Saturday, August 20, 2005

Why e-publish?

An exchange over on the Knight Agency blog got me thinking. A reader posted, "I know it can take years to get a good agent, so waiting to submit to publishers is ridiculous. But what if a writer has an ms they believe has the potential to be published by 'normal' publisher, but receives a request for a full from an epublisher. Is it best just to send it in and see what happens?"

I posted some thoughts, but I've had some more since then... yeah, I know, there's a surprise, huh? *g* Obviously I have nothing against e-publishing, but it seems to me an author needs to figure out in advance what she is aiming at. (And yes, we're back to goals again:-). If you want your book published by a major publisher, then you need to query major publishers FIRST (or try to get an agent who will pitch your work to those publishers). Yes, it's a long, slow, dreary road, but it's the only way to sell to a major publisher. As I said on TKA blog, you can't sell to an e-publisher just to while the time away, then withdraw your book if a a major publisher accepts it. Most e-pubs won't give up the rights just because you've gotten a better offer, so make sure you really want to e-publish before you submit to e-pubs.

Why would you decide to go for e-publishers instead of major pubs? Well, there are lots of reasons.

1. Your book is very unusual and you're pretty sure it's not something New York would be interested in, perhaps. You might be right, but this reason is less valid than it used to be-- New York is getting with the program and publishing some pretty weird stuff now. It probably wouldn't hurt to try to aim at New York first, if that's what you want to do.

2. Your book is very hot. Okay, that's fair, but again, you can't necessarily discount New York anymore... some of what they're publishing would make a lot of EC books look like sweet romances. Again, if you really want to aim at New York, take your best shot.

3. Your book is an odd size. Good reason-- you're probably not going to sell New York a 50,000-word book, although you might consider whether or not you want to expand the book and try New York instead.

4. You think e-publishing is the wave of the future and you really want to be e-published. Cool. Good reason. Go for it.

But please, don't submit to an e-publisher because you really want to be published by a New York pub but you just don't have the patience for the process. For one thing, it takes longer to hear back from e-publishers than it used to-- some of them are approaching New York wait times-- and it might take a lot longer for your book to be released than you'd expect, too. There are e-pubs scheduled out a year or more in advance now. And more importantly, there's every chance you'll grow to resent e-publishing, and always think, "If only..."


  1. I'm looking at e-publishing because I write mostly short stories and novella length work, and e-pubs seem more open to those. I can't sem to stick long enough to write a novel write now. That might change in the future, and then I'll evaluate things then.

  2. Like you said, I think it depends on what you're looking for and your long-term goals. I started out with e-pubs because I wanted the practice of writing books without the pressure. I was fortunate that it worked out. It could've backfired.

  3. As usual, Ellen, great blog!

    I'm sorry I didn't tackle your question -- I don't feel qualified, because I honestly, fo the life of me can't figure out why NY publishes some of what it does and why it doesn't publish some of what it doesn't. It's all a big crapshoot. However, as a lay person, and hearing what I heard about paranormal in reno, I say go paranormal, baby. They want it so bad right now. And it's not like it's totally new to you.

  4. I appreciate the input, Diana.

    Jordan, where the heck is your website??

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with you on not doing it simply because you don't want to wait.

    When I was offered the contract to epub, I had to look at many factors. And one of the biggest, was...would I be happy with my decision. It has worked out very well for me. I'm happy, I'm learning a lot of information in a supportive community. But I didn't do it because I didn't want to wait and had that been the reason, no, I don't think I'd be as happy right now.