Sunday, May 29, 2011

The EBook Juggernaut

Seems like every day I am hearing about yet another eBook success story as eBook sales continue to rise while print book sales decline.

I, like many longtime authors, am caught between two worlds. One is the traditional way of doing business with print publishers at the controls on most fronts with your primary job being to write books. In many respects, this has been a comfort zone for writers, who can focus on what they do best and leave it to someone else to take care of the rest. But all that glitters is not necessarily gold here as publishers best interests are not always your own.

The other world of writing is the new eBook marketplace where you can turn out of print books and brand new titles into a financial windfall, or at least make more than you would have had your out of print titles continued to be that way or were unable to find a publisher for books that you knew were worthy of publication. Moreover, for such titles that you self publish, you are at the helm instead of publishers and editors, bringing with it the frustrations and rewards that come with handling all the promo, choosing book covers, being your own editor, uploading and formatting, etc.

The former world is still the place to be if you are fortunate enough to get with a big publisher, receive a nice advance, and can maintain steady sales and a working relationship with your publisher and editor. This happens to be the case for me with two publishers, for which I am grateful.

However, the latter world is increasingly becoming a place to be as well, even if with a stable commercial publisher. Self published eBooks are here to stay and readers have caught onto this market in a hurry, scooping up any titles that suit their fancy with most being cheaper than buying print titles. With more and more people buying or being given eReaders and finding appeal in this reading format, it has evened the playing field for many self published writers with commercially published writers to one degree or another. This can only mean good news for such writers and not so good for traditional publishers that must share the writing wealth they once monopolized.

I am happy to be writing on both sides of the fence and reaping the benefits as a result.

How about you--are you with a print publisher and self publishing eBooks? Which do you prefer?

What do you think the market will look like in twenty years?


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm very pleased with how Killing trail is doing.

Shauna Roberts said...

A romance writer friend of mine tried for ten years to sell her Golden Heart-winning book without success. She turned it into an e-book last month, and with little to no promotion, its Amazon rank went below 100 yesterday.

I'm hearing more and more stories like that from people who e-publish.

I currently have two manuscripts out at traditional print publishers. If the manuscripts get rejected, I am not trying any more print publishers. I will either self-publish or look for an e-book publisher (so that I don't have to bear the whole marketing burden).

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that you're blurring two issues together here? There's publishing via traditional methods: agents, editors, publishers; versus self-publishing. Then there's the type of media involved: paper books versus electronic books. The way I see it, all four permutations are possible and indeed being utilised.

Personally, I see that as mostly a good thing, though it does worry me about how some people expect e-books to be free of charge. Remember Napster and the music industry? I won't buy e-books until some of the issues are resolved, particularly DRM and quality control. If it becomes a free-for-all, then we'll have no way of distinguishing wheat from chaff (electronic or paper).