I’ve been watching the e-book revolution with astonishment. Everything is changing so quickly. There’s no doubt that the times they are a’changing. In our house, most of the books we buy now are digital, and in the U.S., I’m selling more e-books than print. This is apt only to escalate.
On March 22, less than two months ago, Barry Eisler turned down half a million dollars from Minotaur Books in order to self-publish. On the same day, it was announced that Amanda Hocking did the exact opposite, turning away from the millions she’s earned self-publishing in order to be published by a big New York publisher.
“It is crazy that we live in a time that I have to justify taking a seven-figure publishing deal with St. Martin’s. Ten years ago, nobody would question this. Now everybody is.” — Amanda Hocking
I think what stirred the most were the revelations of Amanda Hocking’s “numbers”: in January of this year, self-publishing, she sold 450,000 books. In one month.
“Many of the folks who hit the pre-digital New York Times hardcover list did not have 450,000 book sales in a single year. Granted, Hocking’s books are mostly digital and they’re cheap (99 cents to $2.99), but still. These are significant game-changing numbers . . . ” —Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Beginning Writers Again—Sort Of (Changing Times Part 17)
Right now, given what has become “standard” contract terms, the publishers are doing well and the authors are not. Imagine an e-book that sells for $10 in the U.S. In current e-book practice, the publisher earns $5.25 on the sale of that book, and the author $1.75. If the author self-published the book, he or she would earn $7.00. Needless to say, this has caught the attention of the writing community.
“The stories coming out of the trenches right now are incredible. … If there are e-book failure stories floating around out there, we have yet to hear them.” —January Magazine, Authors on Self-publishing E-Books
It isn’t all about money; not everyone is in a niche that will rake in millions. It’s also about that oh-so-70s word: empowerment. Suddenly, one can publish rather easily. Suddenly, there is no such thing as OPP (out of print). Suddenly, there is no such thing as out of stock.
I’m now in the process of looking into to publishing my books as e-books in those countries where I own the copyright. It would be an investment of both time and money, and I wouldn’t expect to clear for a few years, but even so, the thought is making me giddy. Before, I felt everything was up to others; now I can do it myself.
What are your thoughts? Are you reading digitally?
Here are some links if you wish to explore this new world yourself: