The world of publishing is undergoing changes as the electronic world catches up. As an author who has published both ways it seemed to me to be a good time to weigh up the pros and cons.
My first book Dead Wood was published in the traditional way after winning the Dundee International Book Prize. What an exciting time that was. The procedure prior to publication was not without pain. Any author will tell you that writing ‘The End’ when you finish, is not really the end. There follows a period, which can last up to a year, but in my case was 8 months, for the editorial process. During this time conflicting demands were made – to add words and to cut words. The cover was decided by the publisher and the title changed. But what a feeling of achievement there was when I held my book in my hands and saw it on the bookstore shelves.
Now all that may seem fairly easy to the new author, but that book had been hawked round publishers and agents for 4 years prior to winning the prize. Rejections were the order of the day. The last rejection I had was 1 month before winning the prize and that publisher had retained the book for 4 years before making up his mind. That same publisher, I may add, had a recent column in a Sunday newspaper bemoaning the fact that publishers were losing their authors to e-publishing.
So, 2 years later, after hawking my second book round the publishers and agents, I decided to go down the electronic route and publish Night Watcher to Kindle. After the formatting it was relatively painless and cost me nothing, apart from the editing fee, which is a good investment. Shortly after, basking in my success, I published the book to Smashwords so that other reader formats could have access to the novel. Admittedly I didn’t have that wonderful feeling of holding a book in my hands but at least it’s out there and being read. After all, what is a writer without an audience?
So what are the pros and cons. Well, with traditional publishing you have all the pain of constant rejections, plus the length of time everything takes. With e-publishing you can have your book on sale almost immediately, although I would advise sending it to a literary agency or editor prior to taking that step. A traditional publisher will give you 8 per cent royalties (average), while with e-publishing you can be earning anything between 35 to 85 per cent, provided you publish yourself. But best of all you are independent, and the feeling of liberation that comes with that, because you don’t have to prostrate yourself to publishers, is marvellous.
I would say that the e-publishing route has been a success for me, although I do miss being able to hold my book in my hands following publication.
E-publishing or traditional. What do you think?