I belong to several on-line chat groups for authors (probably too many). The gist of what's going on is that authors are catching on to the e-book revolution, some reluctantly, some anxiously, some willingly. It's scary, because a lot of things change with e-books.
For example: you don't need an agent to publish an e-book. You don't even need a publisher, if you're willing to do some homework. There isn't that assurance that some of us need that we've got professionals behind us. Then again, some authors have felt for some time that there really isn't an Oz behind the curtain.
You do still need an editor, but there's an interesting change there, too. When an author hires an editor, she maintains more control over the book. An employee, the hired editor, SUGGESTS changes, where a publishing-house editor tends to DEMAND them. One I had a few years back kept prefacing his proposed changes with "I want..." I began thinking, "Whose book is this? It's my name on the cover!" When you disagree with a pub-house editor, you can fight with them (I have) or you can give in (I've done that, too). When you hire an editor, you are wise to listen to what they advise, to get your money's worth and to recognize what objective readers will see in the work you love so much. But if you love it the way it is, it's up to you.
A current discussion in my chat groups is ISBNs. Once considered mandatory for a professional publication, questions have arisen about them for e-books. They're expensive, and if you're only going to publish electronically, you have other options. (If a book goes into print, the ISBN would be different anyway.)
Of course, traditional publishing is pulling on the reins, and I think they have to. It would be a mistake to let every joker who thinks he/she can write throw a book at us and make the pool of candidates for panels, awards, and reviews so large it's beyond managability. Rules are established, and even if some authors don't like them, they keep us honest. Yes, someone read my book other than my sister. Yes, my publisher works with multiple authors and does not guarantee publication or charge me for publishing.
Still, the publishing world is changing, so quickly that we can hardly keep up. Some predict that books will soon come out initially as e-books. If they do well, someone will take the chance and put them into print for libraries and those who love "real" books. My February release, THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY, is e-book and POD. I like that, because I will have physical copies for display and electronic copies for all those people who have never met me.
E-publishing is ecologically better, quicker, and easier. Like Dorothy and her friends, authors are treading with caution into the forest of e-books. Our sense of "Oh, my!" is fear for some, awe for others, and for the un-cowardly: "Look at all the possibilites!"

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Tags: authors, e-books, e-publishing, e-readers, kindle, nook, publishing

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Comment by sean on January 31, 2011 at 11:09am
I did a blog on this recently.  I'm much of the same mind.  It is certainly easier to be published in eBook format and with the digital age books are one of the last bastions of tradition.  I just published my first book The Trust and it is available in trade paperback as well as eBook formats.  I have had people ordering the paperback, but I have had many people say, "Tell me when it is out for Nook, Kindle, iPad, etc...."  The last 6 months have been huge for eBooks and it will only increase.  Well, at least in my humble opinion....
Comment by Peg Herring on January 18, 2011 at 3:24am
One can only hope, right?
Comment by Eric Christopherson on January 18, 2011 at 2:13am
Yes, the times are changing. I was an early adopter, though I haven't abandoned the traditional avenue. (I currently have a book being marketed by my agent to major publishers.) Last week I sold my 10,000th ebook. The publishers are impressed when self-published ebook sales go through the roof, witness Boyd Morrison and Jon Rector. And the smarter agents have begun sifting through self-pubbed ebooks. I know of one self-pubbed author who was contacted out of the blue by a leading agent at Trident and signed up.

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