Why I Dig E-Publishing

I'm just bumming around today and decided to fix this post up and share it with you. I can't possibly get all my feelings on publishing down here, and I don't think I need to. And though the topic is almost a cliché, it'll still be interesting to see if, in a few years, I feel the same.

I'm not bitter toward the big publishers. I was never rejected by them, I've never even tried to get through their doors. I just don't think we'd have a good relationship, if you know what I mean.

My personality doesn't take well to pressure. Deadlines, editors, sales; they don't fit me. I'd burn out. E-publishing allows me to write at my own pace, and because I am not accountable to anyone but myself and the reader, I can take a more casual approach and just relax. I'll get the work done. I certainly don't feel like I have to help support a billion dollar industry.

If I tried to publish the traditional route, it would take me years, and still offer no guarantee of success. It doesn't matter how good I think I am. I'm fairly confident in my writing ability, but I don't think I'm lucky enough to get my foot in the door. Luck plays a huge role in traditional publishing, even if it's just having the luck to know the right people, or to come up with a just-clever-enough query letter.

There is luck in e-publishing as well, but it's a different kind of luck. It's a luck I feel I have more control over. I think it's easier to get word of mouth going on the internet than it is to convince a random editor or agent to buy my story. And then, even having gone through the process of traditional publishing, I still have to do all the work I'd have to do in e-publishing. I'll have to edit my manuscript before I send it to an agent or publisher, and I'll have to market the book mostly by myself after it's published.

I'll be under a deadline, not to edit, but to sell. In six months or a year, if my book hasn't sold enough copies to justify its shelf space, my publisher will yank it from the market. My timescale isn't six months. It's twenty+ years. I can wait for readers, but I'm not going to wait for a publisher.

A publisher can get me into bookstores, but at a cost. Books today aren't cheap. I usually don't buy new books because of their high cost. It's more convenient for me to purchase used books, or simply go to the library, so I quickly warmed up to the idea of selling an e-book for 2.99. It's a huge benefit to readers, especially as e-reading grows in popularity. It's something I want to be a part of.

With traditional publishing, much can happen in my life, in the world, and in publishing in the two or three, or more, years it would take my book to hit the market. I could miss reading trends, and much more. I want to be there when change happens, and not sit sidelined as I wait for my book to come out. I like the idea of adjusting midstream when a new technology becomes available. I can't do that if my book is in limbo with a publisher.

E-publishing allows me the freedom I desire. It offers flexibility to do something different, when and how I want. I can listen to readers, and write for them, and for myself—instead of writing for an editor. I want to give readers the best stories I can write, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to gain experience, meet new people, and push myself beyond my comfort zones.

I kind of like the “outsider” label that e-publishing has right now. I enjoy defending it against people who think it's a fad or that self published writers are amateurs. I'm not too impressed by traditional publishing. I'll take 80% royalties over 8% royalties. I like the idea of not having to sign a contract, not having to have an agent and a lawyer, not having to sell my creative soul just so people can see what I write. If a big publisher came to me right now with a million dollar book deal, I don't think I'd take it. I'd be tempted, who wouldn't be? But the contract would just be too much for someone who likes to go his own way in almost everything he does. I like to work outside of systems, and e-publishing is just that.

I'm not afraid to make mistakes, and get my hands dirty in the process. In fact, I'm looking forward to doing just that. I realize that to get my hands dirty means I'll make mistakes, but if I'm not making mistakes then I'm not growing—and I'm certainly not publishing. Mistakes I can fix. I can't fix a missed opportunity.

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18 Responses to Why I Dig E-Publishing

  1. Awesome take. I wish you success! This is certainly a great attitude not only for publishing but for many things in life.

  2. J.R. you echoed many of my sentiments. I am planning on publishing my novel in January. I can't wait!!
    Nice thought out post.

  3. J. R., this subject is so pertinent to me right now. I have been on the fence about e-publishing or staying the course of the traditional route. I am hoping my blog has generated enough of a following to be able to publish on my own and actually see some financial rewards.
    Your info here was a deciding factor for me. I am going the "self" route.
    May God favor all your endeavors!

  4. Thank you, Anonymous, on your insight as to this being beneficial to the rest of life. I'm going to reread my own post now and try to see it that way :)

    I wish you the best of luck, Leah!

    Martha, I feel honored that I've been able to help you make a very difficult decision. I know it's not an easy one. I've spent years trying to get over the hurdle of "should I or shouldn't I publish" and still I'm not quite there. I hope you can be successful reaching readers, and also gaining some financial security. Make your own luck :)

  5. Right on J.R.! Couldn't agree more. But you know that ;)

  6. I agree with all of the above sir! my only problem with e publishing is quite frankly i have downloaded some pretty pants writing. True it was cheap but also nasty. Did inspire me to start writing my own novel though ;)

  7. I sure do, Rodney. You've been a great help to me.

    @ Baldychaz: Thank you, my dear bald friend. I'm sorry for your nasty experience but am glad it inspired you nonetheless, and assure you anything I put on the market won't be quite as bad ;)

  8. Good luck with publishing, may come to you for advice in the future. it would help if you continue to blog about this publishing journey for folks who are toying with the idea.

  9. I think I will, Sukanya. It'll be beneficial for me as well as for others, and it'll certainly give my blog a goal; something to live up to.

  10. great stuff.. I really need to know more on the 'how' to do it though

    Cheers A

  11. I have been down both roads. I always had the dream of signing my book at the large Waterstones near to where i once lived. But i can assure anyone, the best route is to make your mark on line, get noticed, become an authority, and wait for publishers to knock on your door, that way the journey will be far more pleasant.

  12. JR...I thought I had left a comment on this post already, but upon returning I don't see it...oops!...I like the ideas you have towards e-publishing. It seems like a very empowering way for an author to get their work recognized and read widely by others. Something one can do at their own pace in their own timing. I'm wishing you the best of success and look forward to reading your first book! :)

  13. Thanks a ton for your feedback, Larry. I really appreciate that.

    Jessica, I hope it won't be too long before I have something to sell. But in the meantime feel free to read this:


  14. Interesting post and hope it works out for you... For me.. well the desire to e publish is not that strong... I am very content to be where I am with my writing... reflections.
    I do not consider my writing to be of that calibre anyway. I write to release and to encourage maybe...

  15. No matter what route you take to do anything in life doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes we expect too much too fast and we get discouraged. It's also good to have alternative avenues if one doesn't succeed, try another :)

  16. I loved ur take on this topic. I have tried to publish my manuscript too, and I am interested in e publishing...Can u tell me how to go about it? I actually already have put it in my blog as I want people to read it even for free, but I dont know how to reach to more people who are really into search like I was "Of unifying different religions logically"

  17. Thanks, Jerly.

    Feel free to add me on Facebook, and I can give you more specific answers as to what my plans are. I intend to post some of them here, but the process isn't going to be very quick.

    I think, in a nutshell, it's best to upload your work to Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble's e-book platform (not sure what it's called), and also Scribd Lulu, and Smashwords. You'd have to familiarize yourself with each one's formatting guidelines. Make sure your manuscript is as well edited as it possibly can be, have some cover art for it, and then build contacts with readers on Facebooks, Goolge+, and elsewhere. The selling process is a complete mystery to me--I've never been through it...but I'm warming up to the publish side of it and to me it doesn't seem very hard. It just requires some research and some patient study.

    I'm sure I just glossed over a lot of important details in order to cram it all into that one paragraph.

    Good luck!

  18. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting.
    I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.



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