Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What the future holds

There is a lot of talk in the industry right now about e-books and their potential for sales and growth. Publishers are grabbing up electronic rights from their authors in hopes of making a profit in this new market. Authors started it first, actually. Midlisters would get their copy rights back on books that were out of print for 5 to 7 years depending on contract, then they would revise, create a new cover and put them up for sale as e-books on Amazon.com or other places. Electronic book publishers provide editorial services and book covers as well as distribution for a 30 percent royalty rate. Now big NY publishers who all looked down their noses at electronic books are grabbing up e-rights and opening their own sites to sell books that can be read on various venues like the Kindle, Sony e-reader, I-pad, I-phone and even your own laptop.
There has been on-going discussion as to whether authors as a whole should just bypass publishers all together and format and edit their own work and create their own cover art. Then self publish in the e-format. Amazon promises to start offering 70 percent royalties to authors in May. Midlisters such as JA Koranth blog that there is real money to be made here. Check out his blog here. I read his arguments and his amazing paycheck numbers, but read this carefully. Note the vast amount of PR work he has done-7000 letters to libraries, 100 blogs in a month, etc. Also keep in mind that he is a Mystery writer. I think that some genres lend themselves more to e-readers than others. For instance Erotica has done a booming business in the electronic market but romance is relatively straight-lined. A midlist romance author followed Koranth's formula, putting a handful of books up for sale on Amazon and found she didn't have near his revenue stream. NYT Bestselling Science Fiction author John Scalzi wrote a fabulous blog-as a three act play- on reasons why an author needs a publisher. Read it here. Scalzi goes on to comment in another blog how his manuscripts generate jobs for at least ten other people and he doesn't have to pay them. Unlike a DIY (do-it-yourself) publication.
There are many arguments both pro and con here for keeping electronic rights or going DIY-and I don't mean purchasing a vanity press package to self publish. My advice to you as writers is to do A LOT of research on the matter and don't let Koranth's numbers put stars in your eyes. What he does takes a lot of work, dedication, luck and perhaps it doesn't hurt that he has so many hardcover books out first.
I know that I currently spend 12 to 14 hours a day working on writing, revising, marketing, blogs, social networking, etc. And I can tell you that my electronic books-while they have gotten fabulous reviews such as this one from Gotta Read Reviews-aren't even in the same sales ball park as Koranth's. Not even close. But I have my own reasons for e-publishing and am happy with the results.
I find this turn in the market place interesting and look forward to discovering what happens next. My advice to writers-as always, do your research. Know your reasons why you are doing what you do and ensure the how will back up your why. I promise if you do that you'll never be scammed and you'll never be disappointed. There are no shortcuts here. But it seems there is room to be creative. Cheers!


Pamala Knight said...

Gosh, you're smart! So glad you're here to share this valuable information with those of us in need. See you in ten days and hope all is well!



Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I find I prefer to concentrate on writing. I may not make the royalties I would by doing my own e-books, but I do like that my publisher is doing the work instead of me.

Heather Snow said...

Interesting reading, Nancy. Thanks for the links.

At this stage in my career (unpublished but hopeful!), I agree with Jane. I concentrate on the writing and hope to find a publisher who loves it as much as I do and will put their clout behind it.

But, it is nice to know there are viable options and it's great to be educated about them. I appreciate your sharing more about the issue :)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Pamala, thanks for stopping by. Can't wait for Spring Fling! :)
Hi Jane, I'm with you. :)
Hi Heather, can't wait to see you at Spring Fling. :) Good luck with your appointments there. I'm pulling for you!!

Sue O'Shields said...

Thanks for the 'flip side' of Joe's comments. He makes no bones about having busted his ... er... butt to get the sales he has, but it's interesting to hear that genre has something to do with it. I'm going to forward your blog to my writers group. Interesting read!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sue,

Thanks, feel free to forward. I've been thinking about the issue a lot and hoped it would be helpful.


Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

A lovely well-balanced post on e-publishing, Nancy. It's given me lots to think about.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Judy-

So great to see you here again!! You are sorely missed. Hope everything is going well with you. Cheers~

India Drummond said...

Great analysis. Marketing does seem to be slightly different for different books, and what works for one might not work for another, so I'm always fascinated to have an inside look at how some of succeeded (or not, for that matter!)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi India,

Thanks for stopping by. Great to see you again. Hope I have time for more WAG fun. cheers~

Kristen Painter said...

I just put a book up on Smashwords to test these waters myself.