So I’ve been a published E-author for a while now, with two books released. It’s been an overall positive experience.
I have not yet been published traditionally-going the agent to big-6 publisher route.
So, from my experiences with both types of publishing, what have I noticed?
First, E-publishing is easier. I spent a while trying to get various novels published with a legitimate E-publisher, with some false starts, but now I’m comfortable. I had to brush up on my writing after some rejections pointed out flaws, but I made it.
Traditional publishing? Tougher. It’s recommended that people go through agents first, and not directly to publishers. Agents are the first gatekeepers to the publishing world, and they are difficult to impress. No matter how unique you think your premise is, they’ve probably seen something similar before, and every agent may find something different wrong with your manuscript.
Keep in mind, though, that my experiences are from writing as a hobby while working 9-5 (or 8-6 in some cases) every day. If you have plentiful free time to submit to agents and publishers, you may find that things move much faster.
Another major difference is how your materials are submitted. E-publishers take query letters, but will often look at part of or the entire manuscript, and often give you pointers even if they reject it.
With agents? You have one query letter with which to impress them. Make it count. Some will let you paste a few pages into the email, but it’s the query letter that really matters. And your rejections will typically be standard form rejections, so don’t expect anything helpful. Even rejections of partial and full manuscripts can take the form of “this is great, but not for me/this agency.” If two different agents reject something and do give you feedback, the feedback will often be contradictory. All you can do is keep trying.
So what about once you do get something out? The major difference here-and the biggest benefit of E-publishing-is turnaround time. I’ve heard agents say that if they sold a book tomorrow, it would be published in two years. E-publishers? 6 months. E-books are a great way to ride a fad, and if as a reader if you decide you like a certain genre, you can expect more soon. As an author, you can see your work available on Amazon less than a year after finishing your book if you edit quickly. E-publishers are often more willing to take shorter, novella length works, too, expanding an author’s shelf and providing quick, cheap reads.
So why bother with traditional publishing at all? It’s harder, slower, and often must create fads rather than fit into them.
The answer is obvious-sales and recognition. E-publishing is getting there, but for the moment sales can’t compare to a traditionally published book. On top of that, some genres do better as traditional books-middle grade kids typically can’t afford E-readers. Plus, most E-publishers don’t offer advances, so your money will depend entirely on how well your book does.
Both routes of publishing are valid and can lead to rewards. But keep the differences in mind when planning your future in writing.