Thursday, November 12, 2009

A New Publishing Wave is Building

This week a lot of excitement has abounded on the various writing loops. Why? HQN has a new baby sister, CARINA PRESS, and she's all E-Qute. At last a major publishing house is jumping into the digital age and giving new authors another way to attain their goal of publication.

According to the website, it's an opportunity to give those authors who don't fit the traditional genres a place for their stories. Wow, that's great!! At first glance, I was itchy to jump in and send off my query. Hey, although this publisher is independent from HQN, it might give me an opportunity to get noticed by the big sister. Lord knows I've been trying to get her attention a long time. I even got a request from my dream category this year and had high hopes.

But I was rejected because my book, while well-written and compelling, didn't fit the line I targeted (and had been encouraged to target). It read like a romantic comedy. Huh? I thought for sure it was pretty darned sexy. And who says we can't laugh on the way to the bedroom? My CPs and writing friends quickly assured me there was a market for my book(s), but a lot of the published sexy romantic funny stories are SINGLE TITLE.  I don't have that many words, so I've queried agencies in the hope that one will take a nibble and, eventually, I hope to land one who could help me find a home for my book(s).

My goals are simple. Keep writing, find an agent who can cut through the forest undergrowth for me, and keep writing.

Then this little temptation came along. And I am tempted. A lot. And a lot of other people, with recent rejections for being not quite a fit are getting pumped up. Why not zip off a query and an MS? What would be the harm? E has been very good to many of my writing friends (you know who you are my darlings!) and I have considered entering that publishing pool with queries before, so why not give Carina Press a whirl? Or any other E publisher with an established record.

However, I stopped myself from taking the plunge. Oh, my toes are curled around the edges of the pool, and my muscles are poised to spring. But nope. I'm reeling back my impulse. The old Christine would not have stopped herself. Trust me. I am usually a very decisive, quick action kinda gal and if I make a mistake, heck, I can fix it.

But this is my career. My dream. I need to evaluate my next move very carefully. I sat on my hands after I read all the news and submission guidelines (well, not really, I worked on my GH entry #2 and made phone calls and roamed the web loops for information) and analyzed the situation (Gwen would be so very proud of me).

First I asked trusted friends who are in E-publishing houses what the experience is like for them. Many positives. A few negatives. That's good to know. If I choose to go this route, it could lead to a nice writing career (hey I am assuming everyone will say yes to my brilliant prose). Second, I asked my CPs and my Chapter mates what they thought about this idea. Third, I waited for the Southern Magic Chapter Prez, Laura Hayden, to weigh in with her wise counsel. Fourth, I chewed on the information. Fifth, I reread the website and the blog posts. Sixth, I slept on it.

After a good night's sleep, I woke up and decided to wait a little longer before diving in. Not that I don't think this might be a great option for me as a writer, but because I want to see where all this is heading. What does RWA say about it? What will the contracts be like? Will this lead to print (unlike other E/digital publishers, print is currently not an option with Carina)? When I read the CARINA PRESS blogs, I loved the idea of finding a home for my book on an e shelf. This is a reputable company with the muscle behind it to power it to success. And there's a good chance that this company might lead to print options at the right time if authors demonstrate a huge marketability.

It's a win-win IF my book is accepted and I utilize all the information they'll teach me to promote my writing. If my book (again, dreaming here but I live in an ongoing delusional world) hits a unique niche and takes off that's a cool thing. Woohoo! The possibilities are endless. But for now this idea is new and I'm not sure if I am ready for all the work of self-promotion.

Again, the simple goal of writing screams for my attention.

I'm tempted. But I don't have business skills (I am not good with grids, ask Carla LOL), and I hate admin work. That's why I am hunting for an agent to represent me. I want to focus on WRITING. Thus, I am sticking to my original course. I can always reevaluate this opportunity later when I have another book completed, learned more about the e-world, sharpened my craft, and I have time to build my marketing network.

I don't know how this particular venture will impact the publishing industry as a whole. I'm not that smart. But I am smart enough to bully my impetuous side down and settle back before I make a big decision that could impact my future writing career.

Any thoughts out there about the latest E-Qutie? E-Pub vs Print Pub? Pros? Cons? Words of Wisdom?


Jeanie said...

Christine, I think you are very wise to move carefully and get all the facts before making your decision. "Act in haste, repent at leisure," as the old saying goes.

I, too, have little business savvy, and would prefer to have a reputable agent guide me through the publishing morass. May the agent fairy bless us both in that regard!

Christine said...

Thanks for the good words of wisdom, Jeanie. Love that quote!! Might have to print it out and hang it above my desk.

Yes, may the agent fairy bless us.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I am proud! I think waiting a little longer before making a decision won't hurt anything, but jumping in too soon, could.

I'm glad to see e-pub getting clout from a big name--it could help the industry as a whole. Let's wait and see if they do it right.

Christine said...

Gwen, I am watching this one very carefully. There is an opportunity, down the road, that this publisher will print books as well. We'll see how they do.

Now, back to the trenches I go as I prep my second GH entry.

Callie James said...

I'm happy to see a big publisher make a splash with a new epub.

For myself, I'm waiting for the published format that offers an advance. That way I'll know they're as invested in the success of my book as I am.

Christine said...

Callie: I think I am waiting for that investment as well, but my thoughts are all over the place on this one. I am glad a big pub is jumping into the E pool. It might be a great way to segue into print later on.

Cari Hislop said...

I'd wager in ten years every new book will have to be available in E format as well as paper (most paper books will probably by then be print on demand) because readers will be so used to instant downloads. Some people will always want paper, but people will want
the immediate option. I've been selling my stories on line since the end of 2006. Admitedly I'm self published, but I think the industry is way behind the demand for stories and they're losing money if they're not selling their books in E form.

If I were you I'd send it in to at least see if they'd take it and the terms they'd offer. If you don't like the terms you can throw them in the garbage and keep looking for an agent.

If you accept the terms and you don't like their treatment you could just give it a miss with the second book. At least you'd have the sale on your resume when looking for an agent! You could think of it as an investment the upside being people would be reading and enjoying your story!!!

Christine said...

Excellent points Cari. I have considered this option after discussing it with a writing friend in VA. But then I thought. Wait. I have two GH entries out there (uh, well, one for sure at the rate I'm going), two full MS requests out at agents, and the finalists for GH are announced in April.

I feel I should at least wait till then before I make any decisions. But You're right. I could just weigh the options and decide for myself if this is a good choice for the one book I am peddling out there.

Patience. Not my strong suit. But I took 1.5 years to write and polish the current MS out there (in fairness to me, it was the first MS I actually revised and we staged a cross state move as well in 2008), so I figure I can take my time and take a "wait and see" attitude as I continue writing ahead--believe me, it won't take 1.5 years to get the next one out of my hair.

I hope--

Martha W said...

Great post, Christine! I agree with you on the "wait and see" mentality. Unless you have an ms to play with (experiment with) then waiting to see how it pans out is the best avenue.

I am with Cari in thinking that most books will be offered in e-format some time in the future but I don't agree they'll be POD. There are too many people who enjoy the luxury and personal feel of a bookstore. I, for one, would be devastated if books were only POD.

So, I'll be waiting here beside you for the way this will work with RWA, etc... *grin*

Christine said...

The E market is still only 1-2 percent of the market. Most people want the tactile experience of a book in their hands. POD will be great with E pubs.

I'm hanging on!

Cari Hislop said...

To Christine,

You write faster than me! I'm finally speeding up. My fastest book so far took six months, but my first three or four books took about two years each (though I was working on several at the same time and I had to rewrite three after two computer crashes - one that hasn't yet been finished). I think at the end of the day we have to do what feels right for us and our books. Your feeling to wait may turn out to be a six book deal around the corner! Life is weird like that. I wish you the best of deals which ever is best for you!!! :)

To Martha,

By print on demand I mean not only individual books from places like Amazon, but the publisher printer who will print the exact number of books ordered by bookshops. This will save money and paper and all those rubbish books printed off in massive runs that didn't sell as well as everyone predicted will go the way of the dinosaurs. This should make books cheaper which means publishing companies should be able to publish more books. Hopefully!

Bookshops will never die, but they are in a state of flux. They will have to change to compete with the internet to survive. All over England bookstores are closing. More will have to combine being new and second hand bookshops selling "A Bookshop Experience". In London in one of the bookshops (whose name excapes me) now has a print on demand machine on site so if they don't have the book you want on the shelf you can choose the book and paper and the machine prints it binds it glues it and voila a book you could not buy in an ordinary bookshop is born just for you because this small machine holds a library of books. I suspect in the future it will be hundreds of thousands. Because of print on demand, romance novels will never go out of print! Readers will be able to print one whenever they want. Good books will live longer, find more readers and earn more money. Hurrah to the future!!!

Martha W said...


"In London in one of the bookshops (whose name escapes me) now has a print on demand machine on site so if they don't have the book you want on the shelf you can choose the book and paper and the machine prints it binds it glues it and voila a book you could not buy in an ordinary bookshop is born just for you because this small machine holds a library of books."

Okay... that's just cool! That I could deal with and probably even fall a little in love with, *wink*.

and Thanks for clearing up your meaning. Now I get it.

M.V.Freeman said...

I'm all for the wait and see as well. Considering how long it takes me to write...I'll do lots of waiting...haha!

I like the fact you are looking at all avenues. :)

M.V.Freeman said...

I'm all for the wait and see as well. Considering how long it takes me to write...I'll do lots of waiting...haha!

I like the fact you are looking at all avenues. :)

Christine said...

Cari, that is so cool! I love that idea about print on demand in the actual store! Very fun. I don't know how fast I write. I write short, CR. But I do hope to increase my output to 3 a year-- a short CR category run. Or, eventually 2 shorts and one ST per year.

I think anything that makes us excited about our writing and publishing is a good thing!

Mary, you will get your books done--remember our single title chat?

M.V.Freeman said...

I sure do Christine!

Woohoo! :-)

Christine said...

Mary: you will so fly on your writing!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I admit that I toyed with the idea of epubs before I finally sold. But I never committed to it, and here's why. I KNEW I wanted to be print published with a big, NY, advance paying house. I also knew I would get there if I kept trying, and I decided I was willing to wait.

I can see how this would be tempting, though. It's a branch of Harlequin (though not Hqn, it should be noted, because everything will be separate) and one would assume the quality of editorial would be high. I think that's an important consideration with epub houses. Some have high quality editorial -- and some don't (though I don't think those last very long usually).

Also, with the popularity of the Kindle and other reading devices, people who might not ordinarily read ebooks (me) can now do so. Before my Kindle, there was no way I was going to pay and read on a computer. Now, I pop over and buy friends' ebooks as soon as they are available.

But, since you are entering the GH, I think your plan to wait and see how that goes is a good one. I also think that getting an agent is a good use of time. Never doubt your decisions if you know you really want an agent and a print career. Don't worry about missing the boat, Christine. There will always be opportunity, and if you wait for what you really want, you may achieve more than you ever dreamed.

Just my 2 cents. :)

Christine said...

Lynn: as always your words of wisdom resonate. It's good to know you were teetering one way or the other. I am waiting till April to make any decisions.

Cool conversation.