Digital Publishing Naysayers

Since I've been totally focused on finishing up my first Indie-published work, I'm hyper aware of anything to do with the self-publishing industry.

I hope to have my first ebook The Good Girl Conspiracy, (Book 1 of The Good, The Bad, and The Girly) available for download on March 11.

There! I have set the goal and carved it in digital stone. (If I wasn't bogged down with taxes, I'd have it up much sooner, but it's no use complaining about that because the rest of you have that same issue this time of the year.)

I've been reading a lot of Indie publishing blogs, and I'm as excited as these blog publishers about the possibilities for authors in this "outside the box" publishing. Of course, there were and are naysayers.

Here are a few because they're funny and short-sighted. These words exited the mouths of today's selection of learned folks within the last 10 years. Most of these people were talking about electronic publishing with a company, not indie publishing. However, many hold this belief, or worse, about indie publishing. There's a schism between traditionally published authors and indie published.

Rudy Rucker (I'm pretty sure this is Mr. Rucker Sr.), author, mathematician, computer scientist and philospher said: "Electronic distribution is more of a fall-back strategy for putting out a book that isn't deemed profitable enough to print. You hardly make any money publishing an electronic book."

Notes science fiction and fantasy author Anne McCaffrey said: "I wouldn't encourage new writers to start off publishing through electronic media... it still isn't wide enough for the readership they would need to get a good start."

Even Bill Gates weighed in with: "Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana." He also said: "Some people read off of their Palms and Pocket PCs, but the real immersible reading experience takes a full-screen device." (Gee, I hope all the iPhone readers don't get upset with that declaration.)

Takeaway Truth

Nineteenth century author C. N. Bovee said: "There is probably no hell for authors in the next world - they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this." At least if one goes the indie publishing route, an author may succeed in reducing the hell by fifty per cent.


  1. So ahppy for you. Congratulations on joining the eBook world and looking forward to your publishing The Good Girl Conspiracy - Book 1. Its a great catchy title.

  2. Why thanks, Jacqueline. Writers like you who have blazed the way inspire me!

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  3. Bill Gates was speaking from experience: Microsoft Press publishes a lot of tech books. And when he was running Microsoft, he surely learned of the IRS "useful life" rules that gave a big tax advantage to publishers that destroyed unsold books, thus ending "back list" sales.

    I don't know what the rule is on ebooks. Seems to me that you should be able to write off development costs as costs, rather than depreciate them, if you're not maintaining an inventory.

    In the 1980s, I ran across a statistic that showed the average full-time "free-lance writer" made about half as much as minimum wage. I suspect that was because a lot of unemployed people called themselves freelance writers, instead of admitting that they were unemployed. I discovered, though, that I could only produce about 200 saleable words of articles a day, and looking at the rates in Writer's Market, that was obviously unworkable. I sold to local businesses at considerably higher rates, and still did poorly.

    I observed self-published authors, and noticed that they'd only sell $25/hour in books when they gave lectures or showed up at events. At that rate, it's hardly worth while selling off a stack of books if you inherited a garage full of them.

    My hope is that by dropping the price to $10 or less, the market can be greatly expanded. The first wave of ereader buyers would be avid readers. Any idea what the projected market for ebooks will be in another five years?

  4. Good morning, Harl!

    My crystal ball is cloudy this morning, but I suspect the ebook market in 5 years will command a majority of books sold.

    Think about it. The Kindle was a groundbreaking event. The first one was released Nov. 2007 - less than 5 years ago. Look at the growth in ebook publishing in the last 3 1/2 years!

    In another 5 years, I predict more traditional publishers will move toward the business model adopted by Dorchester in which new authors get ebook contracts. If they sell big and prove themselves, then they may move into print as well.

    As ereaders become even more popular, print will decline more. It's not just a matter of "saving the trees," it's a matter of the convenience of the devices with the Kindle's 3G interface being the most convenient for shopping and purchasing - anytime, anywhere.

    Whether that means authors will be making a good income from that is questionable. In 20 years, I've seen earnings from writing decline across the board.

    New writers today probably get half or even less than what they got 20 years ago in an advance.

    Freelance writing is the same story with the worldwide outsourcing making writers in the U. S. crazy. I won't write an article for $5.00, but someone in India, Malaysia etc. is happy to do so. Historically, writers ( a la Rodney Dangerfield) get no respect.

    Just as print books have always had a pecking order, so do ebooks, and I think that disparity between A, B, and C list authors will grow.

    You'll have the authors that break out and those that struggle along, but if they're indie publishing, they'll have a decent chance of capturing a niche audience for their work. If they fail to do so, they bear more responsibility for that inability because they're wearing all the publishing hats, not just the writer hat.