Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is E-Publishing For You?

Over the past ten or fifteen years e-book publishing has steadily grown as an industry, but the debate continues as to whether it is a legitimate outlet for quality books or just a repository for work not up to standard.

As the e-book reviewer for ForeWord magazine for several years, I would have to say that a lot of what has been published was not up to standard, but more and more e-publishers are taking a stricter stance on what they accept and doing a much better job with editing.

For a new writer, going with an e-publisher might be a good option. There are a number of e-publishers that have been in business for a long time, such as Hard Shell Word Factory, New Concepts Publishing, and new ones such as Uncial Press. In addition, there are there are a slew of new publishers for erotica. A directory of publishers can be found here

So, should you as a new writer consider going the electronic route? Before you decide, there are a number of things to consider:

Are there benefits to an electronic sale before a print sale? That is also highly debated on lists devoted to writers and writing, and it would be good to join one or two of them to see what has worked for authors who have gone that route.

Before signing a contract, you should also determine how the books will be distributed and how the market is controlled. If they are not going to be widely distributed in a variety of formats for different devices, that will seriously impact sales.

Royalties paid for e-books are higher than what is normally paid for print books, some going as high as 40 or 50 percent. That percentage is enticing, but keep in mind that, except for erotica and some well-established romance authors’ books, sales of e-books seldom go over 3 or 4 hundred copies over a three year period.

Will readers embrace electronic books the same way they do print? The jury will be out a long time on that one, too, but one thing is clear. The first generation of children who were comfortable in front of a computer screen is now in adulthood.

The idea of reading a novel on a hand-held electronic reader is not alien to them, and certainly not to their children. And some older folks even like the convenience of downloading 10 to 20 books on a e-book reader and taking it on a long vacation.


Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest books are One Small Victory and Play it Again, Sam. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas.
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  1. An E published author read my first two chapters (very generous woman!) to see where I'd need to add heat to entice the editor to request my book. She sent my work back suggesting I target a category line as my voice fit well with that line (one I had been targeting all along). Also, I would get wider distributorship in print.

    Right now my strategy is to pitch that line at the RWA Conference. After that, if not requested, I will pitch my work to e-publishers and see where it goes.

    I have researched my publishers and have heard good things from other e-published authors in those houses. I'd be honored to be requested by any of the e-publishers I'm targeting.

  2. Thanks for the tip on e-book formats Maryann. That is important to both e-book writers and device purchasers. E-book readers come in a range of prices. When making a purchase, be sure to ask which book formats can be read.

    Sure wish the industry could agree on 1.

  3. This is a great look at epublishing. I'm about to have my first novel released by an epublisher, and I've had a really wonderful experience with it.

    I write erotic romance, so it was an excellent route for me to go. For those of us in the erotica and romance genres, there is also the benefit of a certain level of privacy for our readers. They can purchace the books in their own homes without anyone else seeing what they choose to read, which I think is an important consideration for some of them.

    Elle Parker

  4. Great advice, Maryann. I'm with Charlotte - I wish they'd choose one e-format and make it universal. Yeah, I know it's not likely to happen, but I'm still a-wishing.

    Helen Ginger

  5. Dear MaryAnn,

    As usual, that was a great post!

    I'll have a lot of things to consider when I finally finish my book and take the plunge to try and have it published.

    I had never seriously considered e-publishers before, until I read your post. Maybe it's a good way for me to get my feet wet.

    I personally prefer a book that I can hold in my hand and flip the pages, plus I also like the idea of having my book in one of the hometown bookstores that I like to frequent/support, as well.
    However, I know that we all have to learn to accept and try new things, or we'll stagnate.

    My husband wants to buy me a Kindle2 to see if I like it. Maybe I should say "yes" after all, huh?

    Thanks for always presenting something for us to think about.
    You're a real doll.
    And I still love the picture of you and Banjo--it always makes me smile!

    ~CyndeP.S. Check out my blog, ok? I'm a grandma now!

  6. Thanks for all the kind comments about the post. I'm glad that the information was so helpful

    I was hesitant at first about reading e-books, thinking I would miss holding a real book. But I've got to tell you that using an e-reader that is backlit is so nice for reading at night just before going to sleep. And when I read in the morning eating breakfast, I'm not trying to hold a paperback and spoon cereal into my mouth. :-)

  7. I actually published my first book in ebook format via and 80% of my sales come from ebook, rather than paperback. I see it as more environmentally friendly and less costly for people around the world. So I don't mind it at all.

    In Quest of Theta Magic

  8. Epublishing is not only for new writers. It's a valid and growing option for any author concerned about the environment, or who for a variety of reasons wants a different path from mass market. And with ebooks available to cell phones, computers, etc., sales aren't limited just to those willing to buy a reader (though the number who are is growing, too).

    While a lot of epub authors don't get wealthy from it, the same can be said about print--and there ARE those earning four figures per month just off ebook sales. It can be done, without the hassle of book signings/costly promotion/etc., and with low environmental impact while working in pajamas. So while some of the negative stigma is still hanging on, it's teetering on the edge of the cliff. Hopefully it won't be long before it finally topples over.


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  10. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!



The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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