Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Publish or to ePublish?

The writing world is changing and doing so faster than many of us realize. The introduction of ereaders such as the Kindle, the Sony Reader, and Apple's iPad (which sold 300,000 units on its introduction day) is changing the way the public buys reading material. Readers of my generation (the Baby Boomers) grew up with and developed a love for good old traditional books. However, as Bob Dylan said over 40 years ago, the times they are a'changin'. Today we have the download, most music is sold via download to any number of MP-3 players and the new generation has grown up reading from a screen. So, you ask, what does this mean? It means the eBook is here to stay--and it may not be a bad thing.

There are any numbers of reasons why the eBook is the wave of the future, here are a few of them as I see it:
  1. Readers don't care whether or not they own a book. They usually read them and either give them away or lend them (which in most instances is the same as giving it away).
  2. Readers do care about price. Many pass on purchasing hardcovers and wait for a book to be released in paperback.
  3. People want things now. We have become an impatient society. Who wants to wait for Amazon or our bookseller of choice to send the book via snail mail when an eBook can be downloaded in a matter of minutes.
So what does this mean for those of us who are writers? It means a wide-open market in which we will no longer be prisoners of the publishing industry which has held all the power for a long time. The writer can publish his/her own work faster, easier and at a lower cost. They have no where close to the overhead of a traditional publisher. Rather than a couple of dollars per book royalty from a conventional publisher, publishing your own eBook and uploading it to an eBook book seller, such as Amazon, will net the writer royalties of 70% of sales.

Currently, writing organizations such as MWA, don't acknowledge eBooks as being published, that however will change. A reader can purchase eBooks from MWA authors such as Lee Child from Barnes & Noble's website and Amazon. Think about how much Lee, whose best-selling Jack Reacher novels are always near the top of the New York Times Bestseller List, would be grossing if he got 70% of each novel he sells!

As for me, I'm still going to seek out a traditional publisher, but I just ordered some eBook software (it's available at a very low cost on eBay) and I'm going into the publishing business.

For a detailed look into how profitable self-publishing your own eBook can be, see J. A. Konrath's Blog (A Newbie's Guide to Publishing) and read his posts on the subject.