Several weeks ago, I looked at e-books from a reader’s perspective. Now I want to look at self-publishing e-books from writer’s point of view.
The reality is: more and more people are buying e-books. It’s easy to upload your book to a site like Smashwords for free. Pro authors like JA Konrath are riding the wave and doing very well, even going so far as to turn down print publication offers in order to self-publish electronically. Konrath’s enthusiasm for this Brave New World of publishing is contagious, and he has a large following and (of course) his skeptics.
The e-book option allows a writer to bring out-of-print backlists back into readers’ hands with minimum outlay of money. It allows her to continue series that are no longer commercially viable for publishing houses, and give away work for free or cheap, thus creating a fan base. It might even offer an author a way out of the Three-Book Death Spiral and keep getting books out to their readers even if no publisher will touch them.
So far, great.
E-books offer the oft-rejected hopeful a chance to bypass the gatekeepers and slow-moving machinery of publishing and get his works directly into the hands of readers. He can upload his book as soon as he is ready. No waiting on the schedules of editors, cover artists, marketers, and all the other people involved in the release of a book at a publishing house.
And that’s where the ease of publishing in e-book format may be dangerous for writers.
Sometimes we writers are just desperate to have someone—anyone, even ihasboox from NJ–read the stories we’ve worked so hard on. We want someone who is not our spouse, BFF or cat to enjoy our book. Why not upload it to a site frequented by hundreds of potential readers? Like, right now.
Because first impressions are important. The lure of just-add-water instant readership can blind a writer to the need to critically examine and polish his work. Often, a writer only has that one chance to snag a reader. And a reader who is put off by sloppy plotting, poor characterization, bad grammar and typos (and we’re all prone to that at some time or another) is not likely to return to the writer’s work (especially not with all the other books jostling for space on her virtual bookshelf!).
Also, readers are used to professional-level packaging. Yeah, story is what matters, but I admit to being superficial—a badly-made cover image is just begging me to reject the book. Ditto for a long-winded and ponderous blurb. As a reader, I’m looking to reject 99.9% of the books out there. There are hundreds of titles published every in my preferred genres. I only read 60-75 books a year, and I’m willing to bet that I read more than your average American (yeah, like this article says). Kinda sobering, eh?
So, now that I’m done opining, what are your thoughts on self-publishing e-books?
Annnnd, some related posts that I couldn’t fit above:
- JA Konrath’s How To Make Money on E-Books
- Karen McQuestion and Zoe Winters, authors who’ve successfully self-published on the Kindle
- and…. why we should be on our knees, thanking the gatekeepers of publishing