Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: How to be a Writer in the E-Age, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Anne R. Allen, Introduction by Saffina Desforges


I finally had a chance to finish "How to be a Writer in the E-Age" this weekend and wanted to post a short review first thing this morning while it's still fresh. Although a good deal of what I read in this e-book tended to be things I've already experienced as a published author in the e-age, there were a few things I didn't know and will retain for future reference. I started writing for e-publishers about seven years ago when everyone was still laughing at the possibility of e-books going mainstream.

I so wish there had been a book like this back when I first started to consider writing for e-publishers. Until that point, all of my publishing experience had been with small traditional LGBT print presses. And because the LGBT market wasn't strong back then I made a point of trying to get my short stories into as many anthologies as I could each year. It wasn't mainstream publishing and the money was terrible, but I loved what I was doing and it was considered legitimate.

When I started to look into e-publishing I read more than one questionable thing about it...or I couldn't find any information at all. To be honest, I wasn't so sure about it myself. So I played it very safe in the beginning and submitted short stories to several e-publishers just to see what it was like. These manuscripts were released as e-books and I found that I loved working with e-publishers. They were just as professional as all the print publishers I'd ever worked with in the past and in some cases even more thorough. And, best of all, it didn't take a year or more to get a book released. That in itself was a novelty to me. The world's slowest industry in the world was now starting to pick up speed.

The moment I started to read "How to be a Writer in the E-Age" I knew it was a winner in every sense. The information is not only valuable to new authors, it's relevant to published authors who might be thinking about making the switch to e-publishing, too. Or for established authors who are interested in self-publishing and have been on the fence about doing it. I found nothing in this book that can be disputed either (not always the case with writer's manuals). From the introductions to the last page it's filled with realistic information that shows writers what the writing experience is like now.

One thing I'd like to point out that I liked in particular was that there are no preachy comments, and this book isn't pushing any one particular way to be a writer...or whether or not traditional publishing is better than e-publishing. There are many aspects of publishing talked about in this book and that's something I don't see often (the authors even read the same publishing blogs I've been following for years). In other words, it's not about hating literary agents and hating those big bad mean publishers and it's not about how spectacular self-publishing is and how it's going to change life as we all know it as writers and readers. The book talks about self-publishing in an objective way, which is something I don't see often these days either.

A while ago I read a writer's manual written by one of my all time favorite authors, Rita Mae Brown who was one of those authors that changed publishing in the 1970's, and I thought that was the best writer's manual I'd ever read. But this book on writing and publishing took what Brown had to say to another level and brought it all up to date so new writers will know what to expect and how to deal with all the changes that are happening in publishing now. But more than that, because it's an e-book and we can now do things like this with e-books, there's a feature I've never seen before. When you buy this e-book you get updates every six months that will allegedly deal with more changes in publishing as they happen. And the changes seem to be happening on a daily basis now.

As a side note, the book is affordable and worth every penny invested. Trust me, I paid far more for books and manuals on publishing fifteen years ago and got far less information.

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