Thursday, January 16, 2014

A formatting invitation for lesbian mystery authors

I am a professional e-book formatter as well as a huge fan of lesbian mysteries. And, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I also have a vision impairment that prevents me from reading the relatively small type of normal,  printed books. I can, however, still read books in electronic format due to the ability of most e-book reading devices, like my iPad, to enlarge the print. Unfortunately, I have found that many--most perhaps--lesbian mystery e-books are either priced too high or do not exist in e-book format at all.

There is a reason--although not a good one--for the high e-book prices.Many authors of lesbian mysteries have let publishers do the work for them: formatting, bookkeeping, etc. Unfortunately, the publishers also claim the lion's share of the sales; that is, what is left after Amazon or the other e-book retailers take their cut. This is true not only for mainstream publishers but also for some of the independent counterculture presses--Bella is maybe the best example but there are several more. Bella regularly sells their e-books--backlog as well as new releases--for $9.99 to $10.95. In my opinion, these are ridiculously overpriced and are doing harm to the authors by not only keeping them to a small royalty but also a small readership. Those prices are simply higher than most buyers--even hard-core aficionados such as myself--are willing to pay. Although I am not privy to any actual contracts, I suspect that an author gets less of a royalty from a publisher selling their book at $9.99 than they would if they published it themselves and priced it at $4.99 or less.

But I am also saddened by the complete absence of e-books by some of the most interesting authors in the lesbian mystery genre. It's like they lave either been forgotten or are balking at giving themselves over yet again to a publisher who will control more aspects of their work than they feel comfortable relinquishing.

So here's my offer. I would sincerely like to help some of these authors without e-books get their work back out--not only to new readers, but to the world at large. I charge a small up-front fee of course (usually $100 or less for full-length works), but the formatted book would then be under the total control of the author, who can then decide what retail distributors to use, what price to charge, and the like. Most important, they will then be able to receive up to 70 percent of each sale. Believe me, nobody gives a flying fruitcake whether an e-book publisher is Simon & Schuster or Auntie Lute or a name that the author makes up themselves. Or no publisher at all. They all look the same on an e-book reading device.

I'm talking to you, Vicki P. McConnell. And to you Alma Fritchley and M.F. Beal and every other writer of lesbian detective fiction who does not presently have their books converted to an electronic format. Let's get your work back in the public eye, and let's do it in a manner that is professional and affordable and that will win you not only a little cash, but a well-deserved n audience as well.