Monday, August 16, 2010

To e Or Not To e...........

That is the question.

It's a question that has been debated with as much feeling as politics or religion. Why? I wish I knew the answer. Somehow the whole subject became a war, digital vs print, us vs them, when all any of us want to do is to write our stories and (hopefully) make a little money along the way.

I've always been in support of e-publishing. I also believe that an author should do their homework before signing a contract with ANY publishing house, print or digital. I don't think that any author is less than another just because she chooses an e-first house over a traditional house. And given Dorchester's recent move, the entire argument may sooner, rather than later, become mute. Because if by this time next year Dorchester is showing large financial gain, who wants to guess what NYC biggie will be next to move over to an e-first model?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I want to know the answer, so I'm hoping to get it here. LOL I'm with you on the research. If you read all the scuttlebutt, you can easily be sucked into emotional opinions, which doesn't make for sound business decisions. I think there are so many of us trying to get published that we feel overwhelmed with excitement when we actually get an offer. But the truth is, we have to be careful and protect ourselves from hearsay.

    I believe authors genuinely want to help other authors. They've suffered the consequences of making bad decisions and want to ensure that others don’t follow suit. While we can learn from their experiences, we also have to keep our emotions intact. What wasn’t right for one author, may be right for another.

    All we can do, is write what we love, take pride in our work, and pray the right house and the right editor will love and support us. :)
    Good luck in finding your answers…

  2. As a mom of three pretty opinionated teens, I'm telling you, you're right--ebooks are the future. These kids think it's a no-brainer. And I had more than one perfectly delightful person tell me at Nationals she was published--and followed with the disclaimer "but it's only an e book".

    Every time, I told them "Lose the 'only'! Be proud of your accomplishment!" Seriously, completing and selling a book is something to be proud of, and apologizing for the form of that success just diminishes it.

  3. I've heard authors do the same thing to themselves, Gillian. And I completely agree with you. They can proudly claim, "I'm published." 'Nuff said.

  4. My kids were raised in the age technology and will be the ones buying e-readers. I wish they had one for textbooks because sometimes my children are carrying around 50 pounds of them.

  5. Both? I don't mean that as a copout answer either.

    Here's the thing about print. It's an emotional answer -- and that's why it's a holy war of electronic versus paper. Our emotions are tied to the tactile and sensual experience of holding a book in our hands. When I finish a good book, I literally hold it in my hands for a moment and feel its weight. People remember the smell of an old book they found. Lord of the Rings -- I bought an old copy for 10 cents at a library sale; the pages were yellow and it smelled kind of musty and archaic. And then I started reading about legends and elves. Nothing else will re-create that experience for me. And the experience of browsing a used book store. The thought of a time and place where no one does that makes me weep and I'm not that old.

    Oh, I digress! I have to believe the future readers will tie their emotional memories to something else. The look of their first reader? The way they personalized it like their first car? What I'm saying is my description doesn't exclude e-readers forever -- it's just pointing out that right now, in this generation, there are readers organically programmed to want print.

    Business-wise, this is one of the reasons I feel it is still a huge advantage to get a foot in print with a larger publisher--mainly for distribution into a market that's still majority print and will be for a little while. For now, at least for me, the cost of admission seems worth it. However the scale is a sliding one. For some authors and some genres, it may be totally different.

    When publishing goes vastly digital, with only blockbusters going to print, then you'll want to have a publisher for distribution, promotion and services such as editing. UNLESS - you are extremely good at distribution, promotion, and editing yourself and most of us don't have the resources or know-how. I think some of the large NY houses are best poised for this change -- or if they aren't, they should be getting there quick.

    Wow, that was a long answer. This has been on my mind a lot too so I may feel different tomorrow after more thought.

  6. I both agree and disagree. I think every author needs to look within to determine why they write (to be a "bestseller?"), what their goals are ("to make a living as a writer?"), and can they take pride in their work if it goes to e-book first. Some (perhaps the younger writers amongst us) will probably be more comfortable than "older" writers with going the e-book route.

    Added to the mix, these days, is whether a writer should become an e-book publisher herself/himself, i.e., publish a book via Kindle or iBooks.

  7. Okay, I'm saying it here and now. As popular as e-readers are right now, with good reason...we will NEVER lose the written word as well. I see hard copies of road design plans in my office all day long...when they're done, we scan them electronically...BUT...we will NEVER throw away those paper copies. As much as those engineers SAY they want to go green, they still want to hold those pages of smooth, white, paper covered with crisp, black print in their hot, little hands. (So they can mark it up with bright red ink! :D ) The original plan might disintegrate hundreds of years from now, but we will always have them in some form. There's room for both, and yes, I agree that e published authors should be just as proud of themselves as paper published.
    Great subject to blog about Jenn!

  8. I agree with everyone who said that an author should be proud of whatever form they get their book published in. When I first started researching getting published, I will admit to thinking that I wouldn't get taken as seriously if I went to eprint first. However, after attending the recent RWA session on this very subject, I've changed my mind. While getting your books printed the old-fashioned way may get you into a bigger market (depending on the publishing house) there is something to be said for eprint. You have a more steady income rather than relying on advances and then for royalties. Sometimes with epublishing you have more freedom as an author.
    Personally, I'd like to see my books in both. One - I love a book in my hand rather than an ereader. I've always loved books, and I prefer to buy an actual book over a digital one. That's not to say that I don't have digital books. I have several because I support my fellow authors. I believe all authors should go for the gold and get their books both in print and ebook format to reach the widest audience possible!
    Hey - if you're going to dream, dream BIG!! LOL
    And that's my two cents. :)

  9. Oh yeah - and with ebooks you always have a backlist!
    There - now I'm done.

  10. LOL, Kellie. And I agree with what Lori said. We will always have print books. I wonder if print -- even through traditional houses -- will become more POD than a run of thousands. It seems that would cut some costs for publishers while still offering the print edition.

    I, like Jeannie, would be heartbroken if bookstores were gone! And isn't it every author's dream to "hold" their book in their hands?? It's my dream. I admit e-frist publishers appeal more to me than just/only digital.

    This has been a very good discussion, ladies!

  11. This is a difficult question, but only because we're standing on the edge of a major paradigm shift in publishing. I'm certain ebooks are what's coming. And frankly, the nostalgia about a book in my hand is more about the story between those tattered covers than the tactile experience of turning the pages.

    It's certainly changing the publishing world and will eventually change how such things as "bestsellers" are determined (a process which now resembles a voodoo ceremony involving a dead chicken.)

    My books have always been available as ebooks as well as print. Unfortunately, historical romance is not a sub-genre that sells well in that format. Eprint has always been the province of erortica and paranormal. Will the readers of other subgenres make the shift? Time will tell.