An E-publishing Primer

by Rita Toews

Rita's web site
A little about Rita
Bob's speech about e-books
A bit of fun about e-books

Introduction and Statement of Qualifications

   I'm a published author and I have co-authored three novels together with Alex Domokos. Two of these novels have been published by an e-publisher in the United States. All three are in the process of being translated into German by a German publisher. The Price of Freedom has been presented to two movie studios in Europe and recently won a Clara Award. And we have contracted a collection of short Christian stories with an Australian publisher.

   Let me give you a few details of the state of print publishing today and why it's so hard to have a manuscript accepted.

   There really are only about 7 publishing houses left. Bertlesman Group owns Random House, Ballantine, DoubleDay, Bantam, Dell, Del-Rey, Lightning Source, iUniverse, xLibris... which is most of the print publishing house in the world and WAY over half in the US. The bookstores - Ingram and B&N are also owned by Bertlesman. The independents have either been bought out or put out of business by high costs.

   It was the independents that published new authors and mid-list authors. These authors then moved up to the major publishes when they gained recognition with the independents.

   NOW- once you've submitted it, publishers don't allow for multiple submissions. That means that you can't send your manuscript to any other publishers until that one has made its decision. It will take anywhere from six to nine months for that publisher to reach a yes or no decision about publishing your manuscript. That's six to nine months that your manuscript is tied up before you can send it to another publisher.

   Then, IF the publisher takes your manuscript out of the slush pile where only 1 in 1000 are found acceptable, it can take up to 18 months (if not longer) for the book to be released. Once your book is released, you have a very short window of opportunity to sell as many copies of your book as you can. Print publishers print what they call a first run (usually about 5,000 copies). If that first run doesn't sell relatively quickly, then your book is doomed to becoming an out of print book.

   They provide about $2,000 advertising for a mid list author - which will buy about one end rack at a book store for promotional placing. You're expected to do the major promoting yourself.

DID YOU KNOW?

   About 80% of books that are printed are never sold? In the words of a local manager at an un-named book store - they are window dressing! They end up in landfills. That's a lot of trees sacrificed for window dressing.

   65% of the cost of producing a book is paper, if 80% don't sell, that's a lot of money going into paper to fill landfill sites.

   Even the big publishing houses are finding it tough to make a go of it and many are in trouble. This is caused by:

Short description of my attempts to have a manuscript accepted.

   I've had 55 rejection letters. I feel I'm in good company because apparently William Faulkner had 80 rejections on his first book.

   McLelland and Stewart kept the manuscript for The Price of Freedom for 7 months before saying No. Actually they said it had gone through several positive readings before being ultimately rejected. Sounds nice but it's still a no.

   So, where do you turn to if you want to get your book published? Basically you have three choices:

Question: How many have submitted manuscripts to e-publishers?

   E-publishing has certainly raised the hackles of print publishers, but others are sceptical as well. That may be because it's a new idea and new ideas are seldom popular - they challenge the status quo and that makes people insecure.

Review of what an e-publisher is, what e-books are.

   Numbers of e-publishers today. - 122 at my last count

   These are exciting times for e-publishers and e-authors. They're also a bit unnerving. This industry is still in its infancy and is undergoing numerous changes, both minor and major. We've seen e-publishers close their doors for lack of funds and/or manpower, or because of poor planning--and we've seen e-authors become discouraged and give up hope because of slow sales and miniscule royalty checks. Time, patience, perseverance, and education are the keys to survival and eventual success in any new industry. This is especially true of e-publishing. If you give up, you can't make it. Period.

   E-publishers are taking the place of mid-list or independent publishers. They can survive where the independent publishers can't because e-books:

Let's Talk About E-book PROS and Cons

Pros

Cons

They are not all the same. There are good e-publishers and bad e-publishers.

   Some ask for fees - NO NO NO This is a vanity press

   Not all give cover art. Not all edit. Not all set up in HTML

   Some provide POD (print on demand) others charge

   Careful if you want to sell your work on CDs - don't choose a place in England or Australia because of costs of shipping.

TIPS ON FINDING AN EPUBLISHER

   Preditors and Editors web site. Site is set up by the Science Fiction Writers Association

   Another good site is: http://freereads.topcities.com/sitemap.html set up by Michael Larocca, a writing acquaintance of mine who lives in Hong Kong. His site is stuffed with links for aspiring e-authors.

   http://www.coredcs.com/~mermaid/epub.html This site is hosted by the publisher of Hard Shell Word Factory, one of the best e-publishers around.

   http://www.ebooksnbytes.com/publishers.html Get past the heading "Featured E-book Publisher" for a wonderful list of e-publishers.

TIPS ON READING THE CONTRACT:

   Watch out for the following:

How do you read e-books:

Rita's handout

   (Much of the information on the handout was a repeat of the speech. Here are the extra parts:

Marketing Books on the Internet:

   http://www.xenite.org/internet_authors/marketing_books_on_the_internet.html

Free Downloadable E-Book Readers:

http://www.microsoft.com/reader/download.asp

http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

   www.ebookad.com site for purchasing a Hiebook reader

Web site for Alex Domokos and Rita Toews: http://www.domokos.com

Home to Bob's writing  Bob's book reviews  Book editing service  LiFE Award: Literature For Environment