Expressions on Ebooks, Part 1

For those who care, I think I’d like to ruminate on ebook publishing for a moment, because this experience has definitely changed the way I’ve looked at publishing and my dreams of hitting it big.

I’m not going to weigh in on the whole “Are ebooks going to destroy traditional publishing!?”  deal.  Humans have a natural need for stories, and technology’s continuous changing hasn’t affected that one bit.  I’m more worried about the environmental impacts that things like the constantly-updated-newer-and-better ebook reader will have, rather than wondering if the Internet’s spurious influence has destroyed the cognitive ability to absorb a novel.

While I self-published, I have a friend who recently landed an agent and publishing contract for a middle grade children’s fantasy.  I’m happy for her (and plenty jealous), but I’ve been glad for the opportunity to compare my journey to hers.  Because, see, after my rewrites, my book went to print.  It became available almost instantly.  My friend is still in rewrites based on feedback from her publisher and agent (which is a good thing!), and it occurred to me that her book won’t be available for at least another 6 months, if not longer.

So, while I would have liked to have had professional feedback to make my book better, I have to say it sure was nice to put things out there in 24 hours.  Faster is not necessarily better, but in marketing and business, it sure can mean a lot.

I”m also doing my own footwork to get my book reviewed.  (Which I’ll be posting about next.)  And I’ve realized that my friend will have to do this, too.  Her publisher will give her some things, but by and large, the traditional publishing rings are pushing the marketing deal onto the author these days.  It’s the author’s responsibility to market their book.  (Unless you start making it big, of course, then a publisher can spare $50k for you to do a 20-city tour across the US.)  But as much as I ached (and still ache) to get an agent, I’m really glad I took this leap.  Because it’s changed so much about I think about myself as a writer, and what I really care about.  (Bottom line: the fact that someone buys my book is far more satifactory to me than the pittance it puts in my pocket.)

And last, in searching for reviews, I’ve noticed a bastion beginning to rise.  Traditional publishing circles are guarded.  An agent, an editor, and/or a published book are the only thing that will get you into the more esteemed circles of review.  Kirkus Reviews asks for $450 to review something indie, and that’s far beyond the scope of most indie ebook authors, especially in this economy.  A traditional publisher, on the other hand, can easily pay the fee.  Lots of bloggers state things like “no vanity press” and “no ebooks”, and the bigguns say this the most often.  So it looks to me like traditional publishing is defending itself against the onslaught of ebookery by declaring their own legitimacy.  Their circles are special, vetted, and high-quality need only apply.  My friend will have libraries and school visits as marketing tools, but she’ll probably have to land them herself.  Thank goodness she’ll still have the Internet, which is the only market I need.

Which may change soon.  But for now, I still want an agent.  It does lend a sense of legitimacy to my work, and I’ll still pursue it.  I hope that my ebook is successful enough that I can break into traditional publishing.  That would be great. I realize that other people may not feel the same; that they don’t want to sacrifice control over their project in order to satisfy someone else.  But it’s a great source of comfort to me to know that regardless of what I write in the future, if it gets rejected, there’s still an avenue to get things out there.

That’s not vanity press, that is.

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About coyoteclockwork

I am 29 and living on the outskirts of the North Austin, TX area. I'm an illustrator and a writer of YA fantasy. I'm also an avid video gamer and have a lot of background in good-old tabletop RPG, when I'm not editing manuscripts for myself or part of my writing group at the Austin SCBWI.
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4 Responses to Expressions on Ebooks, Part 1

  1. KaxantheDragon says:

    Hear hear. Everyone has their own preference in how to handle things. With ebooks and self-publishing, it opens the market up for those types. Then there’s the traditional method. 😄 Also… I’ll have to peruse my notes on FB… But I found a self-publishing company that I think you might like…

  2. I really appreciate reading this. I’m just beginning to write my book, but I’ve often considered self-publishing my work as an ebook. To be honest, I like the whole indie scene. I think some of the best writers are bloggers and have been passed over by the major publishers. Personally I don’t think I need the ‘elite’ crowd publishing companies provide, but if I’m honest, I sure would like it. I mean, who wouldn’t. It’s nice there are alternative for sharing our work.

    I don’t know if you’d consider this, but The Domestic Fringe is hosting Fiction Friday. This is our first week. We’d love to have you link a piece of your fiction and join in the fun. Here’s a link with details. http://thedomesticfringe.com/2011/05/06/fiction-friday-1-the-beginning/
    -FringeGirl

  3. Ke-Yana says:

    :3
    I would love “traditional” publishing of my books, but I too have seen what I understand to be a different way of doing things.

    We have an underground distrust of authority here on the internet (in general), free press, free thought.. anyone can find out anything on the internet, they don’t need money or power just an internet connection and a computer. The little guy has the opportunity to make it big through internet popularity if they get that break and it doesn’t require money, power or connections to have a chance at getting it. That’s appealing. Very appealing. Whereas, “traditional” publishing is very difficult to get into, you could be the best writer in the world with an awesome book, but if a publisher doesn’t think they can make lots of money from you or if your book doesn’t fit into their little box of what they publish, you’re trash. I’ve been trying to get Time Speaker published for eight years. I re-wrote it three times, I queried agents, I submitted it to various sci fi publishers, but they didn’t want a bar of it simply because it didn’t fit their MO. But indie publishing gives me that opportunity, and if I can market it right on the internet, I can get it out there to folk who’ll want to read it and enjoy it. I can do it under my own steam, without money or power if I’m just wily enough to figure it all out. Indie publishing puts back what traditional publishing takes away – it makes the publishing industry possible again for the little guy. And that’s specifically why I’m doing it. I don’t have a chance in hell doing it traditionally due to so many factors I can’t change or improve no matter how good my manuscript is. Indie, I have a chance. And I’m going for it.

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