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IS E-PUBBING ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE?

December 12, 2012

            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?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Peggy West permalink
    December 12, 2012 4:18 am

    This is an interesting controversy. I’m reading e-books that are not published through large publishing houses. It’s a head scratcher that authors are not hiring editors. I wonder at times if I’m reading the backstory or a rough draft, although for the most part am reading some pretty fun stuff. I don’t think of e-fiction as being less-than, rather, a large publisher was not found or even sought after. I have been through the search for a literary agent and there’s a fatigue factor at play. I don’t know all that a large publisher does for a novel (line edit, spell check and some promotions?). I hear that the writing life is 5% writing and 95% marketing.

    • December 13, 2012 4:19 am

      Peggy,

      You’re right. Marketing is the big hill to climb once the book is done. All that work is for naught if nobody knows about it!

      Yup, there is a lot of garbage out there too, with little gems scattered in the mud! It’s just a matter of finding them.

      Unfortunately, if you’re going to take the e-pub plunge, you pretty much HAVE to get a good editor unless you know someone or can work a deal. That is the one big advantage of conventional pubbing.

      Thanks!

      Fred

      • December 13, 2012 4:21 am

        Felix,

        It is an honor to hear from you anytime! I value what you have to say, believe me!

        Loved that photo of you at the book signing too. It’s great you have so much stuff out, despite your other “hobbies” too!

        You just may find that time to work on another one, you never know!

        Fred

  2. December 12, 2012 4:39 am

    Lee Child’s comment bothered me, too. It’s easy to make errors when speaking “off the cuf,” and that may have been the case. I’ve read many ebooks and some are an abomination they’re so poorly written. Ebook companies are a money-making machine who feel no shame when they mix the good with the bad. We shouldn’t let this continue.

    I have a good book marketer with lots of credits to his name who’s not that expensive. I write new critiques every month for my four children’s books, my autobiography, and my children’s CD. He sends them to the many reps around the country for their use to sell our products to libraries, schools, Walmart, Cosco, major companies, military bases, the Pentagon, airport gift shops, and many other outlets. My problem is that I’m getting old, have other interests, and this may be my final hooray as a writer. I feel proud because I know I’ve succeeded with what I consider good books, many with top reviews that also happen to be in the ebook world of KIndle, Nook, iPad, Sony, and a few others.

    Thank you Fred for having given me the chance to vent a few of my opinions.

  3. December 18, 2012 3:38 pm

    Just as Lee Child thinks that those published electronically are not as good as those published in ink, there are many published electronically that are better. It’s like you say above – you have to find the gems scattered in the mud. I suppose because there are so many awards for ink authors, it makes finding the gems there easier, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t serious talent in the electronic arena.

    • December 19, 2012 2:42 am

      Gabrielablandy,

      Welcome to my site!

      You are right. There are some real gems out there for sure in the e-world. You just have to find them. It’s all in the marketing and word of mouth. Also, there are plenty of bad print books too.

      Thanks so much for the comments!

      Fred

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