Sunday, August 7, 2011

To E-Pub or Not to E-Pub?

If you've been following my blog with any regularity. . well, God bless you, because I've been so erratic in my posts lately. . .but anyway. . .

You'll know that the idea of e-publishing has been in my peripheral for some time now.  I can't think of an aspiring-to-be-published writer who doesn't at least consider the idea, even if he/she won't admit it.  Even those of us who loudly proclaim that WE are going to hold out for the elusive validation of traditional publication have our own dark nights of doubts when we accept that eventually we might have to cave and do it 'that' way.   (NOTE:  When I refer to e-publishing in this blog entry, I mean books that are self-published ONLY in an electronic format.  I don't include books that are available in both traditional format and electronic form.)

Why would a writer want to avoid e-publishing?  Well, here are a few of my own top reservations:

1)  The glut.  Since the advent of what is essentially free e-publishing on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble (among other sites), millions of books have been published that way. Compare that to the very small number of books that are traditionally published each year; the competition in the world of e-books is much fiercer.

2)  The quality.  I have found very few self-published e-books that entice me to read beyond the first few pages.  Whether or not you agree with the agent/editor system in traditional publishing, the evidence in support of their value cannot be denied.  Agents and editors are the gatekeepers of the printed word, and although sometimes I resent their selectiveness, when I read self-published e-books, I have to admit to a certain amount of gratitude for their discernment.  I refer to both quality of writing and plot and to the editing or lack thereof. When anyone can be published, does the value of each book plummet? Possibly.

3)  Publicity and promotion.  I know that the days of the book tour for every author are over.  I know that publishing houses are very chary with their promotion of new authors anymore.  But the idea of being completely responsible for publicizing and promoting my book is a little scary.  I can do it; I know about social media.  Though this is probably the least of my e-pub worries, it's still a concern.

4)  Closing the door.  Agents and editors have been declaring it to the heavens for over a year: don't bother querying a book that has already been e-published.  Therefore, once I e-publish my book, I am effectively deciding that it will never be published in a traditional format.   While I have no delusions of grandeur, making that decision isn't easy and can't be made lightly.  It kind of feels like giving up.  Maybe it's not. . .but I have to make peace with it.

After reading the reasons above, you may be wondering why on earth I would ever WANT to e-publish.  Well, there are some good points.  First of all, I would retain complete creative control of my work.  I would determine the price.  I would have the ability to promote it as much or as little as I wished. I wouldn't have to query an agent and then sell my work to a publishing house before I see it more widely read.  I could possibly gain enough of a following that an agent might be interested in representing my subsequent work.  And I would have the potential of making a little money on this book before I begin collecting Social Security.

I'm not quite there, but I'm almost sold.  I've comforted myself that I do have other books in the works, and just because I 'cave' (sorry, that's still how I see it right now!) on this book doesn't mean traditional publishing is out of the question for those books.

In preparation for taking this step, I'm setting some concrete goals.  I'll be establishing an author page soon (look for the link here).  I'm working on the final editing and re-write of FEARLESS.  And I'm planning to become a more aggressive promoter.

I'm interested; what would YOU do?  

1 comment:

  1. While I agree that there are a lot of e-pubs that are trash, there are also a lot of GREAT books. Those that are truly great stand out. One of my favorite authors is e-pub and she was picked up by a publishing house in the middle of her series. She was publishing through create space and e-publishing. She has now written a book for other self publishing authors about marketing. You already have great books. While I am extremely PRO self publishing I was reading your submission this month and it is soooo good. I want to hold it in paperback (autographed of course) and curl up on the couch with it. It's a big decision. I think you will have to self promote either way.