A lot of my friends and family members ask me why I won’t release Kill River in a digital ebook format, and I simply tell them, “because I keep it real.” Yes, I know I’m guilty of dodging the question with a joke, but I couldn’t be more serious about my resolve to have my book released only in print.
Kill River takes place in the 1983. It’s not one of those cheesy self-aware books with references to modern technology and events. I wrote it as if I were actually writing in 1983, and I wanted to really capture a feeling of the time period. My vision for Kill River was to write a novel from a simpler time. I want it to seem like a really cool bargain-bin 80’s pulp horror novel. I want it to fit right in with things like Sleepaway Camp and Friday the 13th. And if it ever gets adapted into a movie, it will have to look like it was shot on grainy old film and have a cool synthy 80’s score. The whole digital ebook thing just doesn’t fit in with the whole retro slasher experience.
For the record, I’m not against digital books. I do own a Kindle and I think it’s great to be able to take a whole library of books with me wherever I go. It certainly made the arduous task of reading all five Game of Thrones novels easier. But as an independent author trying to get my own book out there, e-readers have their fair share of drawbacks.
The cover art is wasted. You don’t really get to enjoy the cover art on an ebook. You just turn on an e-reader and you’re right there where you left the story. You don’t really get the full vibrant color of a beautiful painted cover sitting on your coffee table and calling to you, beckoning you to dive back into the story. Cover illustration for most books are pretty lame and boring these days anyway, I’m sorry but one stock photo image against a lightly textured monochrome background just ain’t cuttin’ it. I mean, come on, are these cover artists photo-shopping these things together in fifteen minutes? I digress, that’s a blog for another day.
I grew up in the Goosebumps era with Tim Jacobus’s beautiful cover art on every book. Even the not so greatGoosebumps books like Chicken Chicken had great cover art. Hell, even the Babysitter’s Club books had decent cover art. Before the 90’s though, there were the cheesy, but awesome eyeball-skeleton covers of the 80’s from authors like Ruby Jean Jensen and Stephen Gresham. I’m a big fan of the old Zebra Horror novels and just looking at their covers gets me all nostalgic and excited to read those books. I worked hard to paint the cover toKill River in the style of those old school covers and I want it to be enjoyed. I don’t want it to be just some thumbnail lost in a digital archive.
Also, ebooks are more forgettable. If you’ve read a lot of books on a Kindle or a Nook or some device, ask yourself how many you can honestly remember. What were their titles? Who wrote them? I honestly can’t remember half of them, and that makes me sad. The old saying out of sight, out of mind rings true for digital books. You read a book, finish it, then turn off your device and it’s gone. Unless it’s one of those rare cases where it was one of the best books you’ve ever read in your life, it’s gone like dust in the wind, or a dream you had the night before. I can’t speak for every author, but I sure want my readers to remember my books. Physical copies of books can be kept like souvenirs, and serve as reminders of the journey the story took you on. They can also be passed on to new readers.
So yes, with my books, I keep it real, literally and figuratively. I won’t say I’ll never release Kill River digitally, who knows, I may change my mind in the next decade or so.