What I notice about a lot of articles/blog posts lately about e-book statistics is this: They seem to regard e-books as the sole domain of self-publishing (which many are now calling ‘Indie Publishing’, a term that used to just mean small press), when in fact, lots of represented writers (writers with an agent) who have contracts with publishing houses are publishing their books as e-books as well as bound books.
I get it that many self-publish to e-books only, because of the expense in producing a bound book, but it seems to me that e-books are really just the 21st century’s version of the drugstore paperback, i.e. ‘an inexpensive book’, (although God knows the price of the device to read these ‘cheap books’ on is exorbitant, IMO), and being represented and publishing e-books are not mutually exclusive, except in the minds of some self-published folks.
Aren’t most traditionally published novels by represented authors also available as e-books? And if so, why don’t the people writing these self-publishing e-books stat articles and blog posts cull those numbers out of their statistics?
A member of my writing workshop recently sent around this link. (You should take a moment and read it, it’s interesting, and you won’t have much of a clue what the rest of this post is about if you don’t.) After reading the post the workshop member raised the question: If 10,000 readers download your novel for free, who’s left to buy it?
A valid question. If the average first novel by a new author usually only sells between 1000 – 5000 copies, who is left to buy your novel if you give it away to so many?
One answer I typically come across while meandering through the many posts and articles on the subject is this:
A self published author must publish as often as possible.
And ideally they should have several books available right from the get go.
Now, of course we all wish we were hugely prolific, with many many wonderful, amazing stories just clamoring to be written, and that we were supported by a benignly wealthy patron, whose sole delight—aside from paying our bills—was to see us at our keyboard, tapping away like demented woodpeckers. But the truth is most of us have day jobs, and families. And in my experience, most of us need six months to a year to turn out just a good first draft to work with—and then the sweaty work begins.
So, writing several novels a year that are actually worth reading seems unrealistic. Unless, as I said, you happen to be an extremely prolific, independently wealthy genius.
And seriously, if that’s the case, you probably stopped reading this post when I winced at giving away 10,000 copies—muttering something beneath your breath like: Frankly Scarlet, who gives a damn?