Today I have author Tara Quan guest posting about ePublishing. Interesting stuff, so read-on, McDuff.
When I was researching options for my novella Tower in the Woods, I was able to find a good number of articles on the merits of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. However, I wasn’t able to find much information on the perks of going through an ePublisher, which is what I ended up doing. I thought I should take the time to summarize what I liked about going this route.
Disclaimer: I am NOT comparing ePublishing to self-publishing and/or traditional publishing. What I have written in this post most likely pertains to the other two mediums as well. I’m just writing about my personal positive experience with an ePublisher.
#1 – Free High-Quality Feedback
There are only a limited number of times my husband will beta-read my writing. When I first confessed my dream of becoming a romance writer, he was excited and wanted to read everything I wrote. That enthusiasm has since died. He will beta-read my completely finished work once, and he will not read it again even if he suggested extensive revisions (he’s the type that reads Strunk and White for fun). I don’t blame him.
Once I signed the contract with my ePublisher for Tower in the Woods, I was sent comments their readers provided during the acquisitions process. While the manuscript was not meant to be revised based on this feedback, it was good information to mull over. Just reading someone’s (very extensive comments) about something I wrote makes me a better writer. The readers noticed a plethora of inconsistencies I didn’t see, as well as elements of my style that weren’t quite up to snuff, and I put their comments to good use in my WIPs.
#2 – Editing Services
During my Content Edits, I realized my penchant to use “-ly” adverbs, my extensive overuse of the word “that”, my obsessive and unnecessary use of the “em dash”, as well as the fact that my math sucks when it comes to keeping characters’ ages straight over time. I added scenes, and I wrote out scenes. The finished product is far superior to the manuscript I submitted. Most importantly, I learned from the process and didn’t do quite as bad with the second manuscript (although I was still guilty of “that” and “em dash” abuse).
And then comes the Final Line Editor – the grammar guru extraordinaire (yes, I just used an em-dash). Semi-colons and deleted commas got put back in, and more compound sentence structures got tweaked. She caught all the little things that both my CE and I missed, and I bow to her detail-spotting abilities. I don’t possess them, and I may never develop them, so I need someone like her in my corner.
#3 – Cover Art
I am not a visually artistic person. I buy books based on recommendations, usually in electronic form, and I almost never look at cover art. I have less time to read now, and my book purchases are limited to those written by my favorite authors. I pre-order these even before the cover art finishes loading on Amazon.
Therefore, having an ePublisher handle this portion of the publication process for me is great. All I did was complete the cover art questionnaire and send it back. The amazing cover artist sent me back a draft, I sent her my very vague comments, and she sent me the final version. I adored it. The process, in a nutshell, took very little time and was painless.
#4 – Formatting and Distribution
I edit an internal newsletter as part of my day job. Therefore, I know what a pain formatting is. It’s not fun, and it takes a lot of time for everything to be perfect. (Note: Please, please, please do not put hard tabs at the beginning of each paragraph.) In this day and age, ebooks need to be available in a variety of file formats to reach the widest audience, and all those formats have quirks. Then they need to be sent to all the different retail venues, which have nitty-gritty guidelines of their own.
Can I do the formatting and distribution myself if I wanted to? Probably, but the ebook won’t be as clean. It won’t go to all the retail venues that it needs to show up on, and more importantly, doing this myself is perhaps one of the least fun things I could think of doing.
#5 – Networking (aka Passive Promotion)
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but selling a book isn’t an exact science. ePublishers will not be buying advertisements for books willy-nilly (perhaps for one of their top-selling authors, but usually not for a first time author). Lack of promotion is perhaps the biggest criticism I see lobbed at ePublishers as a whole, and different publishers do promote to varying degrees.
What I want to point out, however, is what all ePublishers do even if they don’t have the budget for any marketing at all – they connect you with other authors. Those authors have readers. They have experience in the field, and they remember what being a new author was like. I hate to say this but, even if 1-2 of those authors buy your book (sometimes just out of solidarity), that’s 1-2 more readers than you would get without that publisher. If they retweet your book release, have you as a guest author on their blog (by the way – thanks for having me Kimber!), or even point you in the general direction of a book blogger who might review your book, that is considered promotion. Moreover, when an established author’s readership comes to the ePublisher’s website to buy their book, there is a chance an errant click can send that same reader to your book. If you’re super lucky, that reader might actually buy it.
So what do authors give up for these perks – between 60-80% of royalties, depending on the ePublisher. I hate to admit this, but this isn’t a lot of money based on average ebook sales. If this is your first year as a published author, this is really not a lot of money. I can attest to this as an obsessive NovelRank checker—moneywise, I am getting the much better end of the deal. Like me, they’re banking on making money off the tenth or so book I get published, not the first nine.
Tara Quan’s post-apocalyptic zombie romance, Tower in the Woods, was released by Liquid Silver Books on January 14, 2013. It is currently available on the publisher’s website, as well as on Amazon.com and All Romance eBooks. It will be available at other retail outlets in the near future. Consolidated Buy Links can be found at http://taraquan.com/undead-fairy-tales/
Tara’s Arabian Nights-inspired fantasy erotic romance, Warlock’s Pawn, will be released by the same publisher on April 15, 2013.
Tara’s Website/Blog: www.taraquan.com
Thanks for stopping by, Tara! For the record, I just bought your book. You had me at sniper.