The concept of E-publishing has been around since the Internet was born, but only recently has it started to gain strength and widespread respectability in the publishing industry. What does E-publishing (aka electronic or digital publishing) mean to a creative writer? How can writers take advantage of E-publishing trends to publish their books, stories, novels, essays, poems, and other writings?
First, the basics. What is e-publishing? With electronic publishing, a work of creative writing can be published online, on a CD, or in a format that is compatible with a handheld reading device or computer. E-publishing includes all genres: books, poems, essays, and short stories.
(Editor’s note: This article will focus on E-publishing for book authors. But writers of poems, stories, and essays would do well to pay careful attention to the trend in online literary journals and magazines. Learn more: Online Literary Journals: The Cutting Edge Of Traditional Publishing.)
So far there are thousands of E-books to choose from, and this number is sure to increase dramatically if the concept catches on. Nonfiction and how-to books were the forerunners in this new technology, but Stephen King paved the way for more famous novelists to explore the medium.
His E-book, Riding the Bullet, shook up the industry and forced publishers to begin the process of adapting to the changes. It took a big-name author to make publishers sit up and take notice, but E-publishing offers newer writers an alternative to traditional publishing.
There are many methods of E-publishing for book authors. Writers may publish and promote their work solely in a digital format. Or they may publish primarily in a digital format, but also offer the option of POD (print on demand) books for readers who want to hold actual pages in their hands. Writers might also publish primarily in print, but offer readers the option of downloading an e-book.
Writers can research E-presses to publish their books online and offer POD options. Many digital presses are so called “vanity” presses or subsidy presses. If you’re going to work with a publisher that requires you to pay to publish, be sure you know what you’re getting in to. More information: Is Self-Publishing The Easiest Way To Get Published? Decoding The Hype And The Facts.
For writers considering breaking into the world of E-publishing, there are a few things to consider.
• The author usually makes a higher percentage of royalties for E-books, and royalties are often paid more frequently—but sales numbers can be markedly lower than print, at least for now. And usually there are no advances paid to e-book writers.
• Because there is little financial investment required by the publisher, editors are more willing to take risks on new writers and nontraditional work.
• Electronic publishing is ideal for smaller work, since a print run on a small project is rarely cost-effective for a traditional publisher.
• Printing is the most expensive aspect of publishing, and E-publishing offers a more economical and eco-friendly alternative. E-publishing also offers a much faster turnaround—generally a few weeks or months after acceptance—compared with up to two years at traditional houses.
• It’s extremely easy and cheap to make updates to E-books that are already in circulation, which is invaluable for nonfiction, how-to books, and technology-related work that changes constantly.
• It’s easier to self-publish in E-book format when traditional publishers don’t feel the work would sell well. If E-book sales prove the publisher wrong, they are sometimes willing to pick it up and sell it in print. Learn more: After Self-Publishing: How To Find An Agent And A Publisher For Your Self-Published Book.
• Authors usually retain all other rights to the work, while traditional publishers claim as many rights as possible.
• E-book reading devices are expensive.
• E-publishing does not offer all the layers of quality control that traditional publishing provides. You, the author, are responsible for the editing of the book, and you market your book yourself. At a traditional publishing house, there are a host of professionals to provide quality control and up sales for your work.
• E-book publishing credits do not carry the same weight as print credits.
• Piracy is much easier with electronic work.
• You miss out on seeing your baby on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. (However, since e-books have ISBN numbers, your readers can walk into B&N and order a copy of your book.)
Learn more: What Is Considered Previously Published Writing?
There is no substitute for the smell and feel of a brand-new paperback or your dog-eared copy of Wuthering Heights. But be prepared for a marked increase in online reading material and electronic reading habits. You may find yourself reading The Wall Street Journal in bed on Sunday mornings from an E-book reader sooner than you think.
Writer’s Relief has been helping creative writers keep up with changes in the publishing industry since 1994. Feeling obsolete? We can help you too.
Do not limit yourself. Several writers limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go that far as your mind will let you.
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