While I wait, I've been doing a lot of reading about the different options that exist out there. Publishing seems like such an impenetrable fortress. I feel like I need as much information as possible.
Yesterday, I was forwarded the Wall Street Journal article below about self-publishing electronically. At first blush, self-publishing seems like the route I'd want to take only if everything else is a dead end. However, there do seem to be some advantages: not having to deal with the waiting game for agents and publishers, more editorial control, and greater earning potential. Honestly, after playing around with Al Gore's new book/app Our Choice, I've been much more open to going the digital self-publishing route. This article just makes that option even more interesting.
Cheapest E-Books Upend the Charts by Jeffrey Trachtenberg
The nation's largest book publishers are facing increasing pricing pressure on the digital front as the number of cheap, self-published digital titles gain popularity with readers seeking budget-minded entertainment.
Amazon.com Inc.'s top 50 digital best-seller list featured 15 books priced at $5 or less on Wednesday afternoon. Louisville businessman John Locke, for example, a part-time thriller writer whose signature series features a former CIA assassin, claimed seven of those titles, all priced at 99 cents.
"They're training their customers away from brand name authors and are instead creating visibility for self-published titles," one senior publishing executive who asked not to be identified, says of Amazon.
As digital sales surge, publishers are casting a worried eye towards the previously scorned self-published market. Unlike five years ago, when self-published writers rarely saw their works on the same shelf as the industry's biggest names, the low cost of digital publishing, coupled with Twitter and other social-networking tools, has enabled previously unknown writers to make a splash.
The issue of pricing has been paramount since Amazon launched its Kindle e-reader in November 2007. The device exploded, driven by the wide appeal of $9.99 digital best-sellers that were available on the same day as the hardcover edition.
Initially publishers sold their e-books at wholesale prices to Amazon, which then offered the e-book at the discounted price. The country's six largest publishers, increasingly concerned that e-book discounting would erode their traditional business, subsequently embraced the so-called agency model in which they set the retail prices of their e-books. On Wednesday, many of the Kindle best-sellers offered by these major firms cost between $11.99 and $14.99.
Amazon says its studies have shown that digital titles sold by publishers using agency pricing aren't showing the same rate of unit growth as books that Amazon can discount. "The publishers showing the fastest growth are the ones where we set the prices," says Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's vice president for Kindle content.
Books are facing competition from a wide array of cheap digital entertainment—from Netflix Inc.'s streaming-video service to Apple Inc.'s iTunes store—easily accessed via tablets, options that don't exist on dedicated e-reading devices.
All of which has helped boost the sales of Mr. Locke, the self-published thriller writer. Mr. Locke, who published his first paperback two years ago at age 58, says he decided to jump into digital publishing in March 2010 after studying e-book pricing.
"When I saw that highly successful authors were charging $9.99 for an e-book, I thought that if I can make a profit at 99 cents, I no longer have to prove I'm as good as them," says Mr. Locke. "Rather, they have to prove they are ten times better than me."
Mr. Locke earns 35 cents for every title he sells at 99 cents. Altogether, he says his publishing revenue amounted to $126,000 from Amazon in March alone. It costs him about $1,000 to have his book published digitally, complete with an original dust jacket image. He also hires an editor to work with him at additional expense.
In March, he sold 369,000 downloads on Amazon, up from about 75,000 in January and just 1,300 in November. His titles are also sold by digital bookstores operated by Kobo Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc., and Apple.
Mr. Locke has more than 20,000 Twitter followers, uses a blog to promote his books, and personally answers hundreds of emails each week. "It's all about marketing, but they have to like your stuff," he says.
Amazon pays all authors who use Kindle Direct Publishing, the retailer's independent publishing service, a royalty rate of 35% on digital titles priced below $2.99, and 70% on e-books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
Mr. Locke could raise his prices to $2.99, a level that would earn him $2 for each title sold. However, he says he's not interested in such a jump. "This is the price that brought me to the dance," he says.
Mr. Locke says he isn't interested in doing business with New York publishing houses. "It wouldn't be fun for me," he says. "I don't want to be told when to publish, I don't want to soften my character, and I don't want to be told what stories to write."
He has, however, hired Jane Dystel, a literary agent, to field movie offers and deal with foreign publishers interested in releasing his books overseas. Ms. Dystel says her agency is negotiating several such deals. "This is a Wild West of a world," she says.
Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at email@example.com
Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748703838004576274813963609784-lMyQjAxMTAxMDAwNDEwNDQyWj.html#ixzz1LU3Z81jt
What do you think? Is digital self-publishing the wave of the future? Is the book dead? Do I really need an agent and a publisher?