Saturday, 15 January 2011

Why wouldn't you epublish?

So you've finished writing your novel; you've gone over it dozens, if not hundreds of times, till it is as polished as you can make it; you've sent it out to beta readers, and used some of their suggestions. If you need it (and it's a myth that every author does) you've paid a professional proofreader.

Now what?

If you buy lottery tickets each week in the hope you will win - after all, someone has to - and enjoy banging your head against a brick wall, your course is clear: submit your novel to literary agents. The publishing industry moves at the speed of a sloth with a hangover, so while you are waiting, as well as writing the next novel, why not publish for the Kindle on Amazon? Because:
  • You will get some experience of marketing, always useful.
  • You will find out what the paying public thinks about your book; on Amazon, you can expect slightly less than one review per hundred books sold.
  • You will start to make money immediately.
  • If your book sells well, this may impress the literary agent of your dreams; in fact, at some point agents are going to wake up to where the good non-contracted authors hang out these days, near the top of the Kindle chart, and start prospecting there.
Is there a downside? I think not. Some say you should not give away your first publishing rights, as publishers will not touch your book if you have. Frankly, if a publisher believes he can make money from your book, he won't give a damn about that. Suppose your ebook doesn't sell? If you've made every effort to promote it, and your price is right, you may have to face the fact that it's not as good as you'd hoped; or that it's a minority taste.

And you still have the agent lottery to try.


  1. My biggest worry is getting anything I write up to a publishable standard in the first place!

    I was well impressed with the standard of editing on Remix.

  2. FH, perhaps you are being too modest.

    The editor I used is very cheap and pernickety and on call to me 24/7 :o)

  3. Well I think you've proven that epublishing works but I think it works for Remix most of all cos Remix was totally amazing!!! I really and truly enjoyed it and I hope many many many more get to experience your book!!!! :-)

    Take care

  4. Exactly right, Lexi.

    By the by, the smarter agents are starting to catch on now. I know of a hot selling Kindle author who was recently contacted out of the blue by a leading agent at Trident and signed up. You could be next...

  5. That's interesting, Eric. Where America leads we tend to follow. Agents would be wise to nab authors before they get too used to the joys of being free-range...

  6. Kitty, nearly missed your comment. And you used the expression totally amazing in connection with Remix, too, always nice :o)

  7. I've seen this discussed quite a lot lately. Have you seen this, btw?

  8. Excellent post, Lexi. I like that you have a really sharp and helpful editor. Well done with your sales of Remix!

  9. Sandra, what an interesting post. America, of course; and the agents are still being a bit de haut en bas about the whole thing. They don't say what happens if the author isn't pleased, grateful and eager to comply...

    Celery (have you thought of suing your parents?) thank you, and I'll tell my editor what you said :o)

  10. Like the blog, as soon as my 'inhouse' Uber editor is finished with my last effort, up it goes to Smashwords and then I'll try Amazon. At least we've got the cover art finished. Good luck with remix.

  11. Gregory, in my experience Smashwords is great if you want to give away books. If you want to sell books, Amazon is the place. There was a thread on the US Kindleboards recently about this:,48634.0.html

  12. You're absolutely right, Lexi. My regret is that I didn't start this earlier -like a year ago, when I seriously considered it. Or two years ago, when it was considered the riskiest thing an author could do (and a potential career destroyer).

    I might have been selling my books all this time, getting real feedback, maybe even making some money. It's very frustrating to look back at the time I wasted. Now that I am getting feedback from perfect strangers, and that feedback is largely quite positive, I can see the mistake I made by waiting. Now I feel like a have a lot of catching up to do.

  13. It's still early days, Jamie. Don't neglect the UK market which has only been going a few months (fill in your author page, do your tags and drop in the forum!) It's a smaller mountain to climb over here.

  14. This is a great post, Lexi, but I do think there’s a caveat--Why wouldn’t you epublish if it’s right for you?

    Every writer is different, every writer has different ambitions.

    I’ve lost patience with a couple of bloggers who sneer at anyone who dares to even think about self- publishing (I wonder if you can guess who I mean). I hate to say it, but now some indie authors (NOT you, Lexi) are taking the same stance towards writers who continue to go “the lottery” route.

    You’ve done brilliantly Lexi, and I suspect you will continue to do so whichever route you take in the future. But I’m not even slightly tempted to go the self epublishing route. It’s not right for me.

    Now, I’m off to bang my head against a brick wall for a couple of weeks!

  15. Fair point, Justine, and particularly so for any author writing children's books, as few children in this country own Kindles yet.

    If my guess is right about the bloggers you mention, I stopped following them a year ago for the same reason.

    Good luck with the head banging (but I have to say, it's nice when one stops).

  16. You make some good points, Lexi, one of which I'd like to amplify. Yes, it's often said that self-publishing is suicide: it bears a stigma, and there are legal issues for any publisher who might be interested in buying an already-published book.

    This is garbage. Unknown self-publishers are below the radar of the big houses. If a major publisher did become interested in a self-published novel, the earlier publication would be a matter of indifference.

    My lamentable literary career has included countless rejections, one fruitless year on the books of New York agents Dystel and Goderich, some months (equally fruitless) on those of London agent David Grossman, and publication, to resounding indifference, of one volume by SportsBooks of Cheltenham.

    For the unknown and unconnected, I see no point in going after worthwhile agents or publishers. (Any fool can get an unworthwhile agent or publisher.) No, the way ahead is clear, and you've shown it. Publish on Amazon for the Kindle, do a bit of marketing, and you might have a chance.

    If that doesn't grab you, take up crochet. It'll be more fun than the misery you will otherwise inflict on yourself.

  17. Possibly you are being a tad downbeat, Iain - the odd unknown writer gets lucky with an agent and a book deal. Just not very many; so that most of the old advice to writers which is still going the rounds needs a radical rethink, as it's seriously out of date.

  18. Since I first POD-ed with in 2008, I have read deflating comment on POD publishing, then followed the equally doom-ridden comment of self-publishing to e-book via Amazon. So Lexi, all I can say is that you have proved the doomsayers wrong, you have shone a light at the end of the tunnel and huzzah for doing it!

  19. Mesmered, I remember all the fuss about the YWO PODing.

    I was a most reluctant self-publisher, but having said I'd submit Remix for a year, then go it alone, I gritted my teeth and got on with it.

    The worst bit was before the book started to sell, because I'd used up Plans A and B, and there was no Plan C.