Friday, May 10, 2013

The Future is Here

For several years, we've had the opportunity to read electronic books.  It's something I never thought I'd do, but I've discovered that I enjoy them as much as printed book, and sometimes even more.  Thanks to major markets such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple, the three largest ebook retailers, digital sales have skyrocketed.  

This is a good thing.  Any time we can make it easier for people to purchase and read books is a plus.  Reading is good for the mind.  Reading is good for the soul.  Now that libraries around the country have jumped on the ebook bandwagon and offer digital downloads to their patrons, nearly anyone can enjoy a book.

Where does this leave a writer?  For one thing, it opens up writing and publishing in a way that has never before been seen in our lifetime.  Now writers have options beyond the get-an-agent-submit-partial-to-publisher-wait-for-answer-from-publisher-wash-rinse-repeat.  The long years of writing and waiting have become shorter.

Is this a good thing?  Yes.  And no.  Yes, because we're no longer required to write within the parameters needed to sell to the bigger print publishers.  No, because although writing a book isn't hard, writing a GOOD book is.

So what's an author to do?  It's time to make some choices.  Here are a few:

  • Large and well-known publisher - offers both print and ebooks to buyers
  • Small publisher - offers ebooks and some print books to buyers
  • Small epub publisher - offers ebooks only to buyers
  • Indie/self-publishing - usually offers ebooks only to buyers
Each has its strengths and weaknesses, its positives and negatives, pros and cons.  When looking into each of them, it would be wise to first know what it is you want. Author JA Konrath recently blogged about this and offered a list to look over and think about.
Consider these factors of publishing, and rate how important they are to you as a writer:
  • Cover art
  • Price
  • Sales and free promotions
  • Title
  • Speed to publication
  • Distribution
  • Marketing and promotion
(for more information, visit his blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing)
Does it really come down to a one-way-or-the-other choice?  No.  Authors writing for large publishing houses are now also indie-publishing other books.  Indie-published authors who've wowed the public on their own are now writing for some of the biggest publishers. Sometimes authors decide to stick with only one way, while some are using several.

Keep in mind that publishing your own book isn't at simple as it might seem.  None of us is perfect, and we make errors...spelling errors, grammar errors, and more.  It's always good to have someone look it over.  That could include paying an outside editor to look over our work for those errors.  If you're not savvy about the different types of files needed for self-publishing, or you don't want to deal with the hassle, a formatter can also be had for a price.  Covers are much the same, and one of the things that's easily forgotten in the beginning, as we rush to write the book of our heart.  But a good cover can help sell a book.  There are many cover artists to choose from, and a good way to find them is through recommendations from other writers who have indie-published.

The above is only a brief introduction to the choices writers have now.  We have options.  Before choosing which way might be best, do your homework.  Read articles, blogs and comments.  Talk with authors about their experiences.  Don't jump in without checking what lies beyond the surface.  Educating ourselves saves us from making mistakes we might regret. Changes can be difficult.  Some of us are more timid that others.

When all is said and done, we've moved into the future, and it is ours.  Good luck!
Choices are the hinges of destiny.  ~Attributed to both Edwin Markham and Pythagoras

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