Today we have the Bree half of Moira Rogers here to talk a little bit about epublishing. Moira Rogers have written ebooks for multiple epublishers including: Samhain, Loose ID, Changeling Press, and Carina Press. You can find their complete list of digital titles here.
This should be an easy post to write. Everyone who encounters me for more than a few minutes knows I love digital publishing. Not passionate or fragile love, either, but established, married-people love with flames of ardor and the occasional interlude where I scream at it for forgetting to put down the toilet seat or leaving its socks on the living room floor.
Digital publishing isn’t perfect. That’s the first thing I tell anyone who asks. The world of epublishing is rife with pitfalls and disappointment, and I acknowledge these things up front because they don’t diminish my love. But there are dozens (hundreds) of places on the internet that will tell you all of the ways epublishers will destroy a writer’s career.
This is not the latest of these posts. This is my love story.
First off: the facts. I write with a co-writer (Donna) under a shared penname (Moira Rogers) and write mostly various flavors of paranormal romance. I’ve been digitally published since mid-2008. At the moment I work mostly with Samhain Publishing, a digitally-focused small press that puts my books out in both digital and print formats.
I love writing speculative fiction. Not always the clean, broadly defined genres, but the odd niches that don’t have a name. Alternate Wild West Steampunkish Paranormal Romance. Paranormal Post-Apocalyptic Cyberpunk Romance. Great Depression Era Small Town Werewolf Romance. Post-Apocalyptic Ice Age Paranormal Romance.
Every one of those represents a risk. A niche that might be a bit too weird for broad appeal. A combination that could exclude too many readers to be viable.
Every one of those represents a novella or novel that we’ve contracted in digital publishing.
I don’t blame large publishers for not wanting to take risks in an economy that doesn’t reward them. In fact, I might go so far as to say it would be reckless to do so. They have bills to pay and people who depend on them, and a print run is not cheap. There’s no such thing as a sure thing, but there are big risks and small risks. When bookstores aren’t paying their bills and returns are through the roof, it’s not hard to imagine publishers aren’t feeling lucky.
So I stay with the people who know how to minimize risk, and I shoulder my part of the burden. I don’t get an advance. I get paid if my books sell, and while I know that’s counter to the generally accepted wisdom in writing, I don’t find it terribly unfair. I’m the one who wants to get all mad scientist with traditional genre boundaries, and I’ll accept my share of the risk.
Epublishers can be flexible with word count, which means we can write short stories, novellas, short or long novels, and never worry about fitting our story to a particular length. Freedom from word counts and freedom of genre are a wonderful, wonderful thing. So is having my editor tell me not to worry about either and just to follow the story.
I don’t pay to publish. Editing, cover art, formatting and distribution are covered by my publisher. My editor is fierce, and brilliant, and makes me want to cry sometimes, and that’s why I feel okay on release days. (If I don’t want to bite my editor at least once during edits, she’s not being hard enough on us.)
In return for accepting my share of the burden, my publisher gives me my share of the rewards. At Samhain, my royalties range between 30-40% of the cover price, and it adds up quickly.
I make a living. Not just poverty wage as defined by my state, but a surprisingly steady income that almost matched my husband’s in 2010. (And that is after I split the money with Donna.) My gross income as a writer in 2010 was higher than the gross income my husband and I were living on five years ago. An actual living wage.
It doesn’t suck.
And that is why I love digital publishing. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a backlist game, and a gamble, and the burden of marketing decisions, contract negotiations and career management are all on my shoulders. But I get the freedom that I need so very much, and that makes it all worth it.
At least when it puts down the toilet seat.