Bloggy well write. Books by Doralynn Kennedy and her favorite authors.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Print versus E-pubs

The Writer's Relief staff wrote an article at Huffington Post for Writer Wednesday. It discussed print publication versus digital publication. The article itself wasn't that enlightening to me. It was the comments that came after it that were interesting.

As we know, many writers want that print book. I know I did. Do. I want to hold a real book in my hands—one that has my name on it. It's like a badge of courage. It shows I wrote. Got rejected. Broke into print. The traditional publishers sneer at my badge because I got it from a POD publisher—and they are traditional publishers' worst nightmare.

In fact, the bias is so bad that when querying agents about the manuscript I'm currently shopping, I have to omit the fact that I'm published. Some agents and publishers won't accept your submission if you dared go to a POD publisher. It doesn't matter that they weren't willing to look at it. You still should have forgone publication altogether rather than have committed the sin of publishing outside the traditional avenues. Now those "avenues" are scrambling for cover because POD publishing has been dropping some major bombs on them. And those bombs are book sales. Digital books are BIG sellers.

Print - Article's Pros (Condensed/Paraphrased):

1. People take you more seriously if you’re in print. And your mom will be proud. (Okay. But my mom is already proud of me. I agree that people take you more seriously, though, if you're in print.)

2. You can get on the shelves of libraries and bookstores. You can't do that with an e-book. (That's true for now, but with technology who knows what will happen in the future.)

3. When you have a real, physical book, you can hold book signings.

Print - Article's Cons (Condensed/Paraphrased):

1. Print runs are generally low.

2. You can't be "Googled". Your print stories (or poems) will not generally appear online. (Which smacks of potential piracy to me, so I'm not sure why that's in the cons category. It's more of a gray area to me.) 

3. Print books cost more and can't compete with the prices of e-books.

E-Pubs - Article's Pros (Condensed/Paraphrased):

1. "Viral-ity." They say that when you're published online, it can be emailed, shared on social media sites, etc. (Which, once again, smacks of piracy to me—something many E-Pubs have serious problems with. Personally, I think I'd also put this one in the "gray" category.)

2. Because of low overhead for the publisher, E-book sales and online journal subscribers are unlimited. (That's a definite plus.)

3. Next they claim if you're published online you will show up on Google as a writer. (You also show up as a writer with print books, so I don't see how this is any different.) They claim that this is important and will help you with agents and editors. (Again, I disagree. It's not so important to agents and publishers if your credentials are from a POD publisher. They are getting a little more respect nowadays, but they still aren't credits agents take seriously. And, most often, your query letter is going no farther with the agent if they know you've been published with an E-Pub. It may not be fair, but it's a fact.)

E-Pubs - Article's Cons (Condensed/Paraphrased):

1. To quote the article: "Some people—and we’re not going to name names—have yet to acknowledge that e-publishing is, right now, a tremendous literary force. Which means that some e-journals and online presses are still fighting for literary legitimacy." (Which echoes what I just said. But it is more extensive than just "some people". It is almost the entire industry. Which is probably why they didn't name names. They didn't have enough space.)

2. "Your gram can’t bring a copy of your new book or poem publication to bingo night unless she prints it out. Poor gram! She wants bragging rights!" 

3. Lower prices may not be such a great thing after all if you're not selling any books. 

The articles goes on to discuss gray areas, but I think much of what they discussed already were gray areas. I also think they give the impression that it's strictly either/or. Either you go for print or you go for digital. That's a faulty starting point. Most E-Pubs also do print. You get both worlds, and that to me is best. I have my print book. My mom has my print book. My family has my print book. Complete strangers have my print book. But for those who prefer digital, that's certainly available. After all, my publisher is first and foremost an E-Pub. 

Link to Article:

It wasn't really a substantive article. I thought it focused more on humor than substance. Not that it lacked substance entirely, it was just more focused on being entertaining—which it certainly was. And it solicited discussion—which it got. It's the comments where you'll find the real substance. 

But what I'd like even more are YOUR comments. What are some of the pros and cons you would have listed if you'd written the article? 


Isis Rushdan said...

A lot of writers have said they make more off their e-book sales than print sales. Yet there is something to be said about seeing a book in a store or in the library. I still prefer a book in my hands over electronic, but the next generation may not.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Isis, I think most high-school aged readers already do.

I do make a lot more on my e-book sales. It's funny because during the first months of my book's release, I sold a lot of print books, and only a small fraction of them were to family and friends. After that the e-book sales really took off. Now those sales have surpassed the print ones. None of my family or friends have bought an e-book. I never would have been read by them if the print had not been available.

DEZMOND said...

it's true and kinda right that people take you more seriously if you’re in print :) And it's also true that writing and publishing on the Internet bring a bigger audience and readership :)
However, print books and articles and magazines still promise more quality than the e-ones since everybody can publish anything Electronic for free nowadays.

MorningAJ said...

I would have been concerned in the past but I've 'converted' to ereading now so I don't have that cardboard fetish that a lot of people still have.

I daren't read in the bath any more though - too expensive if I drop the ereader

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm not sure I worry too much about it. It might be important to get our books into bookstore now, but in 10 years? Will any bookstores be open when the next generation grow up?
Do I care that I have a published book and that the big publishers will reject me? I'm not sure I do. Many famous authors with big publishers are going solo. It might matter this year and many the next five but I think the game will change fast. I think soon the big publishers (if they want to stay in business) will be going to authors and not the other way around.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi DEZMOND, I agree with most of that, but I have read some garbage from traditional publishing. I just read a book from a well-known romance writer. The book was awful. The last half of the thing was all first draft. It read like she had to finish it on time and was out of time. It was so poorly edited that it was staggering. But I've read some self published work that was far better than work coming from the big houses. But the perception is there still. (On the other hand, I've also read some self pubbed stuff that was beyond bad.)

Doralynn Kennedy said...

MorningAJ... you always make me laugh. There's one I hadn't even thought of... no more reading in the tub!!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Clarissa, I worry about it less and less each day. I would like to publish one book - preferably DEAD FALL - with a major publisher. Then I'll be satisfied. But I doubt it will be important in another 10 years.

And the thought of no more bookstores makes me want to weep. However, there should at least be bookstores selling old books... even if they have nothing new to sell.

The game is changing fast though. Big publishers need to open up those closed doors of theirs and start doing business differently. I have a contract from a POD publisher for DEAD FALL... if I can't get one from a big publisher, I'm not going to sweat it. I really do think it's their loss if they don't get it. I'm no idiot; I know it's a great book. It will be published... just don't know who the lucky publisher is yet. ;-) I'd like it to be a biggie, though, because they can get me more sales. Plus they still have the credibility... at least for now.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well, since predictions are that 80% of all print business will be dead in less than ten years, I'd have to say ePrint will eventually win. Think of all the newspapers and magazines that have made the switch or offer both.
I'm glad I had a print book to hold, one that does sit on bookstore and library shelves. But one glance at my royalty check tells me that nearly half of the sales are eBooks.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Alex, those predictions are almost as scary as all those comet Elenin predictions at YouTube. lol.

I'm glad for my print book too. I haven't had as much success with bookstores and libraries though. I know I made it into one bookstore in Texas... thanks to an online friend. And I imagine I'm only in a few libraries. I've been contacted by libraries asking me for my book as a donation, but that's about it. None of them are local.

But my sales are heavily weighted in the eBook category. It used to be the other way around, though.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I think the tides are changing regardless of what traditional publishers want. Big publishers own the bookstores, and they are dying. After John Locke's success (only the 7th author ever to sell a million ebooks on Amazon, and he's self-pubbed) more will follow.

Laila Knight said...

You know, I used to be all gunho for print and I'd still like to see my books out there in paperback, but things are changing. The publishing industry seems to be suffering through an overhaul. Let epub rock as far as I'm concerned. :)

DEZMOND said...

yep, that is true also, there is so much traditionally published garbage :) that sometimes you just ask yourself how is that possible. As you said, we had so many moments while reading published books in which we asked ourselves how was such a horrid trash published in the first place. Actually I, myself, translated some of that trash :) which, as you can see, even got world wide publications even though it's clearly a bad bad bad writing from some really horrid writers (I just finished work on TRUE BLOOD saga and couldn't quite believe how its writer puts all other writers to shame with her shockingly bad work).

Shirley Wells said...

The ideal would be for every book to be available in every format. In my dreams, right?

I've been selling more digital than print copies of my books for about 18 months now. However, I still have a lot of readers who refuse to read ebooks.

We live in interesting times. I do think the number of print titles will decrease over the next few years.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi DEZMOND, and then there's that Twilight Series. There's another one I just don't get. How on earth did that get published? And why is it so popular? It's total rubbish, horrid writing, overworked plot. I hope you haven't had to translate that one!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi L. Diane Wolfe, I just realized I responded out of order here... my apologies. I just woke up and my brain hasn't kicked in yet this morning.

The tide truly is changing, and it seems to be a spring tide -- which I suppose could also be considered a spring cleaning -- since it is sweeping away the old.

I love John Locke's success. It's so inspiring!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Laila, I accidentally responded out of order... my apologies... no slight intended. Just woke up after only a couple hours sleep. Blurry eyed and blurry brained.

I'm still kinda gungho for print, but I do want epubs to succeed. I just hate to see it at the expense of print. In my perfect, complete fantasy world, everybody gets to thrive and dogs don't eat dogs.

New York is such a rat race -- oops... now I'm mixing my metaphors.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Shirley, you and I are having the exact same dream... have our book available in every format. I think I should probably do the audio version... since I apparently love the sound of my own voice.

I am selling more digital than print copies right now myself... but it used to be the other way around. I also have several readers who refuse to read ebooks. I don't refuse to read them, I just hate to. They hurt my eyes.

These are interesting times, though. But kinda scary too.

J.L. Campbell said...

Speaking as a Jamaican, the disadvantage to publishing e-books is that very few Jamaicans have an e-reader. On the other hand, it can get my name out there faster than the traditional print version.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi J.L., I love getting different perspectives. It's not something we can really understand from our own clod of earth.