IS E-PUBBING ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE?
I intended to talk more about music this week but recently caught an interview with author Lee Child that bothered me. I may have misinterpreted his words but one of the subjects the interviewer asked him was his take on electronic publishing. Whatever else he said about it, the one thing that stuck out was he implied those authors that sought out the electronic form were not good enough to get published in conventional form. Whether he meant that or not, it made me wonder about the lot of many authors and how many of us may think of the e-pub world.
I’ve seen and heard quite a bit about it since the first book came out of the ether. The success rate has run from miserable failures to phenomenal success.
I know of one author who turned down a six-figure conventional (paper) publishing deal to go electronic because he got sick of the bull he had to deal with going through a publishing house. He’s done really well for himself on his own and he’s been able to pocket most of the cash from his sales. Unfortunately, I can’t remember that author’s name but he’s quite popular! He writes science fiction or fantasy, I think. If I can remember his name, I’ll pass it along.
One author, I know, Scott Sigler, writes icky bug. He started electronically with serialized chapters that became so popular, a paper publisher picked him up. A success story.
On the other side of the coin, there are hundreds if not thousands of poorly edited if not poorly written tomes cluttering up Amazon and other e-pub formats that aren’t selling well for good reason. Buried among them are many gems that aren’t getting a fair shot because nobody hears of them due to poor marketing, an unknown author, a poor cover or not enough readers to spread the word. I guess all the rest of those reasons can still be lumped into the first one, poor marketing.
Marketing is by far, the hardest for most authors. If you thought writing, editing and getting that book published was hard, try selling it! Then, try doing so when it’s nothing but an electronic file nobody can touch, smell or feel.
The good thing about e-publishing is you don’t have to deal with a garage full of books, returns, and a middleman to take a cut.
The bad thing is that there can be just as many pitfalls with e-books as with conventional and I’ve heard plenty of them. I still haven’t e-pubbed The Greenhouse yet. I was all set to, but got hung up on a line editor (couldn’t work a deal with an editor), the artwork (couldn’t come up with a do-it-yourself cover), then lost my motivation when the initial e-pub boom died off a bit. Now I see friend after friend come crashing down as they spend a pretty penny putting together an e-book only to go in the red as they wait to make back the money to cover costs.
Some of these books are good, in fact great stories. I know because I’ve helped edit them. Yet, they’re still not making black ink which is a real shame.
We basically have good books lost in the sludge while mostly well-known authors that already have print books as best-sellers throw their lot into e-books and make a killing, drowning us out.
If you’re going to take the plunge, make sure you have a good product, come up with a good platform, and be ready for the long haul. Hey, doesn’t that sound like what you should be doing anyway?