Launch day jitters

Ebooks are… different.

I know, I know, you’ve heard that a thousand times. But for reals, they are. And even though I’ve been working with ebooks for 14 years, it still sneaks up on me. The conventional wisdom does not apply.

As some of you saw on the Twitter machine, I have a new book out. Between Heaven And Hell: Revelation is the first book in the BHH trilogy, written for NaNoWriMo 2009. In the past 18 months, I’ve written, rewritten, hired an editor, rewritten again, took naps, poked the manuscript with a stick, all the things you’re supposed to do if you’re enterprising/dumb enough to wear a publisher hat over your writing hat (which is only possible because while the writing hat is a smallish fez, the publisher hat is a big, roomy Stetson). And now, finally, it’s available for sale.

*blows party noisemaker, echoing forlornly from the cavern walls*

Admittedly, I haven’t been a whirlwind of publicity. I’ve mentioned it off-handedly, as in passing, on Twitter. I haven’t asked for retweets, and have received almost none. Launch day sales, all told, will buy me a burrito, and maybe, if I’m lucky, an iced tea. Small.

And this is okay.

That’s the part that snuck up on me. I’m still awash in what Kris Rusch calls “produce thinking,” applying legacy publishing standards to ebooks, and getting discouraged for absolutely no good reason.

Print books do need to open big. The produce analogy is a good one. A book has to turn a profit in three months, because the sales it gets in the first three months are the vast majority of all the sales it will ever have. Because not too long after that, it will be pulled from bookstore shelves to make room for the next book. It’s a similar, if a bit slower, phenomenon to what we see in the film industry. In movies, if you don’t make back your production costs opening weekend, you failed. If you don’t turn a profit in three weeks, well good luck with the DVD. Books, the dead tree variety, are almost as bad.

But as I mentioned above, ebooks are different. Ebooks are what Chris Anderson calls the Long Tail. Ebooks are forever.

So Revelation hasn’t made much money to start out. About 50 cents a month over the 18 month production time. But that’s now. In a year, when all three books are available, it will be a very different story. Patience, Grasshopper. Let it grow. Let people discover it, and read it, and tell their friends. It will still be available in six months, a year, two years, ten years.

So for now, I’m working on getting it released on the Nook and on CreateSpace for folks like my mom who still prefer paper, and then I’m getting to work on Between Heaven And Hell: Crusade, the second book in the trilogy. Because the best use of my time right now is writing more books. Promotion comes later.