I went straight to an electronic-publisher (e-publisher). Never even submitted my first two novels to a print publisher. Both were quickly accepted. I am currently completing a third novel that will also go to an e-publisher.
You save time by submitting to e-publishers. They accept electronic submissions, thereby, reducing the time to present the submission and receive the answer to just seconds in cyberspace. Of course, you need to add the amount of time it takes for the e-publisher to read your submission and decide if the house wants or doesn’t want to present an offer to publish. It can take a print publisher or agent a year or more to decide whether to publish or represent you. In that same period of time, your e-book can be accepted, published, and for sale all over the worldwide Internet.
You save money by submitting to e-publishers. It’s all electronic–no paper, no postage, no self-addressed, stamped envelopes (SASEs).
Royalties and Advances
Print publishers pay an advance against earned royalties, although they seem to be moving toward no advance or smaller advances. For instance, selling a first novel to a category romance publisher will get you a $500 advance, according to “first sales” figures published in the Romance Writers of America magazine. Print publishers typically don’t pay royalties until they know the number of returns on your book. They then subtract the advance paid from the royalties earned and pay you the balance, if any. It can easily take 18-24 months after the release of your book to receive the first royalty statement, which may or may not show a profit and a payment to you.
The royalty you receive from the e-publisher ranges from 35 to 50 percent of the selling price of the book or of the e-publisher’s net earnings when distributors are involved.
According to WritersServices.com, royalties paid by print publishers range from
10 to 12.5 percent for hardcover books.
Up to 15 percent for hardcover books by bestselling authors.
7.5 to 10 percent for softbound books.
Up to 12.5 percent for softbound books by bestselling authors.
Print royalties are based on either the price for which the book sells or on the net amount the publisher receives after providing discounts to bookstores and distributors or some combination of both.
E-publishers pay royalties monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. Most often payments are made quarterly or monthly. So the speed with which the e-publisher pays its authors tends to cancel out the benefits of the print publisher paying an advance against your royalties.
Many e-publishers post copies of their contracts on their websites for the world to see. The contracts are written in conversational English, not legalese. The Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC) posts a sample contract on its site: http://epicauthors.com.
A print publisher has “rules” for each genre and line it publishes. For example, one print publisher wants 80,000-100,000-word horror genre novels with dark atmosphere, chilling plots, contemporary settings, and supernatural horrors. No science fiction, fantasy, or mystery elements are allowed. The house’s rigid rules preclude horror novels with sci-fi elements like Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers.
E-publishers typically don’t have hard and fast rules. They’re open to mixed genre novellas and novels from 20,000 to 100,000 words and more. Some even publish short stories of about 10,000 words. E-publishers are also less strict about point of view (from whose viewpoint the story is told) and person (first–the story is told by a character, or third–it is told by an unidentified narrator).
You are also allowed to write outside your original genre, even if your earlier books sold well. Print publishers like to see you crank out more and more books that are similar to your bestselling books. With e-publishers, you can write for new markets like the up and coming “urban fantasy” market.
All genres are accepted for e-publication, including fiction, business, technical, self-help, reference, inspirational, and general nonfiction. To see the genre opportunities provided by e-publication, peruse ebookwise.com.
If you think your print publisher will provide marketing support–dream on. Only authors of proven or anticipated bestselling success are provided significant help with the marketing.
My e-publisher has an internet “loop” devoted to its authors. We send emails to the loop for group feedback and support. The owners of our e-publishing company participate and mentor. It feels like a family. Some e-publishers also provide marketing support. Mine sends out advance review copies (ARCs) of my book and provides other support and information.
E-book authors can become members of Internet loops devoted to helping them develop marketing campaigns and web sites. I have two web sites: carolnorth.com and carol-north.com.
Typically, distribution is worldwide in the English language. In addition, your e-publisher might want to negotiate foreign language rights. My e-books are available on Awe-Struck E-Books, Amazon, e-reader, efictionwise, ebookwise, and other distributors. They are available in multiple formats, including HTML, PDF, Kindle, Sony, RocketBook, and MS-reader with audio functionality.
Being published by an established e-publisher is a valid writing credit and can prove your marketability to other e-publishers, print publishers, and literary agents. Self-publication is not considered a valid credit.
E-publishers also produce books in print, audio, and on compact disk. Many e-book authors are also published by the major New York houses.
E-Books are Hot
According to International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), trade e-book sales for June 2008 are up 87 percent as compared to June 2007. During this same period, print book sales experienced a single digit increase. E-book sales for the entire second quarter of 2008 are up 47 percent compared to Q2 of 2007.
The big publishing houses are jumping on the e-book bandwagon. Most, if not all, are offering electronic editions of their new releases and of many backlist titles.
My last reason for going electronic is emotional–I love my e-reader. It’s about the size and weight of a small hardbound book, yet it holds 100 e-books. I read from it at the beach, at home, and while waiting for my turn at the doctor’s or dentist’s office.
I highly recommend you join the e-publishing revolution. See you in cyberspace.
Note: This article was published under my byline in The Savannah Business Report & Journal on September 15-21, 2008.