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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Misfit Lil blazes the digital trail

It's time for western fans to head up the Amazon again.

Earlier this week we promised big news concerning western author, Chap O'Keefe and that's just what we've got - O'Keefe's popular series character, Misfit Lil has just made her digital d├ębut and can currently be purchased from the Amazon store for a paltry £2.10 UK. $2.99 US.

I'm a fan of this series myself and as soon as I heard it would be coming to eBook I cornered author, after buying an eBook of course,  Chap O'Keefe and quick fired a couple of questions.

Tainted Archive:- You were always open-minded about eBooks and their possibilities, unlike many writers with your backlist and experience. Why have you decided digital is the way to go?

Chap O'Keefe: I still am open-minded about eBooks. The decision to go digital with Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope was based on the book's publishing history. Hale declined to publish it as a Black Horse Western because they thought it  unsuitable for libraries, where it might be borrowed by children. So I put it out as a Black Horse Extra paperback, using the Lulu printing and distributing set-up for self-publishers. Unfortunately, it was priced at a level which made it more expensive than other western paperbacks, and in pocket-book format it didn't get sold to libraries.

The Ulverscroft people thankfully came to the party and solved the library part by putting out a smart Linford Western Library edition you can learn about here []. But their large-print books have only a specialist sale. Amazon lists Ulverscroft titles, but Ulverscroft apparently can't sell to them as they're a registered charity dealing primarily with libraries. The books, of course, are also priced for borrowing with hundreds of readings in mind.

This still left a good many western followers out in the cold, I felt, although they might be advised to sign up at their local library and put in requests for the large-print books they wanted. An ebook edition would be at least a partial solution. It would offer a book at a price tailored for people who had to watch their budget, and it did away with the escalating problem of postal delivery costs.

The Observer newspaper opened a report a short while ago with the comment, "Self-publishing has traditionally been a surefire route to obscurity and dismal sales." It then went on to describe how British thriller writer Stephen Leather is "proving the naysayers wrong" selling 2000 ebooks a day, thanks to Kindle editions at what he called "rock-bottom prices".

Experiences like these cannot be denied or ignored. Although Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing deal has a few features that could be improved, it does offer an independent writer the best opportunity to cater for the largest group of ebook readers: those who have elected to buy Kindles, or have downloaded the free Kindle for PC option, or own iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices for which there's a free app.

If you can't beat them, join them!

Tainted Archive - You know given the reach of the digital market, worldwide availability and all that Misfit Lil can now reach the readership she so richly deserves. If the books are a success in eBook format, will this alter the way you write future volumes?

Chap O'Keefe: Yes, with an ebook at $2.99 in the US, Misfit Lil should be able to reach many more readers internationally. But it's now up to those readers to demonstrate with downloads that Lil is wanted! 

And no, any success won't alter the way I write further stories about Lil. The biggest problem will be time and energy.

In recent times, publishers have taken steps back from many aspects of their traditional role. For example, even selection of what should be published has been variously handed over to US literary agents, the marketing gurus of chainstores, and to libraries' purchasing officers. The abdication is in part voluntary and in part forced upon the publishers by economic circumstances. The problem is aggravated by a growing failure to embrace and cope with new technology. Here, by the way, farming out responsibilities to other agencies is not the most sensible answer!

With publishers no longer willing or able to meet the need, authors both known and unknown have taken on much of the task of promoting and marketing their work. With self-publishing -- and a large percentage of eBooks are self-published -- the writer adds to the business burden. Ideally, time has also to be found for more intensive editing and proofreading, for learning about and doing formatting, for commissioning cover art, for avoiding double taxation, and so on. Anyone who tells you these things take "just a few minutes" has limited experience. The old-style publisher who took care of it all for the writer did earn his crust.

Despite what you might read elsewhere, writers don't routinely become ebook millionaires. Several of the minority who have are interestingly  signing up now with the big corporate publishers on advantageous terms. Why? I suspect it's because they want to get back to older ways of writing.

Find the book HERE 
Or HERE for US readers
Visit Chap O'Keefe's Amazon page HERE

Book blurb - The irrepressible Misfit Lil was riding for a fall. She'd chosen to intervene in the fortunes of a wagon train of emigrants led on wrong trails by Luke Reiner, their incompetent guide. And Reiner, hiding an outlaw past, didn't care to have Lil messing with his reputation. Lil's first mistake was in saving a bunch of buttons when the wagons were caught in a ferocious blizzard. Then she recommended her hero, frontiersman Jackson Farraday to help out, which pitched him into a bloody fight with Reiner. Tangles tightened when the wagonmaster's pretty daughter, Honesty Petrie, took a flirtatious hand.... But worse was to follow. Jackson was accused of murder! Could Lil save him from the noose into which she'd run his neck?

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