Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
As we started to discuss yesterday, here are some additional items for you to consider as you weigh e-publishing’s pros and cons:
- Involve your agent.
If you’re fortunate enough to have an agent who’s keeping up with e-publishing, capable of helping you to plan your career’s future, and willing to negotiate a good contract for you, please take advantage of your agent’s expertise. I’m befuddled as to why an author would not include his or her agent in this extremely important phase of a writing career. If it’s to save oneself from having to pay the agent’s commission, the agent will more than earn that commission for you. And you have to ask yourself, if you plunge ahead without involving your agent, will your agent step in to rescue you or will your agent let your e-publishing boat sink?
- Don’t choose to believe that because you can, you should.
I’m rounding the corner to come back to the idea of being intentional. One of my clients received requests from some book clubs for an out-of-print book and decided it was an indication of a significant readership just awaiting that book to be offered as an e-book and a POD book. Really? I’d encourage you to dig deeper into just how big that demand is. And if the demand is fledgling, do you have the resources to build on it through marketing, publicity, strong mailing list, major following in social media, etc.? Just because you can bring your books “back to life,” doesn’t mean you should.
- Know your readership.
Do your readers own e-readers? smart phones? shelves and shelves of physical books? How do they want your books delivered to them? Do they read only fiction on an e-reader? If you don’t know what your readers want, how do you know what to give them?
As you’ve considered e-publishing (or jumped in and done some publishing), what other factors should you weigh?
I agree with you up to a point. If you have the demand, done the research, know your current audience, and know the trends are leaning at this point toward e-readers for new audience, what’s the harm in reviving an out-of-print book, if you offer ii as you said above as both an e-book and POD? This supplies the request of your current audience, and allows for growth with new readers. It also allows the author, if they also speak, to purchase copies for back-of-room sales. Finally, in doing the research, the investment to get a book published via an e-reader/POD can be quite cost-effective.
The marketing effort can be incorporated into their on-going marketing program, and there are effective ways to market that are not expensive and effective as well.
Of course, an author should involve their agent in any publishing decision, and yet they should simultaneously have done their homework regarding this area of publishing as well. Knowledge is power 🙂
Karen asks, “What’s the harm?”
I’m concerned that authors who are e-self-publishing are not considering the harm that may be caused by competing with their own traditionally published books. Publishers work long and hard to organize pub dates that don’t conflict with each other. If an author works with more than one publisher an agent’s toughest job is coordinate on sale dates between the two (or more) houses so that the author is not competing with him- or herself for a limited number of book-buying dollars.
Many authors are not considering the calendar at all when issuing e-books. What if your readers know you have a new book out in April. They go to, say, Amazon and see two new books– one, the book your publisher is just releasing with great fanfare that sells for $9.99 and the other, an e-book you released at $2.99. Both are new. Your confused reader is likely to choose the $2.99 book. What will this do to your new book sales? Chances of making bestseller lists? If your sales figures go down, getting a new contract will be an uphill battle if even a possibility at all. You could be killing your career in the world of traditional publishing.
If I were your publisher, I would not look kindly on your competing with me for ever-shrinking reader dollars, not to mention limited reader time.
If you are going to self-publish an e-book, plan the release date carefully and make sure the price is comparable to your publisher’s e-book prices. But most of all, heed Janet’s warning: work with your agent. Our job is to mitigate the harm.
Excellent post, and Wendy, you made a very good point that I didn’t even think about in regards to reviving old titles.
One other concern I have about re-releasing older titles is the quality of the work. Writers grow as time goes on, but in some of the re-released books I’ve read, it seems the author tries too hard to stay in touch with the original story. So, even if it’s been revamped, it’s obvious to me as a reader that this is an earlier piece of work. If I enjoy a 2011 title by an author, there’s no guarantee I would have been a fan of his/her work in 2000 or earlier.
Granted, there are no guarantees in the business anyway, but I think by gathering up your out-of-print books and releasing them through an e-publisher could in some cases do more harm than good.
Thanks for another week of engaging posts, Janet. I value everyone’s insight, including that of your readers.
What about smart books? The idea of added content like the extras on a DVD? Is there a growing market for these kinds of e-books?
Wendy and Janet excellent advice! Thanks!
Cheryl, thanks for your excellent point that even revamping an older work (when you were a younger writer)doesn’t guarantee that the depth of your current work will be reflected in that project pulled out of the files. Authors seem downright itchy to have everything they ever created available to readers–and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Lisa, smart books with added content certainly are part of the mix, although their day in the sun hasn’t arrived yet. Everyone’s experimenting with what works in a smart book and what doesn’t. Of course, the answer will vary based on the book’s content, the additional content, the audience, and the retail price.