ebooks: getting around the gatekeeper

Sherrie has worked for the last 4 years as an English teacher in Germany. Thats how she made her money but thats not what she really wanted to do. She always wanted to be a writer. Being a writer, and not only a writer but a financially successful writer, is tough work. I am glad I’m a programmer, so much easier 😉


Sherrie writing in an Mongolian ger

But that said I think it hasn’t been a better time to become a writer then these days. In the old days you had to find a publisher to become successful (end even then it was hard). A publisher is basically a gatekeeper, someone who judges whose writing is worth printing. They were needed because making books and shelf space was very expensive. Only the best (or better: those who were considered to be the best) made it into the stores. When you think of it, it is was a very feudal system.

A privileged few got to decide what was suitable (and sellable) to the masses. This was necessary though as printing books and the shelf space they occupied was expensive.

But now in the era of print on demand and, even better, ebooks, the rules have completely changed. The system has been democratized. The costs for shelf space is zero today (think Amazon)*). There can be as many ebooks out there as we wish. Everybody can publish one thanks to ebook services like Amazon KDP or Smashwords. On the other side, with the Internet and its social media, it has never been easier for authors to reach out for new readers and to connect to them.

So Sherrie has made her choice. She started to write and is battling to become a successful author. I think this is a brave decision. Not very many people live their dreams and try to make them come true.

But why am I writing about this? While I was looking into the whole ebook business and the selfmarketing of indies (writer speak for indipendent authors, someone without a publisher) I realized that this is in many ways is not very far from what an IT startup does. Indeed its a very special form of an ebusiness. I learned many interesting things from the indie book marketing. I think some of these things can be used for marketing of ebusiness
in general. More on that in my next posts.

*) More on the implications of falling costs of computing time, memory and bandwidth in FREE, a free audio book by Chris Anderson, the guy who also wrote The Long Tail:
Article:
http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2009/07/free-for-free-first-ebook-and-a…
Direct download:
http://www.wired.com/images/multimedia/free/FREE_Audiobook_unabridged.zip

Other interesting article:
Did Amazon’s Kindle Create A Model for the Creative Economy?

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