Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Baby Steps

This weekend I bought my very first e-book. Well, sort of.

I mean, it's an e-book. But it's not an e-book. It's nonfiction. But it's 147 pages long and it's now on my computer. Does that count? It's Holly Lisle's Create A Character Clinic, and it's fabulous.

I'd resisted buying e-books for a couple of reason. First, I already spend too much time in front of my computer. My biggest fear is that my eyesight will go, and I figure staring at the screen for even more hours can't be helpful. I have no desire to print out the book. The cost of paper and ink cartridges is prohibitive enough, not to mention where in the world I would store an entire book's worth of 8 1/2" x 11" pages is beyond me.

Another reason is that I'm a tangible person. I like to have something I can hold and touch after I fork over my cash. And I like seeing my bookshelves fat with my reading offspring. I enjoy the feel of paper and the colorful images on the covers (clinch covers excluded, of course). I like the visual affirmation of the hours I've enjoyed lost in those pages. Too, when I peruse the shelves, often times a favorite will call to me for a re-read. Somehow files on my desktop just don't have that same siren's song.

One of the biggest reasons for my avoidance of e-books is that I'm terrified of buying digital information on line. When the purchase process involves transferring data from the originating source onto my equipment, I'm terrified that something will go wrong. Either I will not have the right software to download properly or open the file once I do download it, or I'll goof up somewhere along the line, and what I've just bought will get caught out in the great never never of cyberspace, lost to me forever.

However, in spending much time on Holly's website and sucking up every single word of free advice that she's shelled out over the years, her Create A Character Clinic was simply too tempting to forgo despite all of my e-book issues. If I could have found this in the bookstore, I would have most definitely purchased it and placed it on my writing craft reference shelf with glee. But since the electronic version was my only option, I took a deep breath and plunged in to the e-book game.

Oddly enough, my last and greatest fear came true and scared the bejeebus out of me for about five minutes. I followed the steps and made my payment, and to my delight the option came for me to download my newly-purchased file. I did so, and wouldn't you know the during the transfer the file became corrupted? Thinking maybe I'd goofed, I tried to download it again. But of course the system believed I'd already gotten my one and only purchased copy and told me so. One per customer, thank you very much. In a panic, I e-mailed the service address terrified they'd never believe me and tell me too bad, so sad, you suck.

Thankfully, though, my paranoia was just that. In less than 24 hours they sent me a new file that opened perfectly on the very first try. No questions asked. No problems. Transaction completed with minimum fuss and no muss. Big thank you to Holly and her folks for helping me out so promptly and nicely.

Having got the file, I plopped down on the couch and dug right in. Holly offers wondeful advice, using samples from her published works as well as an ongoing example she uses to demonstrate both the good and the bad. Her advice and strategies are so practical and down to earth, without any of the fluff that keep them from being nearly impossible to actually apply. I've already got ideas about what I can change to make my stuff better, as well as specific direction to help me make better writing decisions.

So I'm thoroughly enjoying my purchase. In fact, to all you writers out there, I highly recommend you obtain a copy for yourself. I'll be looking forward to other e-books Holly puts out.

In fact, after this experience, I might get brave enough to try something in fiction.


Eileen said...

You forgot the other killer problem with e-books- the threat of electrocuting yourself while reading in the tub.

love your blog. I dreamed of being a rock star (lack of musical talent not considered) or an actress as well. Dreams do come true- I sold my novel last week. Wa-hoo. Strange that Oprah hasn't called yet.

Ronn said...

My reasons for both avoiding ebooks and for buying Holly's mirror your own. I didn't have the download problem you had, but I am having a bit of a time motivating myself to read it on the PC. Maybe I'll take it to work and print it off :)

Lynn M said...

Congrats, Eileen!!! Wonderful news. I'm sure you worked very hard to obtain your success, and you should be proud of yourself!! (I'm sure Oprah's just waiting to call you out of politeness to other writers out there *g*)

Ronn, I've actually thought of printing out the thing more because I'd like to have a hard copy of it someplace. I've backed it up on my back-up hard drive, but even so, I know I'm not going to have this equipment forever. It makes me unhappy to think that I spent money to read it only once and then not have anything to refer to years later when I want to do so. Except, I hate what printing 147 pages will do to my printer's ink cartridge. Hmmm. Yeah. Not liking this e-book option as much as the hard-copy choice.