Monday, October 29, 2012

How Ebooks Have Changed Writing

Fifth stop on my international blog tour, Indiana. Thanks so much to Tressa Green for hosting me; it’s good to be here.

I've had a lot of people ask me what I think about this recent craze over ebooks. They want to know how ebooks have changed the face of writing. I tell them writing has not changed. Publishing has changed a lot, as well as technology, but the art of crafting a story and presenting it in a permanent form on paper has not changed in several hundred years. No matter what the genre is, or the length of the story, all fiction writing has a few things in common. There must be a hero. The hero must have a goal. There must be obstacles between the hero and the goal. Some people may be surprised I don’t specify there must be a villain. There are many types of conflict and obstacles, not all of which absolutely require a villain; however, most heroes do have a flesh and blood nemesis throwing obstacles in their path.

Now, a little about publishing. Some 700 years ago, Johannes Gutenberg put together several new technologies to create a new type of type of printing press. Before this time, all books were either written by hand or printed after a piece of wood had been carved for each page. Somewhere around 150 years ago, Samuel Clemens is credited with being the first author to turn a manuscript in to his editor which had been written on a typewriter. Before that, all manuscripts were written out by hand. In fact, the very word manuscript means hand-written.

Some five years ago, ebooks became very popular with the invention of the Kindle. Ebooks had been around before that, but people like to carry their books around with them, and not have to sit at their desk to read them. The Kindle made the carrying-around part easy. Suddenly readers had the ability to go on vacation and take all of their favorite books with them. They would never run out of things to read. However, because mainstream publishers were slow to make their books available in electronic format, readers became frustrated. At the same time, writers who for one reason or another were unable or unwilling to publish via mainstream companies were frustrated at the inability to get their books in front of willing readers. Self-publishing a book at that time cost a small fortune. By making ebook publishing affordable and available to all, readers and authors both found a cure for their frustration. Authors could afford to self-publish. Readers had more novels to choose from. Self-published ebooks made everyone happy except for the main-stream publishing companies who didn’t dare try the new technology.

Various inventions have changed the face of publishing over the years. The art and science of novel-writing has changed very little, however. An author still needs a hero, his goal, and a bunch of obstacles standing between the two. A good story is a good story, no matter how it’s produced, and it will continue to delight readers for many years to come. The method of its delivery to a reader’s eager eyes and hands is largely irrelevant to the writing process. Instead of stories being written and revised and copied out by hand on voluminous amounts of paper, an ebook can be produced entirely with a computer and use no paper at all, yet still be totally engrossing to the reader. Thanks to my e-reader, I have just discovered a “new” favorite author...H. G. Wells.

Over the thirteen years I worked on Tanella’s Flight, I used a lot of paper. Many of the chapters were written in longhand, then typed into the computer. The manuscript was printed out, double spaced, at nearly a ream of paper per copy, for each revision. Ten copies were printed and sent to beta-readers. By contrast, The Siege of Kwennjurat was never on paper at all until the proof copy was printed. No paper! If you buy an e-copy, then between us we have used no trees in the production of an excellent novel. If you want a print copy, then the tree-consumption is still kept at a minimum, because only copies that are ordered get printed. There is no pile of paper books sitting in a warehouse someplace gathering dust.

The publishing process of both books was different, but the writing followed roughly the same path. I have a hero...and a goal...and a whole pile of obstacles standing in his path.

Books available from A M Jenner:
The Siege of Kwennjurat is the second book in the Kwennjurat Chronicles. Alone in Kwenndara, Princess Tanella cares for the refugees from war-torn Jurisse, while she worries about her loved ones’ safety. Her new husband Fergan is two days away in Renthenn, coordinating the business of two kingdoms. Kings Jameisaan and Fergasse join forces in Jurisse to pursue the war against the Black Army. They know Liammial hasn't played his last card, and are willing to give their lives to protect their people and their children. Who will triumph and claim the throne of Kwennjurat?

About the author:
A M Jenner lives in Gilbert, Arizona, with her family, a car named Babycakes, several quirky computers, and around 5,000 books. A self-professed hermit, she loves to interact with her readers online. Her books are available at, as well as most major online retailers.

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