The Dilemmas of a Struggling Writer Part 3

I promised it last post, so here it is: the pros and cons of e-publishing.

Let’s start by talking about e-publishing itself — what it is and what it represents.

E-publishing is self-publishing on-line done through one or more of a number of sites designed for the purpose (the most notable being Amazon’s Kindle site, though there are many others). Anyone can publish on most of these sites, which is both a pro and a con, but we’ll discuss that later. The popularity of these sites is undeniable and grows every day with every new e-book reader purchased. There are some who think e-publishing will soon surpass traditional publishing, and why wouldn’t it? When was the last time you purchased a CD (let alone a cassette)? I couldn’t even tell you with any accuracy when I last rented a DVD now that Netflix is available in Canada.

If you want a sense of what’s going on in e-pubbing (as the cool kids call it), there are people far more in the know than I who have written at length on the subject (check out in particular JA Konrath‘s blog).  But on to today’s subject: the pros and cons…

Pros of e-publishing:

1. No gatekeeper to go through. Every year, brilliant novels are put into drawers after hundreds of rejections from agents and publishers based on three-paragraph-long query letters

2. No agent necessary = no 15% commission to be paid.

3. No publisher required = up to 70 % of the selling price of the work goes to the author (depending on what site you’ve published through and what price you charge).

4. Author maintains complete creative control.

5. No delay in publication. Once the work has been uploaded, there is usually no more than a day or two lag time before it’s available for sale.

Sounds good, right? Make more money per book sold, have complete control. It’s what everyone would want. Or is it?

Cons of e-publishing:

1. “Anyone can publish on-line” means there is a lot of crap out there. Will buyers of e-books be shy to purchase an unknown, unproven writer?

2. You’re on your own, Bubba. No professional editor going over your novel, no one to design your cover, no marketing department. If you want any of this done, you either have to hire some one and pay out of your own pocket or do it yourself (and what’s the old quote, something about a man who defends himself in court has a fool for an attorney?).

I don’t really have a number 3 because number 2 is huge. It’s like walking the high-wire without a net. If there is a third con, it’s this: once you’ve self-published, traditional publishing pretty much becomes a non-option unless you sell a ton. Publishing houses don’t typically sign independent authors. The jury is out on whether this continues to be a minus or not. If a publishing house wasn’t going to pick you up anyway, what does it matter?

To be quite upfront, I’m leaning toward the e-pub option. The chances of securing a traditional publishing contract seem to grow thinner everyday: the more e-books being sold, the more picky traditional publishers become. Bookstores are closing all over the place and they can’t afford to take chances, so it becomes up to the author to take the chance. “With great risk comes great rewards”. I’m not sure who said it, but they were a lot smarter than me… I don’t have any quotes in Bartlett’s.

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