of print book? Hard to get it back in print when a publisher knows used copies are everywhere.

    You say, "I'll update it! I'll add stuff. I'll..." And your agent mutters something about being very busy, and hangs up.

    So that leaves you with the eBook option. As with music and movies, eBook digital formats are easy to copy, and as Kindle grows in popularity, so do forums and torrents giving away eBooks.

    A few weeks ago I saw my latest book in a forum! I didn't know whether to be irritated or proud. I mean, people take my books out of the library and I don't get paid. But...the library paid at least. How many sales did I lose because people could borrow instead of buy? Hmm...

    Meanwhile eBooks garner no respect and few sales. And anybody can write one. Even Amazon makes no distinction and any nitwit can get on site with a print-on-demand or eBook and be AN AUTHOR. (It's not like the old days when Vantage or Exposition Press marked you as a fool.)

    For $3.99 somebody can get the paperback "Dry Hustle" (which I have) postage paid via Alibris, Addall.com and the usual Internet book sites. So
    if you really like a book and respect that it is a work of art, you'd want the corporeal version.

    Ebooks are literally nothing. Even at $3.99 resentful spuds say "But it's just a blip. It should be free." And so eBook fans are mostly glad to wait till their favorite forum's got a free download of the e-version. They'll rationalize that the author got paid a huge advance, or is filthy rich, or would only get chump change for a royalty if they bought.

    Speaking of free downloads, thanks for the generous posting of your brilliant music via your website. My very first blog post back in 2006 was to tell people about it.

    The other thing about mp3 and eBooks...they can't be autographed! If you really love a record, CD or book, having it autographed is a kind of benediction. But...maybe someday your website will offer autographed photos?

  2. Folks,

    Just a big thank you for not only noting my music but owning hard copy of DRY HUSTLE. I already love you.

    As for people reading ebooks for free, I'm of two minds about that. In the same way I continue to write and post songs, I don't write to make money, I write to be read (or listened to). I admit to being pissed that so many people have downloaded the sample chapters from Smashwords but none have bought the whole book. But if I have to choose between paying readership and no readership, then I'll take non-paying readership, thanks.

    I guess my last comment is that I think you're too cynical about ebooks. Since I got my Kindle I've downloaded and read 3 times the amount of books I used to read. So authors are making money off them. The trouble is, they are generally books that have been reviewed or publicized in some way. So that's still the name of the game. The Joe Schmo who just uploads his latest mss onto Amazon Kindle store will have a tough time getting any attention.

    Thanks so much for writing...

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  4. Saw your new Janewashere site, looks good and I like the headline. Hope it all goes well for you.

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