Thursday, May 31, 2007

The E-book Advantage

An Essay
By Bob Liter

Like most authors of fiction I wanted to be published by a print publisher, preferable one of the majors, and see my book or books sell big time. I wrote away, finished the first novel, and sought an agent.

I got various replies to my queries but none of them included a request to see my novel, a mystery. "Too derivative," one agent said. Another said, "The market for a book similar to this is tight right now."

Others said they were not sufficiently in love with the manuscript to attempt to sell it. And there were a lot of "no thanks."

So I tried to sell directly to publishers with no success. Damn. I'd spent a lot of my retirement time writing this novel and I wanted it published. I never considered any type of vanity press. The only thing left was electronic publishers. Such a publisher, the first one I sent it to, agreed to publish it. I wasn't that happy about it. Far short of my goal.

Since then I've written eight more novels, tried to sell then through agents and to print publishers without success, and wound up submitting them to the publisher of the first novel. All of them have been published on the internet.

Did I mention the advantage? There is one. If any of my novels had been published by a print publisher they might have been a hit, made me a lot of money, but more than likely they would have suffered the fate of most print-published novels. A few copies would be sold, then the book would be remaindered, destroyed or burned - whatever - and never be seen by the public again.

Ah, but my e-books go one forever, apparently. They all are still available, they all continue to sell, sometimes once a month, sometimes zero for several months, and occasionally as many as 50 a month.

I get royalties - not much but some - and someone is reading my stuff. So that's the advantage. Once they are published they remain available to the reading public, I get a little money every three months to remind me that someone is buying my stuff.

I've just finished another novel and will start by trying to get an agent to handle it. Then try to sell it directly to a publisher. After both of those efforts fail I'll send it to my e-book publisher.

Bob Liter is the author of eight novels -- "The Nick Bancroft series is power-packed," says one reviewer -- and you can read the first chapters here. Of course, you also can check out Bob's musings on his blog.

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