Friday Face Off: E-Publishing


As aspiring authors, our goal is to get published (Yes, I'm playing the role of captain obvious today). That used to be a straightforward plan. Write great book, land an agent, get a publishing contract, see book on shelf. Done. Right?
Well now there are more options than that. The rapidly rising industry of ebooks is beginning to change the face of publishing. Now, instead of just having hold-in-your-hand printed books, there are e-books and self-publishing and print on demand technology. Things are changing fast and we better pay attention.
But my question is, if you don't have luck with the traditional route, should you consider the ebook publishers?  (I'm not going to talk about self-publishing. Weronika discussed that if you are curious about that direction.)
Ebooks are gaining popularity, especially in the areas of romance, erotica, and fantasy/science fiction. And more and more companies are producing devices--Kindles, SonyEreaders, the Nook, and of course the new I-pad are just a few of the options.
So, is this a good route to get your words out there? I know most of us would prefer the traditional route because distribution and sales are still much greater this way, so I'm not going to pit that against ebooks. Instead, I'm going to look at the pros and cons of going with an e-publisher if you haven't had luck landing an agent or traditional NY publisher. 
Is it better to be e-published or is it better to tuck your manuscript away and move on to the next project?
E-Publishing vs. Waiting out the "Book in the store" dream

For love of technology:

 --An Ebook can be your springboard--This gets your name out there and gains readers. The early titles of Sherrilyn Kenyon, Angela Knight, and Sylvia Day were released as ebooks before they had books in traditional format. (source)  And the more conferences I go to, the more I hear authors say they started in the ebook world and then were able to move into print publishing because of the success they built in that format.

--The turnaround to get published is quicker
--Royalty percentages are usually higher with ebook publishers
--Environmentally friendly--same great book, less waste
--More control--it's been said that epublishers are often very author friendly
--Your book is published and not gathering dust in a drawer
--Genres such as romance have big gains in ebook readership
--Readers get a reasonable price on your book
--Once someone owns a e-reader (speaking from experience), it's easier to make an impulse buy. You hear about the book, sixty seconds later, it's on your reader. I did this yesterday in fact. If I had had to purchase this recommendation from my friend from a bookstore, I probably would have never gotten around to buying it.
--Because the upfront costs are lower, the e-publishers can take more risks, so they may give you a shot when an agent or traditional publisher couldn't because of market conditions/similar stories in their hopper/editor preferences/etc.  This is why erotic romance started in ebook world--print publishers didn't think there was a market for it.  Then, when those things started selling like crazy (women readers are naughtier than anyone thought), all the big publishers hopped on board and added erotic romance lines.

In defense of holding out for NY:

--Your ebook will not be on a shelf at the local bookstore. Your grandmother will never believe you are published.  However, some of the epubs do also put books into print (Samhain, Wild Rose Press, etc.)
--Ebooks have a stigma attached to them that they are not as high quality as traditionally published books. (I read a lot of ebooks and I have not found this to be true, btw.  In fact, I read an ebook and a traditionally pubbed this week- both erotic romance - and the ebook was really good whereas the big name publisher one was awful.)
--If you eventually get traditionally published with a different manuscript, you can dust off that first novel, revise, and try to get it published now that you're established.
--The number of people who own e-reading devices is still pretty low. The upfront cost for a reader is significant.
--You may not feel satisfied because it is a modified version of your dream.
--Distribution and income can be limited with ebook publishing. 
--Some genres are not as ebook friendly.  If you write romance (especially sexy or erotic romance) you have lots of e-pub choices.  If you write young adult or literary fiction, the choices are much more limited.
By the way, if you're curious about e-publishers, here are some of the bigger ones to check out:  Samhain, Wild Rose Press, Carina Press (Harlequin's new epub), and Ellora's Cave (erotic only).  And for a more complete list, click here.  If you haven't tested out any ebooks, I suggest buying a few and getting a feel for what's out there.  If you don't have an ereader, many offer print versions.
By nature, I'm an early adopter with technology.  So if my submission doesn't work out with Harlequin, I will probably pursue this route to see if there is interest in my book.  I read a lot of ebooks and  have been introduced to a number of authors this way, so I think it's a valid route to "break in".  However, I'm curious to hear your own thoughts.

So what's your opinion? If you tried to go the traditional route and it didn't work out, what would you do? Would you try to submit to an e-publisher or would you bury your manuscript and move on? I'd love to hear from those who have been e-published as well. What was your experience?
*This is an updated version of a post I did in September 2009*


**Today's Theme Song**
"My Generation"-- Limp Bizkit

(player in sidebar, take a listen-but be warned, dirty words in this one)