Do either the Kindle or Sony have speech capability? And, if so, is there a way to vary the rate? After “listening” for over twenty years to do my reading, I listen at a rate that others consider “gibberish”. I read Chip’s article, very informative. Let me know about speech with these devices.
Randy sez: The Kindle does. I don’t know about the Sony. The Kindle has a quite nice text-to-speech feature that will allow you to have it read aloud any e-book you own. The speech quality isn’t as good as a human actor, but it’s good enough that the Author’s Guild got after Amazon for it, because this seems like it’s encroaching on the rights of an author to sell (or not sell) the audio rights to a book. Amazon has backed down. Now the feature is available only for those e-books that the author allows it.
The Kindle also plays audiobooks directly, just like an MP3 player. (There’s a jack for a headset in the top of the Kindle.) It comes with 1.5 GB of memory, which is not huge, but it’ll hold a fair number of sound files.
Karen wrote regarding my last blog post about opportunities for brand new writers:
Since I’m going to be in your mentoring group at Mt. Hermon, this is good news for me! But the idea about it being a good time for new writers to break in seems odd. Wouldn’t publishers be hesitant to risk investments on new, untested writers and rather spend their money on writers that already have an established following?
Randy sez: Even if a writer has an established following, there is no guarantee that his or her next book will earn out its advance. I read an article on the web just today that asserted that 90% of all books fail to earn out their advances. This does not mean that 90% of all books lose money. I am told that a book can break even or make a profit, even when it falls far short of earning its advance.
But even in good times, most publishers invest in new writers. I’m not a publisher, but I can guess at the reasons:
1) Since new writers are new, they don’t have be lured away from some other publisher (which costs money).
2) Since new writers are new, they don’t generally get a big advance, which means the book costs less to produce.
3) All best-selling novelists were at one time unpublished, and every publisher would like to find the author of The Next Big Thing (and lock that novelist into a multi-book deal at a bargain price).
To be sure, not all books by first-time authors sell very well, but neither do most books by multi-published authors. I know far too many veteran authors who aren’t selling nearly as well as they deserve.
I have no crystal ball to see the future. Neither do I have any publishers telling me their secret plans. All I have are twenty years of watching the industry through thick times and thin times. And the one constant over those twenty years is that unpublished writers ALWAYS believe this is a terrible, crappy year to get published, whereas every year, a surprising number of them sell their first novel.
Generally, the ones who break in are the ones who were putting their butt in the chair and writing every day for years and years and years AND then taking the action required to sell their books. (Getting critiqued, learning from other writers, going to conferences, pitching their book to editors and agents, and NOT QUITTING when things looked tough.)
Because let’s face it: Things almost always look tough. I have seen a few fat years when it seemed like any idiot could get published. But most of the years I’ve been watching this crazy publishing game, it’s looked like a hard, hard year to get published.
This is a sermon I’ve preached many times: Nothing happens unless you take action.
The corollary to that is that when you take action, something good might happen.