Interview: Mobile ebook author

Please read below an interview I had a great pleasure to give to a self-publishing guru, Joanna Penn. The original one can be found at her fantastic blog, The Creative Penn, a must read for every writer 2.0.

The Creative PennContinuing our series of interviews with inspirational authors, today we have Nick Name or Niżej Podpisany in Polish.
These are the pen names of Piotr Kowalczyk from Warsaw, Poland who I met on Twitter . Here is the interview with him which is basically unedited to preserve his unique (and brilliant) expression!

Tell us a bit about yourself

My real name is Piotr Kowalczyk. I love absurd fiction. Call myself a late follower of Roland Topor and an early follower of Etgar Keret:) My Polish nickname/pen name is Niżej Podpisany (Signed Below) – to spot the major characteristic of a human at the times of Web 2.0 – many identities you can use to sign your opinion, post, comment. It works even better in English, although I realize that it may sound obvious.

I started to write short stories about three years ago after an operation (backbone). Before that I worked as a copywriter and art director – and still continue – this is where not only satisfaction comes from;) 3 years ago I decided to start a publishing house to issue my books. This was a great experience with one single conclusion – if you’re not big, you’re basically dead.

What do you write?

I write books in Polish. By now I have created more or less 219 short stories, but not less than 187 and not more that 259. This was enough to collect some 4 to 5 books.

However, my book “Password Incorrect” is translated to English, a selection of my best tech-absurd stories. My publishing house and me have decided to do it as we realized, that this kind of flash-fiction is not gonna be very popular in my homeland until all my grandchildren die. The book was published through, a great platform offering free e-books for mobile devices. As the number of English downloads has exceeded the Polish version, it seems there are a lot of absurd lovers around the world.

25 short, sometimes funny and sometimes mean stories ideal to rediscover the joy of reading a book as shiny and beautiful as a brand new cell phone.A look from a distance at the absurdity of our present day lives: fights with the less and less comprehensible equipment, pursuit of the latest technological news, pitfalls of our modern lifestyle, useless inventions and issues racing in all directions at a breakneck speed.

A lot of entertainment and a little food for thought. Just perfect for the moment when you’re finally bored with exploring the alarm settings on your new iPhone.

How did you publish your book on the iPhone?

My books didn’t get to the shelves and majority of sales were generated through internet bookstores. This is where I started to look at producing books for the iPhone. When the iPhone was introduced to Poland I decided to make a no-budget promotion: select short stories on technology-related absurd, make a nice cover perfectly fitting into the screen and feel of the iPhone, and tell it not to the literary people but to tech people. This was a big success. Major news portals were featuring the story, and it helped to increase sales of my paper books. Technically this was easier than expected. There is an application for iPhone called Stanza. When you have it you can download books directly to your phone. You know: “another great content”. People were downloading lots of stuff anyway, so why not books?

I learned that you can personally upload your book to Feedbooks . At that time, in October, a section of user-created books was fledging so I decided to go into public domain. I had to “kill myself” – put the date of death, otherwise the system wouldn’t let me through;-) and this was it. One press release, a couple of jpeg files.( ).

At that time I also realized, that if you’re small/basically-dead maybe the recognition abroad would help to get the recognition here in Poland. I decided to spend 1000 EUR on translating the stories to English. I think this was my best idea as a publisher. What I achieved is a single mind click: if this author is recognized abroad this must be the most interesting about him. I’ve started to build a direct audience around my blog, where I position myself as a writer 2.0, who can be a living example of a self-publishing failure – or success. This is why Warsaw is so close to Brisbane:)

Why do you think ebooks on mobile phones are going to become more popular?

This is coming from my belief, that mobile devices, like smartphones can really reinvent the pleasure of reading. They are as convenient as paper books, so why not starting to use them as an e-book reader. Steve Jobs said “people stop reading”. Well yes, he’s now greatly surprised, with a huge success of an iPhone+Stanza combination. Generally I think that mobile e-books (I think they deserve their own name: mo-books) can help to bring fiction literature back on tracks.

Non fiction e-books are natural to be used/read on a computer screen. They’re part of a job. But the biggest problem with e-books is that people don’t associate them with free time.  This is about to change – thanks to mobile devices.

There are two major factors:
– It’s my toy, I carry it everywhere, use it intensively, more often – for playing and free time activities – like fiction books
– Mobile phones, especially touch screen, have screens big enough to stop complaining about eye tiredness

So in other words, instead of saying to people “go back to this past tense pleasure as reading books”, we can say “why don’t you download another piece of great content to your beloved shiny smartphone”. What I like about it is that we can be appealing to people who don’t read a lot, or at all. Those who usually read books will probably prefer p-book to a mo-book.

How can people find out more?

My website and blog is here You can also follow me on Twitter and check out the YouTube advert – very funny!

2 Replies to “Interview: Mobile ebook author”

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