A little over five years ago, I sat down with my very first critique group. We discussed the need to create a five year plan. I had mine: Improve my writing, enter contests, final, get my manuscript in front of the right editor, and voila! I’d sign a contract with one of the big New York publishers. Ha! What a dreamer.
When the first writer in our group accepted a contract offer with an e-publisher, I remember thinking she’d given up on finding an agent too soon. She’d stopped pursuing traditional publishing too soon. I wasn’t going to do that. I wanted to hold out for the “real thing.”
When one of my books was chosen for the American Title V contest in 2008, I really thought, “This is it. I’ll sign with Dorchester after the contest is over.” Notice I didn’t think, I’d win. I didn’t care about winning, and I thought it wouldn’t matter. My story was good enough to final, right? Surely they’d want it. Wrong, and a good thing. We all know how it’s gone for Dorchester since.
About this time two things happened: Our economy collapsed, and e-publishing/self-publishing surged. Brick and mortar bookstores started closing their doors at an alarming rate. Many independent publishers reported big drops in their earnings. They were in trouble. Even the huge New York houses were seeing their profits drop.
Fast forward to today. Borders no longer exists. Their demise will have a ripple affect on all print-published writers. The market for paper and ink books is shrinking. Publishers are skittish when it comes to offering mid-list authors their next contracts, and if you’re an unknown? Forget it. At the same time, e-book venues are popping up everywhere. Sales of digital books have caught up with, and in some cases exceeded, sales of trade and paperbacks.
What’s a writer to do? Adapt.
I stopped wasting my time looking for an agent and started researching where I could submit my manuscripts without representation. E-publishers take submissions directly from writers. They’re willing to take a chance on unknowns, because the initial outlay is less. You don’t get an advance, but you do get a larger royalty than traditionally published authors.
The New York Times has added a bestsellers list for e-published books. More and more, e-publishing is becoming the norm rather than the alternative. I submitted like crazy. I feel very fortunate to have a contract with Carina Press, the digital-first branch of Harlequin, for my debut novel HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD. I also recently signed with Eirelander Publishing for TRUE TO THE HIGHLANDER, but I don’t have a release date yet. Both are e-publishers.
This has been a adventure. The process is much like that for traditionally published authors. I received an edits letter, went through two rounds of edits with my editor, and another round with a copy editor. I was ecstatic when I received my cover art, and I have my “author” copies of the final product. I was surprised when I received my contract, because it’s the same contract signed by any Harlequin author.
Being e-published does present challenges. Promotion, for example. How do I reach readers like myself? I don’t follow a lot of blogs, or visit author websites, fan pages or tweets, but I’m an avid reader. That’s a puzzle I haven’t solved yet, but I’ll learn. We all will. Writers are creative by nature, and we will adapt.
I want to thank the Kathleen Eagle for inviting me to guest blog at Riding With the Top Down. Six years ago I took her class on writing romance. It’s where I heard about Romance Writers of America and Midwest Fiction Writers, and it’s where I met my first critique partners.
Cursed with immortality, Dermot MacKay craves death. To lift the faerie curse placed upon him and his men over 1,600 years ago, he must return the soul of his reincarnated wife to the exact place and time of her murder. But her soul is currently residing in the very modern Sidney St. George—and first he has to convince her to accompany him to Scotland.
Sidney doesn’t believe Dermot’s wild claims of immortality and rebirth, yet she cannot deny that she is drawn to the sexy Scot. Nor can she explain the sense of déjà vu his touch elicits. Desperate for answers, she agrees to go with him—only to learn too late that to help the man she loves is to lose him forever…
To read an excerpt of HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD, visit my website.
HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD will be available at carinapress.com and wherever e-books are sold, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Barbara is ready and eager to answer all your questions about her experiences in e-publishing.