What’s a Writer To Do, Other Than Hope For a Print Book Contract?

I do have a print book soon to be out (honest), with an indie publisher. I really like the publisher – we e-mail back and forth regularly, and I really like our contract terms. Still, I've been exploring other publishing avenues than the traditional, even the increasingly popular, such as Lulu, Amazon's CreateSpace, and others.

image via ebookpublishing-digitalpublishing.blogspot.com


One site that's growing in popularity is Smashwords, and their site has a presentation on the growing emergence of e-books. Some of its pertinent points, some of which you may want to take exception to, particularly if you have a distinct love for the print book:

  • Traditional publishing practices have ossified (no kidding! If you're a writer, just thumb through your rejection letters and try to find a succinct reason for the rejections)
  • While e-books cost significantly less than print books, the author's  percentage on e-books is as little as 30% of the book retail price, as much as 80%. (You'd be lucky to get 15% in a trad contract for a print book.)
  • Authors (even well-established trad ones) are in large numbers flocking to self-publishing in order to get books out there quickly. (Time to gain an agent and have him/her begin marketing: 1-3 years. Time to have a book out once it's accepted by a publisher: 1-2 years. So you're looking at 2 to 5 years to see the book in print, once you've completed the manuscript.)
  • Between 2009 and 2010, e-books jumped from 3% to 8% of the total books published yearly. (This speaks to the emergence of e-book readers as well as to the growing popularity of e-books – driven, I think, by the lower e-book prices as much as anything else.)
  • e-book publishers such as Amazon's  DTP (Digital Text Platform) and Smashwords have the ability to help get your books on numerous book sale sites. 
  • Backlists, i.e., older books you've published become more important with e-books (they draw attention to your ability to be more than a one-hit-wonder)

You have to compete for readers' attention in ever-new ways with e-books, but you'd have to do that with a trad pub contract. E-books do seem the wave of the future – the only challenge is marketing them, but that's a whole other subject.


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