3/3/09

E-Publishing -- Is It Right For You?


What are the advantages of e-publishing?

I have many friends who have opted to e-publish their works, and with good reasons, not to mention good results.

Let’s face it, publishing is a hard business for any writer. At one time, there was about 75 to 100 print publishing companies, owned by people whose tastes and criteria varied. Now five major media corporations own most imprints. Titles are chosen by committee who consider content less important than demographics of the customer base. The major publishers want books that will sell. They are not interested in producing mid-list authors, or in keeping books in print, or in publishing a good book that won't find a wide audience, just because it’s good.

So here's what my research turned up.

Luckily, there are more opportunities for first-time/unknown authors, or authors of unusual books in e-publishing. For writers whose stories don't fit the mold, e-publishing can be a way to find an audience and good reviews. Deb Staples says that e-books are a great way to put your foot in the door. Now you can say you are a published author, and begin the process of marketing and learning how the industry works. “E-books get talented authors into a market that might otherwise never see them.”

And here’s a few more good reasons for those writers involved or interested in e-publishing:

Less emphasis on standard novel lengths.
E-publishing offers a market for books that are longer, or shorter, than traditional print novels. It is an excellent market for novelettes, which sell for a lower price than a paperback novel, and often more acceptable to the consumer.

More control over the process
. Writers have greater freedom with characters and plot, more say in revisions, and possibly more input in cover art and sales blurbs. While e-publishing editors make suggestions for revisions in a manuscript, authors note that there is considerably more room for discussion and negotiation.

Higher royalties. Because the costs of e-published books are significantly lower than print books, authors receive a far higher percentage of revenues. 40 percent is fast becoming the industry standard. Most e-publishers pay royalties every quarter rather than once or twice a year like print publishers. However, keep this in mind and don’t expect to get rich quick. Karen Wiesner, who has sold hundreds of copies of her romance titles and several thousand copies of her nonfiction e-book, notes, "I don't think the combined total from all my book royalties would equal what a standard mid-list author with a traditional publisher makes off a single advance."

Author-friendly contracts
. I think most e-publishers ask only for electronic rights, leaving the author free to market print rights and subsidiary rights elsewhere. In addition, most e-publishing contracts are renewable rather than indefinite.

Shorter response times. Most e-publishers attempt to respond to submissions within two to four months. Response times are lengthening, however, as the number of submissions increases.

Faster publication
. Some e-publishers will bring out a title within months of acceptance. However, this is becoming less and less common, particularly among the larger e-publishers, who have backlogs of manuscripts.

International availability. "Readers in Australia can buy the book the same day it's released to buyers in the U.S. It's immediately accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Longer shelf life
. Since it costs very little to keep an e-book in stock, a book does not have to sell thousands of copies. As long as sales remain good by e-book standards, most e-publishers are willing to keep a title in their inventory, rather than dropping it for a more profitable title.

How do you feel about e-publishing? Does anyone with e-pub experience have anything to add, or dispute here? Let us know your ideas on this subject good or bad.

Kaye

17 comments:

Debs said...

Thanks for all that useful information, it's certainly something to think about.

Helen Hardt said...

Hi Kaye, as you know, I've opted to epublish my shorter works. I'd like to make it in NY for my novel length stories, which means I need to start submitting, LOL. But in the meantime, I'm getting my name out there and gaining a following, hopefully ;). And remember, Sylvia Day, Jaid Black, and Shiloh Walker, to name only a few, all started out with epubs!

Shelley Munro said...

I actually wished I'd tried e-publishing earlier because I've learned a lot, and it was a good way of learning the business. The stories I write never fit the right mold because a lot of what I write is quirky.
Most of the big e-pubs prefer print rights as well these days. With some epubs this is negotiable and some it's not.

With e-pubs it's very important to do your research before you sign a contract. Read their books, check out their website, talk to other authors and sign with a reputable one.

Catherine Bybee said...

Before I learned about e-pubs I tried the NY market... Agents, direct submissions etc. Most of my query's were rejected or flat out ignored. But a few came back with a request for a partial and even a full. Sigh... After those panned into rejections I knew that at the very least I had something that caught someones attention. The lovely thing about e-pubs, and TWRP in particular, most will at the very least give you a glimpse as to why they are passing on your manuscript. Many e-pubs work with their authors to help them grow.

I have every intention to sub to NY again. In fact, if I have the time I'd like to have something to push by years end. But e-pubs are exactly what I need at this point in my career. At least when I sub to NY again, I'll still have books coming out in the e-pub market. So the waiting a half a year on a partial won't seems a long.

Best of luck on your sub's, Kaye.

Semi-Professional Muse for Hire said...

Here's a link to a great e-publisher and what she has to say about e-books:

http://karensyed.blogspot.com/2009/03/power-of-suggestion.html

Semi-Professional Muse for Hire said...

And because I can't help myself, here's another just from today, from Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent (who has a great blog!)

http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-im-optimistic-about-future-of-books.html

Linda Banche said...

I'm also e-pubbed, and I'm grateful to my e-publisher. They've been very good to newbie me.

That said, the money is still in New York. I will try there because I want to make some money. I don't expect big bucks, but I want enough to make the effort worthwhile. And as everyone here knows, the effort is considerable.

My writing mainstream doesn't help matters, either. Most of the authors who have made the transition to NY are erotic romance authors.

I know I have to give it a while.
A successful author told me NY only takes perfect novels now. She told me to consider e-pub as a paid apprenticeship.

Cari Quinn said...

Great post, Kaye! I really like the way you laid out all the information you've gathered. If my mind hadn't already been made up toward e-publishing, your post definitely would've done the trick. :)

Christina Phillips said...

Great post Kaye. Since being pubbed by TWRP I've learned a lot, including the promo side of things. Like others have mentioned here, I'd like to eventually sell a novel length book to NY because I'd love to make a living at this (well it's a nice dream!)

Aussies who started in e-pub include urban fantasy author Keri Arthur and erotic romance author Denise Rossetti.

Kaye Manro said...

Wow! There are great responses here. Thanks to everyone. You've added much depth to the info on e-pubs. It's great to have friends who know from experience. And I agree, most of us aspire to be with the NY print pubs. But it's also great to have the option e-publishers offer too.

Genella deGrey said...

Hi Kaye!

I totally agree with what you have to say on today's blog!

I have an ebook coming out soon - and I LOVE my epublisher! The whole process has taken the same amount of time as a NY house, but I had my hand in my cover and numerous other items I'd take all day to list.

So many people are reading from their electronic devices - How could we as writers not jump on this bandwagon?

:)

Genella deGrey

- Heating-up History


Coming soon - Freya's Bower Presents

"Remember Me"


www.genelladegrey.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the indepth info on e-publishing. I've been rehashing it over and over and haven't made a decision yet but my ms is in with an e-pub now.

Waiting...an author's longest frustration!

Sincerely
Franny Armstrong

Kaye Manro said...

Nice to see you here, Genella!

Thanks for stopping by Franny.

I'm so glad this e-pub post was helpful.

The waiting is always frustrating. And then the round of edits start. All in a day's work for a writer.

Suzanne said...

This is great, thank you so much Kaye.

I hadn't thought of e-publishing, but you've put forward a great argument for it.

Definitely something to think about.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

What good useful information Kaye. I agree with e-publishing. Many writers strive to get published with the bigger print houses, and realise after a long drawn out battle it is not their story, or writing they are getting rejected on. It's because their story doesn't fit with what they publish therefore not suited.
This is where e-publishing comes in. You have a good story, you have a great story and many e-publishers are often seeking such a story.
As you said it's a great step to get out there, find out about the industry and charge ahead to greater heights. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kaye,
I've chosen to epub because no one will give no authors a chance. It is a catch 22 situation. Yes, it gets your foot in the door, but do your homework and find out which presses are HONEST, which are looked favorly upon by RWA which has a big voice in this business. Piers Anthony is another first stopping point to see what and who to trust. While I'm no fan of electronic devices, I hope it will lead to sales. I still need that book in my hand to hold and curl up with. Maybe I'm just to old.LOL
Nancy O

Kaye Manro said...

Good input, Suzanne!

Thanks so much for the added helpful advice, Nancy. It is so true, we always need to do our research and not just jump in because we want so badly to be pubbed. And thanks too for mention Piers Anthony. He has his pulse on the industry and he does his research well.

I think we all want to have that book in our hands! It's such a great feeling.