The publishing industry is changing, and the pace of change is picking up. Traditional paper publishers are noticing that the ePub train is leaving the station and scrambling to find a seat. Agents are looking for new models for staying onboard. Writers are realizing that they have a choice and opting at times to take the bullet train instead of the bus ...
Not to say that paper is moribund–it's still the prevailing vehicle for books, and even though the numbers there declined last year as the eBooks went up, it still offers advantages. Don't need batteries. There is the organic experience of holding a book in your hand. The royalty advances. Seeing your work in a bookstore and watching as other people see it.
Anybody notice that Borders went bankrupt? That Powell's laid off thirty people? That outside Amazon.com and the big box stores like Costco and Wallyworld, books stores in general are having a hard time of it?
There are writers who look at some of the strictures of traditional publishing and elect to turn away from that route, to directly feed the Kindles, iPad, Nooks, and whatever else can download material from the new stores, and that includes phones, laptops, and regular computers. No advance, but ebooks never go out of print. The royalty rates are six or seven times more. The delivery is immediate. The cover looks like the writer wants it to look.
Check the picture above. In some cases, at least, it even looks like a book.
I have four novels and a collection of short stories that started out as eBooks only, no paper editions, and six others that are out-of-print in paper, but now available electronically.
If I could get the rights to all the Matador novels, I expect I could sell a few of them as ebooks. Ace doesn't want to give them up, and can't be bothered to put them on Amazon.com.
Am I making as much from them as I would if New York had put my novels out? No. Not yet. Eventually, I might, but–even if I don't? At least there is a great amount of crap up with which I won't have to put. Something to be said for that, too.
Write a book and it doesn't slot neatly for the traditional publishers, they pass on it. If they don't think they can make enough profit on it? They pass. Put it up on the eStores, and if it sells ten copies? That's forty bucks you wouldn't have otherwise. Is that a smart choice? Hell, no, not moneywise; however, there are books that I feel the need to write, and the commercial aspects of them aren't the motivating factor. Stories I want to tell.
Dan Moran's new Trent novel is going to be an eBook first, and a POD, and I would give you good odds that he will make more money with it going this route than he would have from a traditional publisher. Not at first, maybe, but eventually. Because it is a good book–as good or better than it would be as a paper version. He's the same writer. He doesn't have to answer to a publisher or editor who doesn't like what he did. He can get input from folks who can help the same ways he did before, only faster. He makes a good living doing computer-y things, he doesn't need the money, so he can say, "Fuck this crap!" and do what he wants.
I read about all this future-shock stuff at various places, and here are a couple, if you are interested, where you should drop round and tune in: Check out writer/editor/publisher Dean Wesley Smith's blog, along with Kristine Kathryn Rusch's, also a writer/editor/publisher. Follow some of their links.
And ... keep watching the skies ...