On Ebooks, Realistic Expectations

A few weeks ago Barry Eisler walked away from $500,000 book deal (2 books) in favor of self-publishing his series in e-format.  You can read his interview with J.A. Konrath, an ardent supporter of e-books, here.

As a result of this interview, we’ve received a number of inquiries about when/if we’d be considering doing the same thing: walking away from out published contracts in favor of self-e-publishing.  The short answer is no.  The longer answer is below.  Electronic publishing in general and self-e-publishing in particular, just like print publishing, has its own rewards and risks, and in this post I’ll try to profile some of them.

Before we start, the world of publishing tends to be a bit confusing, so there are a few publishing terms on the sidebar.

Introduction

In the current reading environment, ebooks are a topic of hot debate.  People are very vocal about prices, DRM, formats, availability of certain titles on some platforms but not the others, and other related issues.  Some people are almost fanatically pro-ebooks; others reject them completely.  I am in neither camp.  I have no emotional stake in the success or failure of the e-format. I think it’s a convenient way to purchase fiction and I own several e-readers; however, for me it’s just a new way to get the content I want.

My husband and I are writers and writing fiction is our livelihood.  We also provide for two children and several pets.  Understandably, as a business woman, I am not inclined to gamble with my livelihood, so when I look at self-publishing e-books and compare them to traditional publishing, I tend to focus on both risks and benefits.  Here are some of them, as I see them.

Pre-publication.

A few months ago, my husband and I collected bits and pieces of companion scenes to our Kate Daniels series.  The scenes were simply blog posts, written from another character’s point of view.  We didn’t clean them.  We didn’t edit them that much.  They were fun fan service and people asked if they could have them all together, so we published the collection through Smashwords with a price tag of  $0.00.

Shortly after releasing Curran POV, Volume I, we began receiving emails asking us to put it on Amazon and BN.  People wanted the convenience of one-click delivery.  It took us a while to get the formatting right, and when the collection finally went up on Amazon and BN, I couldn’t figure out how to publish it free, so I slapped a price tag of $.99 on it.  My husband and I never imagined that anyone aside from regular readers of the blog would buy it.  The collection sold thousands of copies and while some reviews were glowing, many of them pointed out grammatical and punctuation mistakes and general lack of attention to the project.

The collection is now being updated, but I’ve learned a valuable lesson: never put out anything less than your best effort.  You pay for it with your reputation.

So, let’s take a look at how many people it takes to bring the book to publication through a traditional print publisher.  These are the acknowledgments for MAGIC SLAYS, the latest book in our Kate Daniels series.

We’d like to thank the following people for their help, patience, and expertise:

Anne Sowards, our editor – thank you for having faith in us, despite all evidence to the contrary;

Nancy Yost, our agent, for unwavering support and vicious fighting on our behalf;

Michelle Kasper, the production editor, and Andromeda Macri, the assistant production editor – thank you for transforming our manuscript into a book and for not psychically destroying us with your great mind powers because we missed deadlines,

Judith Murello Lagerman, the art director, Annette Fiore DeFex, the cover designer, and Chad Michael Ward, the artist, for creating a spectacular cover,

Amy J. Schneider, the copyeditor, for her mad copyediting skills;

thank you very much to Kat Sherbo, Anne’s editorial assistant,  – the emails do not lie, we actually are crazy;

and thank you to Rosanne Romanello, the publicist, for always promoting our work.

In an ideal situation, each of the people here, including our agent, acts as a quality control, dedicated to making sure the manuscript is turned into the best book it could possibly be.  The editor steers the story, so the readers would derive the most enjoyment from it; the copyeditor eliminates inconsistencies and grammatical issues; the production editor pulls everything together; the art department makes sure the cover is visually appealing; and the marketing – which isn’t listed here – looks at the entire package and attempts to make sure it’s marketable and then hand-sells it to retailer representatives.  The publicist then promotes the release.

The book you hold in your hand is the product of efforts of a dozen people, each of whom is trained for their job and has experience that the writer doesn’t.

If I choose to self-publish an e-book, I must then wear all of these hats.  Let’s take them one at a time.

Editor.

The first and the most devastating set-back is the absence of Anne Sowards.  Anne edits such names as Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, and Karen Chance.  She has a great deal of experience and her perspective is much wider than the perspective of an author.  Anne also doesn’t hesitate to tell an author no and to insist that something needs to be fixed.  This is harder than it seems.  Most authors are drama queens; and most of us do not react well to it.

If you would like to get a better idea of what Anne does for the books, click the “Editorial Comments” on the sidebar.

So right away Anne is out.  All those years of experience and working with bestsellers are out of the picture and are no longer on our side. The question becomes, how do we now keep up the quality of our work?   Our prose is not golden.  It needs help.

Think about being a freshman in college or high school: you’ve written the best paper in the world.  It’s brilliant and flawless.  Wouldn’t you have liked to show it to your senior self and have them point out all those spots that need to be fixed, saving you from looking like a complete idiot?

So far I haven’t found an easy answer to this problem. We have to either hire a substitute Anne or rely on beta readers.  Beta readers do a great job, but they are not a perfect substitute for a professional editor.

Copyeditor.

Then we come to the copyeditor.  Had Gordon and I employed a copyeditor before putting Curran POV Volume I out into the wild, we would have been much better off.  We’ve interviewed Deanna Hoak, one of the best copyeditors working in the field today.  Deanna specializes in fantasy and science fiction and has edited such names as Chinas  Miéville, Alan Dean Foster, Cherie Priest, John Scalzi, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  You can read the entire interview here.

According to Deanna, she typically copyedits at a rate of about 10 pages per hour.  An average manuscript page contains 250 words.  An average novel of 95,000 words contains 380 pages, or roughly 40 hours of work if everything goes well.  Deanna very kindly pointed out the Editorial Freelancers Association, which has the following things to say about the typical copyediting rates.

Type of Work Estimated Pace Range of Fees
Copyediting, basic 5–10 ms pgs/hr $30–40/hr
Copyediting, heavy 2–5 ms pgs/hr $40–50/hr

So, 40 hours of work for an average novel can cost me $1,600 out of pocket.  If the copyediting is heavy, which it can be in some cases, we double our hours to 80 and our pay to $50 per hour.  Estimated cost: $4,000.  In traditional publishing, print or electronic, the publisher eats this bill.  If we self-publish, I will be writing this check before the book makes any money.  Not only that, but I need to coordinate my schedule with the copyeditor’s schedule, and make sure that he has an opening in his schedule.  Of course, one could find a better deal, but if you want the best, these are the rates you have to pay.

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Comments

  1. wedschilde says

    Don’t give me a heartattack about losing Anne. Dear God, my heart stopped. I have to go hyperventilate into a paper bag now. I will continue reading. Dear Lord. I am dizzy.

    • wedschilde says

      This is a fantastic post. Great breakdown of the tiers and process. Dude, that was some work!

      • Ilona says

        Twenty minutes every day over a week-long period. It was worth it to stop misinformation and emails. :)

    • Kitara says

      I’m with weschilde on both counts. Nearly had a heart attack over the loosing Anne comment. And this was a fantastic post that explained and taught me a lot about publishing. Thank you for taking the time to write it, Ilona. :)

      • Kitara says

        *losing*

        Finals next week. Not completely thinking properly right now, but this was a nice break. Thanks again.

  2. Smeech says

    First, thanks for a very informative post about the behind the scenes of e-publishing. I had no idea.

    Second, the Alphas novel becoming a novella. Author Robin McKinley has released 2 different retellings of Beauty and the Beast. They are completely different stories with different settings and endings, yet use the same characters. So I see no reason Alphas can’t be released later as a full length novel if you are convinced you could make it work. (I felt sad when you wrote B novella vs grade A novel) Your fans devour your work. If you think you want a do-over, do it.

    • Marirra says

      I agree. I am very very much looking forward to the novella. But I would definitly buy a full length book of Alphas. The parts you gave us to read are sooo creepy, full of suspense and sound VERY promising. If snippets from a book, that I haven’t read yet, from a world that I know nothing of, make me hop up and down on my chair and bite my fingernails, it must be great.
      So, if the contract allows it and you feel like it/have some precious time to spare: Gimme the book!! ;)

    • Samantha R. says

      Eileen Wilks also turned a novella into the first novel in her World of the Lupi series. Same characters, similar plot, but it ends in a very different direction and springboards an amazing series.

    • Ilona says

      Hey Smeech, thank you so much. But you see, the novella now is almost 40,000 words long. That means only 60% of the new novel’s material would be original. Ace would put it out at $7.99 and I don’t know if I would feel right about that.

      • Marirra says

        Of course you may do what you’re most comfortable with. I would still buy the novella and the novel! Just saying … ;)

          • Pklagrange and Moose (AP) says

            I would definitely buy the full length novel at $7.99. That 40% contains new ideas, plot twists and hard work. Just speaking for myself, mind you, (and Moose)….

            • Dan B says

              I would also purchase it. Actually, I never buy any short stories at all, even novellas, no matter the author. I suppose it’s because I’m an unusually quick reader (it usually only takes me a couple hours to finish any given novel) and so I don’t care to read a story that I’ll finish in twenty minutes. But I would absolutely purchase it if you turned it into a full-length novel.

              • Natasha says

                Yes, I completely agree. I would think more people would buy the book rather than the novella (or buy both and be very happy!) I love the character development and the details that add so much color in the Kate Daniels and the Edge novels. When you are a fan, you take what you can get, and considering that so many of your fans reread the books that they already have while waiting for more (yes, me including), what a treat when you are rereading a familiar story you love and then all of a sudden getting new parts that add a whole new layer to a character, the plot or to the world, or completely change direction. Anyway, hoping that you will consider making it a novel you think the story should have been. And, also, I think you may underestimate us. No way would we forget when your next relase is, even if takes a year to get a new book (although, obviously, we hope it does not).

          • Claudia says

            Thanks for the candid writeup. And let me chime in with a resounding ‘me too’ — I would absolutely buy a full-length book about the Alphas. I’m sorry that you’re releasing a novella that you’re not entirely happy with, but that’s no reason to abandon this very rich trove of characters you’ve created.

            In fact, I’d love to see that be the start of a new series. I loved what I saw of that world in the snippets you shared and I’m eager to read so much more than 30,000 words. (Rest assured: I will also buy the anthology. I’m a big fan!)

      • says

        I would be much, much more likely to buy the novel than the novella. I do not willingly read romances–haven’t since I was about 20–and though I’ll suffer through the occasional romantic fantasy, I’ve been burned enough times by poorly-written stuff in anthologies (Dates from Hell comes to mind; I bought it because of two of the authors & found the other two unreadable) that I am very, very reluctant to buy them anymore.

        I strongly suspect the reader base for UF is, if not broader in make-up, at least of a slightly different composition.
        Sabra recently posted..On being green

      • Pam says

        I’m just speechless. Please, don’t worry about us spending $7.99 for a retelling of the Alpha novella. You can write as much as you want about those weird, twisted Alphas – I’ll buy it and so will all the other people who love your work.

        By the way, I bought both of Robin McKinley’s Beauty books. They were both amazing.

  3. dameolga says

    I’m really glad that you’ve shared your take on e-publishing and that I just get more information on this subject in general. I’ve been hearing a lot about electronic self publishing recently, especially since Barry Eisler declined the offer of half a million dollars to self e-publish, but my news sources doesn’t go into as much detail into the process, so thank you!

    I have to say though, that I find the subject of author’s control over cover art to be very interesting. I usually prefer cover arts that closely follow the details of the story. While the author who self-publish may not be a professional artist, that author would have control of the cover art. I’ve heard that traditionally published authors usually don’t have direct input with their cover artists. I wonder sometimes the value of a greater input by the authors. Of course, I’m not saying that creating an artistically marketable cover art is not also important. I know that most people and I personally judge a book by it’s cover, and a professional would better know what would draw a consumer’s eye.
    ps. ditto with what Smeech says on Alphas

    • Ilona says

      “I usually prefer cover arts that closely follow the details of the story. While the author who self-publish may not be a professional artist, that author would have control of the cover art.”

      And that’s why that author should hire a cover artist. :) You can get a great cover for about $300. But the problem is, a lot of people can afford it but won’t do it, because they are stuck on a very specific vision of their book.

    • Sarafina says

      Covers are a black hole. I follow Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, who doesn’t wear a hat. And yet on almost every book, Harry is shown wearing a hat. On JB’s website, there is always a thread or two discussing the cover before the book comes out (what is being foreshadowed) followed by threads after the book discussing how misleading the cover is.

      This is a great post. Very imformative. Just keep writing, Ilona and Gordon!!

      • says

        Good point on that! Also, the gal on the cover of Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom novels seems to have much longer hair than she does in the books, which for some reason I find jarring.

  4. Merrian says

    Thanks for this insight into what it takes to make your books work hard for you and work out for your readers. I hope to one day see an Alphas novel.

  5. says

    Thank you. I don’t have an e-reader. Right now, I really don’t want an e-reader. The thought of losing Kate & Co and the Edge world and all your wonderful words to the e-pub-only scene…well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. *g*

  6. Jess says

    WOW mammoth post Ilona :) thankyou for taking the time to write it all out for us (it must of taken you hours) – now get back to writing :P – in all seriousness though – thankyou for being so frank and honest :)

    JP – you can read ebooks on your PC or laptop – just use PDF file for Adobe or you can download microsoft reader for free and read LIT files.

    I dont own an ereader but I read many many many ebooks a year.

    • Natalie L. says

      Not everyone can read book-length works on a computer screen, so while that may work for you, it definitely doesn’t work for everyone.

      • Jess says

        Hi Natalie,

        In that case I would recommend at least trying Microsoft Reader.

        When you open the ebook the computer screen has a large black background all around the edges and a paperback sized white page with the story. MSR Lit files tend to have more pages then a PDF but their individual pages are smaller. (picture having a completely black computer screen and then holding a copy of Magic Bleeds in the centre of your screen, that will give you an idea of sizes)

        Microsoft did extensive testing on what caused the least eye strain. The black border which surrounds the pages stops glare and I can read for hours without any issues.

        PDFs can give me headaches if I read them for over 5-6 hrs. (I read alot) LOL

        I cannot remember what Kindle looks like on my PC – i did read a new release that way awhile back.

  7. Erin says

    Outstanding post. I do some free-lance copy editing, but I hadn’t given much thought to the number of other jobs involved in the process of publication. I have a few author friends that have gone the e-reader route and love it, and some that avoid it like the plague. I’m with you, though; I’ll straddle the middle line for a while longer before I start being the cheerleader for one side or the other.

  8. says

    Fantastic post! I’ve heard that it’s not unusual for an unknown e-book author to sell <10 copies a month for the first 3 months. My experience so far seems to be reflecting that.

  9. says

    Thanks so much for the post! It’s nice to see such a detailed post from someone “in the business.”

    I’ve toyed with the idea of an e-book, but I’ll probably try my hand at the traditional route first, if I ever get this thing done. If that doesn’t pan out, well, Amazon takes everything. ;)

  10. wont says

    Very interesting and in depth. I am right behind wedschilde on the near heart attack on not having Anne. Holy crap!

    Also, I think your covers equal any I’ve seen done by ahem…”professionals.” And I’ve wanted to say this for a while, your lions rock. I’ve never given lions a second thought before Curran. Now I notice every single one. The cover of the POVs, OMG. Sensual beyond belief. The one at the top of one of your site pages that is sort of lounging and looking directly at you. Eeeek! I feel almost kinky when I look back at him. The winter scene with the snowball!! Beyond awesome.

    I fully understand your reasoning on your choices for publishing your books, but, I wish you could create your own covers. Yours are the best.

    • Ilona says

      I fixed the Anne line. :P

      I am glad you like the lions. It’s really hard to get the right lion pictures – some of them look really ratty and some of them are very Simba-like.

  11. says

    As someone who is very new to the writing business this post has been incredibly helpful and I can’t thank you enough for it. I’m close to finishing my book and I am thinking about all the publishing options available. The ebook option has seemed very attractive to me and I may still go with that route but now I have great detail about what I will need to think about and accomplish if I do.

    I started reading your blog because I was a huge fan. I never realized that it would help me in my professional world, as well. You rock.
    Julia Stephens recently posted..Characters are so surprising

    • Ilona says

      Hey Julia,

      I’m glad to be helpful. Right now it’s a very exciting time in publishing, and I just wanted to underscore that you have options: you can self-publish, you can go traditional print New York route, you can go to e-publishers, such as Samhain and Carina, you can shop your manuscript to an agent – I’d recommend trying this one out, because an agent will give you an idea of where your manuscript is ready-wise. If you get an offer of representation, you are golden and if not, sometimes you get a detailed explanation of why.

      • says

        That’s excellent advice. I have started my agents list and I think I will send out queries. I’m both excited by and dreading the prospect of hearing back from the agents. On the one hand, I can fix it. On the other, criticism is scary. I need to develop a tough skin and persevere. No one said writing is easy. If they did, they were lying. :)

        On the .99 book topic, I know that’s how Amanda Hocking got started but I agree that it undervalues the book. It’s interesting because I won’t download an ebook just because it’s free. I will only buy an ebook if it’s listed for $2.99 or above but I can’t tell you why the $2.99 is my magic number. I’m sure there is loads of marketing research still to be done on that.
        Julia Stephens recently posted..Characters are so surprising

  12. dana says

    Thanks for taking the time to write this article, it explained the format differences and the choices an author has to make very clearly. This generation of readers and most probably the next generation, will start choosing the ebook format automatically and rarely the hard copy or paperback, but there are still old dinosaurs like me like me who download the ebook at the stoke of midnight on release day, and if we like it, go out and buy the book. So you are double dipping :-) dana (who desperately needs an editor for both grammar and clarity)

  13. Anaquana says

    Thank you for this post. I get asked all the time why I’m torturing myself by rewriting my novel for my agent instead of self-publishing what I have. Now I can just point people to this post as an answer. :D

    Also, I am so very glad you have no intention of going the self-pubbed e-book route with the Kate and Edge series. I was literally in tears when Jill Myles broke the news that her Succubus series hadn’t been picked up again, but she’d still be putting them out as e-books. I’m on the computer so much as it is that I don’t want my “leisure reading” to be done on a computer and I can’t justify the expense of a quality e-reader.

    • Pam says

      I bought a cheap one from Big Lots, and I really like it. It does best with Epub. I buy books from Amazon, convert them to Epub, and upload them to my ereader. I get free books from the Gutenberg project, also. I love that it has expanded the pool of books accessible to me, as I do love to read. I particularly like trying out the free chapters of books from Amazon, and trying out new authors with their $2.99 books.

  14. says

    Great, great post. Said much of the things I’ve thought and said in comments to self-publishing bandwagon folk. It’s not the easy road so many new writers think it is compared to standard publishing. It’s still just as hard. And to do it well, an investment of more time and especially money, that most don’t have.

    That said, all of these standards may not mean a lot if readers continue to buy 99 cent ebooks regardless of quality. I really hate the dollar book. Not only does it devalue the story, but it lowers reader expectations. The whole “so what if it sucked, it was only a buck” mentality that goes along with this dollarstore book buying drives me nuts. Expectations on cheap impulse buys are not terribly high. Maybe I’m being pigheaded about it, but this “who cares what it’s priced at if it’s making you money” really irks me. It’s a bad trend for publishing and I honestly don’t see how that it will turn around.

    • Ilona says

      I agree with you on the $.99 cent novel – it devaluates the work, in my opinion, but this is a free market place and if the author feels comfortable with that price, that’s the way it is.

      There is some really interesting market research in regard to Netflix and content-on-demand that indicates that people value variety. When a person sits down before their TV, they are in the mood for visual entertainment and if the show they wanted isn’t available, they will typically find something else.

      The same thing is happening with the ebooks. If we don’t provide content, someone else will. That said, people tend to value things if they pay higher price for them.

      I honestly think the trick here is to provide the variety. For example, a 5K short should probably be priced at $.99. It’s a quick coffee read. A novella should go up in price a little, and I would be reluctant to charge less than $4.99 for a novel, unless it’s a limited promotion. But if an author provides several releases, some at ninety-nine cents, some a five bucks, it’s hard to go wrong.

      • Susan says

        I think Carina is doing this. If the story is short, the price tends to reflect that; if it’s longer, the price is higher. I also like that authors aren’t being held to a set number of pages (or the electronic equivalent) in telling their stories.

      • Nicole says

        for me I value ebooks by length, every ten thousand words is worth another buck. If a book is less than 50K and priced at 6.99 I am offended. If a book is greater yhan 40k words and priced at a $1 I question it’s quality and generally approach with a “you get what you pay for mentality. I think this comes from the fact that I read a lot of great fanfiction with high word counts and I expect anything I actually pay for by an unestablished author to match that in both quality and quantity.

        “Traditional publishing does have built in quality controls, as I’ve pointed out. Self-publishing doesn’t.”
        Currently I buy a lot of Romance novels from Omnilit, this is a struggle. I have been disappointed and angry with more than one novel for its complete lack of editing, or generally craptactular plot, and lack of direction. It is sooo frustrating b/c when purchasing an ebook you generally have no idea what you’re getting. And the 5 star rating system is completely useless. Spell check does not a good editor make.
        In a nice bookstore, I can pick up a new author (based on the marvelous cover) read a few chapters and see if it is worth my money. (Many book don’t live up to the cover art) One more reason the fall of Borders has been a big hit to me personally. With ebooks that option is not available to me and I end up perservering through a lot of frustating crap simply because I paid for it. Honestly, I’ve bought some ebooks that I still can’t believe were published based on the amount of grammar and syntax failure alone. There are no quality controls with e publishing, and if a book sucks I can’t complain and get my money back.
        All this combined with the fact that I generally like a physical book im my hand amounts to one truth: I prefer traditionally published books from writers good enough to make it, and will generally buy my favorites in whatever format available at whatever price.

  15. Smeech says

    I would love it if you two could do your own cover art. Your website is always gorgeous and that snowball throwing one was hilarious. What’s the worst your publisher could say? No, we’re not using your proposed cover. Stick to writing. But if they like it and say yes, your fans will rejoice.

    And as for an Alphas novel only being 60% new material once the novella is published so you’re not sure about charging $7.99 for it, the fans would pay. If you announced tomorrow you felt like Magic Bleeds should have another new 60% (where we see your characters hanging out after the end of the novel, and more stuff before Magic Slays), the fans would jump up and down and run to the store. Or downloand the e-file, whichever.

    So I think an Alphas novel would be worth the money. I mean, this whole Alphas thing started because you made some random blog posts at random times set in a new world. And then the fans demanded more. And then your publisher took notice.

  16. Sal says

    I am usually a lurker and rarely comment, but I am a big e-book reader. One of my favourite things about e-books is the price. Before I had my iPad, I bought Briggs new hardback for $30 Canadian. I live in Canada(obviously), but have created an American iBooks account, so get all my books at US prices now. The latest book in e-format from Briggs cost just $10.99 and I believe that the author would have received just as much money in both cases.

    On a good note for authors, I actually find that I buy more books now than I did before. Although my library does lend e-books, the selection is not there yet (although Jeaniene Frosts latest book was), so instead of borrowing books, I buy them. I like to read good books over again, but my preference is to read them on my iPad – I don’t sleep for long and as I do most of my reading in bed, I find my iPad much more comfortable for night reading and find that it disturbs my husband less-so I have bought a number of books by my favourite authors, such as yourselves, twice now.

    I think there will always be a place for real books, but I think that they will be like vinyl records eventually, where a steadfast group enjoy the fuller sound, that those of us who love the convinience of downloading quickly and easily from iTunes can do without. It is sad really, but the world is changing, just look at Blockbusters!

    I think until more people make the switch, you would be daft to give up all your publishing support, but there is nothing stopping you publishing more un-contracted e-books…more Curran POV’s please, which are well worth the money!

    Anyway, back to lurking!

    • Ilona says

      Hey Sal,

      I think you are right in that print books will be more of a treasured luxury item eventually. Our kids have no trouble reading on e-readers and when they want a book, they bring me the Kindle. We just realized that none of the Harry Potter books are available in e-format and we had to drive to the store, heh.

      The price point of ebooks is very attractive. And there are e-only publisher such as Samhain, who put out quality content at very reasonable prices. That’s not quite the same as self-publishing, though. Samhain will proofread, edit, make covers and so on.

      • Vinity says

        I DO have a lot of printed book content that I treasure. I honestly never thought I’d get into ebooks but I realized in the last year I’ve drifted into way more ebook content {or audio} than dead tree. It’s so EASY and you can take all your books with you all the time and not weigh a ton. And you can get the next book in a series at 3 am when you finish the last one. That said, I do have library shelves that I love and I LOVE author signed editions. I will be sad to see Dead Tree books become rare. But I have found myself buying a dead tree to put on my shelves and getting the e-version for reading cause, OMG a 1000 page HB novel is HEAVY and cumbersome and honestly even a paperback is awkward to handle!

      • Sal says

        We are the opposite in my house. My daughter prefers real books, although I think that may be because my daughter’s teacher is very anti-ebook…and of course her teacher knows way more than me!

        My daughter listens to a lot of ebooks too, something that wasn’t really available when we were young. It will certainly be interesting to see the reading habits of this generation as they reach adulthood.

        I would read anything you and the rest of my favourite authors publish, through whichever publisher and in whichever format – even though I find your love of brussel sprouts a little disturbing.

        On a side note, I have read most of Amanda Hocking’s books and you are right in that they certainly have a far less polished feel to them than books such as yours. I wonder if she will be as successful when ‘properly’ published.

        • Ilona says

          I think that Amanda will do great. She obviously has a story-telling ability that really appeals to many people and the professional editor and copy-editor will make her work even better.

          • Sal says

            I’m sure you’re right…and to be honest I hope so. It is always great to see somebody succeed at something they love to do and I obviously liked her writing and stories enough to buy 3 of her books. The good thing about self published readers is the short wait between releases in a series. I don’t have to spend all my time waiting for May every year! Thanks for the replies…kind of feel like it’s my lucky day.

  17. says

    Great post Illona! Writers/authors are in a tizzy over self-pubbing. It’s hard to not get emotional over some of the stories and approach the option from a more balanced perspective, as you’ve done here.

    Thank you for spending so much time fleshing out your thoughts on the matter. I’m lucky that I get glimpses of what traditional pubbing is like, but my thoughts on the matter wont be fully appreciative of the other side of the coin. For someone who has been there and done it and then talked about it — very cool! Thanks for laying it out ;)

  18. kathy says

    Thank you for a great, informative, post (and for the interviews – loved those too). I think a lot of readers (and aspiring writers) forget or don’t realize how much goes into publishing a book.

  19. Vinity says

    Super post. Thank you for the fascinating look behind the scenes. Sadly it won’t stop the emails or comments bitching at you, hopefully it will reduce them and you have a great reply, just copy and paste this post :). SOME Readers are going to always bitch and as a rule, readers will always want it like they want it, no matter if it’s unreasonable.

    I read a post from a fairly pissed off Amanda Palmer last night on a similar theme. She, Neil Gaiman are getting together with 2 other friends closing themselves in a recording studio for 8 hours and producing an album, complete in 8 hours. Apparently the interwebs are aflutter that this is evil-reality-TV-version of producing music and will end the professional music making world producing sloppy quick albums with no quality control. Her responds was, we are doing it for fun, offering it for FREE {unless you want to donate} if you don’t like it, DON’T listen. She was astounded people would rather 4 creative people get together to spend 8 hours eating thai than making something creative.

    Anyway, great post :) and I am really looking forward to Alphas, and I’d be willing to buy it for extra content twice.

  20. says

    I am always suprised at the way you share your financial info with us and very amazed at every little hand that gets a piece of the pie..er.. book. Before I started reading your blog I thought, author writes and then sells book, editor cleans up, book gets published, author gets paid. This is a great post. :D
    Colleen recently posted..Updates

  21. Louise says

    Wonderfully thorough! Thanks for the information. Kat Richardson did a similar blog. It’s really useful to have the author’s point of view on such a widely-debated topic explained for the layman. Yet again, you guys rock!

  22. says

    Selfpublishing is a hell of a lot of work. You can find a lot of freedom, but unless I can afford to pay somebody to handle the hassles that my publisher how handles? Edits (and that means FINDING the editor, paying, etc, etc), cover art (same thing), marketing, etc, etc…. there’s no way I’d even think of leaving traditional behind for self publishing.

    I like the freedom I have to do it on occasion, but that’s it. Full time, it’s too much work. I’ll have other people do that work for me. O.o
    Shiloh Walker recently posted..Speaking out for victims of rape

  23. Marsha says

    Great information. I am looking at retirement in the near future (less than three years) and would love to polish up my writing as something I might do at that time. Thank you so much for the insight.

  24. kyatty2007 says

    Excellent blog post! I really think there are writers who aren’t published who do NOT weigh all this information, or even consider a fraction of it, and automatically go the self-pub route. I’m not a writer, but have friends who are and I’ve had very similar conversations with them. I am, however, hoping to become an agent one day, so while I’m not a writer and don’t need to evaluate the pros/cons of the route, I do tire of hearing that agents won’t be around in a few years. Yes, things are changing and ebooks will be the most prevalent form of book. However, as you pointed out, there are so many things a good agent and a good editor can do, whether book is in eformat or print.

  25. says

    Great post! The step-by-step breakdown of everything that’s involved in the self-publishing process is very helpful. I, for one, am glad that you are bringing more content out in self-published e-book form — but as you noted, you already have an audience. I think a lot of aspiring authors have some unrealistic expectations about what will and will not happen when they self-publish.

    I think the ebook is creating new and exciting opportunities for fiction, and I’m glad to see more independent and niche publishers do ebook-driven business. I think, in the end, it will mean more books, and a greater variety of them.

  26. Jo O says

    I’m not a writer and never will be but I found this post fascinating – thank you.

    I read a mixture of e-books and paper books, as I live in the UK I have the geographical restriction problem with the big 6 publishers for ebooks (I can usually get hold of a paper copy through Amazon or Book Depository) but I never even read the blurbs of self-published books, unless it is by a known to me author like yourselves or Amazon slip me one in their various recommended/you might like lists. I simply don’t trust the quality. Although it sometimes seems that some traditionally published books have never had the benefit of a good editor and/or copyeditor!

  27. says

    I think a lot of people going into this have inflated expectations. From what I’ve seen, you either need to be a name brand bestseller or have a LOT of books up.

    I put out one of my old Telep stories — a story that had great reviews from all the major review outlets and was part of my ongoing series with Harper. A lot of readers said reading the story made them interested in my series. It seemed like an excellent candidate.

    Because it had already been edited, I didn’t need to worry about those sunk costs. I made my own cover, based on the branding of the rest of the series. I put it up 3 weeks ago on Amazon/Nook/Smashwords. And yes, it’s selling, but not thousands of copies. I can buy dinner on my royalties. I’m not about to leave my publisher over them, and I’m hesitant to write anything original and digitally self pub, either.
    Diana Peterfreund recently posted..Exciting Ebooks on Earth Day

  28. Denise says

    I have been buying your books since the first of the Kate Daniels series… I will buy anything you write, pretty much. (if you decided to write flat-out horror, I would probably pass, as my over-active imagination gets enough of a workout with regular fantasy/urban fantasy stuff…)

    I would have no problem buying the anthology and then paying $7.99 for an Alphas novel expanded from the novella. in fact, I would jump on that like nobody’s business… *bats eyelashes* please?

  29. HappyReader says

    Thanks for taking so much time to educate us – it was so interesting. I will no longer be one of those moaning that I can’t find a book in e-book format. I didn’t appreciate what an involved and expensive process it is to be published, whatever the format.
    I’m partial these days to e-books because of the space savings but there are a lot of books just plain aren’t available in e-book format so I can’t give them up completely.

  30. says

    Thanks for writing this. I have been following the whole debate very closely, because the Kindle is really the only way I read anymore, due to arthritis.
    I, personally, have been very frustrated at the pricing of e books over the last year. While I do not think that .99 is a good idea either, I can not in good sense pay $14.99 for an e book. Also, I really want to support my favorite writers, and know that the royalty percentages are not what is jacking the prices up.
    So I have been buying more self pubbed e books, and was surprised at how many were really good.
    And when I come across one I like, the price of $2.99 to $6.99 makes the impulse purchase of all their available titles much easier to justify. That, I think, is what JA Konrath is talking about when he says that the long haul with e books can be really long.
    Anyway, thanks so much for writing this.
    Tracy Lynn recently posted..Don’t Blame Me- It’s Motherfucking Poetry Month- Dudes

  31. Serena says

    What an interesting post. I agree with several of your points. That being said, if you ever go in self-publishing world in an alternate universe, I’m certain I would loyally follow – even if one of your books sucked. I guess that’s what comes out of a loyal fan base.

    Another thing to consider – if I buy a self-published novel compared to traditionally-published book, my expectations are a lot lower with the self-published book because I have trust in a publishing house because of previous experiences, and I know next to nothing about the self-published author who has zero support of a publishing house behind them. Somehow I have this (sometimes untrue) rational that traditionally-published books are certain level since they have an editor, an agent, and so on. There are exceptions, of course, like Amanda Hocking who’s simply fabulous. Not to mention traditionally-published books that, well, sucked. DNF

  32. says

    You’re right: e-books are the future. But we’re not there yet. I just self-published to Kindle and Nook, but also used LSI to distribute paperbacks to major retailers, making my book available however anyone wants it. Only 5% of adults use an e-reader (last I checked). It’s unwise to exclude the rest of the reading market at this time.

    Thank you for encouraging self-publishers to think twice about taking the plunge. The only reason I pulled it off and took the dive is because I’m a graphic designer and now some tricks of the trade. Your price estimates are pretty accurate: graphic design is not a cheap service, but it’s so important, and best to be heeded, not ignored.

    Before I got serious about publishing, I gave the book to other people. My bovine feces meter was set to high, and I went into pessimistic-mode, assuming everyone would hate it–I was ready to store it on my server as a “practice run.” But they all really liked the book and encouraged me to push on. I also used an editor, who took a broad look at the work. Then I had several people look through the book for mistakes so it could be the best. In essence, I wanted to make sure my book didn’t appear self-published! So to anyone thinking about doing it yourself, be preprepared for A LOT of work.

    Your article was well-thought and executed, and a good read in general, though I disagree with you on a couple of points:

    Quality control. A lot of traditionally published novels are trash–it’s a wonder they get through the gates. I’m not talking about books that just aren’t my cup of coffee with creamer. I’m talking about rehashed or recycled ideas, poor character development, and weak plot lines that are littered throughout the published novel world. Yes, because everyone and their dog can now self-e-publish, the market will be flooded with drivel, but it’s not like there wasn’t published drivel before. E-published nonsense will be filtered through and forgotten by the market, just like published nonsense. Word of mouth (the best way to market any book) will weed out the coal from the diamonds. It always does.

    Rights. I looked at a publishing contract because I had a firm ready to publish my novel. That contract scarred the poo out of me. Whether it was common or not, I wasn’t willing to give up so many of my rights for a small percentage of my own work. If I was going to go forward with the contract, I would’ve hired a intellectual property lawyer, because man oh man, some of those clauses are frightening! So there’s a cost for traditional publishing.

    Time. Yep, e-publishing takes some time. You have to figure out how to format the books correctly, and each platform has a different set of rules. Because I already knew the software, it took me a day not weeks/months to figure out the right way to format for Kindle and Nook. Even still, how long does it take to publish a novel traditionally? I’m talking from the time you’ve finished your book to getting an agent, the agent finding a publisher, and the editing process? How much time goes into all the rejections along the way? You and your husband got lucky, you made it through the gates. But a lot of people think they’re writers, even if they haven’t got an iota of talent or skill (like all those people who audition for American Idol). So they’re flooding the publishing world with their, shall I use the word again?, drivel. Most publishers and literary agents simply don’t have the time to go through all that crap to find the goods. Many good novels get tossed with the garbage. The legendary Potter series got axed 12 times before someone gave it a chance. How many good books get the boot?

    Traditional publishing or e-publishing, it ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is what’s being published. A good book will sell regardless of how it’s published, it just takes time, patience, and diligence. A bad book will waste away on the shelves or on a server because of bad reviews and a poor reputation. The market is the ultimate decider of fates. And since books are spread via word-of-mouth marketing anyway, how is a publisher going to give a new, unknown author a better chance than if that new author went out on her own? Why would a traditional publisher take the financial risk on an unknown author?

    What Amanda Hocking did was test the waters, whether that’s what she meant to do or not. She proved she could sell her books. The hard work was done, and now that she’s proven herself, she signed a big deal. Had she gone the other way around, would she have been as successful?

    • Ilona says

      Hey Courtney,

      As I pointed out, the traditional publishing process does break down. :) That’s why I mention that in “ideal” situation everything comes together perfectly.

      Your view of many published novels as unsatisfactory is a completely normal view for a writer. That’s one of the driving forces behind writing – dissatisfaction with what’s available.

      Now to address your points:

      Quality Control: when you self-publish, everything is your fault. In fact if you are an author, everything is your fault, period, but we won’t go into that. It is a mistake for anyone to think that they can wear every single hat, and that’s one of the main points of this post.

      Traditional print and e-books are published by a publisher because someone somewhere looked at them and said, “We love it and it can make money.” The same process doesn’t happen with self releases.

      Rights – never sign a publishing contract without an agent. That’s a simple fact. They will cut through the legalese and most agented contracts go back and forth more than once before the writer actually sees them.

      Time – The trick with time is to keep writing the next thing while the first is making the rounds.

      As an aside, I take a huge exception to being viewed as lucky. I got where I got not because the stars aligned, but because I stuck with it. If you don’t believe me, click the About link on the top menu.

      Rejections are hard and the breaking through process is hard. And an author can take the easier route and self-e-publish. Nobody forces anyone to stick to their guns and battle for acceptance with e-publishers or with New York houses.

      You seem to have a chip on your shoulder in regard to traditional publishing and you seem to really want to argue with me, but you are arguing with a point I didn’t make. I never said “Don’t self-publish.” I said, “Have a plan of action.”

      All I am saying is: here are the facts. Here is what you may want to do, here is how much it costs, here is how much you could earn.

      It’s not an emotional issue for me. It’s strictly business. It has to be business, because if an author takes every rejection or setback personally, this industry will grind her to dust.

      • Dan B says

        I’m curious as to the rights aspect, Ilona, if you don’t mind me asking (I’m a law student and this is more interesting than returning to studying for finals, which is what I should be doing).

        You mentioned using an agent; am I to understand that they fulfill the role of a lawyer in the publishing business, at least on behalf of the author? That is, I suppose what I’m interested in is whether or not an agent takes it upon himself to negotiate/alter the contract on his own, or if an author additionally would use the services of an attorney, or if instead the agent retains the services of an attorney in their own work negotiating.

        I looked up some sample contracts and, while they have probably gotten a little more complicated thanks to the inclusions of e-formats, they don’t seem too complicated (legally speaking). Moreover, the parts you could actually negotiate about, like compensation and retention of rights, are the least “legal” parts. I can’t imagine an author ever getting a publisher to change, say, their warranty provisions, or their choice of law provisions, or whatever. So it would make sense to me if the industry standard was for agents to handle alterations themselves, with limited legal input.

        But I’m additionally curious as to how that is covered in the contact between an agent and a writer. I mean, if you hire an attorney to work on a contract and the attorney screws something up seriously, well, that’s a malpractice issue. But I’m not sure how that would be handled if the same scenario involved not an attorney, but an agent.

        • Ilona says

          Hi Dan,

          This is a long and involved question, but I’m a bit short on time, so I will try to keep it somewhat brief. After looking at a couple of publishing contracts you pretty much get the basic idea of what is spelled out. You are right, they are not uber complex.

          An agent acts as an author representative. Before the contract is written, there is usually a deal in place, which the agent brings to the author. A typical deal will say what is bought: how many books, which rights, for what period of time, the amount of advance, and so on. The meat and potatoes. Then, if the author agrees, the agent scrutinizes the contract itself. No money changes hands, until the contract is signed.

          Things that agents typically flag are lower percentages than industry norm, let’s say 6% royalty on mass market, when the industry’s standard is 8%. The more successful you are, the more weight you can through around, so if you ever reach a giant BNA status, the agent will haggle over higher percentages.

          Rights: domestic or foreign, media included or excluded and so on. Any attempt at extreme rights grab should be eradicated.

          Bonuses: performance bonus, if applicable, how is it calculated and so on.

          Option Clause: this is a nasty beast that can take many forms. It may say that the publisher has the right of first refusal on the next work in the series it’s buying. Or it might say next work in the genre. Or next work of fiction. A good agent will strive to minimize it.

          Some contracts have crazy things in them like specifying that an author can’t publish under the chosen pseudonym with another publisher for X period of years.

          As to liability, we had an agent who let us sign a contract we probably shouldn’t have. We fired that agent. I haven’t heard of agents being sued by clients. If you are interested in more information, I can throw out some agents with a solid presence on the web who may or may not choose to give you more details. :)

          • Dan B says

            Thank you for your response; I would hardly call it too brief. You’re not obligated to respond to me or to operate this blog at all – the only thing I pay you to do (indirectly) is write! I, and I think most everyone else here, appreciate greatly the lengths to which you go to engage with readers (and non-readers too I suppose).

            It sounds like an experienced agent shouldn’t really have any problem handling the contracts, given they don’t deviate that much. I wonder if, as money becomes less of a pressing concern, attorneys (always expensive) get more involved. I mean, for someone like, I don’t know, Steven King, who has tons of money, but whose contracts are also likely more complex, it might make more sense. Just idle musing.

            I would certainly be interested in more information. The liability issue in particular is intriguing; I might speak to some agency professors and see what I can find out.

            I’d talk to anyone you pointed me at. If they’re too busy to talk to me I surely haven’t lost anything. Most people are also usually willing to answer a few questions, particularly when you don’t have an agenda, but are merely curious. Do you need my e-mail or something (I am continually sensitive to disclosure of information on a public forum)?

      • says

        Ilona,
        Don’t mean to argue with you at all. I like how you laid out, plain and simple, the pros and cons and how much work actually goes into a book, self-published or not. No arguments there. A book is a lot of work.

        As a writer I do see books differently, never thought of that. Another good point.

        When I say you’re lucky to making it through the publishing gates, I’m not trying to say you didn’t work at it. I know it’s a long, hard process (one I wasn’t willing to wade through) and anyone who breaks in has worked tremendously hard to get there. I’ve read many tales of authors being rejected, keeping at it, and finally being accepted by an agent and then a publisher.

        That being said (perhaps this is where you sense the argument), there’s a certain romantic notion to being accepted the traditional route, because it’s so hard to do, and most writers never get there. Being a “published author” comes with a certain glory, a gold star. And there’s a stigma attached to self-publishing because no one picked up the dusty manuscript and said “this is brilliant” but instead the author, who has a bias towards his or her own work, decided not to take the hard path, but to do it by themselves. If you sensed a chip on my shoulder, it’s nothing towards a published author or all their hard work, nor the team at the publishing house working toward a better book, but that stigma. All authors think their book is wonderful, that’s only natural. Whether it is or not is up for the market to decide. The problem with the publisher is that they don’t have the man power to handle all the submissions coming through, so even good books get rejected. That’s no one’s fault. It was a point I thought was worth making, that’s all.
        Courtney recently posted..Site Under Tweaking

    • Gordon says

      I would agree that we were lucky to have Anne as our editor, but when I think back to being a poor young couple with two small children living in the mountains of Appalachia and freaking out over losing a fifty dollar check, maybe not so much. We got a ton of rejection letters and both of us worked full-time for years before we were able to make a living from the books.

      I think it is fantastic that Amanda was successful and is now able to support her family with writing. Ilona and I do not begrudge any other his or her success, nor would we casually refer to another author’s work as trash or drivel. They worked hard on it and it is not our place to judge them. If you book takes off, and I hope it does, you will most likely find that successful authors live in a very small neighborhood made of glass houses and stone throwing is highly frowned upon. There is no reason to be disrespectful of others’ efforts.

      • Ilona says

        Very true. I may not like a book, but no matter whether it was traditionally or self-published, the person who made it worked hard on it. I may not view what they have written as great, but I strive to always be respectful of the effort they put into it.

        That said, I will admit if something is awful.

      • says

        Gordon,
        Not sure if this was a reply to me or not… I think it was, so I’ll respond. If not, well, hi there!

        I have a tendency to be filterless. This is a good news bad news kind of thing, but there you have it. It’s wonderful that anyone is able to support themselves by doing what they love, regardless of what it is. I haven’t named, nor would I even imagine naming, someone who I thought wrote poorly. What I think is bad maybe someone else’s treasure (and therefore insulting the writer is insulting the fan). But sometimes there is awful stuff out there and I scratch my head, mystified that it made it through. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m not going to throw stones at any author. I just don’t think everything published is worthy of the same praise. I guess some of the awful stories make the good ones even better…
        Courtney recently posted..Site Under Tweaking

        • Jess says

          Hi Courtney,

          In Stephen Kings memoir “On Writing” he wrote that he had a defining moment when he read a sci-fi book and realised that his work was better. His ‘moment’ was the realisation that if this author could get published then so could he. Mr King then went on to say – read………read alot……and read both good and BAD books LOL

          In regards to publishing industry.

          While I can understand your disillusionment with getting into print. I believe that it is necessary to sit down and think what do you want as a writer.

          Do you want to just earn enough to live on? Or do you have a family to support? Do you want to be a full time author??? Do you want to see your book in hardback one day??? or the golden crown NYT #1 Bestseller?

          I hope your book takes off and it grows fast and make a motza. But realistically it will most likely take you a few years (people who self publish need fairly frequent releases for self promotion and to keep fans happy) after you build your fanbase most likely you will end up needing an agent and a publisher.

          Self publishing can only take you so high – I hope you one day get to the point where fans are requesting your books in print and you have to start worrying about foreign rights and movie deals – reach for the stars :)

          You said:

          there’s a certain romantic notion to being accepted the traditional route, because it’s so hard to do, and most writers never get there. Being a “published author” comes with a certain glory, a gold star.

          – I think you do have a chip on your shoulder when it comes to the industry but I dont know if the industry has done anything to YOU to deserve that chip. I dont know enough about your history, did you try for years? get 4032 rejections?? did you even try???

          I have got to know a few authors very well over the years, from being a dedicated fan. But I am studying Literature at Uni so I study writing as both a career and a business.

          My observations is this:

          It takes an average of 10 years to start raking in the moolah. lets look at some authors that are hitting NTY #1.

          LKHamilton – around 10 years of growing her fan base
          S Kenyon – published mid 90s then couldnt publish again for a few years – then took about 6-8 dark hunters to grow her fan base.
          Lora Leigh – wrote and reviewed for years before elloras cave started up and she wrote for them for 2 yrs, she went into paperback and took 20ish breed/seal books grow her fan base and hit #1
          JRWard – published under Jessica Bird for years before staring brotherhood books – took 5 books before hitting NYT #1.
          Lets look at our delightful Ilona and Gordon – they have taken years of steadily growing a loyal fan base, I am predicting Magic Slays hitting NYT top 10 and next book hitting Top 4 – then the big number one, after that. (I hope it is sooner of course).

          Lets look at the heavy hitters in the industry.
          JKRowling – was not till the 4th book that it became an international sensation (I was working in Australian bookstore at the time)
          Twilight – never heard of it till the movie hype. now its everywhere. thats 4 books out as well
          Dan Brown – his 4th book was Davinci Code. took a few years of writing before he wrote his bestseller.

          Basically what I am trying to say (after my novel length post) is that if you want to make it big then you need to have stamina because its going to take years. I believe the book industry is hard to get into -because they need to weed out those that dont have that stamina.

          Is everyone bored to tears yet, boy I can go on :P

          Good luck to all – no matter what a persons goal is – if you write something down – I respect the hell out of you.

  33. says

    Really great post. This kind of conversation is going on more and more, I think — and it’s not a trend that’s going to stop! My friend (a publisher and writer) Jeff Duntemann theorized on my livejournal the other day that author co-ops might be the way of the future. I could see the potential for authors who are also good at editing (not everyone’s bag, but some folks are good at double duty!) to make the co-op idea really work, trading editorial services rather than having to pay out up front. But it’s a long road ahead of us, and there’s still quite a way to go before we see the paradigm shift that the e-book crowd seems to be predicting. :)

    Thanks for the post!

  34. Dina C says

    Thanks for the breakdown. It was really fascinating, I was wondering if you would start self publishing now that you are a known “name” with a following.

    I for one will say, I almost NEVER purchase an anthology, too many disapointments from stories that could have been great but felt rushed and left me wondering, and too many other authors tagging onto the name brand that just were not too my taste.

    That said, I will buy this particular novella because I can not wait to find out what happens based on the snippets you have released, and even your short stories have been very satisfying. Not all authors can do that. Not sure I would have gotten it without the snippets, so you are doing a great job promoting :).

    Thanks again, for all the time you spend giving us insight, info and snippets.

  35. Nicole says

    As far as Alphas goes I plan to buy the novella (b/c u guys are on my must have list and I will pretty much get anything you write) However, it saddens me that you don’t think it’s up to snuff. I’d prefer to have your grade A full length novel, but if you put out a B novella with additional content on the web, I think that would be acceptable too. Or simply republish the entire novel as an ebook six months later :)

  36. Catherine says

    Hi! I really wanted to say thank you for this post. I know you get this alot but i have been thinking about writing and i really love reading what writing/ publishing is like. after reading several of your post i feel like i’m a little bit more prepared for taking on the writing business. you have really inspired/ opened my eyes to that fact, that just because i have ideas doesn’t mean that it will just happen, and that it takes work.
    Thanks Again

  37. Danib says

    This is a really well represented post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share from experience without glossing over the hard facts. Very refreshing!

  38. Atzimba says

    This is a great insight into the publishing industry and to be honest, all of the hoops you have to go through to self-publish gave me a headache. All I can say is that if you ever chose to go in that direction I’m confident you’ll do really well because you’ll have evaluated the landscape carefully. This is also really great for aspiring writers to take in, I’m sure they all appreciate your honesty! :)

    Just as an aside – I loved Silent Blade and I’ll have to be on the lookout now for more e-books from you guys.

    Cheers!

  39. Pam says

    Thank you for the great articles on publishing. I know a good bit of work went into that. I particularly loved the article on what copyeditors do. Amazing!

  40. says

    I’m sorry but you’re missing a lot of points with indie publishing. You really don’t seem to understand that the entire timeframe of indie and ebook publishing is different. You don’t have to have the blog reviews out by release. Ebooks aren’t only on the shelf for three months. They’re there forever. It is actually better if the blog reviews are spread out over a substantial time. It took Amanda Hocking, Victoria Lieske, et al months to build up to a best seller status.

    It isn’t the easy route and it is the fast one either, but I don’t find it any more difficult that traditional publishing. The challenges are just slightly different.
    JRTomlin recently posted..Review – Dark Quarry by David H Fears

    • Gordon says

      Perhaps we could simply agree to disagree, and chalk up our differing opinions to having dissimilar paths to being published. We mainly make our living from working for a NY publisher. That said however, we have published Ebooks, and so far they have done well (most under 2,500 on Amazon). Which seem to indicate that we may not be as clueless as you make us out to be.

      Neither would we, if you wrote a blog about traditional publishing, go on there and explain why you know nothing about it without citing any examples or statics to back it up. Nowhere in the post do we argue in favor of one form of publishing over another. Nowhere in the post does Ilona state that self-publishing is fast or easy.

    • Ilona says

      The problem with this sort of comment is that you unfortunately offer no evidence to back it up. If you had shared your own statistics from your releases that show that you can release a self-published ebook without hiring editors, cover artists, soliciting reviews and obtain positive response from the readers and high sales rankings, I would welcome that discussion. Of course, there are exceptions to any rule, but to me it seems that it’s basic common sense to strive to put a quality product out there and to generate publicity for it.

      As Gordon pointed out, we self-published several short stories, all of which have done very well in terms of sales and reviews. So we must understand *something* about how ebooks work. :)

  41. Tamara says

    Hi,
    I am a “lurking” veterinarian from Atlanta, and I just wanted to chime in that I, too would love to buy a full length novel version of any of your work. I have purchased every book of yours twice, in both print format, and also in ebook for my kindle apps, for portability. I mean, nothing can beat pulling up a book on your iPhone app while stuck at the doctors office! Heck, I am even praying for an expansion of “Swine & Roses” – I originally read it on the website when it was free, then purchased the e-format so I could have it always. :)
    So dont worry about whether you are cheating your audience. Many of us are avid & voracious readers, we know quality writing when we see it, and we love supporting that quality through our purchasing power whenever we can!

  42. lacrimsonfemme says

    Jesus. After reading all of this, I can’t even comprehend writers writing at all. So much to do. I’ve also read Selena Kitt’s article on her writing and self publishing. It really looks like a combination of luck and tons of hard work. After all that, you then get some nasty ass reader who wants to tear an author apart in an unprofessional way. The rants I’ve seen lately from readers/reviewers are shameful when it crosses the line. I even saw one author cross the line and it was a train wreak. shudder. Oh well. I just happily go about my business reading your lovely books which I buy in duplicate – paper and electronic. (Don’t tell my husband.)

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