I think the interactive nature of Blogs is fun and useful for serious writers. It reminds me a bit of sharing new writing with other students in a short story class at RMIT or something like that. I find that after I post something, many new possibilities and revisions will jump out at me as I reread the piece. I love how I can make these changes straight away and the piece becomes more economical.
So I use my Blog (ericdando.com) as part of my editing process and I am occasionally embarrassed about some of the things I post: sloppy, bad spelling, bad grammar, bad ideas etc.
I really love how I can scan cartoons/pictures/symbols and I am really excited at how these look placed with text in different narratives, the scope of that.
Essentially it is a little bit like producing chap books for friends and family but cheaper and instantaneous. I am sometimes disappointed that some journals and publishers consider work posted on Blogs already published. However this has often driven me to produce more new writing to accommodate them. New writing is always a good thing.
I recently got myself an iPhone so that I could view the Sleepers iPhone app sleepersapps.com which included 3 of my short stories and a poem. It is true that I am always eager to see anything with me in it. So I was very eager to see my work in this new format and nobody I knew would download it for me. I think most people didn’t know how. But if you like being economical with text, you will like reading all six Sleepers Almanacs for $6.
(update: I have five stories in the sleepers iphone app now which includes the Sleepers Almanac #7 – featuring my latest story Human Beans from my new graphic novel Beautiful Useful Things.)
I am also very impressed with the new Going Down Swinging online journal #31 goingdownswinging.org.au, which includes multimedia such as video and sound, my favourite being “Cheesie” by Grover Mapleton which is an overheard conversation about different fried cheeses, set to music. A conversation you can dance to. It’s very catchy and about time someone housed-up all that cheese talk that is usually wasted in the kitchen.
They also showcase text and drawings from my new graphic novel, Beautiful Useful Things and much more.
As I now own the rights to all of my writing, I have also dabbled in making my own eBooks at Smashwords.com. I have made a book of poetry and a book of short stories.
I have made an eBook version of my second novel Oink Oink Oink, but I had to use an early draft, slightly different to the finished manuscript. I’m still not happy with it and am constantly striving to make it as finished as it can be.
I think recently the price of such devices and their Android cousins have become more affordable and accessible. So now there is no excuse, everybody can consume eBooks cheaply and easily on their iPads and iPhones and Android knock offs.
When I downloaded the Kindle app on my iPhone I received a free copy of Treasure Island and began reading it at lunchtime at work, in an effort to avoid talking to people. Perhaps they think I am rereading the same text message over and over, I just don’t care anymore. I had already read Treasure Island as a real book in other lunchtimes a few years earlier and can report that the experience is very similar to reading a real book. I did not have trouble reading the text, I did not squint at the words. I was suitably engrossed and lost within the text as I usually am when reading a good book.
I’m up to the part where Ben Gun hides in the treetops and pretends to be the voice of the dead Captain Flint, as the rest of the pirates search for the treasure buried somewhere in the sand. ‘Fetch aft the rum,’ says Ben Gun from the trees in a spooky voice. ‘Fetch aft the rum,’ he says again.
After reading on an iPhone I do not feel the need to purchase a Kindle or similar eBook reader. As more and more people become confident with downloading and reading eBooks, they may also become comfortable with paying small amounts directly to authors to read their work.
Smashwords, for example, pays authors 70% of the royalties for each book sold and does not stake any claims to the intellectual property rights.
I still desire to self publish small press books which may one day become collectable artefacts.
I do not agree that eBooks or blogs will kill or damage or replace the tactile and beautifully made small press books that are pleasing to the eye and the touch and the collector. However, I do think they will compete with mass produced books from large publishers. But why should I care about the fortunes of large publishers?
I predict more and more troublesome ‘middle list’ authors will begin to self publish their own books very cheaply, selling them as small limited editions from their blogs and web sites, as well as making them available as eBooks for iPhones and iPads and Androids of all kinds on many platforms.
The Book Barn
As an author in the late 90’s, I was left without any copies of my first novel, Snail, when Penguin dumped them in a bargain bin. Perhaps they were pulped. I would have bought them all outright if they were offered to me. Up until then I had been buying boxes of them and selling signed copies slowly at poetry and spoken word events, and to family and friends. So suddenly, I was without a means to promote myself as a writer and this was something I had devoted my life to. Penguin turned me into a literary Craig McLachlan.
So I was and still am always on the lookout for copies of my out of print novel Snail. I search opshops, markets and second hand book stores. I found two copies at The Book Barn on Daylesford Lake during Easter this year. They were $8 dollars each. When I bought them, the guy said, ‘Wow, you must really like this book.’ I felt pretty weird and stupid for not telling him I had written it. I just sort of froze.
Then, I went back to The Book Barn a few months later and found another copy of Snail. It was also $8. I was really excited, I took it straight up to the counter and said, ‘I wrote this book,’ so the guy said I could have it for $5.
Published paperback copies of Snail (Penguin, 1996) have also appreciated in value over time, with copies being posted on eBay for $70 and upwards.
I’m not sure if this is a good thing, but more than one person has told me they have stolen a copy of Snail from their local library, such was their desire to own the artifact for themselves. Of course stealing an eBook will be much less of a crime in the future.
***winks enigmatically to camera and clutches chin for author photograph***
P.S I hope to have an app for my first novel Snail available for Android and iPhone soon, available for everybody very cheaply – so please do not steal any more books from the library.