Sunday, July 22, 2012

To Ebook or Not to Ebook, that is the question...

Last year for the A to Z Challenge, I wrote flash fiction for each of the 26 days, and then edited and compiled them into a book:  A to Z Stories of Life and Death.

Not only have sales continued to trickle in since last year without any marketing on my part, I've found folks reading and reviewing the book in some detail-- like this one, at The Conscientious Reader.

I'm now working on a novel, my first, for the past few months. I have no idea how good or bad it is, since I haven't yet finished the first draft. But prevalent wisdom says it is unlikely to be much good, all first novels are destined to remain in the writer's desk drawer. (Yes, I've had several short stories traditionally published, but a novel is a different beast.)

So, I'm wondering: would it be better to try this novel out as an e-book?

  • Conventional wisdom says no. It says I should try finding an agent, who will find me a publisher and so on.  (But printed books are slowly getting wiped out, marketing budgets are shrinking and writers have to do their own marketing, the agency model seems to be floundering a bit, Amazon looks poised to take over a big chunk of the publishing market)
  • New e-book wisdom says it may be more profitable and popular to self-publish. (But e-books means doing a lot of publishing and marketing work-- time that I'd rather spend writing. It also means writing a lot of books quickly-- but I'm a slow writer. Genre books tend to do better as e-books, but mine has a literary bent. Besides, I don't mind if the trad-pubbed book doesn't give me much money, I want my book read but don't expect to start rolling in money)

Since at my current stage of the novel I'm more bothered about writing the book well, than deciding on its mode of publication, I have at least an year or more to decide how I want the publishing to happen. In the meanwhile, I'd rather ask for opinions.

Should I stick to traditional publication? (And once I finish and polish the novel, start typing those query letters, and check if I have a shot at getting published.)

Should I e-publish? (And get ready for an exhausting binge of marketing-- hence push my social media presence an extra notch, starting now?)

Will all the advice you give me become invalid an year from now? (given the pace at which the publishing scenario is changing)

(Now that I've sufficiently spent my writing break on mulling over publishing a book that is 1 year or more from the finish line, I'm off to do some #amwriting. )

But I'd still appreciate your opinion: Querying or self-publishing-- what's your advice for me?

This post is brought to you by Damyanti, from Amlokiblogs.


Mina Lobo said...

If you have strong feelings about being traditionally published right now, maybe try your hand at querying while researching e-pubbing options? That way, if you don't get any bites, you can proceed with publishing your stuff yourself, straightaway.
Some Dark Romantic

David Macaulay said...

I feel it will change - mind you right now I know a lot of people are still going down the old agent route so I guess I will when I finally get it finished. good luck.

Arlee Bird said...

I didn't expect this post and interestingly enough this is related to the topic of my guest today on Tossing It Out.

I'm probably not much help on my recommendation, but I guess it partly comes down to patience. Maybe since it is a first book and if you don't think this is the one that you hope will be your big breakout novel, then maybe self-publishing the e-book route is the best way to go.

Good luck whichever way you go with it.

Tossing It Out

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess it all depends on what you want to accomplish. I'm perfectly happy with my small publisher and doubt I could do better on my own.

Tina said...

Good question, which I've been wondering myself as I work on my first novel. Slow going with my busy, teenager filled life, but it's going. I feel in my bones that the publishing industry will hit some hiccups as it changes much as the music industry did when Napster and iPods first entered the scene. You do have plenty of time to figure it out. I'm pondering it, too. We'll just agonize over the decision together then, shall we ;-)
Tina @ Life is Good

JoJo said...

I, for one, will never get a eReader, so I'm all for traditional publishing. Mina's idea is a great one.

Tami Von Zalez said...

I have read that being "discovered" in traditional publishing is next to impossible, and there is a large investment in promoting an unknown author. I'd opt for self-publishing, then when they are clamoring at your door, opt for a traditionally published work.

Christine Rains said...

I agree with those who say it depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to be published by a big press, it's best to go the traditional route. If you don't think you could handle marketing and the legal aspects of putting out your own book, find an agent. Yet it's a lot to think about. You have full control and could possibly make more money if you self-publish. Also, if success comes your way, it will come faster. I decided to go the self-publishing route for now because my life is too busy for official deadlines. It's easier to answer to myself.

Unknown said...

Mina, I did the e-pub research with Ato Z stories, so I know what is involved :)

David, yes, who knows what the publishing world would be like an year from now? And there's no guarantee I'll be able to finish and polish the novel within an year.

Lee-- I know I won't break out with the first novel-- but there are arguments either way for e-pub and trad--I'm confused :)

Alex, yes. I guess I'd love to find a good publisher and find modest success with the book, but that might change-- who knows?

Tina, agonizing together is always more fun than agonizing alone! :D

JoJo, I thought I would hate e-readers too, and so did a lot of folks I know, but we've all converted!

Tami-- I seriously doubt anyone would clamor at my door! :)

Christine, you're an awesome writer.. and I hope you find success down the self-pub route-- would love to follow your journey!

Marta Szemik said...

It's a difficult decision and I agree with the comments that it depends on what you'd like to accomplish.
Whichever route you take, I think the same amount of marketing is required on both sides, trad and self-pub.
Hope it all works out for you! Good Luck:)

Tracy MacDonald said...

I love that you took your A to Z posts and put them into a book. How very cool. Could you, with the new novel, go with e-publishing, see what sales are, and then approach an agent and for traditional publishing with a second book once you have a proven following for your work? Anyone know if this actually works? It's just an idea.
A2Z Mommy and What’s In Between