Monday, March 21, 2011

Ebook Publishing Vs. Self-publishing

Another great guest blogger for you today!  Author Jamie Grey (and my critique partner) is here to discuss the newer trends in publishing - and she should know! Her short story Princess for Hire debuted in eBook form this month.  I have it queued up on my Kindle as we speak.

There has been a lot of talk lately about indie publishing (otherwise known as self-publishing) and the amazing success people like Amanda Hocking, Zoe Winters, and JA Konrath are having. To say they’re making millions on their self-published work is hardly an exaggeration! The eBook revolution has made a real difference in getting works out there that traditional publisher might not be interested in. But there’s another aspect to the eBook trend that doesn’t get touched on quite as much - eBook only publishers. This is a huge, growing market, and one that’s primed to take off just like the indies. So what’s the difference between the two?

eBook publishers (the reputable ones at least) are still publishers

They have a submission process, they comb carefully through their slush pile for works that are well written, and fit with their publishing house. They use editors to edit those stories into shape before publishing, and provide professional cover design. Some ePublishing houses even help with marketing and reviews. Basically, you’re getting all of the perks of a hard cover publisher, but your book is released electronically. Some of the better known ePublishers are romance or erotica based, such as Samhain or Ellora’s Cave, but there are other, smaller houses who do a little bit of everything (My own publisher, MuseItUp included). But just like regular publishers, you must do your research and find the one that works best with you and your story.

Self-Publishing is easier than ever

People who choose to self-publish, often have to do all of this work themselves, or hire someone to do it for them. It can cost a lot of money out of pocket. The plus side is that they have complete creative control over their work – from the images, to the format and the venues to publish. Amazon makes it really easy to self-publish through their Kindle program, and I know Barnes and Noble are moving that way themselves. Other places you can post your work to include Smashwords, Bookstrand, and Kobo. If you’re comfortable marketing your work or already have a good online presence through your blog, facebook or twitter, self-publishing can be a good way to go.

How to Decide

So how do you tell if your novel or story is something that might work well as an eBook? And should you try to self-publish or find an ePublisher? I think the easiest way to answer that question is to ask what you want out of the publishing process. There is no right or wrong route to take, but you do need to be aware of all of your options and do enough research to decide which path is best for your work.

In closing, here are some questions to consider:

1.       Is your work long enough to be considered full length? Or is it an odd length – novella, short story, short novel? ePublishing or self-publishing might be the way to go.
2.       Are you comfortable finding your own cover designer and formatting your book properly for each different eBook format? Or do you need help with that? Whatever you decide, remember that people do judge a book by its cover, even an eBook, so you want it to be as polished as possible.
3.       Has your book gone through extensive editing or do you need additional help? Are you willing to pay for this? You can’t always expect ePublishers to provide extensive editing help or take on a story with a lot of problems, but most do provide editors and feedback for making your story the best it can be. If you go with self-publishing, you should expect to pay for editing services, or find yourself a fantastic critique group.
4.       Are you in this for the money? If so, stop right now. Most of us will never have the success of Amanda Hocking or JA Konrath. Self-publishing eBooks is significantly cheaper than a hard copy book, but it is still an investment, in both time and money. And it is HARD work to start from nothing and build a readership. Be warned that it will cut significantly into your writing time.
ePublishers offer varying royalties, most still better than traditional publishers, but again you will still need to work hard to advertise your work and create the name recognition that will help your career move forward.


  1. This is an interesting post. I haven't really thought about self/e-publishing, but I think it's interesting to see what all is available for those who wish to take this route.

  2. Great post! Very concise points and shows that the writer has an open mind, which not a lot of people do with regards to self-publishing. All the best with your book.

  3. I have yet to get over my prejudices with regards to eReaders like Kindle and the like. I'm also generally put off by how expensive some books still are from publishers--the same for an ebook as buying hardcover! But I remember reading before that the price is pretty much the same because the work involved is still the same--reading through the slush pile, selecting authors, editing, designing, etc. If it goes to print there's print costs too, but even if there's no hardcopy there's still promotional costs, cover art, distribution, etc. *sigh*

  4. Very interesting post. I've been doing a ton of research on self-publishing, and it looks more and more appealing. It's nice to know it's an option, anyway, and that it does work for a lot of people.

  5. Hey Sophia!
    Great post. I'm glad I met you at the kidlit night- hopefully we'll bump into each other again at another westside schmooze.
    I've given you a BLOG AWARD. Feel free to drop by anytime to pick it up. Just a little something to brighten up your day. :)

    warm regards,


I love dogs AND comments!


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