Ebooks – Does the E stand for Eventual? Evolution?

So, ebooks.  Wow, tempting.  So, so tempting.  People reading your stuff and maybe even paying for the privilege?  Sounds pretty good to me.  Shane Jiraiya Cummings’ Grand Experiment is well worth your interest.  I know for a fact that it’s worth mine.  Chris Lynch and the Tangled Bank Press went the ebook direction as well with their first book (although there will be a print version out soon.)

Note: For the purpose of this post, I’m talking about selling a DIFFERENT novel to a publisher, not selling the same work as an ebook on your own and then selling the same book to a publisher.  Obviously in that case you’ve given up your ability to sell first rights…

When it comes to novels (and, let’s face it, it pretty much has to…), the way I see it, if I choose to go this route I risk:

A:  When (yes, when, not if, I’m American, remember.  An unearned sense of confidence is pretty much encoded in my DNA) I get a publishing contract, the novel that is published will not be my “debut” novel.  I truly believe publishers have a soft spot for this sort of thing.  And so do I.

B:  I don’t think (although I guess this can/will change in the future) that pure ebooks are eligible for all the awards I’ve been saving room on my mantelpiece for.

C:  Who knows how these things work.  I guess I could damage my reputation if ebooks don’t work.  Of course, for ebooks not to work it means traditional publishing has to stop its decline and ebooks have to stop their rise.  (I’m really just putting this here because I wanted there to be three things I felt I was risking.  2 is too easy for me to ignore, you see…)

Yes, yes, of course there’s work involved.  And cost.  Formatting, editing, commissioning a cover, marketing, etc.  Still, it does give you the option of LIKING your cover, which isn’t always a certainty in the big bad world of “real” publishing.  And I think we have to be honest about how much marketing you’d actually be missing out on unless you were Stephen King or something.

So, if we say that the work in question is of a quality to eventually be published (and of course, not everything is) going the ebook Amazon/POD route does give you a path to market, a more “steady” source of income and more control over the final product at the cost of (and we can argue this all day long, but I think the current climate still warrants me to write this) prestige and reputation.

And prestige and reputation are nice.  Trust me, if I ever get some, I’ll let you know how it feels.  🙂  My real goal, though, is to share the worlds in my head with as many people as I can, and it is starting to look more and more like ebooks are a very viable option.


Edit – I had to edit this post three times to fix mistakes, so maybe publishing myself isn’t the greatest idea after all.  🙂


3 responses to “Ebooks – Does the E stand for Eventual? Evolution?

  • Thoraiya

    How will people find the ebooks of unknown authors?

    Have you ever bought the ebook of an author you never heard of?

    Have you ever bought a printed book from a bookshop with a really cool cover and an interesting blurb by an author you had never heard of?

  • christophergreen

    Hiya, Thoraiya. All good points, as usual.

    >How will people find the ebooks of unknown authors?

    Well, I guess the trick here is to not be an unknown author, and by that I mean that you’ve got to do all the stuff you should be doing even in the traditional publishing world. Maintain an Internet presence, network, market yourself and your work, etc. Word-of-mouth and good reviews go a long way in both forms of publishing. I think this is a general issue with new authors and not a specific issue of ebook publishing.

    >Have you ever bought the ebook of an author you never heard of?

    I haven’t. I have bought ebooks from authors who let me read a few sample chapters for free, or who a friend recommended, or who I read a number of good reviews about. I’d say, in the last year or so, I’ve purchased and read (conservatively) 3 times as many books. I have not, in that time, had to worry about the exorbitant cost of buying books in Australia or the terrible availability of anything other than the “bestsellers”.

    >Have you ever bought a printed book from a bookshop with a really cool cover and an interesting blurb by an author you had never heard of?

    Hell yeah! And I agree that browsing the net isn’t the same as wandering through a bookstore. I’d argue that Amazon’s “people who purchased X also purchased Y” feature is at least as cool as that, though. After all, I’ve bought and been annoyed by a lot of books where the cover was the best part. 🙂 I thought we weren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover… 🙂

    I’m not saying there aren’t issues. I’m just saying it’s a side of the market I don’t want to ignore, and I am not yet convinced that every single publisher out there is talented, willing and knowledgeable enough to see ebooks as an opportunity and not a threat.

  • Peter M Ball

    Many years ago, when I was a D&D geek running my own e-press, the way you got a following without actually being a published author was to release lots and lots of product while allowing the new releases to drive backsales.

    Near as I can, after reading up on the ebook thing for a friend of mine, the current success stories in ebooks are doing much the same thing. It intrigues me quite a bit, but I look at it as a long-term thing rather than something to dive into immediately. Publishers have reach that I don’t, and I’d like to get comfortable writing 2+ books a year before I put much focus into ebookings stuff.

    Plus, there’s a reason I stopped epublishing D&D stuff, and lots of it came down to “I don’t want to be a publisher.” It’s easy to underestimate how much time that sort of stuff takes up, particularly when working a job on top of writing or when diving in without any real publishing experience.

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