Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Tidal Wave of Choice and a Deceptive Cover

One of the fears about the rise in ebooks and self-publishing is that the world will be buried in a tidal wave of crap writing. It’s a familiar argument—there will be so many bad Twilight knockoffs and other rubbish uploaded to Amazon no one will be able to find anything worth reading amongst the great steaming piles of ordure.

It’s one way of looking at it. Personally, I think it’s just as easy to turn it around and see the positive aspects.

The problem when creativity is commodified is that the bottom line suddenly becomes the number one consideration. It’s not enough to be good; if someone has stumped up cash in advance, they’ll want to see a return on their investment, which means the work needs to be both good and popular (or failing that, just popular, hey, Hollywood ;) ). I suspect more than a few writers have run into, “It’s good, but we don’t think there’s a big enough audience”, before the gate slammed down on their foot. As a result niche, interesting, challenging is often overlooked in favour of safe, bland, reliable (Hey, hello Hollywood! ;) ).

The beauty with ebooks and self-publishing is that the initial outlays are so small. Writers can take risks. Even if they only find a niche audience appreciative of their work, that’s still profit (providing you don’t think too hard about the time spent creating and polishing your work!). It’s also good for readers. Yes, there are going to be a lot of bad books that shouldn’t have seen the light of day (and these too might find fans—taste is subjective), but there are also going to be a lot of quirky, interesting books that might not have made it out of the slush pile under the old system. Personally, I think more choice is better than less choice.

Take short stories. I love short stories, especially horror stories. Mainstream publishing houses seldom publish short story collections. They don’t sell very well. There was even a recent tweetathon to save the short story.

I’ve put out three collections of short stories. They haven’t found a massive audience, but they have been found by readers who’ve enjoyed them a great deal. Publishers have to worry about the cost of print runs and marketing budgets. I don’t. I’m free to write what I want. It doesn’t take many sales to cover the initial costs and everything after that is gravy. That’s good for me, good for the readers who like my writing, and good for short stories, as there are plenty of bloody-minded fools like me that still enjoy writing them.

I suppose this would be the appropriate point for the blatant book plug:

I love the cover Selena and the people at eXcessica came up with. It’s totally inappropriate. This is either the darkest collection of erotica you’re likely to read this Halloween, or the most twisted, sexy-perverse collection of horror tales you’re likely to read this Halloween. Someone is going to pick up this book thinking it’s another cutesy paranormal romance with fashion-conscious demonesses, and get the shock of their lives.

I’m more in love with that idea than I should be. I can’t help it. I’m a horror writer. We want to scare people. It’s in the blood. While marketing-types would be aghast, I’m sitting here and grinning like a Cheshire Cat as I go, “open it… open it…”

It’s Halloween. I’m going to have fun. Bottom line be damned.

Enjoy the book. She’s as cute and adorable as her cover. Honest… ;)

M.E. Hydra


  1. I always say, if my art can reach one person, I've done my job. It is a thrill to find even a small audience for my work. Mine is about my own fantasies so if there is a handful of others who have that same mindset, then whoo-hoo! Good luck with the anthology and Happy Halloween!

  2. Thanks. Good luck with your new book!