Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Civilian in the Ebook Revolution

I want to write intelligently about the new wave of publishing online.  I really do.  But despite doing the research, I find there are still many things that elude me. 

Like, I don’t know why the term 'Epublishing' excludes self published material (I mean E-anything means electronic doesn’t it?  Whether its self published or Electronic Publisher published?  See, I’m confusing myself.  Again.)  Or why ‘Indie Publishing’ has eight different definitions.  I have totally God or Googled the whole thing.  But it feels like everyone is giving a different answer.


Everywhere I look there’s a new article highlighting how successful some online authors are- making double or triple what they would have made with a traditional publisher and in a tenth of the time.   And when you read stories like this and this, it does sound terribly tempting, doesn’t it?

However, the more I dug around, the more I realized the world of profitable online publishing is something that takes months of research to fully comprehend.  For instance- why do some authors hit it big and others no?  (besides the obvious- some people working harder at their craft and putting out a solid product)  From what I can gather, it’s a mix of attractive cover art, hot genre (romance and erotica are apparently doing very well),  lots of marketing, worthy storylines and LUCK.  – Ugh!  No matter what you do in this business LUCK seems to play at least a 75% roll in your success.

The dangers and deceptions in online publishing include putting out a product that isn’t 100% at its best (in the case of self publishing).  No one buying your book.  Losing any chance whatsoever at traditional publishing with the story in question.

The dangers and deceptions in traditional publishing seem to be the fear of spending years writing and waiting and waiting and waiting for the publishing industry to decide they want you (slight risk of dying of old age before this happens).  No one buying your book.  OR selling less copies than you would have if you’d been published online (since you control the pricing with an online product and this tends to raise book sales) and making less money for your work because you’d be receiving a lower percentage of  the royalties with a traditional publisher.

Thankfully, a few of my author friends have decided to go the Online Publishing route in its various forms and are much better equipped to give insight on the process - India DrummondStephanie Haefner, Nicole ZoltackEmily White, Anita Laydon Miller, Aubrie Dionne and Karly Kirkpatrick especially come to mind. Be sure to check them out!

 If anyone else has had experience with online publishing, I’d love for you to share it in the comments! As for all the other authors like me, trying to go traditional- what do you guys think about publishing online?   Tempting or completely overwhelming?
   

26 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I think it can be very tempting. At a conference last weekend though, I learned that most of the percentages of sales in e-books are not in children's books. So sometimes the facts are misleading.

Gina said...

I share your confusion completely! And for some reason, I stubbornly insist that I want to be published the old-fashioned way. Though the sheer amount of time and patience it requires may be the deciding factor in changing my mind...

J. L. Jackson said...

Entirely tempting and overwhelming at the same time. I've done the research and know the facts, and I'm completely leaning toward self publishing, without even trying the traditional path first. It's a risk, but I love a challenge.

Old Kitty said...

I am in complete AWE at all these fab authors going the other than traditional publishing route! I couldn't do it and would rather have someone else do all that stuff for me! LOL! Yes, I'm that lazy! Take care
x

Jen Daiker said...

I am tempted many times by all the options that are offered in the writing world. I think that it all comes down to that gut feeling you experience when you think about it and how much hard work you're willing to undergo alone.

Some of these girls are warriors, super tough. They'll do very well in the online world.

I consider myself tough but I also consider myself one that would love extra advice and being told I'm awesome every once in awhile! For me the agent and traditional publishing house just makes sense. That doesn't mean I don't cry, whine, and stomp my feet when six more rejections hit me in the face. I just remind myself this is right thing it's just not supposed to happen right now.

Talli Roland said...

It can be very tempting, can't it? It's something that is worth thinking about, for all the reasons you mentioned. But you're right in saying that not every genre or every book will do well. It's a mix of many things!

Jennifer said...

I have seriously considered it many times but like alot of writers I would like to be published in the traditional way...maybe its my age?

Angela Felsted said...

I suppose you could say I'm publishing online by putting poetry up on my website. But it's totally for exposure and not for money, clearly.

As for making money with the whole self-publishing thing. I'm to fearful I'd fall on my face and no one would buy my work to try it.

Jessica Bell said...

I dunno. Publishing solely online feels like a cop-out to me. I want a paperback to back it up! I'm still a paper gal. I dunno if that'll ever change. I guess it'll probably have to at some point, but I'm just not ready.

Mind you, I'm not against self-publishing. I've self-pubbed my poetry book merely because I want to share it. I don't expect to make much money as poetry doesn't sell well anyway.

Anne Gallagher said...

Well for someone who doesn't know the first thing about e-publishing, that was a pretty good commentary.

You raise a lot of good questions. And with everyone else, I'm very tempted. VERY tempted to e-publish (with an epub not self pub). We'll see what happens with the latest batch of queries.

Cynthia Lee said...

I'm keeping the e-publishing option open in my mind, almost like a back-up plan.

My reservations about it mainly revolve around the fact that I don't have a friggin' clue about marketing and I have a limited amount of time.

On the other hand, all this waiting, waiting, waiting is really boring.

And my manuscript doesn't really fit in with any of the current trends.

Plus, the idea of having more control over my work is really appealing.

But an editor is something I desperately need.

And I constantly wonder if there will still be bookstores in the next few years.

So, I feel your pain.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

One of my CPs is having her short story published via an epub, but she write erotic romances, which are hot on this format.

I'm still not considering it yet since I write YA.

Matthew MacNish said...

To be honest, this whole things scares the shit out of me. It's an exciting time for publishing, but a terrifying one, too.

I just want to write.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Theresa had me over on her blog and interviewed me about epublishing. Here's the link if you want to check it out: http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com/2011/05/nicole-zoltack-talks-e-publishing.html

What about Amanda Hockening who made herself a millionaire through self pub and now has deals with a major publisher? And then there are the authors going the other way - from traditional publishing to self pub.

Why did Amanda's books catch on while others don't? You're right, luck plays a huge role. Word of mouth seem to be the biggest key and that's out of the author's hands.

D. U. Okonkwo said...

I think the most I would do is publish directly with a legitimate indie publisher who has serious connections, but I would have had to completely EXHAUST every possible traditional method. I'm really looking to do it the old fashioned way. AND I WILL! LOL

Ricky Bush said...

Then there are those that would take issue with the term "traditional publishing", wanting to distinquish it from "commercial publishing". So, at some point I guess there will be "traditional" e-publishing and "commercial" e-publishing and, and...

Erik said...

I self-pubbed my novel last month, and I definitely learned a lot about formatting, covers, etc. The most difficult part is selling the darn thing. But that's the same for traditional publishing, too.

Candyland said...

I second a few others on here. While it seems a bit overwhelming to me, I also prefer a paperback in my hand. I don't do Kindles or Ebooks, for the most part. I want to feel the book in my hands. I also want another can of frosting. Like now.

Laura Marcella said...

It's all very confusing. I'm not anywhere near the publishing stage, but as of now I'm thinking I'll be sticking to traditional publishing. But who knows, maybe when I get closer to publishing I'll be signing a different tune on that stage.

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

I think at the moment the success of e-publishing is dependant on the genre e.g, romance, contemporary fiction etc. I think genre fiction has its die hard fans still wanting to go the traditional route. I'm totally convinced that epublishing is the way forward (albeit begrudgingly) but I'd still want my work publishing in the traditional way. What I think epublishing is best for is as a compliment to the already published body of work that an author has.

Sarah said...

Things are definitely changing, and I'm suspicious of anyone who makes broad, sweeping predictions. The self-pub route fits some, the small-indie-e-pub route fits others, and the traditional pub route fits a few more. And some do more than one of those things. It's just a personal choice and a calculated risk, no matter what you do!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I can give you LOTS of information about indie-publishing and even point you toward a group of people who have done it. Some are fantastic writers! Some just think they are. Some have found a niche and have a plethora of readers. Others are prickly and resentful and paranoid.

But one thing is true of everyone in that field. Unless you want your work swallowed up into a void to disappear forever, you have to promote the hell out of it -- without getting yourself labeled a spammer. Which is tricky.

LTM said...

ergh. I tell ya, honey. I'm going the traditional route, and it's as slow and quiet as if... I don't know. But I want an editor. I want great cover art. I want the old fairytale.

sigh.

who knows what's right. Epublishing is a lot of work, that's for sure b/c it's ALL you~ <3

Anne R. Allen said...

It's confusing for everybody. And the confusion isn't helped by the semantics--which change daily. 2 years ago "indie" meant small publisher. Now it has been taken over by the self e-pub revolutionaries.

So former indies have to become simply "small." Sigh.

It's a wild west where nobody knows the rules. Big Six publishers and most agents are digging in their heels and saying they won't touch anything that doesn't have a guaranteed 100,000 in sales. So agents are setting up their own publishing companies because they can't get good ebook deals for their clients from the Big Six

On the other hand, most indies are making zilch. These would be the "prickly and resentful and paranoid" ones Dianne mentions above.

Some even have great books with great covers, but they're not a genre Kindle users read much (like women's fiction.)

But as I said in my post this week, the indie/agent/trad. publishers are all overlapping. self-pubbed e-books are being scouted by agents who offer great deals to do an about face and go the trad. route. OR--Just heard this today: to self publish with an agent's help, then market to big six after big sales.

The e-book is becoming the new query. Self pub, sell 50,000 copies, and we'll talk.

What does a normal, non-enterpreneurial writer do? Me, I'm taking another look at those "small" guys. Their doors are wide open. They usually don't take agented work. But they'll help promote and treat you like a person.

Dorothy Evans said...

Maybe it's an age thing - I grew up with and still only buy books.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the Kindle, Kobo, and all of the other popular e-readers are taking over, and now would be the best time to get onboard the epub wagon. Personally, I love going into a bookstore and buying a stack of novels that I can later display on my bookshelves, but so many people want the ease of carrying 1,000 books on 1 little machine.

Even if an author epubs, agents and publishing houses still take notice of what's hot and make offers that way.

What route do we, as authors, take?

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