Flashback: Where’s the Paper?

When you see “Flashback” in front of an article, it means it is an article that originally appeared on Word Museum in the beginning before it was sold and then regained by Lori. We have reposted these articles, because we feel they add great value to the site. Where possible we include the date of the original article.

Written By: Robin Bayne
Date: 08/06/2001


“E-publishing? What’s that?” No, it’s not publishing for the (E!) Entertainment Channel. It is electronic publishing, the way future generations will read a large portion of their books– straight from the computer screen or hard copied from their printer. Both non-fiction and fiction are already available by download or disk—saving time, trees and space in the process. So why have so few people heard about e-publishing? Because it’s relatively new. Because it’s relatively intimidating, especially to those not yet fully comfortable on the computer. I still have to ask a lot of questions as I learn technology. My mother would never read an e-book (except mine, of course.) But my son will. He already spends most evenings in front of his computer; kids today spend hours in the classroom in front of these flickering screens. Consumers are already growing more comfortable ordering from the Internet, and by the time my son is an adult, it will be commonplace. E-publishing puts another product in front of all this potential purchasing power. The established, reputable e-publishers, such as New Concepts and Hard Shell Word Factory, contract with an author to offer their book on disk or download form. The books are sold through the publisher’s website as well as booksellers, including Amazon.com. Authors can create their own web pages and sell their books as well, or just link to a bookseller’s site. The book is edited, cover art is made, and the book is offered electronically. Authors have input concerning the cover art and blurbs, a privilege almost unheard of in print publishing. Many romance magazines, including Romantic Times and Affaire de Coeur, review e-books right alongside print books. And these books are capturing high ratings right along with their competitors. By the way, RWA does recognize e-pubbed books by the major publishers, but e-authors won’t be eligible for PAN until the publishers reach a certain sales level, the same rule that applies to new paper publishers. (Unfortunately, at this time e-books are not eligible for entry in the RITA.) Some skeptics believe that e-books are New York publishing rejects, and ask e-authors when they will write a ‘real book.’ The only validation to that belief is that e-publishers can publish stories that do not fit into a category or mold, so a rejected book, if well written, could find a home at an e-publisher. If the premise is unusual, I would encourage authors to try an e-publisher, because they have no predetermined slot to fit their books into. They can be unique. If an author can not sell her regency vampire time-travel set in World War II, an e-publisher may take a chance on the book. If they think it will sell. Also, many published authors have books being published electronically, including Diana Gabaldon and Becky Lee Weyrich. So, no, e-books are not merely rejects from the big houses. Bestsellers are already being made into e-books to take advantage of this growing market. No one wants to see paper books go the way of the dinosaur, and I personally don’t think that will ever happen. I sold my first book to a New Concepts, but I still love the smell and feel of a new paper book. I do realize, however, that there’s just not enough natural resources to make all the books that deserve printing. Much like audio books, electronic books offer another medium. It’s comforting to know that if I want to read a certain type of book, and it’s not being offered by a major house, I can find that type of story in a different format. An electronic one. And one that won’t be retired from the shelves in a month. As to be expected, there are companies out there who will take advantage of new authors, just like in paper publishing. Be ware of any e-publisher who asks for money from you— they should be paying you! Granted, most e-publishers do not offer advances, but they will pay generous royalties, usually around 25% of each sale. A legitimate e-publisher will not ask you to pay set up charges, etc. One more point on quality in e-publishing: Mary Wolf, publisher at Hard Shell Word Factory, recently announced the following figures on acceptances: Since Jan. ‘98, she has received over 1211 submissions. She considered 894 of these, and accepted only 64 for publication. This means of all submissions, only 7% will be published. So getting an e-contract is no ‘slam-dunk.’ She did acknowledge that among her submissions, the romance novels were generally of higher quality than those from other genres. Go RWA! Below is a brief list of legitimate e-publishers and their addresses. Mary Wolfe’s e-publisher page offers links to many royalty paying publishers. Visit these sites, and order a disk or two. You’ll find a new variation on a favorite way to spend your money.

New Concepts Publishing: www.newconceptspublishing.com Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com Treble Heart Books: www.trebleheartbooks.com DLSIJ Press: www.dlsijpress.com

For more royalty-paying e-publishers, check out Mary Wolf’s page at: www.coredcs.com/~mermaid/epub.html

PC World Today Magazine has a great article called: “E-Books: The End of the Guttenberg Era?” Check out: www.pcworld.com

For an informative article listing the advantages and disadvantages of e-publishing, check out: Why Sell Your Book to an Electronic Publisher? By Karen Wiesner: www.eclectics.com/articles/ebooks2.htm

To check out EPIC, the chapter of electronically published authors: www.eclectics.com/epic/members.html


You don’t have to sit at your computer screen anymore to read your e-book! For info on hand-held e-book readers:

(Note– like other new technology, prices should decrease as the quality improves. At this time, most of the units are pricey and may read only certain formats.)

The Rocket Book: www.nuvomedia.com The Millenium Reader: www.librius.com The Everybook: www.everybk.com The Softbook: www.softbooks.com Levenger’s Catalog: www.levenger.com


and don’t forget Amazon.com: www.amazon.com (Try doing a “Book Search” by publisher, and enter New Concepts Publishing.)

Where’s The Paper?

Lori Soard started Word Museum in 1997. She’s a published author and has written thousands of articles over the years for newspapers, magazines and online. She has a PhD in Journalism and lives in Southern Indiana with her husband. They have two grown daughters, both animal lovers their house is always filled with pets.

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