Everything That’s Wrong With Ebooks

815KyITHLdL._SL1500_So I was browsing Kindle books on Amazon earlier today and came upon one that thoroughly pissed me off.

Truly, this book represents everything that’s wrong with ebooks.

In the content, advertising and book cover, the author details how a writer can write a book a week, and how turning out such a quantity of “writing” is the key to making a lot of money on Kindle.

Let’s talk about this, shall we?

Yes, you can get rich writing a book a week—when most of your “books” are 50 or fewer Kindle pages, and when you’re writing books about how to make money writing books for Kindle.

Not so easy is writing a real book a week—say a novel. I’d like to see Foster live up to his advertised maxim that the quantity and the quality have to be there, if he were trying to write a novel a week.

I’ve read a number of these ebooks about “getting rich writing books for Kindle,” and as a lifelong writer who has earned a living as a journalist, technical writer, scriptwriter and speechwriter (in addition to novelist), I find their common assertion that there’s nothing to this, that anyone can do it, not only insulting but also dishonest.

Writing is like any other specialized skill: It takes years and thousands of hours of study and practice to do it well. Just as I wouldn’t expect that I could go into a dentist’s office tomorrow and begin filling teeth, no one should expect that they can sit down and dash off an ebook in a week that will make them a lot of money.

The main problem I have with Foster’s “book,” as well as all of the others that advocate writing a quantity of work for Kindle, is that they promote a writing-as-lottery mentality. They promote the idea that a person can just churn out a “book,” and that the possibility exists that they’ll make tens of thousands, or millions, of dollars from the book with little effort.

This writing-as-lottery mentality is bad for Kindle and indie-published books in general because it lowers the overall quality of the work out there, and it reinforces the idea among readers and literary opinion-makers that ebooks (especially indie titles) are junk. Well, we writers who have worked long and hard at our craft, and who strive to give readers excellent quality work for their money, resent this.

We resent ebooks like Foster’s, as well as those that advertise that it’s easy to amp-up sales of your current books with a few simple changes to your book listings on Amazon. I have read probably a dozen of these titles, each time convincing myself that this one is different, that this one contains the keys to the kingdom. Guess what? NONE of them do. These authors are simply getting rich on our desire to sell more of our work, and any of the “fixes” that they suggest, if they help sales at all, are merely temporary.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you have something to say.” Don’t allow your work to become part of the glut of mediocre ebooks on Amazon; have something to say, a story to tell, and put your absolute best work out there—every time. You might not rake in the money as Foster and his ilk do, but you can take pride in the idea that you are only publishing good work, and that if you’re suddenly taken from this earth tomorrow, you at least will have left something of substance, of yourself, behind.

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By Chris Orcutt

Writer — The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, Short fiction, Plays — Editor & Speechwriter for Hire — Avid Golfer, Chess Player & Awesome Wood-Splitter — Twitter: @chrisorcutt

Comments (3)

  1. Paige Asay November 22, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    I completely agree. There’s so much junk now that as a nearly constant buyer of e-books I feel like I’m sifting through a pile of shit before I find anything worthwhile. I admit I have read some of these books that have been “churned” out. Bottom line: they either suck so bad it makes me physically angry that they managed to be published at all, or at best they’re mediocre, uninspiring and forgettable. The ones that really get me are the ones where I can never quite get a grip on who the characters are. I want to know what they’d say or do or think. It’s very annoying when characters are vague.

    I agree that these “get rich” kindle e-books are unfortunately slowly moving indie titles to the junk pile. Too bad. Take heart though, because a true reader knows junk from something real.

    • Chris Orcutt November 23, 2013 at 3:19 am

      Thanks for your astute comment, Paige, and for your positive remark that readers *can* tell the difference between crap writing and quality. I really appreciate the support.

  2. Clyde Bickford November 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    As P.T. Barnum once famously observed: “There’s a sucker born every minute”.