J to tha M: The eBook Revolution

What Would You Pay for an eBook?

how much would you pay for ebooks?

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M:  I did something I never thought I’d do

J:  oh, do tell

M:  I’ve always thought how ridiculous it is to pay $14.99 for an ebook and how I’ve never ever done it.

I would have laughed if you said I would up until about a few weeks ago, when I pre-ordered the new Black Dagger Brotherhood book–Lover at Last–out at midnight tonight on Kindle

Qhuinn!

I think a whole shit ton of people are waiting for that little story to appear on their e-reader at 12:01AM

so go ahead and make fun of me being stupid excited for my guilty pleasure

J:  and you paid $14.99 for it?

M:  yes I did

and I’m only slightly ashamed.

but I can’t stand it

J:  you know what, though?

we all pay more money for the things we really want

I mean, compare it to a Wal-Mart handbag or a Coach bag

no one gives a girl the side-eye for buying a Coach bag

$.99 for $14.99

if you’re going to love it, what does it matter?

M:  I lurve him. I seriously do. I haven’t been this giddy over a fictional hero since Jamie Fraser.

It would kill me to know the story was out and I didn’t have it in my hot little hand as soon as possible. Especially since I’m certain it’s not going to be for sale anywhere on the island

I will stay up all night and read it

J:  well, the fact of the matter is that some authors are the Coach bags of the publishing world

Coach charges so much for bags because people are going to buy them

some publishers charges so much for ebooks because they know people will effing buy them

people can roll their eyes if they want to, but they have their own “must haves” that they’ll pay for

so if you must have Qhuinn (omg, did I spell that right?), then by all means

and no need to be ashamed

I should probably also mention that I don’t even have an eReader

and when I do read, it’s usually a paper book

but that I have zero qualms about paying for the hardback version of a much-coveted book at the stroke of midnight the day it’s available. I have before, and I will again

 M:  hardback is different, though

there’s some cost involved in producing, shipping, etc. those. Not so much for the e-versions

J:  no, but in the end, it comes down to what you want

M:  I didn’t have an ereader until last Thanksgiving. I got a Kindle Fire, and I love it. I mostly got it so I can read in bed at night without having to turn on a light and disturb hubs when he’s actually home.

As much as I do like reading a book, there’s something just really exciting about pressing a button and instantly having access to a story

especially when he and I have always lived a million miles from nowhere. It’s a planned outing to go to any bookstore

and then, when we moved…oh, boy. All my books. Boxing and then paying per pound to ship them across the country.

Not to mention, I can carry over one thousand books in my purse when I travel. Don’t have to pick and choose and then lug them all over with me.

J:  I’m honestly afraid if I had one, I’d never get anything else done

M:  I think it’s opened up a whole new world

Good one for readers and writers, maybe not so good for publishers, booksellers, libraries. I’m not entirely certain how much it’s affected them.

J:  with the decreased overhead, it seems as though ebooks would be a good thing for publishers

all the same preparation goes in, but fewer materials are needed

of course, they also have to have people on staff who can format for ebooks

probably more staff needed for that than for setting it once and going to print

I don’t yet know how formatting is different for each epub type

can you just set it once and it works for kindle, nook, etc.?

M:  Pretty sure each is a different format

it has affected booksellers, though, as evidenced by Borders and Barnes & Noble, the neighborhood bookstores

it just seems the world is always change, adapt, move forward, or die

I’m kind of getting the same vibe from the Big Six publishers that was hanging around the Big 3 automakers, and look what happened to them

J:  that was a point Nathan Bransford made on his blog recently

that as an agent, it’s his job to sift through what’s on his desk for the books that will be profitable. How many books throughout history were rejected when they might have been classics? World changers?

the ebook and self-pub phenomena (both separate and combined) have taken that power away from publishers and agents and given it to the readers

including those readers who would pay $14.99 for an ebook

sure, there’s the chance you’ll pick up something self-published that lacks in quality

but it’s the same for anything from a big six anymore, too

I do think an established author with a reputation for quality has a better chance of pulling in such prices for an ebook than a debut self-pubber

there is a big difference there

M:  oh, yes, but that’s more established reputation. that can be either self pub or traditional

people are less willing to spend money on anything they aren’t sure about

J:  would you have paid $14.99 for JR Ward if you hadn’t read the rest of the series?

M:  no, but I’d spend $14.99 on a self-pubbed author in the same position

If I’d read their books and fell in love with the story or character–but again, that’s more about experience and reputation, which isn’t exclusive to any publishing format

J:  really, it comes down to an individual’s feelings

and what they want to spend their money on

while one person is astonished at a $14.99 price on an ebook, the next is just excited they can read it at all

M:  I’m a little of both

I’m a serious goner for this boy. I cannot wait for him to get his man

J:  oh!

this is that one

You’ve been excited about this one for a while

M:  Monday night, baby

midnight

J:  I hope it’s everything you hope for and more

M:  my first $14.99 ebook. Likely won’t be my last. I’m hooked on the ereader.

J:  I’m still resisting. I’m afraid I’d disappear into a black hole and you’d never see me again

M:  hey, if it gets you to read, it can’t be a bad thing

as much as I read, if it hasn’t sucked me in…

Speaking of sucking me in…Going to go ogle the cover and pine for a few more hours until it magically shows up on my kindle.

brb

or not 🙂

How much would you pay for an ebook? Are you excited about JR Ward’s upcoming release? Does Nathan Bransford blow your mind with his wisdom? Let us know!

So, You Want to Publish (God Help You)

Various Publishing Methods and Why They’re All SO HARD

Guest Post by Lissa Bryan

Various publishing methods for Fight for Your Write“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” ― Dorothy Parker

You’ve done it. You’ve completed your magnum opus and are now ready to share it with the world, but now you’re faced with the monumental choice of what to do with the damn thing. Writers have a greater range of choices in this regard than ever before, and really, the decision comes down to which method of publishing best suits your goals and the amount of effort you’re willing to personally invest. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Traditional “Big Six” Publishing

This is the typical writer’s dream  when it comes to publishing, but it’s also the most difficult to achieve. Only about one or two percent of manuscripts will be accepted by a Big Six publisher, hereafter referred to as “Bix,” because I’m a lazy typist. (Soon, it will be “Bive” after the merger of Penguin and Random House. I’m really hoping they change their name to “Random Penguin,” but I digress.)

Most Bix companies and their subsidiaries will not accept directly submitted manuscripts. To go this route, you must have an agent, who will shop your manuscript around and attempt to get you the best possible deal if a publisher is interested.  Acquiring an agent is a difficult process in of itself, fraught with many pitfalls for the unwary and eager. The agent will also absorb a cut of your earnings, and most new authors don’t make much.

Going with a Bix company means you will get highly professional editing teams and graphic artists who will design the cover. However, you will sign over most of your creative control. You may be required to make changes to the storyline or re-write portions of the book to make it more marketable. Bestselling author J.R. Ward was recently forced to change an m/m romance storyline in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series to include a female character. You also may have no input whatsoever on what ends up on the cover. Even the highly successful Stephenie Meyer has said she had no control over the cover art for her first three novels.

Then, you wait. It can be up to two years before the book is actually published and on the shelves.

But, hey, you get an advance, right? That helps keep you going in the meantime and to soothe your wounded ego over the changes you had to make. However, the advance an author receives is essentially a loan against future sales. If the book fails to make back the amount of the advance, an author can be sued by the company to return it. And dozens have been.

Still, it will all be worth it to see your book in stores, right? Bix companies have the distribution channels no other form of publishing can match. However, a book’s time on the shelf may be brief, unless it’s a success. Bookstores typically stock a title for a certain number of months, and then return the unsold books to the publisher, so they can use that precious shelf space for another novel. Remember, too, that the big bookstore chains that comprise the majority of Bix publisher’s sales are quietly dying. Borders is gone and Barnes & Noble is teetering on the edge.

The amount of promotion a book is given by the publisher depends on whether a book is “front list” if it’s expected to be a hit, or “mid list” meaning, it might sell moderately well. There’s an old writer’s comic which shows an author and a publisher’s agent in contract negotiations: “We’d like to take your book, change everything about it, put it on the shelves for a few months and do absolutely nothing to promote it.” The days of the promotional book tour are almost over, and more and more, authors are expected to take on promotional duties themselves. The “mid list,” the books on which the publisher takes more of a risk, is shrinking, meaning fewer new authors are given a chance.

In the end, there’s a reason why some mainstream authors are ditching the Bixes and publishing themselves.

“Indie” Publishing

Small, independent publishers are booming, spurred by the ebook revolution and print-on-demand technology.  Look around a bit and check out the quality of the books they publish before you decide whether they’d be a good fit for your book.

Most independent publishers can be approached directly, without an agent, and most have their submission guidelines on their websites. The benefits include more creative control over your work and cover art, and having a professional editing and graphic arts staff to prepare your book for publication. Another benefit is a much quicker publication time, but that means a lot of work in a short period, so be prepared for it.

A book published by an indie likely won’t be found in a chain bookstore. However, your book will be available through online retailers, such as Amazon, and the chain bookstores’ websites may carry your ebook version.

An indie publisher may have a marketing team, but you’ll need to put in effort to help promote the book by getting reviews, guest spots on book websites, etc. It’s a lot of work, building a base of readers.

You’ll also have the added burden of a stigma. There are some who insist that the Bix publishers are the only “real” publishers, even as indie and self-publishing eat up more of their market share every day as the Bixers contract and merge. Your book needs to be squeaky clean when it comes to editing, because reviewers point out any errors they find in indie/self-published books.

That brings us to…

Self-Publishing

This is the do-all-the-work-yourself option. It’s going to require a significant investment both in time and money.  Research carefully the services you use for formatting and publishing your book. They vary widely in price and, apparently, in ethics.

The most important thing you need to remember is, You cannot edit your own manuscript. Nor can your mom, or your friend, unless either of those happen to be a professional editor. You’re going to have to pay for a professional, and a good editor doesn’t come cheap. Your manuscript has to be as clean as a saint’s soul or many people will reject it automatically, even if it has a great story.

This is only copy editing. You also need substantive editing. That means, you need strangers who aren’t worried about hurting your feelings to read the book and tell you the parts that don’t work. Every book has them, but the author usually can’t see them. You don’t want to learn about them from reviewers after the book is published.

And you’re going to face an even greater stigma than those with indie publishers. Despite the ebook revolution, and the incredible success of some authors, there are those who disdain self-publishing. When I was at the Texas Book Fair with my publisher last October, a woman entered our tent and scowled at the booth of my publisher, The Writer’s Coffee Shop. Her husband headed in our direction and she grabbed his arm. “That’s self-publishing,” she said, in the same tone she would use to warn him away from entering an infectious plague ward. I stepped forward and corrected her, telling her we were a small, independent publisher. Her expression changed from scorn to interest, and she came right into our booth, where she bought several books. Good stories, all, which she never would have read if she thought they had been self-published.

That’s why your book has to be well-packaged if you want to be a success as a self-published author. You have to pay for professional editing and a good graphic artist to make an eye-catching cover. People do judge a book by its cover, unfortunately, and will scroll right past a book that has cheesy or clumsily executed cover art.

So, there you have it, in one overly-long article. Hopefully, I’ve given you at least a general impression of the pros and cons of each method of publishing. Success is possible with each of them, but no matter which method you choose, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication.

It’s not a profession for the faint of heart. It’s a Sisyphean task, and sometimes discouraging… but ultimately, very rewarding.

Good luck, and may God have mercy on your soul.

***

Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot … though only in her head. Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.

Find Lissa on her blog, her Facebook pageGoodreads profile, and follow her on Twitter. To buy the books, check Amazon.