Hello there! I see you, you know. I see what it is you’re doing, browsing those ebooks, looking for that right one to read. Doing what you can for the environment by having your ereader that can hold up to, well, let’s face it, a thousand books or more. And, no, I am not being sarcastic about this. I realize it may sound that way, but, truth, I rather like what you’re doing. Since the start of 2017, I’ve had a lot of thoughts enter my mind about things like pollution and the best ways to present how what corporations who pollute our air and water as not a good thing to those who support big corporations and de-regulation. Mind you, I have realized I would have to refrain from mentioning climate change to such individuals because, for some reason, that just shuts down the logic centers of their brains, and many of them are probably highly intelligent individuals. And you might think this is a pitch for you to buy and read my books. While that is something I would greatly appreciate, well, there is another reason for this entry.
As I was saying, I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal impact on the environment as an author since the start of the year, and, as such, it’s led me to a decision that has a great impact on my career as an author. You see, when I first started to publish my own works back in 2014, I had done so as a means of testing my personal marketability for story-telling. I was interested in presenting myself to a traditional publisher as someone who can and will sell good stories and that they could take a chance on me. The better I do in terms of sales and the like, I wanted to know.
Well, things do have a tendency to change. Only ten days into the new year, and I have decided to remain on as an independent author. I like the idea behind it, and it’s fitting into the whole eco-warrior persona that I’m starting to hone in on. You see, I love this planet. I love it a lot, and there are plenty of good (and bad) aspects to self-publishing that are fitting into what I want for this planet, which is my home. Anything I can do to reduce my impact on my home is good, right?
Self-publishing is definitely the way to go for this, at least for me. I love paperbacks. Print on demand means less trees taken down for printing. Ebooks mean more trees up to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. And I love trees. I know I sound like some weird, simplistic hippie here, but it’s the truth. Trees are awesome. Trees do provide so much for us, be it books, shade on bright and warm sunny days to read books, paper to write books out, and lumber for home. As long as we have an abundance of trees, we are actually very good.
So why am I addressing you, the ebook reader? Well, simply put, I have some requests to make of you when it comes to purchasing future ebooks, be it from me or from other authors. It’s a simple set of guidelines, one that will, I believe, aid everyone in the upcoming year and for years to come.
1 – Make sure that you’re actually buying an ebook.
This seems like a no-brainer. There are two or more buttons under the title, one that says the format and the price for that format. Most independent authors, such as myself, have ebook prices that are comparitively lower than our paperback prices. However, in perusing reviews for bigger names – specifically Rick Riordan – I’ve seen one-star reviews for people who purchased the wrong format and thusly gave the book a low-rating because they thought they were getting a hard cover and got an ebook instead.
Traditional publishers set different, higher prices for ebooks than independent authors. They have overhead to cover as well as the paychecks for their army of editors, artists, typesetters, and so on in addition to bills.
2 – If you find you’ve purchased an ebook by mistake, hold off on leaving a one-star review and get the mistake corrected.
You’re basically punishing the author for your mistake. Those one-stars hurt an author’s standing and actually have nothing to do with the product itself. Amazon and other book sellers will work with you to make sure that you get the product that you actually want instead of the product you accidentally purchased.
3 – Read the samples before you buy.
There is a huge difference between a summary and the first 20% of a book that your’e able to read. An author can write an excellent summary. Read the free sample provided by the website you’re purchasing your ebook from to be sure the book is going to thrill you.
As a reader, I can tell you there is nothing more disappointing than reading an awesome summary to a story only to find that the actual story has fallen flat. The first 20% of the sample is there to aid you in this decision.
4 – If you like the book, please keep it.
This is especially true for ebooks. Sites like Amazon will accept ebooks back then take that money from the author. This is a far different scenario than buying a paperback and either donating to Goodwill or selling it to a used bookstore. At least with the sale (and resale) of a paperback, I and other authors receive some form of compensation.
The reverse is true for ebooks.
If you love the ebook, please keep it. If you love the author, keep their ebooks. Refrain as much as possible from buying, reading, and then returning the books because you want to be cheap. That hurts the author. I’m sure many people have already heard the story about a self-published author receiving exact type of feedback from a fan. It truly is insulting.
To put it this way, you wouldn’t buy a bracelet, love it and wear it all the time and then ask the place you bought it from for a refund and expect to keep it.
We authors have bills to pay, too, and often are working second and third jobs in addition to writing to make ends meet. This is as much of a business for us as owning a restaurant is for a chef.
5 – If you find the book was less than stellar and have returned it, let the author know.
I’ve had a few ebooks be returned with no explanation as to why. No reviews on Amazon saying the story sucked or dragged on forever. Nothing. And it sends me into a fit of self-doubt about my own skills (and I tend to read my own works when I’m bored and can’t find anything else to fascinate me so I’ll read my own works because, in my head, I’m a pretty awesome story-teller). I will understand if a review is left saying that the book is simply not for you. It happens.
I’ve taken to including my email address in the front of my book. If you find leaving a negative review isn’t your style, at least contact the author with an explanation of why you chose to return the ebook in question.
That said, it’s okay to be dissatisfied with a book’s outcome. Every author, every reader is different so there are definitely plenty of books out there for everyone.
A reminder. These are guidelines. They are suggestions to help you, ebook reader, find the books that will definitely appeal to you. I hope that they help.
Thank you, ebook reader, for your patronage. You have done something amazing that hasn’t happened since the creation of mass-produced paperbacks. Without you, I would not have come to the decisions and conclusions I have about my own career, and I thank you for that.
Elise K. Ra’sha, self-published science-fiction and fantasy author