During our most recent writers' group meeting, the topic of ebook publishing made for quite lively discussion. Landing an agent and publishing with a traditional house is no guarantee of financial success. Authors who travel the traditional route to publication often find themselves with the sole burden of marketing only to take home just a sliver of royalties. Why not do all the marketing you know you're going to have to do anyway and keep most of the royalties for yourself.
Whooosh. Do you hear that? It's the mass exodus of writers from traditional publishing.
Okay, maybe I exaggerate...a little.
As a reader, I know that a hard copy book I purchase from the bookstore has been through the vetting process by layers of agents and editors. I can expect a traditionally published book to be nearly free of grammatical and typographical errors. A risk I take, as a reader, in purchasing a self published ebook is that the quality might be poor. What's the trade-off? The price might be as low as 99 cents, so I haven't lost much if the ebook is the cherry on the dung heap of literary crap.
There was an interseting article last month by Carolyn McCray on Digital Book World. If you really want to post some good numbers for your e-book sales, it takes planning and foresight to make it happen. Some pointers are obvious, like the use of social media to publicize your book. Others, as McCray points out, have to do with knowing how to work Amazon to your advantage.
Ask your friends and family to post a few "seed" book reviews of your book to grease the sales wheel. Make sure a potential buyer knows the genre of the book. Ask friends to buy your book on Amazon and then purchase one or two other books so that the Amazon "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" gadget will populate. When reading McCray's article, make sure to scroll through the comments. She graciously offered feedback on commenters' Amazon pages.
One of the things we do at our Fiction Flurry group meetings is to discuss our progress with finding agents or publishers who have accepted our work. It's terribly frustrating. We see in each other's work beauty and potential, but getting a busy agent to see the same qualities sometimes feels like it might take an act of God. It's plain to see why self publishing, and better yet self e-publishing is becoming such a draw for so many writers. But e-publishing should not be considered the easy way out. There's platform building to be done, Facebook and Twitter marketing, cover design, Amazon strategies, and personal appearances to be scheduled. Of course, all this only comes after your novel is in pristine condition. Hiring a professional editor before self publishing is SO worth the money. Your reward? Larger royalty percentages and control over the process.
Some of us at Fiction Flurry are giving self e-publishing serious consideration. We'd love to hear your experiences with the process. What are the drawbacks that you've come across? Better yet, we'd love to hear about your successes!
Here are a few books that may help you in the process: