So the last three weeks have been pure madness. I graduated law school on May 21 and toured my family around for about a week before and after that date. I also moved all my stuff down to LA for the immediate future.
Now I am about to start full on bar prep tomorrow. I will also start major revisions and editing on my completed first draft next week as well.
With so much of my future coming on quicker than I expected (isn't that always the case?) I have begun to look more and more seriously into how I plan to get this thing published. Here are a few links to blogs that I found had interesting or informative takes on the issue. Notes on Self-Publishing
Is the eBook the new query?
Publishing Trends New Authors must Stay on top of
And finally this interesting post on pricing in the ebook market.MingtheMerciless
9:13 AM on February 9, 2011E-book pricing
The big book publishers in New York see e-books as just another slice of the pie--they slice up the book and sell the same thing in multiple formats: hardback, trade paperback, mass market paperback, audiobook, and now e-book. The difference is that you don't OWN the the e-book; you're really leasing it, licensing it, like software--you can't sell it, you can't give it away, you can't trade it. So you, and no one else, can read it (let's set aside the issue of "loaning" temporarily.)
Given that it's really licensing and you don't own it, the cost for an e-book should be less expensive the the trade paperback. Eventually, the market will drive the publishers down. Right now, they're concerned that e-books will take away income from their bread-and-butter, the new hardback release.
Instead of adding value to their hardbacks--which they don't do--they simply charge for every OTHER version of the same thing. If they were proactive, they'd start issuing hardbacks on a NONRETURNABLE BASIS (bookstores can return anything that doesn't sell for credit to the publisher), sell at a shorter discount, and do what the movie industry has done with DVDs--add extras to make the hardback valuable: add special features, add an interview, add an e-book version with Web links, add an audio-book version, etc. (And they should, at least, bind it with sewn signatures, so the book doesn't fall apart.)
Instead, it's business as usual in NYC, so you get, for instance, Deborah Harkness's A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES for $28.95. (The e-book is $14.95. And a lot of customers are going to either not buy the e-book at that price, or buy a discounted hardback, or wait for the paperback, or go to the library, or borrow it from a friend. Viking/Penguin's sales of the e-book aren't going to be impressive; trust me.)
E-books are selling because people don't want to pay $28.95 for a one-time reading experience. How many books do you read twice? Three times? I think $2.95 is a great price, and I'd pay more, but NOT if it's simply the same book with no additional material--people need a compelling reason to pay the additional cost (as with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES).
What I take from all of these viewpoints is a few things.
First, as I suspected, query letters are becoming a thing of the past like slush piles. If you want to get noticed you must create and publicize yourself. The market is so thin and so uncertain at this time that no publishers want to take a risk on uncertain things. However, if you do publish in the ebook market you better as hell have a plan and a website to build momentum.
Second, the most important thing in the work, topping all the bells and whistles, is making damn sure you have something worth publishing. All the recently published ebooks have flooded and diluted the market with a lot of unimpressive crud. If you write something that audiences respond to, they will buy it. So more than anything focus on the end product first, then draw out your attack plan.
Sounds good to me. Goal for the summer: Make my revisions of the novel as tight and compelling as they can possible be.