Writer's Notes

Another take on ebooks vs print books

Another stellar Redwood Writers’ meeting! The speaker was Peter Beren of the Peter Beren Agency. Beren is a Literary Agent and Publishing Consultant who came to our chapter armed with solid information about the future of publishing. He proposes a different scenario: e-publishing will support, not eliminate printed media. He predicts this will evolve in the next five years. Amazon’s sales of “singles” or novella-length stories have been hugely popular and seem to be indicators of changing markets. There is talk of “bundling” which include purchase of an eBook bundled with a print book-the theory being that one can read their eBook during their commute to work but read the paper copy in bed. He expects “how-to” books to be enhanced with video.
The majority of eBooks are mass market paperback-types. 26% is fiction, 17% is YA, 29% is sci-fi with juvenile bringing in the least—only 7%. Parents are reluctant to grab eBooks for their kids as they want them to experience color, print copy like they did as children.
Beren said both Simon and Schuster and Penguin e-published their backlists which accounted for an 11% profit in that media for S&S last year.
For authors, there is still the traditional means (time consuming, limited author control and lengthy process), self-publishing (pricey if you want to do it right), and epublishing. In all three methods, authors will still have to work like hell: promotion and platform. Discoverability remains the biggest issue. EBook authors who want to attract a brick and mortar publisher generally need to sell over 5000 units (books). Most eBooks top out at 1000-2000 units.
How do people discover books? 50% is word of mouth, 35% is store experience or employee tip. Reviews and social networking comprise the balance.
In the meantime, I have a book to publish. On to the agent queries, contest entries, and research into epublishing!

Writer's Notes


When I was a teenager, I was like everyone else: I thought I’d live forever and never get old.
Since I retired last June, I’ve had ample time to consider my projects and the attendant timelines. My most important task is to finish the novel into which I have invested so much time and energy. The book has a working title—Probable Cause—and is now complete. I say complete because it’s been written, revised and re-written, edited and revised. Within the next few days, I plan on sending it off to a fiction contest sponsored by the Public Safety Writers’ Association. I hope that placing in the contest will make my manuscript more marketable.
But here’s the thing: How much time will I allot for the traditional route of publishing? It is a cumbersome process—finding an agent who will represent you, re-working the book then waiting while the agent finds a publisher. Tick-tock, my literary clock is counting down. I don’t have time to waste.
At lunch last week with my friend and critique partner, Billie, we talked about the attraction of e-publishing. Low overhead, no agent, no real publisher, the book sells at a lower cost but still puts more percentage of profit into the author’s pocket. Also, we discussed how we need to push forward with our works to be published in whatever form we decide will work for us most expeditiously.
Redwood Writers next meeting is on March 11th and will feature Peter Beren, formerly publisher of Sierra Club Books, V.P. for Publishing at Palace Press International and Publisher of VIA Books, a division of the California State Auto Association. Beren is now a Literary Agent specializing in nonfiction with an emphasis on illustrated books.
Is this the Golden Age of self-publishing? Will self-publishers supplant traditional publishing and become the new mainstream? Is the rise of e-books simply giving traditional publishers a second wind? Beren, a 30-year veteran of the industry, will share his views and expertise on the subject, and offer guidance through the tangled terrain.
I can’t wait. I need some answers and soon!

%d bloggers like this: