Dramaquill's All Things Writing

May 10, 2011

E-books vs. Print – the debate continues

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The world of modern technology moves faster and faster with each passing day.  We already know that whatever new gadget or program we purchase, it’ll probably be obsolete by the time we get it home as developers work on the next generation.  There’s always something faster and better just around the corner.

As writers, we are faced with new technology when seeking publication of our manuscripts.  There’s the traditional print book, the POD (print on demand), books on CD Rom and e-books. 

Many see the surge of popularity toward the e-book as the downfall of the printed hard copy, but as an author whose first novel has come out in e-book format, to be followed by print, I can attest that a large majority of followers still prefer having an actual book in their hand, something they can display on their bookshelves.

E-books have been around a lot longer than one might think.  According to Wikipedia, the earliest e-book, developed for just a select few, was in 1971.  The nineties saw the addition of books on floppy disk and CD Rom.  By the mid ninetees, ebooks appeared online and at the turn of the century, large publishers, like Random House, began selling this digital version as well.

So are e-books going to replace the paper version anytime soon?  This author doesn’t think so.

What are the advantages of buying e-books?

  • often cheaper
  • an e-book reader can hold an entire library
  • one can carry their library with them, all inside a device smaller than many print books
  • books can be downloaded and read instantly (no waiting to order)
  • e-books can be downloaded and read on your computer (no need to buy a device)

The e-book reader and this digital technology hasn’t been embraced by everyone.  It’s not likely that schools will be able to afford to order e-book readers for all kids enrolled, so the paper version of books will likely line library shelves for quite some time.

Many individuals do not want to have yet another gadget, or are not willing to learn new technology and feel that print books are a simpler way to get their reading done.  Many say that holding a book in their hand is still a feeling they enjoy.

But for authors trying to break into the publishing world, there are many e-publishers offering traditional contracts who might just be a little more willing to take a chance on a new author because creating an e-book doesn’t cost as much as a print run.

Does this mean your writing doesn’t have to live up to its highest standards?

Absolutely not!

Are e-books all self published?

NO – this is a myth that many less informed individuals subscribe to, thus impeding their switch to the digital format.

If you do decide to purchase an e-reading device, there are several out there to choose from including Amazon’s Kindle, the Kobo, the Sony e-reader and my favorite, the iPad, which is a tablet computer, not just an e-reader.

http://www.amazon.com/Kindle

http://www.kobobooks.com

http://ebookstore.sony.com/reader/

http://www.apple.com/iPad

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July 26, 2008

Self publishing – it’s not for everyone!

Okay, I’ll say right out that I’m probably going to get a lot of comments on this post and I’m prepared for that.  But before you comment remember this:  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion!

I’m just flabbergasted at the growing number of authors who have decided to self-publish.  Now, before you get defensive, let me clarify that I mean the number of fiction authors. 

I totally get that doing a POD book or an ebook that’s an information guide might be a more lucrative way to go for some non-fiction subject matter.  I also understand that some writers may only want to make a few copies of a book for family and friends for a special occasion and self-publishing allows them to do that.

I don’t have anything against POD technology or self-publishing per se.

What I don’t understand is why any author who’s truly stoked about his/her novel being published and available in bookstores would choose to self-publish.  So many vanity press companies have such bad reputations (we’ve all read the countless complaints about Publish America).  And major booksellers won’t stock self-published or POD books.

I know what you’re thinking.  It takes forever to go down the traditional path.  You don’t have to tell me – I know!

I’ve been slugging it out as a writer for many years and started seriously submitting about seven or eight years ago.  It’s frustrating as hell to wait for six months or longer to hear back from a publisher. 

But as I stare at my folder filled with rejection letters, I can’t help but notice a pattern.  More often than not my rejections now come with short, personal notes.  A rejection’s still a rejection but seeing something like “cute story, great character, unfortunately we’ve recently published something similar” tells me that my kidlit PBs aren’t always getting passed by because they aren’t good.  Sometimes it’s just bad timing.

I’ve managed to publish enough magazine clips, both in kidlit publications and also some NF, that I do feel that I’m making headway.  A recent acceptance by Writer’s Digest for an article in an upcoming market book keeps me hopeful that with each rejection, I continue to work harder on making my writing stronger and that it’s only a matter of time.

Nope – I haven’t broken either the kidlit PB market or the adult suspense genre but I’m not willing to feel like a sell-out by self publishing.

Okay, before you throw daggers in my direction, I know that self-publishing isn’t always a sell-out.  But there are a lot of really bad self-published books out there – badly written and badly edited.  I don’t want my book lumped in with those.  Also, these vanity presses charge the author a lot of money and often the quality of the finished product is terrible.  (I have heard positive exceptions regarding the quality of Booklocker.com and Lulu.com)

My philosophy is simple:  If it’s meant to happen for me, it will.

I’m doing the groundwork:

  • researching publishers and agents
  • following the specific guidelines when submitting
  • only sending my very best work
  • getting my work critiqued before subbing it out
  • editing and revising
  • researching the markets
  • making contacts at conferences and online
  • honing my craft
  • never giving up

Will I change my mind one day?

Never say never, but I doubt it!

Self publishing is not for everyone and I really believe it’s not for me.

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