One Writers Cautious View of E-Publishing

April 18, 2011

Some of you may remember a skit with Dana Carvey as the little old man on Saturday Night Live. He would talk about the ‘good old days’ when he was growing up, making comments like, “When I was a kid I learned to write with a stick in the dirt, and I liked it like that.” (Now I’m paraphrasing, but hopefully you get the idea.)

I can be a bit like Dana Carvey’s little old man. I’m one of the few people I know who doesn’t have an e-reader. No Kindle. No Nook. I’ve never even downloaded an electronic book to my computer. I love holding a book with paper pages in my hand. (You may remember that I also prefer to do my writing with pen and paper.) I don’t have anything against e-books. I just haven’t done it yet, and I suppose I “like it like that!”

When it comes to electronic publishing a book…well, I hadn’t really considered it. To be honest, I’ve been a little uncomfortable with the idea. Are you really published if it’s electronically published? Does your book have a cover and a back of the jacket blurb? Can you really make any money? I want to see my book on the bookshelves of my favorite bookstore and library. And…hey, I want to be able to autograph my books!

At the 2011 Romantic Times Convention one of the workshops I went to was titled “Sex, Lies and Videotape.” I signed up for the workshop to learn about writing sexy scenes. The panel consisted of Kelly Collins, Editor in Chief at e-publisher Elora’s Cave, Miriam Kriss, literary agent and Janet Miller, author.

Although I went to learn about steamy writing, I ended up becoming much more comfortable with the idea of e-publishing. With the popularity of the Kindle and the Nook, more and more people are downloading books every day. (I’m sure that all of you know that already. I’m just catching up here.) And writers are able to make a reasonable amount of money from e-books. There are certain writer responsibilities that normally a print publisher would handle, such as the writer may be responsible for coming up with the cover. (Yes, an e-book has a cover…who knew?) And writers want to be careful that they are working with a legitimate, established publisher who understands the industry and has a solid track record.

Many print publishers have their own electronic publishing lines, including Harlequin. The Harlequin editors discussed Spice Briefs at the Harlequin Spotlight at RT 2011. It seems like it could be a good way to break in with shorter stories. According to the editors, Spice Briefs publishes two or three books per month, as opposed to Harlequin’s Spice imprint which is currently publishing one book per month.

Am I ready to jump into e-publishing? Well, my dream is still of publishing a book with paper pages, but I’d definitely consider e-publishing. And, I’m thinking of asking for an e-reader for my birthday this year. So feel free to tell me which e-reader you have, and what you like or don’t like about it. Oh, and I found out e-books can be autographed! Imagine that. They sure take up less space on the shelf, and you can carry your books with you everywhere without hurting your back…I do like that.

What about you? Have you considered publishing your work as an e-book? Why or why not? I’d love to hear how you feel about e-publishing.


3 Responses to “One Writers Cautious View of E-Publishing”

  1. Hee hee. We are direct opposites on this one, Tari. I’m an e-book glutton. I purchased my iPad a year ago, and I’ve never looked back at traditional publishing. I’m such a voracious purchaser of e-books that I’m pretty certain I’ve single handedly bankrupted Borders.

    E-books are so easy. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to have the bookstore with me anywhere I go. I NEVER have to find time to buy books. Just last night I bought five in five minutes sitting on my couch. LOVE IT!

    Of course, that’s from a reader’s perspective. As a writer, I’ve always been squarely in the digital publishing corner. While I have plenty of experience as a senior editor for glossy print magazines, I also spent many impressionable years as a writer and editor for websites. In fact, Disney paid me quite well to help build their online portfolio, which really resonated with me. If a publishing/media giant like Disney put such importance on the electronic word, then that was legitimacy enough for me.

    So…I hate to say it. And I know people will argue—passionately—with me, but I think paper books are going the way of vinyl records. My daughter disagrees. (She ignores the Nook I bought her for Christmas.) And I know there are lots of people like her, so I suspect the transition/demise will be incredibly slow.

  2. taristhread Says:

    I wouldn’t argue with you!! I’m just slow to transition with technology. Ask my boys they’ll tell you. I’m still figuring out how to download to my ipod, and finally got a cell phone last year when the kids complained that they can never reach me if I leave home.

    Online writing is definitely important today. When I wrote television commercials many of my writer friends didn’t consider it ‘real’ writing. All I can say is I think it made me a better writer, and it paid my bills. So I wouldn’t discount writing online for a minute…but I can be a little slow to catch on. I love writing in pretty much any form. My first draft may be with a pen….but it will make it to the computer!

    • I think a lot of people look at electronic publishing as a sub-standard form of publishing. No matter what happens, some of those people will never change their minds.

      My daughter (9 1/2) is funny, though. She says it’s hard to read on a screen, and “it just doesn’t feel right.” I think that’s the big thing for her and people like her–the feeling isn’t there.

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