Monday, May 2, 2011


Lately there's been a lot of talk about e-publishing and self-publishing. I know nothing about self-publishing so I'm not going to address that. I do know something about e-publishing and thought that I would do a blog post on it.

Disclaimer: I do not know everything there is to know about e-publishing or how the buisness works. What is in this blog post is only my opinion and based on my experiences.

1. Do you're homework

§ What does this mean, it means checking the publisher out to the best of your ability

o Do they have a web site?

§ All e-publishers should have a professional looking website, with information not only about the books they offer, but their submission guidelines, about the company (who is running it) and it should be free of typos and other mistakes

§ How long have they been in business?

§ Are those running the e-publishing company, do they have a business background or are they writers themselves?

· There is nothing wrong if they are writers or other publsihing individuals, my take on e-publishing is you better know how to run a business. Many may argue writers do run a business, and I'm not arguing with that, but that's a business of one, not a business of 10-20 people. I feel the publisher should have business knowleged of how to run a business and have the business background vs. a writing background

o Talk to friends and/or other authors

§ Do you know someone who has published with this e-publisher or has submitted to them. Ask them how they felt about the submission process, or are they happy with the company.

o Buy a few books from the e-publisher

§ Buy a several books from the e-publisher in the line you're targeting, if you want to sell a contemporary romance to them, then buy a few of the ones they're offering.

§ Take note of when the book was published

§ The editing of the book

§ Subject matter: plot, conflict, characters

· Note: When looking at the editing of the book, take note of the date of publication. If this book was one of the first published, there maybe some editing mistakes. I've have found this, but as time goes on the editing as well as the quality of the books improve.

2. Okay, you've done all your homework and this looks like the e-publisher for you.

§ Follow their submission guidelines

§ Make note of how long they say it will take for them to respond to you

§ Follow up when/if necessary

3. Contracts, Royalities, Promotion

· Contracts

o Contracts can be a tricky thing. If you can find out the royaity rate before you're offered a contract that is great. Some e-publishers list it right on their websites others do not.

§ Very low end offer is 20% and at the high end 45%, there is nothing wrong with either, it has to be your decision on what you're willing to take. Note: if your dealing with some of the NY houses your e-book royality rate can be very low, make the decision that is best for you and you may not be able to change it

o Watch for reversion rights and first right of refusal or option clause:

§ I've seen reversion rights from 1 year to life of the copyright make sure you understand what your reversion rights are and you're willing to let your work be with the publisher for that period of time

§ First right of refusal or option clauses – this is where the publisher has the right to…this can depend on the publisher, some the first right of refusal or option clause says they have the first right of refusal on the next book you write with these characters or any character that appear in the book, others say they have the first right of refusal on any book you write.

· Please read this very carefully because if you sign a contract that says "X publisher has first right of refusal on any book you write." You are now tied up with that publisher for life. They have the right of first refusal on any book you write not matter what it is.

· Limit the clause as much as you can, if you have to have one in the contract to such as:

o First right of refusal on any book with these same characters or of the secondary characters

o First right of refusal on next contemporary romance under 40,000 words

4. Promotion

· Most publishers now rely on authors to do their own promotions, there is no different between NY and e-publishers on this, at minimum:

o Author website

· You'll hear stories about how the publishers are asking more and more from their authors in promotion, and this is true. But we are in a digital world with more and more social networking. Because brick and mortar stores are disappearing at a rapid rate you have to think outside the box. I'm not big on promotion myself, I find it very intemidating, but if you can thinking about having the following:

o Author website – a must for readers to find you and your books

o Blog – be it with a group or alone, group blogs are fun because you don't have to post every day

o Facebook – I don't know how effective it is, but I do have an author page on facebook along with a regular facebook page. I only post when it's important, I don't do daily posts

o Goodreads, Library Thing, etc: These are all booksites and they can be good for connecting with readers

o Ads – depending on the publisher you maybe able to get into what's called co-op ads. This is where authors split the cost of an ad. But if your publisher doesn't have this don't stress and don't spend tons of money for one.

· The best promotion advice I ever received was:

o Look at what you have time to do and what you don't. Do what you have time to do. This is so true, I try really hard to keep up with everything, but there are not enough hours in the day, because I have a full-time day job.

5. Becoming PAN with Romance Writers of America (RWA)

o For those of you who don't know Romance Writers of America has a group of author who belong to PAN – Published Author Network. To qualify for PAN you must either have received a $1,000 advance from the publisher on one book or made $1,000 worth of sales on one book in one year.

o Many believe this is a critial step in their career. I don't. PAN isn't the end-all-be-all for me. I want to write books, I want people to read my books, I want to sell my books. While I would love to sell enough of one book to make that $1,000 threshold, it doesn't mean I'm not successful without it.

o This is a decision you need to make as an author

6. Look at your goals and expectations in relation to your career

· Your goals and expectations are not going to be the same as mine are or as your writing friends are. A romance writer will have different expectations and goals than a Mystery writer, or a science fiction writer.

· Evaulate what you want not what you're friends are doing or what they want for you

o When I decided to submit to an e-publisher I did it because I knew I needed to do more for my career. I researched them and found one that I felt worked for me and submitted. Did I want to sell books? Yes. Did I want to earn money? Oh yes. Did I think I was going to earn enough to quit the day job? No.

o I looked at where I wanted to go in my career and what my 5 year business plan was and evulated what I could do

E-publishing is not for everyone. There are still who are bias against e-publishers and e-books, and that's okay. The world is changing, the digital world especially. Many print publishers are playing catch up in this digital world.

I still love holding a print book in my hands, but that hasn't stopped me from buying a digital e-book reader or buying e-books. I enjoy both and probably always will.

No matter what you decide to do, do what is best in your opinion and based on your career goals.

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