Thursday, June 05, 2008

Is E-Publishing an Option?

Today, I did a little research about e-publishing. Specifically, I wanted to find what firms publish YA and whether they looked like stable businesses or shingle on-a-fireplug operations.

After taking Maya Reynolds’ class about the publishing business, I decided that I may have been too hasty about e-publishing. I lumped it in with all the vanity presses and self-publishing scams as a route that would do more harm than good. But Maya explained that, although she had gone the traditional route, with her book being published by an imprint of Penguin, two of her friends started out by having their books e-published. The e-pubbed authors earned a much higher royalty than those who go through the traditional houses. Traditional houses pay a royalty of 12 – 15%, whereas e-pubs pay an average of 45%. Maya said that, while she was toiling in search of an agent and a house to publish her book, her friends were enjoying royalties from their e-published books. In the long run, they were picked up by traditional publishing houses and ended up being published in print copy at about the same time as Maya’s book.

When Googling the search phrase, e-publishing, I came up with a bunch of questionable hits. The top hit,, is a business selling services to ecommerce businesses. In other words, it sells internet marketing tools. Most of the sites I found focus on Romance novels. Some offered a mixed menu, but all focused on Romance or Erotic Romance, with Sci Fi coming in a distant second. Finally, I modified my search phrase to be “e-publishing YA” Here are some of the ones I found:

  • Samhain, - not accepting ya right now. Mostly romance
  • Ellora's Cave – Erotic Romance
  • Loose Id – Erotic Romance
  • Awe-struck – once did YA but not anymore
  • Wings e-press – Guidelines discourage books with sex (which would rule my YA novel out). I didn’t see anything to indicate that they were a Christian publisher. They may have been just trying to discourage erotica. They also have a problem with anything to do with alternative lifestyles, which I take to mean anything gay. That kind of put me off, and certainly eliminates my other novel in the works. Overall, they are the best option I found for my YA novel…well, the only one, really. They’ve been around since 2002 and have a full staff.
  • Writers Exchange – This looked like an established publisher. Again, mostly romance, but they publish a variety of genre. They didn’t list YA but had a note on their submissions page stating that writers could query about anything they don’t list. Their web site also has samples of the contracts they have with authors and a lengthy essay about the difference between them and vanity presses. They pay 60% in royalties.

With all of the e-pub sites, I was concerned by the sort of fly-by-night appearance of the web pages and their merchandise. The book covers were the sort of thing you’d find on the cover of an Ellory Queen magazine. Covers offer lots of torso shots and scenes of women being swept off their feet. The web pages all looked like they’d been put together with Frontpage on someone’s home computer. I didn’t see any web pages that looked as though they had been professionally developed.

All-in-all, I’m taking a step back. I think that e-publishing is going to explode in the next 2 – 5 years. It’s not there yet. My guess is that, way after the barn door’s closed, the traditional publishers will realize that this is a viable, low-risk method of selling books and will include it in their fare. It might make getting published a lot easier, but will include a whole lot of material that will never see a marketing dollar.

I’ve got my ear to the ground, though, for that break-out e-publisher who gets it right and bursts free from the crowd with long strides. Someone’s out there developing it right now. I can just smell it.

In the meantime…just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. I’ll continue to shop for an agent via the traditional route.

1 comment:

a smiley face said...

brilliant post, very informative. Thanks for looking into this :)