When I worked at Penguin USA in 2008 word was already beginning to spread as to the shift in paradigm. Editors were growing concerned, focus groups were assembled to analyze these new trends and help brainstorm how best to ride the new wave into the future.

That was 2008. Now, in 2011, the eBook revolution is finally here. Numbers are spiking, growing, and everywhere one can read success stories about unpublished authors making fortunes by self publishing their novels. The authors are increasingly growing scornful of the traditional publishing deal, especially those who earn more in the first few months selling their eBooks than they do from their traditional advance.

So what am I to make of this? There seem to be a few requirements for becoming a successful eBook selling author. Let’s see how I stack up.

  1. The more books you write and put out for sale, the better. This shouldn’t be a problem. I have four trunk novels, and am producing roughly one novel per month as is. And in fact, this was something I was concerned about vis-a-vis traditional publishing, in that it takes about 18 months for a printed book to see the light of day, and the publishers wait to see how that book sells before asking for more. My question was: what am I supposed to do career-wise while I’m waiting the 2 years or so for the publishers to get back to me?
  2. Have good cover art. I’m pretty decent in photoshop, but also I could probably scope out some good artists on deviantart.com. I don’t think covers would be a problem
  3. Write a good summary of the novel to hook attention. Sounds like the same challenge as writing a good query letter. Tricky! But with some effort and attention, it should be doable.
  4. Finally, write a good book. Well, hopefully I have. Not much I can do on this one other than work hard on the edits and hope people like them.
What’s nice about ePubbing is that you can continuously modify what your are selling. Change the cover art, change the title, change the summary, change the price, even. So you can fine tune as you go until you hit the sweet spot. And given that you get 70% of the sales as royalty? You stand to make a lot of money if you can move some copies.
So I don’t know. What’s not to like? Wealth and success awaits! Or does it? Most eBooks don’t sell, it seems, with the few meteoric success stories drawing everybody’s attention (take a look at Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath).
I think the way to go is as follows: continue to strive for print publication, but instead of leaving novels to languish in the bottom drawer, send them out to be sold on the Kindle for $0.99. I’m thinking for March I might rewrite my vampire novel which has all the right elements to be a commercial success, and put that out as a trial run. Or maybe send out queries, and if nobody bites, THEN put it out as an eBook. Or take my friend Will’s advice and rewrite Crude Sunlight and put THAT out for sales. Hello, 2008!
Either way, fascinating time to be an author. The gates are being shattered down, and already people are streaming out into the fields beyond.
What about you guys? Given any serious to ePubbing your books? What are your experiences thus far?