I was thinking about this a couple of days ago on the way to an early morning meeting and considering the things I would be talking about at an upcoming conference. It was then that it hit me. The rise of these e-publishing opportunities has not come from the new technology or the desire by readers to see books electronically. The rise has simply come from the writers.
I worked with an author once that had a story that was O.K. and we were working hard at finding a home for it. Since it was just O.K. we had to work a bit harder and sure enough, time and time again we received a "NO". I kept stressing that I wanted to see some other work of hers but it was always in a "work in progress" phase. In any case, she called me one day and said, "You know, why don't we just send it to [insert name of strictly e-pub]. At least this way I can be published."
Another writer I worked with had been doing fairly well with Harlequin. When she came to me, she really wanted to move to a single title career. She would keep up her work at Harlequin but her drive was for single title. Great! So what happened? She left when she wasn't getting any bites and she just hadn't worked on any more projects for Harlequin. I just saw her name come up on a loop so I went back to see how things were going. No more Harlequin and now, she is with some e-publisher that "just puts things out there." This was not what she wanted.
It was that comment that came rushing back to me as I thought about this whole concept of e-publishing. I honestly believe, in my own humble opinion, that writers are just throwing their stories at these publishers "just to be published." What I find interesting is that many of these people will justify this move with a host of reasons:
- I honestly want to do this on my own.
- I'm really an "indie" writer you know.
- My work is in high demand but the established publishers don't see it.
- This really is the style of writing I like best.
I find many of these comments interesting because if we go back to their early stages of their careers, many were madly contacting those dreaded established publishers and agents. Many wanted to be the next Oprah Bookclub pick. But something changed.
Simply put, I am not against all e-publishers. I think there is a place for some of it. My complaint is that authors need to really listen to what they are saying about their move to e-publishing. Does the move to "just be published" really fit with your career goal? Are you "really" keeping your name out there and being noticed, or are you on a path to career suicide?