Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Is the e-publishing Bubble Bursting?

     How did it get to be one day past the Ides of March so quickly? I admit I fudged on February since I posted twice in January, and it is a short month anyhow. But to get down to the topic at hand.
     I admit I was stunned by the announcement that Samhain, one of the older and better e-presses was closing down. Kudos to the publisher for not simply declaring bankruptcy and trying to straighten out their financial problems first while still paying their authors royalties, a soft closing you might say. About the worst thing that can happen to a book is to be declared an asset in a bankruptcy case. Often that title is tied up for years along with the rights to sell it elsewhere. I understand rights will gradually be returned to the authors who can then move on. Samhain had quite a few big e-authors and a large stable, maybe too large.
     I am now grateful that they rejected two of my romances for not being hot enough. I won't be orphaned again as I was with my beloved  L & L Dreamspell where rights were returned immediately and help given to the authors to find new placement. Wild Rose Press picked up nearly all of my titles, I think ten at the time, but it was a ton of work getting them all back in print again. Each book receives a new cover and is re-edited to suit its new publisher.  Took nearly two years to restore all of them for publication and newer projects had to be put aside for a while. My sympathies go out to all Samhain authors. They have a rocky road ahead. Several of my fellow Dreamspell authors turned to self-publishing and had the skills to do that. Sure, it is faster, and if the book has already been edited your product is fairly good, but getting the word out is difficult when you are an indie. It still carries a stigma of not good enough to find a publisher, though this shouldn't be the case, but sometimes is.
      E-books and indies have flooded the market, often being sold for ninety-nine cents. Sales are down for e-books, and no wonder with authors practically giving their work away and readers coming to expect nearly free--and then complaining that the book wasn't the quality expected.  Well, no. You got your ninety-nine cents worth.  Because we are so many, reviews are difficult to come by, and reviews sell books. New York publishers still guarantee a certain standard of publishing, and they get the reviews, the hype, and the placement they pay for. The new boom seems to be supplying non-traditional authors with reviews for a fee-not paid reviews, but guaranteeing they will send your book out to hundreds of reviewers and hope a few will take the bait. One friend tried this and was not pleased, saying mostly they sent his book to obscure blogs no one reads. I have to say my small one title investment in NetGalley pleased me with twelve reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but I could never afford their entire fee. Thanks to Wild Rose for making this possible for their authors.
     The old boom of small e-presses and subsidy presses that printed your beloved book for say a hundred dollars and up and/or required you to buy x-number of copies (which is where they made their profit) seems to be fading.  I had two books with eWings, once a subsidy publisher, now a regular e-publisher under the new management of B.J. Haynes, the well-known creator of Whiskey Creek Press, a very successful subsidy press recently sold to Start, I believe. With a loss of leadership, eWings had become moribund, and many of us considered getting our rights back. I had no quarrel with the editing or the cover art, both very professional, or even having to buy thirty copies. I always buy at least that many to sell at signings.  But, absolutely no publicity was done to help sell books other than listing the title on their web site. Might as well have been in indie. I can certify that those two books, A Taste of Bayou Water and its sequel, Blessings and Curses, are as good as any books I've published, but they've never gotten much traction. However, I am taking a chance on the new eWings which is putting out The Courville Rose, an unusual ghost story,probably this summer, since edits are complete.  Watch for it, and we will both see how it goes.
     Meanwhile, yes, I still write for Wild Rose.  A Will of her Own is being released April 15th and is up for pre-sale now. It is women's fiction with a happy ending and the first of my books not to take place in Louisiana. I'd love your opinion on this departure and if you will, write a review.  An Ashy Affair which takes place in my Chapelle, LA universe is contracted to them also.  Wild Rose is well run as a business, and I am praying they are immune to recent pitfalls in e-publishing. Little e-presses go under regularly. I think most who start them have no idea how complicated the business can be and soon bow out, but when a giant like Samhain falls, we all shake.