Catherine had several careers, including broadcast engineer and small businessperson, before she went back to college at age 48 to study computer science. Her subsequent career as a software engineer was interrupted by the need to write a very long novel and create a publishing company to publish it.
After I decided to self-publish my very long novel (which turned into a trilogy), I spent most of 2008 learning the skills I would need to typeset my books, design the covers, and upload them to Lightning Source. It was a nice bit of synchronicity when I bought my first Kindle in the spring of that year.
I was a quick convert to eBooks. The instant gratification got me first—I could buy a book and start reading it a minute later. (And eBooks are never out of stock!)
The Kindle was the perfect solution to my storage problem. My book collection constantly overflows my bookshelves, but all my eBooks fit on my Kindle just fine.
It took me a bit longer to realize the advantages of being able to download a large (usually 10%) free sample of a book I was considering buying. Ten percent of most books is quite a bit, certainly more than people take time to read while browsing in a bookstore.
Once I got into the habit of previewing books, I was able to avoid wasting money on books I didn’t like. And the eBooks were usually cheaper than a new paperback, and about the same price as a used copy plus shipping. Buying an eBook rather than a used paperback is a win/win. I save money and the author still gets paid, something that doesn’t happen when I buy used books.
And if cheap inexpensive books don’t appeal, how about free? There are lots of free books available as eBooks, starting with Project Gutenberg.
The portability of eBooks was another thing I didn’t know I needed until I started carrying my Kindle with me when I traveled. No worries about which book to take along. I now take along hundreds. And with the Kindle app for my iPod Touch, I don’t even have to carry that bulky Kindle…
It didn’t take me long to realize what a boon eBooks were going to be to authors. A few weeks after I had my paperbacks listed on Amazon, I had my Kindle editions for sale there too. Designing and formatting the paperbacks took the best part of six months; converting the files to Kindle format took a couple of days.
It’s easy to say now, but I knew even then that eBooks were going to be big! What surprised me, though, was how fast it happened.
In December 2008 Amazon announced that eBooks had outsold hardcovers on Christmas day, indicating a substantial number of new Kindle owners. On Christmas day 2009, Kindle books outsold both paperbacks and hardcovers. In 2010, Amazon announced, “On Christmas Day, more people turned on new Kindles for the first time…than on any other day in history.”
I’ve had the pleasure of watching the sales of my own eBooks parallel the growth of eBook sales generally. My sales started building in mid-2010, and in December 2010 I sold 5 times the number of books I sold in December 2009. I expected the numbers to fall after Christmas. They didn’t.
Just as readers are discovering the advantages of eBooks, so are authors and small publishers. That free sample thing—what a sales tool that is! People get to preview enough of a book to make a good buying decision. When someone pays good money for a book and it disappoints them, they will often take their disappointment to the reviews page on Amazon. So the free sample not only benefits the reader; the author may also be spared some negative reviews.
There’s another bonus for the author in that sample. It will stay on the reader’s Kindle until they delete it, thus reminding them that they thought the book was worth a look. I use the samples as my “to be read” pile, and I don’t have to buy the book until I’m ready to read it.
While the traditional publishing industry has been slow to recognize the importance of eBooks, small publishers and authors have not. What used to be called self-publishing (or vanity publishing) has given way to the rise of the indies. Independent publishing has cast off the self-pub stigma and is now more often thought of as leading edge, the new wave.
Just as technology has enabled the growth of the indie film industry, so it has also enabled micro-publishers and even individual authors to epublish their work. Considering the cost of a book design to produce a paperback, which often runs into the thousands of dollars, eBook production is relatively cheap and not all that difficult. A cottage industry has sprung up to convert manuscripts to eBook formats for Kindle and other devices. For between $100 and $300 an author can have their eBook professionally formatted and upload it to Amazon, where it will be for sale in the Kindle store in a day or two.
Here’s a quandary for authors: do you query multiple agents and wait months for someone to request a manuscript, and then wait more months for the agent to get a publisher interested, and then wait another six months to a year for the book to be published? That waiting time represents a lot of lost sales. How much would that author have made if s/he had put the book out as an eBook in the first place?
The news has recently featured several stories of authors like Amanda Hocking, whose eBooks sold so well she got a 2 million dollar deal with a traditional press for a 4-book series. But there are others who prefer to stay indie, like Barry Eisler, who was offered half a million dollars by a traditional publisher and turned it down.
To me, the best thing about eBooks is that there are no more gatekeepers. Anyone can publish their work. Sure, there are going to be lots of bad books published. So what? There are also going to be lots of great books published, books that we never would have seen if the publishing establishment were still in charge of what we read.
When Women Were Warriors Book I: The Warrior’s Path
In Book I of the trilogy, Tamras, our hero, arrives in Merin’s house to begin her apprenticeship as a warrior, but her small stature causes many, including Tamras herself, to doubt that she will ever become a competent swordswoman. To make matters worse, the Lady Merin assigns her the position of companion, little more than a personal servant, to a woman who came to Merin’s house, seemingly out of nowhere, the previous winter, and this stranger wants nothing to do with Tamras.
Tamras’s journey begins with the smallest of steps. She sets aside her disappointment and performs as well as she can the humble tasks given her, and eventually she succeeds in winning the trust and then the friendship of the cantankerous warrior to whom she has been assigned.
In the first year of her journey, Tamras will make a series of choices that often seem insignificant, but they will flow from her character and from her good intentions, and they will determine her destiny.
When Women Were Warriors Book II: A Journey of the Heart
In Book II of the trilogy, Tamras’s apprenticeship as a warrior isn’t turning out quite the way she expected. Her unconventional choices lead to her crossing swords, almost literally, with Vintel, the war leader of Merin’s house. She finds herself embroiled in a power struggle she is doomed to lose, but the loss sends her on a journey that will change her destiny and decide the fate of her people.
When Women Were Warriors Book III: A Hero’s Tale
In Book III of the trilogy, Tamras must make her own hero’s journey. She ventures into the unknown and encounters a more formidable enemy than any she has ever faced. Character is destiny, and the destiny of Tamras and all her people will depend upon choices that come less from the skills she has been taught than from the person she has become, from her own heart.
Author: Catherine M Wilson
Publisher: Shield Maiden Press
Publication date: October, 2008
Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/When-Women-Were-Warriors-ebook/dp/B001MBU7EK
A Fairy Tale
This story is one of the fairy tales originally published in the novel, When Women Were Warriors Book II: A Journey of the Heart
In ancient days, the fairy folk were not, as they are now, estranged from humankind. It was not uncommon then for mortal children to see the fairies dancing in a field as they passed by. Even older folk, attending to their work, might look up and catch a glimpse of them, and some, returning home past the time they were expected, might give as their excuse that they had been invited to a fairy banquet and dared not refuse.
Still, in the ordinary course of things, the two peoples had little to do with one another. While humankind tilled their fields and tended their flocks, the fairy folk lived in the wild places, nourished by the Mother’s bounty. She satisfied their thirst with water from her springs that sparkled like gemstones and gladdened the heart like wine. She provided for them food of every kind. Forest and meadow bore fruit for them, and the animals came to offer themselves, the forest deer, the trout and salmon, birds and their eggs, each in its season. For the fairy folk, each day was a day of ease, and the nights were given to music and the dance.
There was in those days a queen of the fairy folk whose heart chose a mortal man. Such things were not unheard of then. The hearts of fairies love as do the hearts of humankind, although their bodies neither join together nor bring forth new life, but for those who take a mortal lover, joy is brief, while grief is long, for mortal men must die, while the fairy folk do not.
For many years, years that for the fairies seemed to pass as swiftly as a summer afternoon, the fairy queen and her beloved lived together as one soul, but as it must happen, one day time overtook him, and he died.
Deeply the fairy queen mourned him, and no one could comfort her, for none of her own people understood her grief. The fairies’ life of ease and pleasure went on unchanged, while her own happiness was now lost forever.
At last the fairy queen could bear her grief no longer. She left her home and wandered out into the wider world, where her path soon crossed that of an old woman, who knew her at once for a queen of the fairy folk.
“You are far from your home under the hill, o queen of fairies,” the old woman said. “What brings you out among humankind?”
“Grief,” the fairy queen replied. “I loved a mortal man, and he died.”
“Ah,” the old woman said. “I too loved a mortal man. He died, and has been dead these many years.”
“How do you bear your grief?” the fairy queen asked her, and the old woman answered, “I found my grief impossible to bear until I remembered that I too will die, and when I do, my grief will end. Anything can be borne if one can see an end to it.”
The fairy queen could not hope for death to release her. “Is there no other remedy for grief?” she asked.
“Perhaps there is,” the old woman said. “If you would try it, come with me.”
The old woman led the fairy queen to a cottage in a meadow a little distance from a village. By the window was a chair, and the old woman bade the fairy queen sit down. Then she took her own cloak from around her shoulders and laid it upon the shoulders of the fairy queen. She drew the hood over the fairy queen’s golden hair, until all that could be seen of her was her lovely, ageless face and her shining, golden eyes.
“Stay and watch,” said the old woman as she left her, “and learn that all bright things cast a shadow.”
It was then high summer. The village children came to bathe in the stream that ran through the meadow. Their laughter reminded the fairy queen of the laughter that echoed through her own great hall. Farmers too passed by her cottage on their way to till their fields, and she heard them singing at their work. All around her in the meadow, birds taught their fledglings how to fly, squirrels gathered seeds and acorns, flowers bloomed and died. Then came the harvest, and the farmers sang new songs as they carried the sheaves home to the threshing floor.
The heart of the fairy queen grew sad when she saw the bright summer days begin to fade, but soon she was enchanted by the golden light of autumn, the bright colors of the trees, frost on the meadow. Leaves of red and gold rained down, and the children came again, to play in the fallen leaves.
One morning the fairy queen awoke to silence. She looked outside and saw the whole world white with snow. She who had never seen the winter wondered that anything still lived in that dark and silent world. The nights were longer than any she had ever known. The days were cold. Few of the villagers ventured out. She sometimes heard the children playing, although their mothers kept them close to home. Every day she watched at the window, and it seemed to her that nothing changed but the lacy patterns of the shadows of bare trees against the snow.
As the world slept, so too did the fairy queen fall into a sleep in which she dreamed back the past. When she awakened, she cried bitter tears for all that she had lost, until the fragrance of apple blossom and new grass drew her to the window, to look out at the springtime.
The meadow bloomed with crocuses and bluebells. Children came to pick the flowers. The farmers went out to sow their fields. A doe came to the stream to drink, her fawn beside her, and a young mother sat down in a patch of sunlight and bared her breast to nurse her child.
For the first time since she entered it, the fairy queen left the cottage. She breathed deep the air of springtime and sat down on her front step. All bright things cast a shadow, the old woman had said, and the fairy queen whispered to herself, the shadow too is beautiful. She was content, and those who passed by saw only an old woman sitting in the sunshine before her cottage door.
Love that! Thank you for sharing. Were can readers find you online and find out about your free eBook offer?
Shield Maiden Press
Free ebook offer:
When Women Were Warriors Facebook group:
Catherine, so glad you stopped by today. Hope everyone can stay and visit for a while.