Like most of you, lately I’ve been paying attention to all the hype on e-publishing versus traditional publishing. We’ve been getting the perspective of best-selling authors, like Eisler and Hocking. And sure, we can listen to their thoughts and advice.
But what does e-publishing mean for non-millionaire authors—which is what most of us are (including myself).
I recently got this comment, “For many writers, especially polished and seasoned writers, e-publishing is the best way to go . . . I can't honestly think of a good reason for a writer to NOT e-publish at the moment. Even if you have a print contract you should e-publish.”
The comment sums up what many people believe, that e-publishing is the becoming THE best publishing option, the way to make the most money. But is it really? Especially for average authors?
In light of all that’s happening in the publishing world, I asked my publisher for my sales figures. From what I could tell, the e-book version of The Preacher’s Bride seemed to be doing well.
When I got the numbers from my publisher, I was shocked to find out how low my e-book sales were compared to my print sales. My e-book sales comprise less than one percent of my overall sales so far.
LESS than ONE percent.
For an author with a wide-spread web presence, I had expected my e-book sales to have a larger share of my sales figures.
Sure, maybe I’d have more e-book sales if the price dropped from $9.68 to $2.99. But how much more? Is price really the determining factor for how well an e-book sells, or are there other factors that come into play?
Here are just a few things average writers should consider before taking the e-publishing plunge:
1. Who is the primary audience of your book? And are they buying e-readers and e-books?
I write inspirational historical romances. The majority of my readers are women in the 40-60 age range. In fact, I get handwritten notes from ladies who write in cursive, who don’t have email, who might not even have computers. They’d most certainly never be interested in the latest Kindle version of my book.
When we’re immersed in the writing industry and the blogosphere, we’re surrounded by fellow writers and industry professionals who all have the latest reading devices. But in reality, the large majority of readers still buy regular books.
If I’d only gone the e-publishing route, especially as a debut author, look at the 99 percent of my readership I would have missed. Of course times are changing. But I still don’t foresee middle-aged women and older shifting to Kindles any time soon.
The point? Know your audience. Are they online? Are they computer savvy? Do they like modern technology? Or do they prefer the tried-and-true?
2. How big is your established readership? And would they be willing and able to make the switch to e-books?
Can e-publishing be successful for “polished or seasoned” authors who already have a couple of books under their belt and have an established readership?
After I finish my current 3-book contract with my publisher, what if decide to head out on my own and try e-publishing instead of the traditional route? Since I already have a growing readership that loves my books, wouldn’t they be willing to follow me over into a new format?
Obviously most of my fans prefer paper books. In other words, paper readers and e-book readers are still very distinct among many demographic groups.
The point? We’ll likely lose a large percentage of our paper fans if we strictly e-publish. We’ll probably have to develop a new, different readership, similar to what happens when authors switch genres.
3. How much time, energy, and savvy can you devote to marketing?
If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or my blog, you’ll probably agree that I’m quite active and put a pretty high emphasis on developing an online platform. I’ve worked hard to develop a wide web presence.
With my online presence combined with all the time, energy, and savvy I’ve put into marketing my debut book, you can understand my surprise that my e-books statistics aren’t higher. Imagine what the sales could look like for a writer with a significantly smaller online platform.
We certainly can't turn our noses up at the fact that established publishing houses offer fiction authors (especially debut writers) their platform. They have many, many readers who trust their brand and the books they produce. Though we do all we can to grow our platforms, we can't discount the sales that come simply by being connected to a well reputed publisher.
The point? E-publishing millionaire Amanda Hocking summed it up: “The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn't writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me . . . . Just because I sell a million books self-publishing, it doesn't mean everybody will. In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books. ”
Your turn! Have you considered e-publishing? Do you think it’s been slightly glamorized with all of the recent hoopla? Or can it be a successful option for the average writer? Why or why not?
Come back Wednesday as I chat with James Scott Bell about his venture into e-publishing and his thoughts on how writers can know if their work is ready for e-publication.