Sunday, September 06, 2015

My thoughts on unpublished eBooks (R/WP)

Recently, I went to go and leave a review for an eBook I’d read, only to discover the author had unpublished it. In fact, the author had unpublished every eBook he had previously published.

This isn’t the first time this has happened; I’ve seen several authors who have simply unpublished their books and gone on their merry way.


I can understand changing publishers or a change of the retailers that carry your books, or authors who have been using more than one pen name combining their work under one pen name, and I can understand when paperback and hardback books go out of print. Though the going out of print and changing the retailers you distribute through is a bit frustrating; I can understand it though, even though it can sometimes be a pain, since changing retailers can sometimes make it more difficult for people to buy your books. For example, if I was buying your books on Smashwords, but now you only have them on Amazon, I can still get them, because I do have a Kindle, but I lose the ability to have them in other formats, and those who don't have a Kindle - and don't want to have to grab the Kindle ap, which not everyone does want to do, by the way - can't get your books any more. I don't think I need to explain why discovering a book is out of print is frustrating in general.

But, anyway, I don’t understand why an eBook should no longer be available at all. Especially since, I know from asking a few of these authors directly, that the most common reason for removing them is that they weren’t selling enough copies for their liking.

Maybe they weren’t. But, here’s the thing... They’re certainly not going to sell copies if you keep unpublishing any that don’t sell x amount of copies in y amount of time (where x is the number you think should get sold, and y is the amount of time you’ve allowed for this to happen).

Like I said, I can generally understand it with print books, because they require physical shelf space to store the copies, so it’s understandable if you don’t want to be storing loads of copies of books that aren’t selling. Though books published using print on demand services – like I use – don’t have this issue, and it is a little annoying when you hear about a great book only to find it's no longer in print.

But eBooks take up no physical space - just a bit of virtual space on the server of the publishing platform, and on the Kindle or other eReader the person trying to read your book is using - so why not leave them there in the hopes you’ll sell more copies in the future? Especially since you have the option on eBook publishing platforms to upload updated versions, so if your issue is that you want to upload a better cover, or you feel you can improve the story, you just need to create the improved version of the cover or interior files, and then upload them. Simple!

That way, people like me who brought your eBook, and wanted to be able to tell you – and my friends – that I enjoyed it, can still do so. I mean, if I’d been able to post that review, someone might have stumbled across the book, seen my review, decided if I enjoyed it they might too, and brought it. But now that it’s been unpublished, that can’t happen. This means, you may have just lost a potential sale of your book. The same thing applies for books people have heard about and made a note that they want to get, but by the time they are able to, you've gone and unpublished the book in question; sort of like how it is when paperback and hardback books go out of print.

Or, perhaps the author got a bad review and didn’t like it? If so... Well... For one thing, if you can’t take a bad review or two, you shouldn’t be publishing your book in the first place, because sooner or later, a bad review will come your way. For another thing, even some of the most popular authors out there got bad reviews from time to time. JRR Tolkien and J K Rowling, for example, have had their share of bad reviews on the Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter books, and look how popular they are. So, if your issue was that you got a bad review or two... Put your big boy pants on, and suck it up. Bad reviews happen, so just see if you can learn anything from them for future writing projects (especially if you get a couple of reviews complaining about the same issue) and maybe buy yourself something nice to make yourself feel better, then move on.

Harsh? Perhaps. But this whole publishing your books thing is a harsh business. You'll never please everyone - no matter how amazing your book is - so if you're going to let it out in to the big wide world in the first place, you need to be prepared for the possibility that, sooner or later, someone is going to give it a bad review.

Also, if you're going to let it out in to the big wide world in the first place, why change your mind later, just because it's not selling x amount of copies in y amount of time? It just doesn't make sense, and it's frustrating for people who either brought your book and wanted to tell others about it, or heard about your book and wanted to grab a copy of it, which they now can't do.

OK, rant over.

I'm sorry if anyone isn't happy by my posting this, but it's been bugging me, and I wanted to get it off my chest.


Rita said...

I know nothing personally about ebooks, but I have seen a similar thing happen with some bloggers. There are people who start a blog for the sole purpose of becoming popular and having lots of followers and making money off of it. If that doesn't happen, they quit and delete it. Many people start one and then later get bored with it and quit. Happens with youtubers, too. I agree.

If you are going to put yourself out there to the public you have to have or develop a thick skin. You are never going to please everybody so you are bound to get negative comments. Doing something in order to be popular and not because you really enjoy doing it...never seems to work out well in the long run.

Sometimes it is difficult for people to separate what they create from themselves. Like if someone doesn't like it or it doesn't sell that somehow is a judgment on them as a person, you know? It's not. But a lot of people feel that way and take it very, very personally. But there are probably millions of ebooks, blogs, youtube channels, and more out there these days. It's harder than ever to get noticed or be stumbled upon and they should keep that in mind. I agree with you. Leave it out there. If it isn't costing you an arm and a patient...and keep doing what you love to do. :)

Victoria Zigler said...

My point exactly!

Jeanie said...

Interesting question, and I can only add the insight of an e-book author friend who recently removed his books. He tells me it is temporary, but those were his first books -- all rather long, historical and contemporary fiction. It started when, several years after writing it, he reread it and was embarrassed at certain grammatical mistakes he hadn't noticed before and realized it could have done with some judicious editing for length, content, etc. He was a much better writer and he basically liked the books but wanted to make them better. And, unlike a print book, he was able to do that with electronic publishing. That started an avalanche of looking at and revising his following books. I'm not sure if they've gone back up yet but he plans to do so, along with a better marketing plan for helping get the word out. I suppose one could argue that your earlier work is your earlier work and it should stay but I know I would do exactly the same thing if I really felt I could make it better.

Victoria Zigler said...

That would come under creating updated versions for the books, which wasn't what I was complaining about. I'm talking about people who just remove them because they aren't selling enough copies, and don't plan to put them back up again.

Jeanie said...

Oops! Misunderstood! I see what you mean. I thought you were talking about why in general people might remove their books (that being an example!)

Victoria Zigler said...

No problem. Like I said, though it's a little frustrating, I can understand temporary removal of books during a change of publisher, or because of new revisions being in the process of being released. My issue is with those who remove their books simply because they didn't achieve the instant fame and popularity they'd dreamed of.

Intense Guy said...

The tings people do is often inexplicable and often senseless.

I always get a laugh when someone says the human race is intelligent. I guess they really mean about 10% of it...

Victoria Zigler said...

Quite! Either that, or they have a different view of what the word "intelligent" actually means.