Tuesday, August 9, 2011
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Graeme Hague
Graeme: It’s early days yet. Most ebooks enjoy a period of sales as they’re released on the distributor’s homepages, then it’s a case of promoting them solidly to continue the sales. I haven’t been able to put in place much of my promotional strategies, so I’m not really counting any chickens yet- if that makes sense.
Scott: Can you tell us about the process of releasing your published books as electronic versions? Was there any issue you faced in getting this done?
Graeme: eBooks have some pretty unforgiving formatting requirements that you must do. I had some painstaking and kind of repetitive times when I was publishing and republishing the books (in a test environment) to catch these odd formatting glitches that kept happening. Drove me nuts, some days.
Scott: Did you have the option of using any of the existing covers from your print copies again for the eBooks?
Graeme: No, I did approach the creator of some of my covers and was kind of amazed at the amount of money he wanted for me to use the designs, even though they’re almost 20 years old in some cases. I had to say, “thanks, but no thanks”. Which is a shame, because some of those covers were awesome.
Scott: Your new collection, “Ghost Tales: Four Stories of the Dead Among Us”, has only been released as an eBook, right? Do you plan on publishing it as a paperback as well?
Graeme: Here’s where the publishing worm has turned, really. If I can generate enough ebook sales for Ghost Tales, theoretically a print publisher might be interested in doing a paperback. Otherwise, it’s going against the trend, even though I know there are plenty of people still looking for paperbacks.
Scott: It was great to see the reasonable price of your eBooks at an affordable $5.95 each. I think the high price of most eBooks deters people from buying them when they can pay only a little more and get a physical copy. Why do you think the big publishers are putting such a premium price on eBooks?
Graeme: The publisher’s common argument is that only something like 10-15% of any book’s price is the printing and distribution component. The remaining 85% covers the editing, promotion… all the logistics of creating a book that don’t change regardless of the format it’s released in. Without being deeply involved in those processes it’s hard to argue with them and hope to win. At the end of the day, I believe publishers are mostly trying to protect that paperback market. Making ebooks too cheap compared to paperbacks will ruin their own core business model that’s been in place for centuries. Really, it’s just another indication that publishers are totally ill-prepared for the ebook revolution. The industry is in chaos in that way.
Scott: Are there any changes that you made to your books during the process of converting them to eBooks. I really enjoyed them all, but as an author, it must have been tempting to tweak parts you may have wanted to refine the second time around?
Graeme: Yep, I did tweak! But I have an excuse. Most of the books were originally released at a time when publishing methods were still catching up to computerization and digital processes. So I didn’t actually have manuscripts that were the final, finished books because the last editing processes were done on hard-copy MS’s. Notes in the margins, between the typed lines… that sort of thing. But I used that as an opportunity to re-edit and polish the manuscript files I had and release those as ebooks instead. Importantly, I didn’t update the stories to the present-day… like, I didn’t include mobile phones or the internet where they weren’t in the original novels. I only applied the experience and knowledge I’ve (hopefully!) gained in the years since.
Scott: Have you tried using any social media, such as a Face Book presence to advertise your eBooks?
Graeme: Using social media is a bit of a must, if you believe the experts, but it isn’t the fix-everything solution you’d expect. To do it properly is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience. The trick is to use social media cleverly… a trick I’m learning right now.
Scott: What advice would you offer to unpublished writers in approaching publishers for the first time?
Graeme: Nothing has changed in regards to new writers needing to write something absolutely brilliant to get noticed, so my first and best advice is still to make sure your manuscript is the best it can possibly be. After that, it helps to demonstrate to publishers that you have the internet and social media skills to promote yourself. As a writer, present yourself as a “package”. A complete thing, like writer, promoter and blogger, etc all in one as well. As I touched on above, you can also try to self-publish yourself in an ebook and if you’re successful, publishers will be interested. But be prepared to hand over those ebook rights, if they are.
Scott: Do you plan on publishing any new books as eBooks in the future, and what will they be about?
Graeme: I’ve got quite a few manuscripts that haven’t been previously published for various reasons- things like they’re a different genre or weren’t quite the right “fit” for my publisher at the time. They’re still basically horror and thrillers- one was labeled as an Australian “American Psycho” for instance. First, I’ll be revisiting those projects, before I start something totally new.
Scott: What book or books are you reading at the moment?
Graeme: I know this is a crime for any writer to admit, but right now I’m building a house while I try to work on my own writing during the evenings. So by the time I get around to opening someone else’s book I’m feeling buggered! I’m working through an early Dean Koontz book right now, but not making much headway before the eyelids start to droop… not sure if that’s my fault or Mr Koontz’s!
Scott: Thank you for your time Graeme. Hope your ebooks sell well.