Hallelujah – Discovering e-books, finally!

I’m declaring it official – I’m finally free of depression. After fifteen full months of wallowing in the doldrums, at last I’m genuinely happy. The reason? I’ve decided to write a new novel.

During my long dark night of the soul, I wasn’t at all sure I’d ever write again. If anything, I thought I might try my hand at nonfiction, maybe memoir, but it seemed my muse had deserted me, maybe for good. Turning 70 didn’t help. On the contrary, it confirmed the fact that I was finally a bona fide elder, and therefore absolved of the responsibility to do very much of anything. I confronted the years ahead with dread, because I couldn’t envision anything but irreversible decline.

So what happened? Last Sunday afternoon I attended a panel discussion and workshop sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, and organized by my good friend Marilyn Rothstein, who writes historical mysteries under the name M.E. Kemp. I hadn’t attended a writers’ conference for well over a year, and Sunday reminded me how essential the inspiration from other writers can be.

In particular, the panel discussion on e-books was exciting. Technophobe that I am, I’d steered clear of confronting this strange new world of publishing, but Gloria Waldron Hukle summarized the basics and made the process seem far less intimidating. (She admitted that her husband helped enormously with the technical aspects, and I’m hoping mine will do so as well.) Susanne Alleyn described her own positive experiences with Kindle. After being dropped by a major publisher, she got back the rights for her out-of-print books, and her agent helped get them on Kindle. The monthly royalty checks were especially satisfying, she said.

The royalty rates are great on Kindle: 70 percent on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, and 35 percent on books under or over those amounts. There’s no upfront expenditure. I love the idea of pricing my books so that people can actually afford them. At panel discussions and signings, people have often told me they’d love to buy my books, but they simply don’t have the money. At $4.99 a pop, maybe they can take a chance. (Personally, I think long and hard before shelling out $15.00 for a trade paperback, and I very rarely buy hardcover books – practically the only one I sprung for this year was Keith Richards’s autobiography, since he’s always been my favorite Stone.)

After the break, Hallie Ephron gave a mini-workshop on “Crafting a Page Turner.” I found that inspiring as well, but I’ll save the details for a later post.

Back home that evening, I logged onto Kindle and studied their guide to online publishing. There are lots of technical steps involved, and I found it somewhat intimidating, but I could actually picture myself doing it!

On a three-hour road trip to the New York State Convention of Universalists this weekend, I dug through my black leather Fossil bag, the one I use when I want to look professionally upscale, and realized to my dismay that when I switched handbags, I’d forgotten my reading glasses. I can read without them, but just barely, and before long my eyes begin to smart and sting. I was in a mild panic till my husband handed me the Nook reader he’d recently bought at Barnes & Noble. He showed me how to enlarge the type size, and to my amazement, I was able to read easily for hours without glasses and without eyestrain, more comfortably than I can read a traditional book. And I found I could easily and discretely read while appearing reasonably attentive during boring workshop presentations. So I’m definitely going to buy myself a Kindle as soon as the newest model comes out next month. Then we’ll be able to compare and contrast the relative merits of each e-reader.

Back home last night, I resumed the search for my glasses. I was sure I’d left them in the depths of the purse I’d left behind, but they weren’t there. After a frantic half-hour search of the house and car, I finally found them in an unexplored side pocket of the black bag. So I’d had them all along, but I’m glad I didn’t know it – the weekend gave me a crash course in the virtues of e-reading, and proof positive that I need to convert my novels to e-books ASAP.

It’s great to feel myself tapping into the wellspring of my creativity after a prolonged period of drought. I hope you’ll visit my blog again, and leave comments – this time I truly plan to post more frequently.

6 thoughts on “Hallelujah – Discovering e-books, finally!

  1. Hi Julie, I am so glad to hear from you again and to hear that you are going to start writing again! Yippee! Hurray! I look forward eagerly to your next book!
    You know I enjoyed your first two novels! I so far have not gone the way of the electronic reader or e-books. I still enjoy holding a old fashioned book in my hands so i hope you’ll publish in soft back formate AND as an ebook.

    I too turned 70 this year and I can hardly believe I am that old. Other people can’t believe it when I say I’m 70 and I say it is true! Repeatedly for the last two years or so people have not been able to believe that I am as old as I say I am. They think I’m in my mid 50s or 60s at the most. It is definitely a good feeling. Now more and more of my peers are turning 70. Welcome to the group of us who have achieved the distinction of having lived to 70 and are going on to live mroe years.

    Happy writing. Happy blogging!

    • Great to hear from you, Betsy. When I’ve told people I’ve turned 70, unfortunately they’re not that amazed. I’d have expected to get the reactions you have – “You’re kidding, I don’t believe it,” etc. But I guess that’s an ageist way of thinking, so I’m trying to get over it.

  2. Welcome back, Julie! You’re too good a writer to give it up. Thanks for the plug about the conference – I was very happy about the outcome on the e-pub. panel, and Ephron’s workshop was excellent – really to the point.

  3. So glad you’re back! I always enjoy your posts. I, too, have just started on the ebook journey, encouraged when a friend of mine posted her collection of short stories (Death by Clogging) on smashwords.com and on Kindle. I recently posted 4 short stories to smashwords (Rocky Road) — it was easy, and at least I feel like I’m doing something with my stories, other than just having them sitting on my computer! I also enjoyed your 2 novels, by the way.

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