The Future of eBooks: Werewolf Love Stories, 3 for a Dollar

werewolfstorySometimes, I like to do market research about eBooks by acting like someone looking for deals.

I did that the other day and the first challenge, as usual, was finding out where I could actually find eBooks on Amazon. They don’t make it as easy as it should be… but I don’t think Amazon is that concerned with driving traffic to the Kindle store.

After about five minutes of listless clicking, I stumbled upon the Kindle Daily Deal pages. And, in front of me, I saw the future of eBooks: a boxed set. Werewolf Love Stories. Three for a dollar.

Creating Commodities

There’s been a general sense of worry among authors that eBooks could lower the “quality” of writing. Other authors scream that this is elitist. I previewed the first of the Werewolf Love Story, which is entitled “Werewolf Love Story (Part One).”

It wasn’t bad. In fact, it read like a Bret Easton Ellis novel. Well, maybe that is bad. The reviewers, it seemed, were determined to get their money’s worth, even if they didn’t like the books… if this two-star review is any indication:

“I wasn’t really impressed with these books at all. I can’t get on board with the overwhelming positive reviews, and I really tried. I would suggest reading a preview before jumping in, I wish I had. Apart from the overwhelming amount of typos, grammatical errors, and repeated words (errors), I didn’t care for the authors writing style; it was kind of annoying. The characters were just ok, nothing great. Nothing to keep me coming back for more.”

A fair review. But, really, if you’ve clicked the “Werewolf Love Story” box set, you’re probably already intent on buying the thing. Do you like love? Werewolves? Then who cares what the writing is like?

Substance V. Style

H.T. Night has written over 30 books. He is also the author of vampire stories, which you can buy for one dollar as a “Vampire Love Story” box set.

Thus, we have the definition of commodity publishing, which some people have talked about as the future of eBooks themselves.

You need to write and publish a lot of books to make money. Some need to be given away for free, a lot. Commodity publishing depends on readers that read a lot of books. They take risks, because the books are cheap and, at the very least, they’re dependable.

This is why we have the “Werewolf Love Story” box set, which is essentially telling readers that – even if the writing sucks – it’s cheap, and you’ll get werewolves and you’ll get a love story.

These books hollow out that middle class of readers, the ones who read only genre books, and leave authors who write unusual stuff out in the cold.

Why would anyone try to read something different when they can buy three werewolf love stories for a dollar?

Shapeshifting to the new market

Like an eBook monk, I religiously chant that “this isn’t a bad thing.” About everything.

My belief is that any author who goes the route of self-publishing and wants to make money from their novels will have to start writing eBooks that have a safe and predictable formula. That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with it. It just means, if you want to sell eBooks to random people, you need to write something that eBook readers want to read.

Something that tells them that, even if the writing is bad, they’ll still get the werewolf love story they crave.

Take a look at what’s on the 2013 best-sellers list for Kindle eBooks, any day of the week. Seven are romance novels. The others are thrillers and books made huge by movies:

bestsellerebooks2013

In their race to self-publish and get their name out there, authors often forget who’s reading eBooks in the first place. If the “Werewolf Love Story” box set doesn’t send the message, then nothing will.

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5 Responses to The Future of eBooks: Werewolf Love Stories, 3 for a Dollar

  1. Pretty depressing for me, as a literary novelist. I’m looking to try selfing an ebook in the fall, but this is certainly a cautionary tale. Thanks for doing the hard work so we don’t have to, though!

    • Blaise Lucey says:

      I’m kind of stuck on the literary bandwagon, too… there are still literary readers who dabble in eBooks, but I think the problem is the audience just isn’t big enough to sustain the flood of new authors that self-publishing has enabled.

      I think you might have read my experience with KDP Select, and it was really telling – my short story collection rose to number 4 in the “free satire” category after about 60 downloads.

      That said, who knows what a concerted marketing effort could do? Goodreads is supposed to be a powerful tool. I barely did anything to promote the collection other than tell my friends.

      If you want to get traction for your novel, I’d say it’s possible – but you’ll have to be willing to invest some money up front for promotions.

      Good luck!

      • Thanks for the advice, Blaise. And I guess the question becomes, how to direct that promotional money for the greatest effect? I’ll be researching that big time!

  2. EPH says:

    Just wondering – what does this have to do with the demographics of people who currently have ereaders? I can imagine that, literary people, or the kind of person who reads a literary novel, might be the last demographic to switch to ebooks.

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