Across the industry people are saying the e-book climate and self publishing is a gold mine. The gold rush is on my friends. I find it interesting. Back in 2007, when my hopes of expanding my career from sweet historicals into contemporary romantic suspense were shot by the super tight market, many of my colleagues were so against e-books that they would rather place a book they had written but not sold as a free read on their website than go with an e-publisher. E-publishers were bad. E-authors were hacks and woe to those who even thought about e-pubbing themselves. (Yes, Amazon had visited RWA nationals Pan retreat to talk about this new service they were providing where you could put up your own stuff once you were already on Amazon. They said it was a great way to feed fans more work and promote your current books.) Well, if it was a marketing ploy and you had a contract with one of the big six than it was okay to put up a story or two to promote them. But they still didn't count.
At the time I thought, instead of devaluing my work, I would publish with an e-publisher. So I queried The Wild Rose Press, who were very professional. I admit that the two years it took to get through editorial and production seemed silly at the time, but the resulting book was good. So I sent them a second. This was my way of keeping my fans reading while working on other books I hoped to sell to the big six. But let me tell you- that didn't fly among the "real" writers. Sigh. These were my "little" books. And truth be told even though I hit the WRP bestseller list five weeks in a row neither book made me much money. You see, I discovered that my readers prefer "real books."
Then came the e-book evangelists who swore that it was a gold mine and you could make millions by self-publishing. Others in the book world squawked that this was ridiculous...a sham.. a farce...not being a "real" writer. Then Amazon jumped their royalty rates to 70 % of books at least $2.99 in price. Suddenly unknowns were bringing in millions-buying houses with the cash they made from their self-pubbed books. Suddenly self-publishing backlists and stories that don't fit in the big six marketing were all the rage. Now many people who dismissed me and my "little" e-books are telling me it is legitimate for literary agencies to become publishers of their writer's works- the works that didn't sell to the big six. Really?
How interesting that everyone is doing a 360 turn around. So many people are talking about making monthly checks that pay mortgages that everyone is drawn to "trying it for themselves." Well, my friends, for me at least there is no gold mine in e-books. These are good books with solid excruciating edits, nice covers and really good reviews. I made a total of $150 on two books. Is it because I went with an e-publisher and am getting 30 percent royalty and not 70 percent after doing my own self edits, cover and publishing? Um, I don't think so. Is it because I don't do enough marketing? I'm here to tell you I spend three hours a day on marketing. The reality of my world is that my readers prefer real books. My sales on my e-books are coming from POD - not from electronic sales. The interesting news is that I'm not the only author finding this to be the case.
It's a brave new world. People who were nasty and fierce to tear down e-publishing are suddenly evangelists and talking about how they are making cash hand over fists. And yet~ the so called Kindle millionaires are making deals with the big six publishers for non-e-books. Even Amazon is trying to break into the "real" publishing world by offering advances and "real books."
In short- no one knows what the truth is... or what readers really want-even readers. I have never told anyone they aren't "real" (meaning legitimate authors.) Why? Because, my friends the book world pecking order has been destroyed. Even New York Times Bestseller doesn't mean what it meant twenty years ago in terms of prestige or income.
It's a brave new world. With new comes the potential for conflict of interest, scams, and spammers. All I can tell you is what I told you in 2007, do your research, know what you want out of your work and consider any mistakes as lesson learned. Trust yourself. Trust your readers and most of all take the time to write a good story. In the end, it is the stories that will make your career. As for me, I'm curious to see what happens next. In the meantime, I would love to know what you think about literary agencies becoming publishers, Amazon being an advance-paying publisher and the positive and negative effects the new world of publishing has had on how and what you read.