September marks the end of the first year of my Great e-Book Experiment. I can hardly believe that only twelve months ago I had none of the backlist Charlie Fox books out there in digital format. Now I have five of the books and a short story e-thology out on Kindle, and am just about to launch into all the other e-pub formats, plus my first foray into printed editions.
It’s been a hell of a year.
For me as a writer, the real joy has been to see Charlie’s story available again right from the beginning. So many readers wanted to start at book one, and I could see their enthusiasm waning when they discovered that only collector’s first editions were available, often at mind-boggling prices.
The first e-book I put together was FOX FIVE: a Charlie Fox short story collection. It was a huge, huge learning curve, during which I have many people to thank for putting up with my innumerable stupid questions. In many ways, it still IS a steep learning curve, but more on that later.
A short story anthology — which in e-book form I refer to as an e-thology in an attempt to bring the word into common usage! — was very different proposition from the first of the books themselves, however.
One of the things that immediately struck me was the layout. A traditional book often has a pre-title page (with just the book’s title on it), then the title page itself, copyright page, list of the author’s previous publications, a dedication, acknowledgements, maybe even the author biog. Only THEN do you reach the story itself.
With an e-book, where a prospective reader might well download a sample first before deciding to buy, those intro pages all eat into the sample. So I put the dedication on the title page, shifted the copyright, acknowledgements, and an extended author biog to the back of the book, but instead added a short synopsis — what would be the jacket copy on a printed book — so the reader is reminded of the story as soon as they open the file.
In addition, some brilliant writers were generous enough to do swap excerpts with me — Brett Battles, Blake Crouch, Lee Goldberg, Timothy Hallinan, and Libby Fischer Hellmann. I put a taster of one of their books in the back of one of mine, and they did the same for me. Plus, of course, an excerpt from the next book in the Charlie Fox series, just to whet your appetite for more.
And in KILLER INSTINCT: Charlie Fox book one, I was also able to include the amazing Foreword by Lee Child, and my own Afterword, as well as two previously deleted scenes that I felt helped to fill out Charlie’s back story for what was to come. There’s also a short biog of the character, and the jacket copy for the other books in the series with suitable links.
In October, the next book in the series will be ready to go. Called DIE EASY: Charlie Fox book ten, it sees Charlie facing her toughest challenge.
In post-Katrina New Orleans, a celebrity fundraising event should have been the ideal opportunity for Charlie to piece together her working relationship with Sean, who has woken from his gunshot-induced coma with his memory in tatters. But the simple security job turns into a nightmare when an ambitious robbery explodes into a deadly hostage situation. Charlie is forced to improvise as never before, and this time she can’t rely on Sean to watch her back.
I’m already putting together the extras for the e-book version. And my question is, what else would you like to see in an e-book that there isn’t the space or opportunity to include in a printed book?
I’ve always loved the extras available on a DVD, and an e-book is now the literary equivalent. So, would you like insights from the author about the writing process, or asides about continuing characters giving you a little of their back story, or research notes that didn’t make the final cut? In DIE EASY, for example, I did an enormous amount of research about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, but only a fraction of that made it into — or was relevant to — the actual story. Would you like a bonus article on that?
I’m open to suggestions and fascinated to know what you all think! And I hope you’ll forgive for continuing to ask stupid questions — it’s how we learn :)
This week’s Word of the Week is epeolatry, meaning the worship of words. It comes from the Greek epos meaning word, and -latry meaning to worship.
I’m away this week, doing some very serious and labour-intensive research on a boat in the Mediterranean, but I’ll try to get to comments as soon as I can!