TAKING THE DIGITAL ROAD AFTER ALL

Barb Longley Join me in welcoming our guest Barbara Longley, whose first book is about to burst on the e-book scene with Carina Press.  Here’s Barbara

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.

I’d love to see you on Twitter and have you visit my Facebook page.

HeartoftheDruidcover 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.

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About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
This entry was posted in Carina Press, Barbara Longley, e-book, ebook publishing, ebooks, Paranormal romance and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to TAKING THE DIGITAL ROAD AFTER ALL

  1. Leanne Banks says:

    Barbara, congratulations on Heart of the Druid Laird! Love the premise!:) I have one question. What kind of author copies do you receive? e-copies? Isn’t this new world of publishing fascinating!

    • barbaralongley says:

      Thanks, Leanne. I received a .pdf and an e-pub version of my book. Carina doesn’t do any printing except for the Rita contest through RWA. It is a new world of publishing out there today, and there’s a lot to learn. My editing experience through Carina was wonderful, though.

  2. Jody Vitek says:

    It was great to read your journey to publication, even if it is an e-pubbed book, Barb. I’m glad you made the decision to accept the e-publishing world, now the rest of us can visit the worlds you create on blank pages. Look forward to hearing and learning more about your journey to publication at your JoaN. Congratulations!

  3. tamarahughes says:

    Yay, Barb! You already know I love this book and how proud I am to be your critique partner. You’ve come a long way, baby!

    Tami

  4. Terry Odell says:

    I think there’s going to have to be a “new” category of publishers. If “traditional” means print, then e-publishers will still have to be distinguished from indie-publishing. My first books were with e-publishers, and I think they’re much closer to “print” publishers–many do both formats. There was really very little difference in the process for those books from the one I went through with my print books.

    I still get irked when people differentiate and say, “oh, it’s only” and e-book. Thank goodness that is changing. Now, I’m more likely to hear, “Oh, can I get your book for my Kindle/Nook, iPad” as I am “Is it in the bookstore?”

    Don’t let anyone tell you e-books are second class citizens.

    Terry

  5. loisgreiman says:

    Thanks for joining us Barbara. And what a gorgeoussssssss cover!
    I’ll be publishing my next Chrissy McMullen mystery online so yeah…it’s a brave new world.

  6. Cindy Gerard says:

    Welcome Barbara! And congratulations on your release. Great cover. And yes, the times are changing. We are more accessible to our readers than ever before – now if we can just get the piracy stopped … :o)

  7. barbaralongley says:

    You’ll have to be patient with me. I’m at work. Jody and Tami, thanks. I’m proud to be your critique partner too, Tami. Terry, you’re right. There needs to be a new classification. I went through all of the same steps and “paper and ink” published writers. Two rounds of edits, and one round with copy editor. {Shrugs.} It’ll change as readers and writers become more accustomed to e-books being the norm.
    Thanks, Cindy and Lois. I love the cover. Carina does a great job on their covers. :0)

  8. michelehauf says:

    Congrats, Barb! That’s a very pretty cover. It’ll be interesting to watch the publishing world evolve over the next years. It’s going to be a wild and bumpy ride!

  9. Liz Selvig says:

    Hey Barb,
    You already know how pleased I am for you and how excited I am to be reading “Druid Laird” already. It’s wonderful so far, btw! I, too, am looking forward to this crazy ride since I have an e-book coming out. The more I learn about this “brave new world,” the happier I am to be a guinea pig experimenting with the cutting edge. Things are changing so quickly, I’ve come to feel lucky that I have to learn about all the aspects of publishing in order to make it. However, I’m starting to think we have to come up with a critique group strictly for promotions–sharing ideas etc. The whole publicity thing is so daunting to me!

    I wish you nothing but tons of success with this book—and, the next, and the next … Congrats on everything!

  10. Barb, I’m so happy to introduce you to our riders as a published author. My co-teacher Mary and I feel like godmothers when this happens. We’ve been teaching at the Loft for many years, and we know potential when we see it. Your story had that 6 years ago, and I’m so glad you kept the faith, hammering and honing your work until you were able to present it to publishers and now readers. I’m proud of you, girl!

  11. Helen Brenna says:

    Hi Barb! Welcome and congrats! I love your cover, too. Did Carina allow you any input on the cover and back cover copy?

  12. barbaralongley says:

    Liz, count me in on the group to brainstorm about promotion for e-pubbed authors. Thanks for reading my book. :0) I know what you mean about being glad. It’s like every thing you hear in the news these days confirms that you’re lucky to have landed where you did. All the best to you as well.

    Thanks, Helen and Michele.

    Kathleen, you and Mary are faerie godmothers with your wands of experience and guidance. Thank you both. :0)

  13. barbaralongley says:

    Helen, regarding the cover, I filled out an “art fact sheet,” and they sent me the cover for final approval. I have heard that Carina has changed covers when an author is really unhappy with it, but I believe Angie Waters of Millenium Promotions did an outstanding job of capturing the mood.

  14. Okay, I’m going to ask the nitty-gritty question. Carina seems to be a unique publication opportunity. Obviously you’re working with an editor, so that’s a big plus. My understanding is that the publisher covers all production costs. Harlequin’s boilerplate series contract royalty rate begins at 6% of the cover price on a paperback or e-book. How does Carina compare?

    • barbaralongley says:

      I singed the same boilerplate contract every other Harlequin author signs. The difference is, paper and ink authors get an advance. I don’t. My royalties from direct sales are 30%, and you are correct, there are no production costs to me. Our third party royalties are less than most e-publishers, we get 15% at present, but I understand they’re in the process of looking at those rates. Our royalty rates, like yours, have gone through some changes of late. It’s now based upon net sale, rather than cover price.

  15. Nitty gritty part 2: What kind of advertising does Harlequin do for Carina? Do they group the books into lines the way they do series? Do they promote by sub-genre? By author? Do they offer some kind of subscription program? What are they doing to attract readers? Or is that up to the author?

    • barbaralongley says:

      They promote by sub-genre. They’ll have a big “steampunk” week, or a romantic suspense week, etc. They’ll off codes for special deals during those promotions, and will usually give something away for free. They provide us with the usual postcards, bookmarks, etc., and they do a lot of social media promoting. Attracting readers takes time. I think they’re doing an excellent job of increasing their production, providing readers with more and more to choose from. I also have a lot of promoting to do on my own. They put us all through the social media webinars, and the building your brand training, and a lot of stuff I don’t hear happens elsewhere.

  16. Can’t wait for Heart of the Druid Laird to come out, Barbara! I’m so happy for you!!! 🙂 (way too many exclamation points!) !!! !!!

  17. Alison Henderson says:

    Hi Barb. So glad you’re joining the ranks of us e-pubs! Maybe if we all put our heads together we can figure out the secret to reaching potential readers.

  18. Amy Hahn says:

    I’m counting down the days till my e-book magically appears….the beauty of pre-order! so happy for your success, my friend!

  19. Barbara, your post struck a chord with me: Authors’ dreams and our adaptability. I’ve learned to dream high, but to remember to enjoy reality. Being pub’d with Carina Press has been an amazing experience (can’t speak highly enough of the editing and cover design), not least because of meeting such generous, friendly and plain smart authors–such as yourself! Congrats on the forthcoming release. I adore your cover.

  20. Barbara, thank you for riding with us and sharing so much information. You’re one of the pioneers taking a newly opened route on the writers’ journey, and I’ve learned a lot from you today. (What’s that old saying about old dogs and new tricks?) I wish you all the best.

  21. barbaralongley says:

    Thanks so much for having me, Kathleen. The pleasure has been all mine.

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