Monday, October 26, 2009

Ginger Simpson, and the E-Publishing World

Hey Readers,

Please welcome Ginger Simpson to my blog today, to discuss our world. No, not the Paranormal one. Come on, I know that’s what you were thinking, lol. There are many parts to the world of E-publishing; setbacks, goals and relationships we cultivate over our chosen paths into the literary realm. Ginger will be getting into some of them, and after reading it, I know she is at least speaking my mind as well as her own.


I’d like to thank Kayden for raising an interesting question about the pros/cons of the e-book industry. I’ve been published with internet companies since 2003, and although that seems like a long time in dog years, the industry is still in its infancy. Why? I would like to preface the following conclusions by owning them. These are strictly my own opinions and experiences:

The number of techno-smart people are very young. Ipods, Iphones, new and improved video games and machines all reach out to this generation, and sales soar for the things they enjoy. Let’s face it…when you were a teenager or in your early twenties, did it occur to you how wonderful it would be to own something that allowed you to download a book? I don’t think so.

Secondly, for those who do enjoy reading, books are a comfort item. People have gotten used to holding something in their hands and actually turning pages. Garnering enthusiasm for something that obliterates what someone has grown to love is never easy. Add in the stigma attached to e-book: the bad press caused by companies that weren’t serious about making their mark in the publishing world, and you have a big reason why e-books have been slow on the uptake.

Face it, tons of Americans sit in front of their computer all day long, so the last thing they want to do is plant themselves there at night and read a book. Hand held readers are still very expensive, and old dogs don’t like new tricks. Of course, in the example I used above for Ipods, etc, young pups are always eager to explore. *smile*

I wonder if one day, schools might not realize the value in doing away with all the textbooks and putting everything on a handheld reader. Doing that would save millions used for purchasing books, do away with the need for lockers, and certainly improve the posture of all those back-pack toting teens. But then you’re messing with history, again, and people tend to growl when you do that.

I think small press has done wonders in overcoming the stigma that they will publish anything submitted to them. Competition has grown very keen, and rejections are an everyday occurrence. There are still some publishing companies who will accept everything sent them, because they hope to make up in quantity what they lack in quality. The shame: they’ve tarnished the reputation of those houses that have a good editorial staff in place and want to present the best of the best for their readers. The reality: They don’t have a good reputation, and legitimate authors avoid them like the plague.

For years, New York has been the hub of the publishing world, but now, even they are beginning to see value in POD (print on demand) books. Small publishers choose this route because most are small-scale, even run out of private homes, and there is no room for stocking multiple copies of their authors’ works. Plus, small operating budgets don’t allow for large print runs. In fact, to save overhead costs, many don’t offer print at all, but hope that “downloads” will continue to grow in popularity. With the economy plummeting and paper costs rising, you’ll find more NY authors offered on along with e-published authors. The sad thing for our industry: as NY authors move into the forefront of our “turf,” we are also seeing a swing in promotion. With Barnes & Noble recent takeover of Fictionwise, you’ll note that most of the advertisement on their home page has shifted to the well-known names. Not fair!

Promotion continues to be the number one requirement for sales, and in internet publishing, all the expense and time falls on the shoulders of the author. People can’t buy what they don’t know about, and as e-pubbed writers who don’t enjoy the benefit of advances and promotional help, we often are stymied about what to do next. I blog, maintain a website, have my own pages on several author sites, belong to other mega-groups, loops, have author days, participate in interviews, have my books reviewed… I pretty much do whatever I think might help my sales climb, but unfortunately I’m still struggling to find the money to pay for my own promotional endeavors. In the first year alone, I spent over three thousand dollars to establish my website, attend a conference, purchase promotional items and copies of my own books. The return on my investment was disappointing, and it hasn’t gotten much better despite my continued great reviews and encouragement from my peers and fans.

But, I don’t know the answers. To me the big PRO is that internet publishing keeps you humble and you make awesome friends. The CON, in my opinion, continues to be the return on the time and effort I invest, the lack of recognition by those who don’t value our industry, and, despite all my accomplishments, feeling a need to achieve that one final goal that puts a print copy of my work in a REAL store. I feel guilt for wanting to be a print author in a download world. Despite feeling defeat at times, I remind myself that while I may not be raking in the bucks, if I count the many friends who struggle along with me, urge me onward and support what I do, then I really, really am a millionaire. And, as the old cigarette commercial geared for women used to say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

Thank you Ginger, a pleasure as always!


Kayden McLeod

To visit Ginger Simpson:


Maggie Dove said...

You sure have come a long way, baby! I agree with what you said. Let's keep our fingers crossed that kindles become more affordable!


Tabitha Shay said...

What a great article and I have to agree with every word of it...Oh wise Miz always tell it like it is...and to add to your saying...You ain't seen nuthin' yet...E-books are the thing of least I think the technical world continues to grow and there is less and less space, books will likely become a thing of the past...maybe not right away, but somewhere down the line all written words will be on little pieces of computer

MAGGI said...

Well said, Ginger. Kindles are now available in Australia and England. If, as someone said, e-book publishing is still in it's infancy, and much like the Wild West, it does appear to be moving forward at a rapid rate.


Paige Ryter said...

Yes, they've come a long way, but I see that ebooks have a long way to go, to be appreciated as much as NY published books. It's interesting to watch, because I've seen ebooks change just over the past two years, more than I thought possible. For me, it can't happen fast enough. :)

Phyllis Campbell said...

And as much as epubs are growing with the romance genre, unless you are an author with the big publishers, you're not going to make any money. No matter how big ebooks get...the small pubs are still the small pubs. Sad, huh?

I do like to hold a book in my hands, drool at the cover, and curl up on my couch or bed to read. Computers are for writing and critiquing. When I read, I want a paperback. But that's just me.

Great blog, Ginger!


Dawné Dominique said... took the words right out of my mouth. Wow! Talk about a "hitting the nail on the head" post. I confess; I still love to hold a "physical" book, but that's because I'm old school. You are absolutely right. It was always a comfort to me to hold and read.

Bravo on an excellent topic!

Hugs and smiles,

Jannine said...

It's a struggle for an author with small presses, especially those who are solely e-pubs. The prestige just isn't there yet. Will it be? Who knows.

Very timely blog, Ginger. Eloquently said as always.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Ginger,
Well said I agree with every word you wrote. We don't, meaning the authors and e-publishers, get the recognition we deserve. We have paved the way, opened up an exciting alternative to paper books, withstood the ridicule from the big publishers, and because we did so well, they are muscling in on our territory, and I fear what happened to small print publishers over the last few years, will happen again, the big publishers will gobble up the small innovative e-pubs or drive them out of business. One only has to see what is happening over at Fictionwise since B&N took over. Who gets all the publicity? The big name authors and the big name publishers. FW and many of their readers seem to have forgotten, it was the small e-pubs who started this phenomenon, yet now they are not willing to continue supporting them, because something "better" has come along.

Robert Appleton said...

Very honest of you, Ginger. I have to agree. Unless you write in a hot genre AND your story catches fire on Fictionwise (or other well-known sellers), e-publishing is an uphill struggle for the author.

I wish sales figures weren't so secret, because I suspect the average sales for a single e-book are lower than we dare admit. These things should be compared, discussed more. Mine have been erratic, to say the least. Science fiction is pretty solid, but for me, there's been absolutely no correlation between promotion and sales. My two biggest-selling e-books are my least-promoted works. One I promoted the heck out of only managed fair numbers. The rest are dizzy in the middle.

And as others have pointed out, Fictionwise is now bowing to the big names, leaving us e-authors to hope even more and pray even harder. There's a lot of that going on at the moment--looking ahead and crossing fingers. But the reality is that e-publishing is a great place to start, to learn the trade...but no more than that.

Not yet.