In the world of words and ideas the diminutive SMS (short message service) can be called the amoeba of new age text. When the god of technology created the virtual world, the SMS found the ideal forum for regeneration and reproduction. It gave birth to what we now know as tweets and blogs. It was only a matter of time before the e-book too was born.
The World Wide Web has spawned a million revolutions in almost all spheres of human endeavor. In the realm of publishing, the e-book has liberated writers from the tyranny of conventional publishing establishments. Potential writers now need not sweat about their manuscripts being rejected.
If you have command over the language, no publisher can now stop you from becoming a word power.
Look around, search the Internet and you will come across countless success stories to inspire you into creating your own masterpiece. In August 2012, The Guardian reported that four self-published authors had a total of seven novels on the New York Times e-book bestseller list. Mark Coker, the founder of self-publishing powerhouse Smashwords predicted that the number would continue to grow.
To understand the scale of the rejection unleashed by publishers on unlucky writers, we only need to study the strange case of Robert M. Pirsig. He received a record number of 121 rejections before "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" found a publisher. The rejections earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, and the book itself earned him international acclaim.
The growing tribe of self-publishers should nominate him as their patron-in-chief. Although Pirsig now leads a reclusive life, he could be the perfect role model for anyone aspiring to be a writer, who can learn from him the value of perseverance. Since a large number of e-book writers have regular jobs, they could also learn from Pirsig the art of time management. It took him four years to complete the bestseller. He used to write between 2 am and 6 am. His daylight hours were spent writing computer manuals.
Although self-published e-books are a recent phenomenon, the idea itself was born in 1930. After watching a "talkie", Bob Brown went on to write a book in which he said that the motion picture would make traditional book reading irrelevant, and that it would have to be re-invented. He foresaw electronic readers as the preferred medium of reading by an ever increasing number of the literate population. The movies were for all, but the e-reader was exclusively for those who could read and, preferably, write as well.
Coming back to the tyranny of publishers, we must not overlook the fact that as of now they have merely been cut down to size. Most e-book writers will still need the assistance of their infrastructure for publishing, printing and marketing books. Publishers now offer packages to potential e-book authors that normally include editing, proofreading and formatting the script. Apples that are harvested, but not sold, will simply rot. Similarly, e-books without a market will prove to be a futile exercise.
However, a number of enterprising self-publishers go about doing things their way. They create their own websites and seek the help of freelance editors, proofreaders and book designers. In a manner of speaking, they set up their own e-book store. This strategy helps them attract more readers. The ads that pop up during each "hit" help them earn a neat profit.
Technically speaking, self-publishing is not a new development. It is as old as the industry itself. "Remembrance of Things Past" by Marcel Proust and "Ulysses" by James Joyce are among the best known self-published books. Deepak Chopra, an Indian-born American physician, is a holistic health and new age guru, and perhaps the wealthiest and most famous of America's alternative medicine practitioners. His name also figures in the list of famous self-published writers, alongside that of Mark Twain.
An obvious question that any potential digital book writer would ask is: What sells? According to Digital Book World, 2013 was the year of erotic romance and the young adult genre when it came to e-book sales.
So, do you have a story to tell? Well, go ahead and tell it. However, before you get down to telling your story, do a bit of online research. Find out which genres sell the most. Romance, thrillers, spy dramas, erotica and occult-based stories usually have an assured market. Once you have identified the genre you want to tackle, decide on the linguistic treatment you intend to give to your narrative. Try to keep the language simple and the sentences short.
And of course, you must have a marketing plan. Look beyond the usual tweets and Facebook posts to announce the content of your book. If you also have the tenacity and perseverance of Robert M. Pirsig, your book will be noticed sooner rather than later.
Follow Preetam Kaushik on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@kaushikpreetam