Monday, February 21, 2011

Column: The Business of Writing: New Market for Writers by Linda Rohrbough

The Business of Writing:

New Market for Writers

by Linda Rohrbough

It’s official. E-book readers went to color and now the numbers are up, up, up. This is creating a new opportunity for writers in the way of shorter works priced low for what is sure to be a voracious e-book reader market. A prime example is Amazon’s new Kindle Singles.

Before I talk about the new opportunity, let me fill you in on what happened over Christmas. Barnes & Noble was rescued from the brink of bankruptcy by stellar double-digit sales increases over Christmas, credited mostly to the NOOK. said they sold more of their $139 Kindles over the holiday season than all the Kindles sold in 2009. And the iPad is everywhere, with another 7.3 million out the door last quarter. Not to mention the Android-based tablet computers that are nipping at the iPad’s heels. Plus you can get NOOK and Kindle readers for just about any other platform you care to read on, including smart cell phones.

So, what’s happening? Publisher’s Weekly reported the big publishers’ e-book sales are up - between 150 and 400 percent over the holidays. I predict this trend will continue. With all these e-book devices out there, people are looking for something to read.

And not just books. Long articles are coming back into vogue. Amazon is calling theirs Kindle Singles. They are five to ten thousand word pieces on a single subject – a look at everything from a spectacular bank heist to the nature of evil to a new look at weight loss. They cost about two to three dollars each, and the Kindle ones are by writers with a track record who’ve done work for national magazines like Wired, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker.

Let me tell you what will come back into vogue shortly. Short stories. I used to love short stories. But I learned pretty fast there was no market for them. And most of the ones I’ve read in the last few years weren’t very satisfying. But as a prediction of things to come, Jodi Picoult has done a series of three short stories for the Kindle Singles titled Leaving Home. Other novelists will follow this trend, I’m sure.

Why will these work? Because we’ve all been stuck someplace where we’d like to have something to read that was compelling that we can finish in a day or maybe a couple of hours, but are unwilling to make the commitment to another novel. Especially when e-book novels by names you can count on are going for over fifteen dollars in e-book format.

But to get something really good to read instantly for the price of a latte, now that’s attractive.

Here’s an opportunity, my writer friends. And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see it.

I told you a year ago to get ready because the boom in e-book readers would mean increased demand for authors. And here’s another example. We used to see long articles in magazines many years ago. Sometimes published in a serial format. And now they’re back. So I hope you’ve been building publishing relationships and polishing up your work. Because there are more new opportunities coming just around the corner. Like novellas. Just wait and see.


Linda Rohrbough has been writing since 1989, and has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit along with awards for fiction and non-fiction. Her latest book, co-authored with her surgeon, is Weight Loss Surgery with the Adjustable Gastric Band from Da Capo Press. She has an iPhone App of her workshop “Pitch Your Book” and her first novel The Prophetess I: At Risk, both coming out in Spring of 2011. Visit her website:

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