My E-Book Adventures, Part 1: To E or Not to E?

by Greg on April 15, 2012

I just launched my first e-book this week – The Late Bird, chock full of 54 of my poems (and featuring a fab Bonnie Adamson cover!).  While of course I’d love you to go buy it, tell everyone about it, review it, and generally make me feel warm and fuzzy about it, here at the Happy Accident what I’m really excited about is talking process.

While this will not all be social media related, I noticed that the process I went through in thinking about and then launching the Late Bird is the same one I go through (or have clients go through) when thinking about blogging, Tweeting, starting a Facebook page or pretty much any project. So, I hope even the non-social media parts will be useful. And later, talking promotion, it’ll be lots and lots of social talk. So…

To begin the adventures, I ask you to contemplate one question – “Why????”

To E or Not to E?

Whenever I start something new, I always ask myself why I’m doing it. To me, this means a bunch of things including a few biggies: what are my goals; what are the upsides of this project/approach; are there big, obvious downsides. In this case, once I thought through all that, as I think you’ll see, the decision of whether to E or not became much easier.


When I thought about launching an e-book, here were a few of the reasons I had for what I hoped to get from the project. These really answer the “why this project? question. In this case, I wanted to…

  • Explore the process of making an e-book
  • Grow my readership/have something for current readers to read
  • Experiment with promotional ideas
  • See what social media works/doesn’t work/could work
  • Have fun

When I looked at that list, I noticed two things that weren’t on it that I think merit discussion.

1) I was never thinking about this book as a vehicle for making money. Don’t get me wrong – I’m selling it and would be thrilled to make money on it. Also, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with launching a book with the goal of making money. My point here is that my goals influence the approach I’m taking with the project, as well as my own comfort level with it.

2) I wasn’t thinking about an e-book in order to have a book in print. I’m lucky enough to have a novel coming out from Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic called The 14 Fabulous Fibs of Gregory K., so I feel no pressure to have a book out.  In fact, that book remains my main focus and influenced my thinking on the e-book: I’m not trying to make a huge splash; I’m trying to learn.

Potential Upsides?

These tie closely to my goals. In this case I thought that I’d…

  • Be likely to learn
  • Get good practice
  • Have fun
  • Gain omething new to talk about online and off
  • Reach more readers (potentially)
  • Get to do something to do with all my poems
  • Make Mom happy!
  • Have a tangible product/creation/thing

Possible Downsides?

I wrote things down as they came to me thinking “possible” not “probable” –

  • A time suck
  • Lack of knowledge (and the process itself) causing frustration
  • The risk of public failure
  • Somehow hurting my upcoming novel’s launch

The risk of failure was easily dismissed since, in my head, my sales goal was “more than one” and I was confident in the material itself. It wouldn’t have deterred me anyway I don’t think, but was really no factor. Similarly, the lack of knowledge was one of the reasons I wanted to do this project, so the frustrations that came with it would be part of what I expected.

The issue of time commitment was and is very real, although simply being aware of the potential has, in this case, kept it from being a problem. I also had no set deadlines, so, to a large extent, I could let things slide if I truly had no time. I also believe all the knowledge and experience I gain will, in effect, “pay for itself” in many ways.

The possibility of somehow impacting my novel’s launch broke down into a two parts. I don’t view this e-book of poetry as competition to the novel – in fact, I view it as a step in building towards its launch – so, for me, at least, that meant I wouldn’t be treating it in a way that would likely create problems.

I also made sure to let my editor know what I was doing and thinking before siccing the book on the world. If there was a major concern (or a huge pre-emptive buy of the poems!), I could stop the process before any damage had been done.

The Decision to E

Looking at my goals and the upsides vs. downsides, the decision became quite easy for me. In the end, the only reason the project wouldn’t happen, I knew, was because I simply wouldn’t do it. As you can see, that didn’t happen!

This process truly is what I go through when thinking about launching an event in social media or  joining a new network or anything like that. Knowing why I’m doing something keeps me on track – I’m focused on learning, not sales, so I don’t have to push the promotional pedal to the metal, for example – no matter what I’m working on.

Again, I hope this post proves useful even though it’s not 100% social media related… and I’m always interested in hearing about your processes, too.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Leigh Purtill April 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm

A great analysis of your thought process, Greg! Love the cover art for your e-book – striking and colorful. I too am on the e-ride, with 2 novels and a short out now, and am trying to soak up all the experience I can from other writers’ journeys as well. I’m happy to share what I’m learning too.

Good luck to you on this book and on your upcoming release!


Greg Pincus April 16, 2012 at 1:56 am

Thanks, Leigh. I gained inspiration from your getting your work out there and what you’ve shared, too. It is an interesting journey, no question about it. And I hope you’ll feel free to share more about what you’ve learned here or elsewhere.


Beryl Reichenberg April 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I loved the part about making your mother happy. And, of course,. your sharing your decision making process. Often, we jump headlong into a venture without looking at all aspects as you have done. The biggest problem for me would be the time suck. Will this take away from writing, which I love and is that worth any payback (not so much money but as you said experience and developing a brand, in this case your name as an author. Keep us posted on your process, Beryl


Greg Pincus April 16, 2012 at 1:58 am

Yes, Mom matters! Oh, sure, she doesn’t have a reader just yet, but that’s not the point.

The time suck is, without question, the biggest concern. But being aware of it kept the early parts from being a time suck, and after allowing myself to enjoy the launch for awhile, I know I’ll be back to using my time for other things. The best way to follow up a book, after all, is with another book. And that doesn’t happen if the time is sucked away!


Renee LaTulippe April 16, 2012 at 3:30 am

Congrats on the launch, Greg! It’s great to see your thought process, and also the questions you ask yourself before you actually begin a new venture. I tend to be a bit too impulsive, so these questions are really useful. (And I love that your sales goal is “more than one”!)


Greg Pincus April 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm

The sales thinking really makes a difference, at least for me. I’d launch a book completely differently if I were trying to maximize sales or if that was my sole goal. As it is, I’m fine with dribs and drabs and in studying how (or IF) word spreads and sales come in. Not that it’s all trackable (or if it is, I don’t have the skills OR the time to do so!), but this is about learning for me, with sales as a big updside.


Catherine Johnson April 16, 2012 at 7:25 am

Great analysis Greg. I hope the formatting is compatible with Kobo books then I’ll definitely get it. 2 out of 3 books I’ve bought from friends didn’t give me the whole book, one of them only gave a page lol.


Greg Pincus April 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm

The different formats are truly a challenge. There are ways for folks to work around the issues (Calibre software, for instance, can help convert non-DRM files to different formats), but it still remains work for the buyer… and that’s just no good. (At the moment, I am not native to the Kobo, by the way. That could change, but I don’t know when!)


Laurisa Reyes April 16, 2012 at 8:46 am

Great post. I’ve been considering doing an e-book, but am concerned about the very things you mentioned.


Charlie Cohen April 16, 2012 at 9:09 am

Great post, for sure, and a really great and hilarious e-book. But the thing I’m most excited about is this series! You’ve already taught us a lot (me, anyway) and this is just the preliminary post. I can’t wait to hear how it all works out. What are/were the pitfalls, unexpected troubles, and strange successes that made you, against all odds, the first e-book millionaire!

Really, Greg, posting your adventures here… it’s a mitzvah!


Greg Pincus April 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm

There are a bunch of million selling e-book authors, and I’m sure some millionaires. I am lost in seeing a path there for a children’s poetry e-book right now, but one never says never! One thing I will say is that folks seem more willing to take a chance at $2.99 than at $14.99…. That’s a possible game changer, but, of course, folks still have to SEE your book to begin with.


Donna L Sadd April 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

Great post Greg; I’ll certainly be staying tuned in to your process. Lord knows I could use a good education by an author whose work I admire!


Susan Berger April 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Lupe tried this last year as an experiment for himself and Pen and Ink with the E book The Wooden Men.

I know he found the most frustrating part was adding the images. He said Kindle was not really set up for that.

I am delighted you accomplished your E book goal and I look forward to The 14 Fabulous Fibs of Gregory K

This was a very well thought out and readable post. Look forward to the followups


Saraya Hickey April 17, 2012 at 2:55 am

Well, glad the you’ve decided to make it as an eBook. It is more accessible and more affordable. Kudos for having your book out for grab! Keep it up. 🙂


Beryl Reichenberg April 17, 2012 at 10:34 am

I agree, Greg, people have to see your book first, unless you have a brand name. That’s where the bookstores come into play, so to speak. Beryl


Mary Lee April 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

Fascinating to get a peek into your process! Would love to know more about publishing an e-book!


Belinda Riggs April 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Thanks for sharing your decision-making process. Glad that you chose ‘to E’. I’m no writer, i love reading books and they’re all sitting on the shelf. When the e-book readers came out, I found it practical to use them especially since I travel a lot.


D. August Baertlein April 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Hi Greg, I really enjoyed your virtual launch party! The noise-makers were a hoot. Well, mine was anyway.

Your post here reminded me of my main goal when I put SYNAPSE out on Amazon a few months ago. I wanted at least a few people to read and enjoy the book on which I’d worked so long and hard. The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest is making that dream come true. Nice reviews from complete strangers make my heart glow. Sales and money? Not happening. Validation, though, and it feels good.

But I have a technical question for you. Your email signature has short but informative link to your book on Amazon – How’d you do that? Bitly always gives me some garbledygook.


Greg Pincus April 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm

First off, congrats on your continuing advance through the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award process! That’s exciting, indeed.

As for the link… if you set up an account there ( you can then make “custom” links when you shorten your long link. Like with any other service, if someone has used the custom name you want already, you’ll have to change. But if not… it’s yours!


D. August Baertlein April 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Thanks! I’ll give that a try!


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