The E-Book Experiment

So in response to my last post about querying, I got an interesting comment about self-publishing.
Joe said:

I've never queried etc. but I do think that if you're good enough you should self-publish an E-book, sure you're going to have to raise a little capital for cover design and formatting. I'm not saying that you're going to become instantly successful like Amanda Hocking but if you can market your book properly then you have just as good a chance as any self-publishing indie author and will probably surpass that original capital raised at the start and get some nice profit.

Just my thoughts, and this is the route that I am going to be taking. Traditionally publishing is going to get HARDER to get into, where anyone can self-publish, even that of the everyone is fair game, right?


It got me thinking.

Before I tried querying again, I spent a long time considering self-publishing. It looks like a good deal. You get 70% royalties one-books $2.99 and up and 30% on e-books under that. They never go "out of print" and if you keep them up, will literally sell forever. Plus, while Borders is going bankrupt, the e-book market is skyrocketing.

But there is a down side. Horror stories of authors who published books that weren't ready and got slammed with scathing reviews.

So in the end, what scared me away was the fact that I couldn't hire an editor. I just don't have the money.

Everything else, however, I knew I could do. I'm a Photoshop nerd, so the book cover isn't a problem. I even have a mock-up about halfway done.

The formatting I was worried about, but I found a bunch of guides that take you through the process step by step (The Smashwords Style Guide, for example, is free in the iBookstore and online). It took me about two hours, but I was able to correctly (I think) format my manuscript for Smashwords.

So far my experimental mock-up and e-book formatted manuscript seems to be progressing nicely. But the editor thing still stalls me. I'm a perfectionist by nature, and it scares me to think that I might put something out there that isn't ready, even though it's been through complete re-writes and I've edited the hell out of it.

I've yet to make a decision, but I'm curious to see what you guys think.

So on to the eternal question!

What do you think? Self-publish? Or go traditional?


Anonymous said...

I think is a question every up-and-coming author is asking themselves. Joe is right-- Traditional publishing is getting harder to access. As the traditional market starts to buckle under the weight of the e-book market, agents/editors/publishers are becoming increasingly picky about what they're willing to represent. I say you have to do what you're comfortable with and hope for the best.

Tammara Webber said...

This is why you need critique partners and beta readers! I wouldn't dream of putting something out uncritiqued by other writers (I have three, though one's a little caught up in his own agent-seeking drama at the moment). Beta readers can be anyone who loves to read (I have a couple of women at my office, my kids, my husband and several friends) - tell them to be HONEST over NICE (although they should also tell you the parts they love), and then take the "majority rules" road. If 2-3 readers say the same thing, you're overruled unless you love some part so absolutely that you cannot cut/change it.

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

I had two people read my draft before I re-wrote it, but the re-written draft hasn't been seen by anyone but me, unless you count the agent who read the first chapter and gave me my favorite rejection letter.

But still.

Katja said...

I feel a bit lost in your blog, because the posts don't have any dates on them. :D

Anyway, I vote for self-pubbing! I have the same problem about the editor and I don't really know yet how to solve it, but I'm going to.

My current plan is to get a few beta readers and maybe try to attract some wanna-be-editor to check it out, and mean while I'll try to save up for a editor. I've read some blog posts about editors, that aren't that expensive, but the authors have been very please nevertheless.

If it ends up that I can't afford a professional editor, I'll go with the wanna-be ones.

Oh, and before even the beta-readers there's this: I tested it out and it's quite good to spot the most obvious things (but of course doesn't replace a human).

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

Hmm, interesting thoughts. Thanks Katja!

I'm currently looking for someone to look at my final draft before I make the official decision whether or not to self-publish. I DID finish a cover mock-up and...I must admit I like it. Hmm...

Jennifer M. said...

I once heard a podcast interview by a guy who had been a published author previously but changed recently to doing it solely e-book self-publishing style, mainly he said b/c you make more money at it due to not having to pay an agent or wait around for the publisher to read your work and decide to print you or not.

Remember that's up to you whether or not you publish too quickly before it's edited properly. You could swap with another writer friend to edit each other's work, or just edit it yourself after you write something else so it's not so fresh in your mind.

To me it seems like a great way of generating a passive income, so long as you are a decent writer.

Ava Jae said...

Wow! Old post is old. I've actually looked into the whole process and written a few posts about the overall pros and cons, and I agree—a large part of it is certainly not publishing too quickly, although it's often difficult to determine what "too quickly" is until you've looked back. When done properly, however, with an editor, a great cover and a lot of hard work on the author's part, it can be a fantastic option for those willing and ready to take the full burden of making and promoting the book themselves.

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