A Book Contract–Wow! Or not?

Electronic books are growing leaps and bounds in their market share, but under what burden?


When an aspiring author works thousands of hours at polishing her craft, perhaps even receiving positive feedback from friends and family, she is understandably over-the-moon when a legitimate e-publisher offers to represent her work.


A book contract? Wow!


Much more than visions of sugarplums dance through her head. The potential of building legions of loyal readers, her own corner of the market, reward for all the toil and, the best pay, appreciation of her talent are only the beginning of her dream.


In the case of the vast majority, disillusionment is the outcome despite many more thousands of hours spent wooing reviews, social media, writing for blog tours, courting local bookstores and out-of-the-box thinking merchants to allow her to hold book events in store, money and time spent of designing and ordering swag, like bookmarks, postcards, key chains, posters etc, etc, etc….


Is the e-publishing company to blame?   No.


By definition, most new authors, whether e-published, small press published or big New York published will not draw large numbers.


So what’s an e-publisher, who may not have a big ‘star’ author to financially depend on,  to do?


They have already put effort, time and money into editing the newbie’s work, formatting it for upload to numerous sale sites, designed a book cover and added the book to their website. E-publishers have varying degrees of creative ways to get their authors work noticed amongst the thousands of new releases. Reality? The sheer volume of new books makes ‘discovery’ by readers more than an uphill battle.


It makes discoverability something close to a shot in the dark.


What’s an e-publisher to do?


Sell more books.


But how?


Each new author, even if she is lucky enough to have friends, family and colleagues who are willing to buy her book, may only sell a handful of books a month, mostly trickling off to one or two here and there, thereafter.


So…our well-meaning e-publisher, in order to pay her bills, must take on more authors. She must participate in the numbers game. She must sell books to survive. So even if that means individual authors make only enough royalties to buy a bottle of wine to celebrate, the e-publisher must rely on that individual’s couple of dollars a month times many authors.


This reality leaves most, even the best, e-publishers drowning in authors. It defacto limits the e-publishers ability to promote any one author. Not only does that mean it puts the burden of promotion in the author’s hands, it pretty much locks the new author into obscurity, no matter her talent, her passion, her promotion.


But don’t authors say social media wide that they ‘have to write’? They are haunted by the voices of their characters. They love the process. It is therapeutic, cathartic, impossible-to-give-up. Yes, they do say this. It has led to the formation of an entire cottage industry set up to help authors improve their craft, network, promote, learn the industry etc… These authors spend far more money on and in this cottage industry than the vast majority can ever hope to recoup in sales.


And all this is fine if aspiring authors only knew that this is the reality. This is the road ahead.


For the most part, they do not.


That dream of dreams—that readership, those fans whose lives are changed for the good by her words, and yes—the potential of making some money to cover her expenses, or more, are a powerful elixir.


Authors love their craft.


Readers love their books.


Only a miniscule percentage of the two shall meet.


And the e-publisher shall keep afloat by selling a few books a month by the many authors in their ‘stable’ to produce a bottom line on which they can survive.


And new authors shall receive the thrill of being deemed talented enough to take a chance on.


We live in a curious, bittersweet world.




*all images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net




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