Ebooks VS. Hardcover Books

Writer Unboxed has a pretty important article up that I haven’t really seen elsewhere. Basically, it details the price and royalty comparison between hardcover books and ebooks, and how it effects the profit margin of publishers and authors.

Basically, it comes down to a publisher explaining in an earnings meeting that they make more off ebooks because of lower royalties and lower costs. That would be fine if they brought absolutely anything to the table, had to take more risk, anything, but they are facilitating what most people can accomplish for free on their own.

It’s definitely worth a read.

A Couple Articles by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Read this and this.

I talk about Dean Wesley Smith a lot (or I did a lot on the old Story Arcs) but less about his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I don’t really know how that happened, but I am going to correct it.

Personally, I think if you take her Business Rusch posts and the Shatzkin Files, you pretty much have everything you need to know about publishing as an industry. They’re well informed, experience, very analytical and sit on different sides of the publishing spectrum. Note on that, reading Mike Shatzkin is a bit like reading H. P. Lovecraft. Not so much the supernatural aspect, more like, “What the hell did that paragraph just say?”

Anyway, Ms. Rusch has an incredible way of being brutally honest, and being uplifting at the same time. If you have anything to do with publishing, no matter its form, read her stuff. If you don’t agree with her, it will at least serve as a counterbalance.

Also, the first article is about her path to publishing her Smokey Dalton series. I don’t want to endorse it before reading, but it’s set in Memphis and there just aren’t enough stories set in this area. Love to see it and am looking forward to checking it out.

U.S. VS Apple

Fortune has a good article summing up the whole deal between the Department of Justice and Apple (and the publishing industry). Thanks for Passive Voice for the article.

There’s not a lot I can add here because I’m not a legal professional. I can’t speak to the legality or moral authority of any of the parties involved. However, I would like to say this. A lot of people say Amazon sicked the DOJ on Apple and big publishing because, well, they’re Amazon and that’s what they do. That’s how they compete, they drive down the little guys like Microsoft was doing against Netscape.

Here’s the thing, when Netscape “sicked” the DOJ on Microsoft, it was a desperate act to try and compete with Internet Explorer. Whether or not it was warranted or if they did it at all aside, everyone said they did it because they knew Netscape was in trouble.

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but Amazon isn’t in trouble.

Maybe they’re just being ridiculously aggressive, that is what a lot of people accuse Amazon of. Of course, I don’t buy from Amazon because of price, I buy out of convenience. I like digital books, I like having everything in one place, and I like being able to buy a book from my bed and read it.

Publishers were afraid hardback book sales would fall, and they had a reason to be afraid. Hardback books are a ripoff and always have been. The only reason they got away with it was because you had no other choice. What sense does it make to pay $20-30 for a book that will come out at $7.99 in a year? It was to make money, pure and simple. When another opportunity to make money came along, publishers avoided it. Amazon jumped on it. Then Apple wanted a piece and had to drag publishers into the future to make it happen.


Deciding On a Publishing Path

I’ve been thinking I would actually publish this book for about three years. Not the wistful fantasies of what if, but the blood curdling idea that it might actually happen. As with anything I involve myself in, the first thing I do is research. It was a pleasant surprise to find multiple options. It was less pleasant to find the “right” path was hotly contested.

Well, I’ve made a decision.

I will be self publishing.

At least for now.

I am not writing this as a condemnation for traditional publishing or to uphold the standards of indie publishing. This is the first post in documenting the choices and challenges going down this path. I hope it is educational, and not in a “I won’t do that!” kind of way.

There are a bunch of blogs that cover this, I recommend you read them first. My perspective is someone entering, and as they continue, I hope it has some value. But I’ve tried my best to listen to those who’ve been in the trenches from the start, whether it be the self publishing or traditional publishing fronts. That’s been difficult because the entire industry has turned upside down. Self publishing is accepted for the first time, fueled by one of the most innovative and powerful corporations in the world. Traditional publishers are circling the wagons, trying to defend their territory. We can argue all damn day about whether or not they need too (personally, I think it’s an over-reaction) but I think there

Either way, the successes of days past are built on models that were built on models that were built on models that no longer exist. Traditional publishing has gone through several transformations and self-publishing has swung back and forth like a pendulum whose weight changes with the mood, time, and/or value of the dollar.

So, how could I have made this decision? Well, partly because of the uncertainty with traditional publishing. I sent a query to an agent, the one I’d picked out from the very beginning as being the most knowledgeable, successful, and had the most clients that matched my own work.

It took a week to get the rejection. The agent in question was very respectful, very nice, and in no way like all the nightmares writers love to hear about. It wasn’t even a form letter as far as I could tell.

But here’s the thing. I was more worried the agent would be interested, so much so that the rejection came as a bit of a relief. Some of that is a coping mechanism, it was certainly a disappointment to be rejected, but a big part of it was knowing I wouldn’t have to deal with big publishing.

It is the general message of new (emphasis on new) authors that publishers are offering contracts requiring all rights (in all mediums), for a godawful amount of time, with a small advance, and very little support. Not to mention the small royalties, inaccurate statements, and length of time it takes to actually get the book to launch.

They are gambling on authors, exerting as little effort as possible, and hoping it will pay off. This is a continued relationship where you are only as successful as your last book.

Let me add a disclaimer. The publishers, they have the big mojo when it comes to distributing and selling books. There is a reason they own the industry. You get published by one of those corporations and you have more legitimacy than any self published author begins with. It’s a head start, and a damn good one. Odds are (and the odds are everything) that you will have editing (that you didn’t pay for) cover design (that’s better, and you didn’t pay for) and whatever their “shitty marketing” is, is still going to be better than yours.

Those are the odds.

If you are a natural born writer and entrepreneur, you might be able to do better than them. If your best friend is a cover designer, you have a great advantage. If you are used to charging

And you are always, always, always against the odds of luck or fate or your own personal deity. Whichever your subscribe to. There are authors who did everything right, had the planet align, everything backing them, second, third, and fourth chances, and still failed.

Here’s the thing, the traditional publishers, they’re capitol investors. The publishers provide the resources and expertise to launch the endeavor, the authors provide the skill, talent, and content that make up the brand. Except business are way easier to invest in than books. You can look at a business plan, finances, assets, all that stuff, and it’s still difficult. A book is subjective.

There isn’t anything wrong with that. They’re providing a legitimate service. because it doesn’t cost you one red penny. It’s a perfectly legitimate service that offers huge rewards. They mold the talent, skill, and content into a final product that will sell, especially in genre fiction where authors are synonymous with a character, a universe, or style.

If they are doing anything shady, well, it just means they’re a corporation. Being an author for them is just like being an employee for another company. Sometimes you’re an executive making six or seven figures, sometimes you’re making minimum wage. The disparity is the same, it just feels more personal because it’s based on your creative output. That doesn’t make it fair, but life ain’t fair. I think my time is worth more than I make an hour. I’m not going to quite my job because it’s not “fair”.

All this to say, I’ve worked for a major corporation. It’s…eh. Pays the bills. It lets me do what I like to do, which is write. And hell if I want to work for a corporation to enable me to work for another corporation and get the same experience. Only this time, they control my story, my world, my characters.

I am making my last run through with editing now. I have a cover, which I’m pretty happy with, but no title as of yet. I have a few front runners, but am trying to find one that I really like and I think can also be a part of an overall series and brand.

I will keep updates coming as they happen.