Wednesday, January 5, 2011

E-Book or Traditional?

Many published writers waited 8, 10, 12 years or more before they realized their dream. It can be a painful time, full of hope and heartbreak. This is an actual email I sent to a friend. We'd been discussing the merits and demerits of going the e-book route:

A couple of thoughts: The Big Thought is that I haven't actually walked down Publication Road, so anything I say is basically a regurgitation thing, and we know that sometimes anecdotal information is right, but it's not to be relied upon in the least. The Second Thought is that, anecdotally, the two authors you mentioned who were happy with the marketing support from their publishers, were probably both a little surprised, and are probably the exception to the rule. But, back to the Big Thought. On a personal level, I know squat.

Many (established) writers are making more money off of their 70% royalty than they ever made from publisher's—five-figure advances or not. At least that's what they say. And some (Konrath being one) actually appears to show the numbers. But you need more than one book to do it. And you still need to market.

Tim Hallinan, who is doing well with his traditional books, is doing equally well (if not better) with his e-books, and is publishing some now straight to e-book where he feels he has more freedom. Which, of course, he does. And in his case, the success of CRASHED bears him out.

Debbi Mack, traditionally published by a small press who went belly-up, took that first book to LuLu, and writes full-time now, directed at Kindle. And her newest, LEAST WANTED sells for only 99 cents on Amazon. (She's thinking about upping that price, btw, after her launch.)

Once again, all anecdotal. Not personal.

For me? I will continue to look at the traditional route. At least for now. It's been a goal that I somehow don't think I've pursued long enough to abandon. Even though at the time I established publication as a goal, this e-book thing wasn't even a thought, actually receiving affirmation from people in the biz would mean a lot.

What are your thoughts as both readers and writers? Is publishing electronically versus traditionally a cop out or an opportunity?

CR: Secrets to Die For by L.J. Sellers on my Kindle and thoroughly enjoying the book.

It's all better with friends.


  1. E-publishing is definitely an opportunity. I was with a small publisher and never made any money. So I withdrew and published on my own, both in print and digital formats. My self-published e-book sales are paying my mortgage.

    As a reader, I like both print and digital formats.

  2. Doesn't matter which way you publish, it's all about the marketing and platform. It's not about the publisher necessarily, it's about the author's ability to sell.

    I read my Kindle religiously and will read paper or e-ink - doesn't matter to me. I'm a fan of both.

    Hope Clark

  3. I think marketing is a key to both, and obviously, while the e-book sales are growing, the larger market is still DTBs. I love my Kindle, but still enjoy hauling a dead tree around from time to time.

  4. As you know, I love (and read) print books, and am hugely loyal to bookstores. My dream is to travel from bookstore to bookstore, book club to book club, across the country. And that can't be done digitally.

    However, I have been stuck in the thiiiis close to a contract with a major position for so long now that I am re-thinking everything from the ground up. For sure I want to make digital copies a big part of my first release--for all those wonderful readers I know (and will hopefully get to know) who prefer to read this way. And I'm not convinced any more that a major is the best way to get into print. The majors give you a very short time to take off--and traveling cross country takes a while. The idea of having a publisher I can work closely with to realize this dream of mine appeals very much.

    In your case, Peg, I agree that you should see what the industry's reaction is to your work. Who knows? You could have one of those fast, ice-smooth paths to success!