This series of posts wouldn’t be complete without reference to ebook publishing.
You can publish your ebook yourself at no cost: if that interests you, I recommend Booktango.com as by far the easiest method. It will allow you to list your book on Amazon and a number of other ebook sites. However, like POD publishers, don’t imagine that Booktango or Amazon or anyone else will help you sell your book: just being visible on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or iTunes won’t make sales. If you don’t market it, chances are no one will notice it.
For that reason, it can be tempting to submit it to an ebook publishing house instead — one which is fussy about what it accepts and has therefore developed a reputation amongst readers. Ellora’s Cave is an example of one such house — erotica fans keep coming back to Ellora’s Cave because they know they publish good novels in their genre, and therefore simply being listed on the EC site will get your book noticed.
However, it can be tricky distinguishing which sites have built their reputation and which are just fly-by-nighters – of which there are many in the ebook industry. After all, POD and vanity publishers have to make a reasonable investment in setting up their printing business. So even if they do over-promise and under-deliver, they are less likely to be fly-by-nights. All an e-book publisher needs is a server, some software and an internet connection!
A cautionary tale about ebook publishers
One of my friends published several novels with an e-publisher a couple of years ago. She’s a prolific writer, and had several books ready by the time she got one accepted. The publisher who accepted that novel said he would take anything else she had, and she excitedly submitted more. Now, she wishes she hadn’t!
Even though they sent her proofs, the version of her novels which appeared on the site were riddled with typos and often badly formatted. She has a unique Southern voice with lots of colloquial expressions, many of which were “corrected” – apparently with a computer grammar/spell checker – without her agreement. Luckily she hadn’t given them all her manuscripts, and she took care to do her research before accepting an offer for her other stories from a second e-publisher. Unfortunately, in spite of all her efforts, her experience with the second e-publisher turned out not much better!
Like other non-mainstream publishers, the e-pubs did no marketing. It turned out that these sites weren’t getting as much traffic as she thought. She has sold books, but so far the marketing has cost her more money than she earns. And she’s concerned that it’s hard to build up a following of repeat readers, when the books present so badly. She can’t wait for her contracts to expire!