It is really exciting to see the big surge in e-book publishing and sales. It has been a long time coming.
My first e-book was published in 1997 with The Fiction Works, a new independent publisher who jumped on the early hype about how e-books were going to take off like wildfire. I remember the conversations with the publisher and the editor about how there were going to be kiosks in shopping malls where people would be able to buy electronic or print-on-demand copies of books and we would all get rich.
In the meantime, the books were produced on CDs and packaged much like music, with very nice covers. Customers had an option of buying the packaged CD or buying a direct download to their computer. One nice thing about the CD was that it gave the authors product to have in hand to take to signing events, and we were encouraged to do that kind of promoting. I was living in Nebraska at the time, and there were a few other authors with e-books, so we set out on a little mini-tour of the Midwest with great expectations. There we sat in bookstores with our books on CD, trying to interest people in electronic books, and they looked at us like we were nuts.
Needless to say, we did not sell a lot of books. A few people were mildly interested in talking about this newfangled approach to reading, but most just smiled and went on their way to the real books.
Unfortunately, books did not fly into customer's hands from the publisher's website, either. There were no dedicated e-book readers available at that time, and people did not want to read books on a computer. Who could blame them? The Rocket eBook came out in 1998, and it was a pioneer in the dedicated-reader field, but it did not jump-start sales of e-books. After a dismal year where my monthly royalties would not even buy me a latte, I pulled my book and focused on traditional publishing.
Now with the popularity of the Kindle, Nook, and other dedicated readers, sales of e-books are finally starting to really gain momentum, and I don't think it will be too long before they reach the levels predicted so many years ago. Few authors are currently getting rich on their e-book sales, but many are earning a comfortable living as e-book sales rise. And recent statistics are very encouraging. The Association of American Publishers reported that e-book sales jumped 158.1% in September and were up 188.4% in the first nine months of the year.
I am betting on the future of e-books. I have three books and a short story available for the various dedicated readers, and I have made more in one month on their sales than I did on that early venture into electronic publishing.
Have you published a book electronically? What has your experience been like?
Maryann Miller is a freelance writer and editor. Her e-books are: One Small Victory, Play It Again, Sam, and The One O'Clock Nap
For information about her other books and her editing services visit her Web site. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.