Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
RSS feed

eBooks basics for authors (part 3, trends and questions)

May 13, 2011

Tags: ebooks, trends, profits, revisions

Among the trends David Rothman predicted in his talk to the Washington Biography Group was a subscription series for eBooks that would work something like NetFlix. Those who will benefit most from such a development, says David, will be "small presses and more obscure writers, who will enjoy more exposure for their works — the same as indie film makers do on Netflix. Readers will be more inclined to try what they’re already paying for."

Other trends David predicts:
• E-books beating paperbacks sooner than the skeptics think.
• Eventually a boom in multimedia books from major publishers—and maybe minor ones, too
• Bargain-priced books—at least for simple text
• The growth of cloud computing.

You can read an expanded version of David's talk on his blog: E-trends and other fun for book people to mull over

Q&A (responses to miscellaneous questions)

Q. Can an author make $$ self-publishing??

A. That depends, says Josh Tallent. Are you a one-book author? Are you blogging and engaging an audience, which will drive sales? It may be six months to a year (or years) before you make $$. The key to selling books is, says Josh, is:
• Good content
• Who your readers are (some niches are easier to reach and market to than others)
• If you can engage them.

Sometimes authors sell 2000 copies in an eBook version, says Josh, and then decide to do a print version. In the process, they learn how to do marketing. If you’re going to self-publish, you need your own website and your own blog, and you must do social media. You want to drive people to the site where the book can be easily purchased.

Q. Can you make money by running Google AdSense in a book?
A. No. You run Google Adsense on a blog and website.

Q. How skilled are agents in protecting authors' e-book rights?
A. Most agents are no more knowledgeable than most publishers, says Josh, but some of them are starting to be more savvy and to look for new options. See if an agent has a website and is active on the Internet (the Net) and can discuss copyright in this area.

Be careful of definitions of what is or is not in print. It is in the publishers’ interest to define “in print” very loosely — as, "We can do print-on-demand, which means we’re keeping the book in print." (The author could do the print-on-demand and make more money!)

Q. What is the standard author’s share of eBook income?
A. Publishers consider the current standard to be 25%. Writers' organizations and savvy agents are pushing for fees closer to 50%.

Q. Do authors NEED publishers, in this new environment?
A. Book publishers will always be necessary. Most authors don’t want to do all the steps required in publishing: the editing, formatting, design, marketing. For many of us the time and technical work are too demanding. Amanda Hocking, who has sold many self-published genre novels on her own as e-books, just accepted a multimillion-dollar deal with a publisher. She was tired of doing the publishing herself and wanted both the time to write and the validation of official publication.

Q. Can an author self-publish a print book directly from an eBook?
A. No. The formats are different. You need a designer to design the print version and create the PDF file the printer needs.

Q. What happens with revised editions? How hard is it to delete a single photo from an eBook?
A. You go in, delete the code, and rebuild the file, says Josh Tallent. The problem is the retailer. If you come back to them with a new version, the original readers still have the original with all their highlighting. So if the readers who buy Version 1 have highlighted passages, and Amazon says we urge you to upload the new version, they lose their highlighting.

Q. How do you cite quotations from books?
A. One person said by paragraph number, but then what happens if you revise the text and paragraph numbers change?

Q. Do eBooks have page numbers?
A. Kindle is beginning to.

If this wasn't everything you want....

This is Part 3 of a three-part series on Ebook basics for authors. See also
Part 2: DRM, or copy protection (http://bit.ly/irvKhq)
Part 3: Trends, QUA (http://bit.ly/kYt5Lk)

For more insights and opinions about various angles on e-publishing check out this page on Pat’s Writers and Editors site:
eBook Basics and Beyond .


  1. November 26, 2011 12:15 PM EST
    On David Rothman's site you'll find an expanded version of his talk to the Washington Biography Group.
    - PM