THE E-PUBLISHING REVOLUTION
The e-publishing revolution is here. According to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales were up 160 percent for the first half of 2011 compared to the same period last year. At the same time, both paperback and hardcover sales dropped by 17 and 23 percent respectively. It seems that the publishing industry is shifting. It’s a very exciting time in history. But what does this mean to you?
It is now easier, more efficient, and more lucrative to publish your words on digital platforms. Authors have more choices and venues to share their stories. Publishers have lower overhead and can offer larger royalties. And self-publishing is no longer an admission of defeat or a vanity project. It’s now a proven, credible path toward publication.
Sure, there are bound to be naysayers—those who haven’t yet embraced e-readers and the advancement of technology. I was just chatting with a writer online the other day about how the majority of my friends preferred reading with an e-reader, and she said she was surprised since she only knew one person who preferred an e-reader to a print book. She thought maybe it was a regional thing. It could be. California is on the forefront of technology. We have Silicon Valley, after all. But I know great-grandmothers who love their Kindles for the adjustable text size. Portability, wireless delivery, interactivity, and low book prices (including a library of free e-books) are among other perks. It’s not too surprising that in May 2011, Amazon announced that Kindle e-book sales surpassed both hardcover and paperback book sales to become the most popular format on Amazon.com.
That said, I also understand the effects digital publishing have had on the publishing world. As magazine and newspapers fold and bookstores go out of business, traditional publishers struggle to position themselves as content providers and not just suppliers of paper books. They want to hold on to their intellectual property and backlists. They don’t want to make the same mistakes that the music industry made back in 1999 when consumers downloaded countless MP3s for free through sharing applications like Napster. They want to find the perfect balance of jointly distributing e-books and print books to an audience of voracious readers, but many are still trying to figure out just whom that e-audience is and how to promote their e-titles. In the meantime, many literary agents are dreading their impending demise and hope to grab a foothold in the e-publishing revolution somewhere.
Booksellers and librarians are also trying to figure out where they stand in all of this, with librarians and publishers battling head-to-head over e-book lending policies. But here’s the thing: all of this change, these technological advancements and proliferation of devices capable of viewing and downloading content—e-readers, smartphones, and tablets—may alter our lives and the way we consume words, if we choose to embrace it; but that doesn’t mean it should alter our editorial ethics and best business practices. There will always be a place for smart agents and editors to vet manuscripts for publication, and there will always be publishers to help authors promote their titles. And authors, boy, are there exciting opportunities for you. You get all the cake!
In this issue, we talk to successful e-book authors and e-publishers to get both sides of the story. We even talk to a screenwriter/playwright and a librarian to get their take on the future of digital publishing. We provide you with the resources and know-how to start your own self-publishing business, and introduce you to a self-publisher who is making a big difference in children’s lives. We show you how to format your manuscript for the Kindle and Nook, build a book cover, and give you some marketing ideas for selling your e-books. We also introduce you to some groundbreaking new e-platforms for projects between a magazine feature and a full-length book. Are you ready? You just got a ticket to the e-publishing revolution. Enjoy the ride!
A big, warm thank you goes to our freelancers and staff members:
There are many writers who may or may not use an e-reader, but still prefer holding a book made of paper and ink in their hands. Many authors-in-waiting imagine the day a box of their own printed books will arrive on their doorstep. They may even conjure that wonderful book smell. Katherine Higgs-Coulthard is one such writer. Her article, The Smell of Success: Transitioning the Pen and Paper Crowd to E-Books, examines the shift from printed-paper to e-ink books, what it means to authors and publishers alike, and how it affects their relationship. In an attempt to understand the transition herself, she chats with authors Carolyn Coman, Nancy Naigle, Laurie Dalzell, and Renee Vincent to get their best advice, as well as publishers Stephen Roxburgh (namelos), Kim Jacobs (Turquoise Morning Press), and Julie Fletcher (Black Label Books).
This is Kathy’s fourth time writing an article for us, and I fall in love with her writing more and more. Her prose has a certain softness and understated beauty that makes her articles a joy to read. We thank her for easing us gently into this issue, and thank her guests for their infinite wisdom.
We all know that e-books are digital versions of books, but what about the length between a magazine feature and a full-length book? Are their any e-venues for the novella or long non-fiction story? I didn’t think so until I read this article! We welcome back Kerrie Flanagan and thank her for her eye-opening article, Between Magazines & Books: E-Publishing Platforms for Long-Form Journalism. Kerrie examines three lucrative e-publishing platforms available to investigative journalists, magazine writers, and essayists looking to write long-form pieces over 5,000 words, but under 30,000 words. They are Kindle Single, Byliner Orginals, and Atavist—platforms on the forefront of the e-publishing revolution.
She chats with Byliner founder and CEO, John Tayman, and Atavist editor, Evan Ratliff, to find out what they’re looking for in submissions and the stories that are rattling the publishing world. She also chats with Jodi Picoult who shares why the platform appealed to her. You’ll definitely want to read this article and check out the websites. These guys are doing fascinating work, and I’m excited about the possibilities!
One of the best things about the e-publishing revolution is the ease and ability to self-publish your own work. As an author, you can now compete with traditional publishers. You have the means, the online platform of social networks, and all the distribution and sales channels that the big guys have right at your fingertips; so why wait for that golden contract? You have an e-ticket right here. WOW! instructor Deana Riddle tells you what you need to know to self-publish your own books in her article, Self-Publishing: The Debate Is Over. We’ve all heard the success stories from self-published authors. Will you be one?
Speaking of successful self-published authors, Margo L. Dill interviews five of them in her article, Cha-Ching! Selling E-Books: 5 Authors Share Their Success and Marketing Strategies. Take author Bella Andre, for example, who made over $116,000 in the first quarter of 2011 and sold over 56,000 e-books. Then there’s author Karen McQuestion who self-published five e-books, which were so successful that Amazon’s publishing house, AmazonEncore, scooped them up and released them in paperback. Now, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is offering her a contract for two of her novels. Margo chats with both ladies, as well as authors Megg Jensen, Annette Fix, and H.P. Mallory who share their best ideas for marketing e-books.
What about the future of digital publishing? We’ve seen such tremendous leaps and bounds in the past three years that it’s almost unimaginable. But it certainly makes for a riveting discussion. In this issue’s 20 Questions column, 20 Questions Answered by 5 Professionals: The Future of Digital Publishing, LuAnn Schindler interviews two authors writing in two different genres, a screenwriter/playwright, a publisher, and a university professor and emerging technologies librarian to discuss the popularity of e-books in a digital world. They tackle questions on reader apps, advantages and concerns in each genre, digital rights and e-piracy, e-publishing platforms for screenplays and scripts, and how libraries are adapting to the demand of e-books.
Thanks to our guests—Christina Hamlett (screenwriter and playwright), Laura Schaefer (YA fiction and children’s nonfiction author; founder and publisher of Planet Explorers, travel guidebooks for kids), Karen Bergreen (adult fiction author), Nancy Cleary (founder and publisher, Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing), and Scott Childers (emerging technologies librarian and associate professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)—for making this a lively discussion!
By now you’re probably convinced that you want to jump on the e-book bandwagon, but perhaps you aren’t ready to go it alone. In that case, we have a great discussion for you! In Getting the Skinny On E-Publishing: Top E-Publishers Tell Us What You Need to Know, Chynna Laird chats with five fantastic publishers she’s had the pleasure of working with herself as an author: Victor R. Volkman (Loving, Healing Press), Cheryl Kaye Tardif (Imajin Press), Stephanie Taylor (Astraea Press), Barbara Rollins (Eagle Wings Press), and Nancy Shumacher (Melange Press). And boy, do they have a lot to say! This 5,000-plus-word article covers everything from e-book rights and royalties to what these publishers look for in submissions.
If you’re looking for an e-publisher, you’ll probably find a great one in this article or one of the other articles in this issue.
On the flip side, if you want to give self-publishing your e-book a go, Beth Daniels article, How to Format Your Manuscript for Kindle and Nook, makes it sound like a breeze! Beth walks you step-by-step through the process—from formatting the margins of your manuscript to uploading to Kindle and Nook. And for the hardcore D.I.Y.er, she even shows you how to build your own e-book cover using a free software program that you can download online. I admit, I never thought it would be this easy. After reading her article, you’ll be ready to give it a shot.
If this whole issue hasn’t been inspiring enough, we have even more inspiration for you. Kerrie Flanagan interviews Teresa Funke for this issue’s Inspiration column. Teresa has carved a niche for herself and her books, bridging the gap between World War II and the present. Through her own publishing company, Victory House Press, she publishes her own historical fiction books for children called the Home-Front Hero series. And she has one of the best marketing ideas I’ve heard of in a long time. The Do Your Part School Kit Program allows individuals or businesses to sponsor a kit that includes copies of her own books as well as student activities and a lesson plan specific to each book.
The kit gets sent to the sponsor’s school of choice, and the sponsor has the option of submitting a 300-word story and photo of a person who served during the war. It’s a win, win, win situation all around. Teachers get great material to teach children about World War II for free that they couldn’t get otherwise, the sponsor gets to honor a veteran near and dear to their heart, and Teresa gets to do something she really loves and believes in, as well as sell books. I think that’s pretty smart. Teresa is preserving history and is a real inspiration to writers everywhere.
I’d like to thank everyone for making this an incredible issue! Thanks to our freelancers and experts, columnists and designers, and to our editor Margo L. Dill for making our e-words sparkle. We are all racing forward into a new and exciting digital age that holds no bounds.
On to the issue… enjoy!