21 August 2010
The Book Electric
Dorchester, Medallion, Harlequin, everybody’s going ebook crazy. But there seems to be some real confusion about ebooks. I’m not an expert by any means, but I
do have a bit of experience in the realm of electronic publishing (short stories, novella, and novel).
I think the thing that bothers me the most is the equating of ebook to self-publishing, also known as “vanity publishing.” Every day there seems to be another place for
anybody to put his or her books up for sale. But just because anybody CAN publish a book SHOULD they?
Yes, I know rejection, tears at your very soul. I also know that everybody who has completed a book-length manuscript has beaten the odds. Each and every person
who has completed a fledgling book deserves high praise. But do they deserve to be published? Probably not. I know I thought my first book-length manuscript was
the most wonderful thing ever written, when in reality it was pretty horrible. It was five or six manuscripts later before I finally began to get the hang of this book-writing
gig, and I still have a lot to learn.
Let me take you through the usual process of getting yourself published. First, you work for years on a manuscript, working and reworking the thing until you’re sure it’s
the best thing in the world. You sent it out numerous times, only to have it bounce right back to you with little or no indication of why the editor doesn’t want your
masterpiece. Rinse and repeat. If you hang in there for as long as it takes, if you’re willing to read ad study and write until your fingers are blistered and you collapse
exhausted against your computer, you might just be lucky and manage to start getting letters from editors saying nice things about your work. Your aren’t quite good
enough for them to publish, of course, but you write well. Writers know this as “almost-there hell” and it can last for years.
It’s easy to see how a person could get discouraged, and in an attempt to stave off lunacy, the person turns to one of the soooo good sounding sites that promise
publication and huge percentage of the profits.
There are several problems with this solution to their little problem. First, a book needs a good editor. A really good one who knows more than just perfect grammar.
An editor’s job may not look that hard from the outside, but I have deep respect for these hard-working creatures who somehow manage to turn a decent manuscript
into a publishable work. The writer works hard on these revisions too, by the way, and has to be able to listen to criticism and advice.
If the potential author can managed to write a not-too-horrible book and even manages to get it edited so it isn’t too bad. Then what? How’s a person to sell these self-
published books? What kind of publicity is one person going to have? Maybe his or her family and friends will buy a few. And the author will get a big hunk of the
money for these five or ten or maybe thirty books. Then what? Just because a book is published doesn’t mean people are going to rush to choose it over the
thousands of other choices. Yeah, if it’s Steven King, sure. But Sally Kling? Not so much.
And then there’s the little problem of getting reviews and the list goes on and on.
As I said, there are three choices when it comes to getting published in electronic form. You can try the big, New York publishers, work through the rejections, and
hope you make a lot of money on the paperbacks, cause your electronic percentage won’t be great.
Or, you can try the smaller publishers, the ones who specialize in electronic books (like, say, Samhain). If you’re good enough, and it is getting more difficult to get
into this market every day, you’ll get an editor, the publicity a company that wants you to sell can give. And you’ll get a nice percentage of sales. As a bonus, most
also do print books.
Or you can self-publish, take your chances and hope for the best. Yeah, some self-published books do make it big, but those are lightning-striking-100-times-in-the-
same-place events. You’re better off buying a lottery ticket.
I hope this clarifies the issue a bit. I’m seriously irked over this self-pubbed equals epubbed toad droppings thing. Don't you believe it.
By the way, today’s my birthday. Any bad signing would be appreciated. What? Oh. I’m turning 29. Again. Hehe.
Have a great weekend!