03 April 2010

Who Really Benefits in the Growing Ebook/Epublishing World?

Not you. Not me.

Unless we're already successful published writers.

I've had 14 books published, but I'm still struggling to produce what Donald Maas calls the "breakout novel".

J.A. Konrath is a successful mystery writer. He has recently blogged about his experience in ebook publishing. He's made some serious cash at publishing his backlog. Enough cash that if it were me, I'd quit my day job over it.

A few years ago, horror and fantasy master Stephen King experimented with publishing a story on line. Interested readers had to pay $1.00 to read a story called "The Plant". He wrote the story in installments. He made over $100,000 on the venture. He never finished it (at least as far as I know), and I don't think he's doing this any more.

Stephen King

I recently read an article about a successful writer who is self-publishing all his new work through Lulu. I can't remember his name at this moment.

Ah . . . . do you see the rubs in the above paragraphs?

"J.A. Konrath is a successful mystery writer."

". . .horror and fantasy master Stephen King . . . ."

". . . successful writer who is self-publishing . . . ."

And that, boys and girls, is the secret to being successful in the fledging ebook publishing market--at least for now.

J.A. Konrath can do it. Stephen King can do it. That other guy whose name I can't remember can do it. Dean Koontz can do it. Lois Lowery can do it.

Edgar Allen Poe

Hell, even Edgar Allen Poe can do it, and he was dead 160 years before e-publishing even entered the English lexicon.

Highly successful traditionally published writers will be highly successful published ebook writers because

  1. they already have a fan base;
  2. they have instant brand name recognition;
  3. they have a backlog of previously published material they can offer that fan base in a new format--like when LPs gave way to 8-tracks,8-tracks to cassettes, cassettes to CDs, CDs to iPods, et cetera;
  4. they are full-time writers who have had great success in their careers and that success gives them time to do the heavy promotion necessary to be successful in the ebook publishing arena;
  5. AND, they usually have a BIG PUBLISHING HOUSE behind them, providing them with professionally designed texts, artfully designed covers, and professional editors to re-edit their works--and all that valuable and indispensable help COSTS THEM NOTHING!

So, when you and I read about their successes, that they made enough money from ebooks that would allow most of us to quit our day jobs, we salivate.

And we think, "Why not me?"

Why not?

Because most of us haven't "arrived" yet, that's why.

Sure, I know what you're thinking: Ha, I can show that Garmon some success stories of unknown writers who went on to be successful ebook writers!

Really? Off the top of your head? Or, must you do a Google search first? And just how many? In the digits, the tens, the dozens, the hundreds, the thousands?

Yeah, right.

Here's a good article to support what I'm talking about: Tick Here.

You and I have the same ancient desire of all writers throughout the history of the written language: to be published and to be read.

With the advent of Lulu, Authonomy, Booklocker, BookRix, Awe-Struck Ebooks, Tate Publishing, and a multitude of other POD and epublishers, "publishing" has never been easier for those of us craving "publication".

Of course, what is the very definition of "being published"?

Is being able to upload your opus with a simple tick of your Enter key or left mouse button to one of the hundreds of epublishers really "being published"?

Is garnering a few reviews from fellow writers, friends, lovers, and/or children the mark of a "successful" writing career?

For better or for worse, whether I like it not, the model for being a "successful" and a "published" writer still lies with the model that has existed since the 18th Century:

A reputable publishing house (micro, small, or large; regional, national, or international) buys your novel, pays you an advance and (hopefully) continuous royalties, puts your book cover on its own website, Amazon, et cetera.

Why is this still the best and only real measure of a "successful" writer?

Because each traditional publishing house--Random House, Penguin, Crickhallow, 4-RV, Simon & Schuster, Knoft, et al--operates FIRST as a BUSINESS and never as a STROKER OF EGOS, which is what Lulu, Authonomy, Booklocker, BookRix, Tate Publishing, and the hundreds of other PODs and self-publishing epublishers do.

More years will have to pass before the as-yet-discovered great writer is discovered solely through epublishing and such a model is the norm rather than the exception.

And when I am, it won't be through one of the hundreds of ego-stroking PODs and self-publishers (i.e., vanity presses), but through the epublishing divisions of Random House, Penguin, Crickhallow, 4-RV, Simon & Schuster, Knoft, et al.

See you on the bookselves.

Or, perhaps on the Kindle!

Sign My Kindle

Larry Mike Garmon

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