The adv./disadv. of doing your own digital books in concise, clear detail @http://ning.it/c4d3to

The adv./disadv.  of doing your own digital books in concise, clear detail @http://ning.it/c4d3to 

 Meaning to be concise here.  Check it out if you've been on the fence or just wish to see HOW many advantages or disadvantages you face with the question of going digital or going Kindle or Smashwords, etc.  This will Blow your Mind....

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Thanks. Very neat job!
O I try...
This is well done, Robert, if a bit slanted in favor of e-publishing. A few things you might add, just in the interests of intellectual honesty:

1.Traditional big-house publishers pay advances, Kindle doesn't (unless you're a big name, maybe, signed to an exclusive deal). Now, the small advances that midlisters get can obviously be a double-edged sword: you're hooked into a deadline, but not paid enough up front to quit your day-job. Still, my advance this time around has made it possible for me to reduce my workload considerably for the year-or-so that I'll be working on the novel.

2.Traditional big-house publishers can get you print reviews in major publications (NYT, WaPo, ChiTrib, etc.) and other kinds of regional/national exposure which can have a dramatic effect on sales and turn you into a national figure; good luck with that if you're e-publishing on your own.

3.Traditional big-house publishers will place your books in bookstores and other retail venues, assuming they're doing their job. My books are apparently for sale in grocery stores in New England and upstate New York (although, admittedly, I can't reliably find them at my local Borders in Wisconsin). Those are sales I wouldn't get with an e-book.

4.Traditional big-house publishers will obviously publish in multiple formats on multiple platforms, so without any additional effort on your part you'll appear both in the books section and in the Kindle section on Amazon, cross-tabbed. My books are also available both in print and e-book formats on B&N, and as e-books in Apple's new iBook store--and I didn't have to lift a finger to make that happen.

5.Traditional print books can get you on a domestic flight without photo ID. Try that with an e-book!
John - you're right about the photo on the back of the book opening some doors. But some of your statements miss the mark, too. For instance, when a publisher controls your ebook rights, they will take the lion's share of sales on the ebooks; they will also jack up the price to the point there will BE NO ebook sales as when -- in my own works -- they price the ebook at the same as the paperback! Foolish and it makes the book as attractive as a doorstop to eReaders - this new market.

Additionally, to rebut what you are saying about getting reviews. Guess who worked hardest to get reviews when I was publishing "real" books? Also there is a growing number of ebook reviewers out there online, growing daily. Amazon reviews are not alone anymore. There are eZines doing articles and interviews surrounding ebooks and ebook authors as well as doing reviews. OK it is not the NYTs but one inth of one percent of all authors gets in through that door. My City for Ransom Trilogy was praised highly (critical acclaim as with my Instinct Series) in reviews on two occasions in the Chicago Tribune and unfortunately this did not boost sales enough to please the bottom-liners at HC. Who knows with reviews?

Your item #3...hey man, the shelf life of a typical paperback is what now, a week? Two at the outside....hardcover maybe a few days more. With an ebook the shelf life is forever or until you take it down. Additionally, having just sold 465 books since July 4th on Kindle, I have never - not in the Zenith of my publishing career ever had a box store of any size sell that many titles with my name on it, so there is that. Not to mention having your honey, your life's blood, your book stripped of its cover, the book shunted off to a dumpster, and you sit awaiting royalty cuts due to returns. I have had three returns of books in the past month and nothing gets stripped.

Your 4th issue with me is the reason I am trying to alert authors -- that with a minimum couple of few hours THEY can put to work their own electronic rights rather than sit back and be ripped off by a publisher who "can do it for you" but at what cost? I take all my take of an ebook home with me; goes in my pocket. Your publisher is using you once again in the manner of a coal mining town where everything comes back around to the "company store" as they are taking your electronic rights, doing next to nothing to put them on digital platform (a pre-teen can do this) and patting you on the back and telling you that you made a good deal while they take more money from your pocket. For midlist authors with dead books - out of prints - becoming an Indie Author like myself, like Joe Konrath, and many another savvy author, you can be selling far more titles and have a greater audience, and when those 60 or 70,000 print runs come running back to the publishing house for refunds from all those thousands of box stores, and Publisher Rex tells you you're fired, get those rights back ASAP and go sell it on Kindle where I am seeing routinely a thousand books sold each month.

Presitge, a bit of arrogance, honor, integrity may be the only positive in big-publishing soon--that is the author's pride. Once you've been kicked in the teeth often enough, you will swallow that gratefully for money enough to buy the new MAC.

That's my take and I'm sticking to it so long as my new goal is money rather than prestige.

robert w. walker
www.robertwalkerbooks.com
I'm traditionally published. For a mislist author, I got generous advances, but certainly nothing I could have lived on for the year it took to write each book. The advances, however, backfired when the books did not sell enough copies quickly enough to make the expected profit for the publisher in the expected time. They dropped me. Once dropped, you're not very likely to be published again. The only additional income I had was from residuals to other publishers. The electronic rights are still with my most recent publisher: 15 %! All in all not a good deal.

Now for publicity and marketing: yes, I got reviewed by NYT, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and a number of other papers. All my reviews were excellent. I doubt they did much for sales though, except possibly the NYT review. As for marketing to stores: As far as I can make out, the stores would order, then turn right around and return most of the order within a month. That's worse than not ordering at all. My patience with stores is negligible.

Now, Robert has done a very good job pointing out the advantages of e-publishing. 70 % instead of 15 % goes to the author. And Amazon Kindle does its own publicity on site. They will even contact likely customers. They don't return the books. And the way things have been going, they will soon have a larger share of the market. And I have some control over my books.

My current plan is to keep my series in print, but also to pursue electronic publishing, either through my agent or on my own. My guess is, I can't do any worse than I have so far in the business decisions.
For 99% of working novelists all I have said is true, and sadly for us all it is a hard way to make a living; if you can - and often they do not put up a fight - contact your editor and ask for all your rights back as soon as the book goes out of print. Keep checking on this until you get your rights back, or have your agent get on it. Once I got all my 44 titles back into my hands - some twenty years ago -- these books were mine to do with what I wished; it has just taken technology to catch up to my dream of publishing my own damn self as even as shitty as the biz is for us, no publisher could ever keep up with my output anyway....so becoming an Indie Author/Publisher has indeed been fantastic for me. My work in progress begun in Feb. will not be sitting around fora year or two but be selling via Kindle as an Original to Kindle title like my Children of Salem is now --This September if not Sooner.

1st 14 chapts. of Titanic 2012 FREE at my website
www.robertwalkerbooks.com

By the way, there ar MORE opportunities for authors to hawk their books online than there are in the real world. Just follow Joe Konrath....or catch me if you can.

rob
I've actually been thinking of writing pseudonymous porn novels for Kindle and selling them for $1.99, just to see what happens. I figure with a good supply of Ritalin I could write one in about a week. I think it would be a good test of Robert's money vs. prestige idea.

But seriously, I'm totally sympathetic to anything you or anyone else wants to try as a way of making a living as a writer. And believe me, I'm not entirely enthralled with the big-house publishing world as I've experienced it: there are significant drawbacks, as you say. At the same time, I feel that I've benefited from the old system in meaningful ways: my books are much better (especially the first one) because of the careful readings I got from both my agent and my editor--maybe I could have paid someone for the same kind of help, maybe not. That said, my insistence on a one book deal this time around (as opposed to the two that my publisher initially wanted) had a lot to do with the obvious and epochal changes that were/are taking place in the publishing industry. You don't want to be locked in for years if the whole structure of the industry's going out the window.
Jon - Hey man, you acquit yourself well. True I have learned invaluable lessons due to my association with perhaps eight NYC publishers over the years-- many hard knocks too as when my first book came out in '79 with Chapter One lobbed off without anyone's even telling me due to pg. constraints! My last book with HC had me cutting 40,000 words out of the book. It does teach you craft, but I have seen a whole industry of ebook Editorial Services pop up now and I have had wonderful editorial help on my own. Graphic help as well thanks to my son. As to trying it out with porn, you may well have something there as I understand Erotica is selling well on Kindle.
Rob
I don't have anything against traditional publishing. As a matter of fact, until recently I was planning on pursuing both.

The biggest issue for writers is that indie publishing is a BUSINESS and it takes time and energy. And yes, a certain head for business and marketing. If you love that end of it, then it's the way to go. But if you're not prepared for do-it-yourself on everything, then you may want to stick with traditional for a while. (Or just write for a while and wait for the changes to shake out a little more.)

Luckily you can recover from mistakes easier than with traditional publishing. Especially if you're just doing ebooks. If you have a bad cover and only sell ten copies, then you don't have a garage full of the bad cover. You can just change it.

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