Thursday, April 14, 2011

To E-Publish or Not to E-Publish

Your Plot Thickens Writing Workshops will soon be adding a new department to the slew of classes and activities we already offer: Internet radio. Your Plot Thickens' radio program is entitled On Writing, and can be heard on our website as well as archived on The Public Radio Exchange.

Our first radio interview will be with a self-published author named William H. Johnson, who wrote the epic adventure novel, The Dark Province. Of course, we will be querying Johnson about the plot line of his book. But we are also interested in why he decided to self-publish his novel instead of taking the traditional route, and, of course, because he did so, what are the benefits of self-publishing -- and what are the disadvantages.

The world has changed. Today, we live in a world where anyone can blog, anyone can produce a webseries and anyone can self-publish a book. So does this help the quality of what we are reading (or watching in independently produced web programs) -- or hurt it? Skeptics argue that blogs et al are bastardizing the craft of writing. I argue that no, self-publishing, etc., has only made publishing one's work a more democratic process, and less hampered by formula-addict entertainment executives, target-market strait-jacketing, and the general watering down of content in order to placate the advertiser. Sure, you also might have to sift through a lot of detritus to get to the gems, but don't we already have to do that on TV, at the movie theater and in the big-name newspapers?

Anyhow, I wanted to get the opinion of Linda Lavid, the author of many self-published (and traditionally published) books, among them which is her how-to-write primer, On Creative Writing, the proceeds of which Lavid is donating to a clean well-water project in Niger, Africa.

So opines Lavid on e-publishing in general:
E-readers are proliferating due to cost and ease of use. Now e-publishing is a full-fledged operation that expands not only the types of e-files, but where e-books can be distributed and sold. In other words, I no longer have to have my electronic files on my website but can upload them to sites/stores where they are distributed globally. And the cost is free! A writer can manually upload books to places like Apple (must have a Mac) or Amazon's Kindle or Barnes and Noble's Nook. Each site has specs for how to format the native file. There's also a site, Smashwords, that takes one document and converts it into multiple formats for various e-readers then also distributes the e-book. Again the cost is free. Distribution charges are made after an e-book is sold. E-publishing is paperless and there is none of the expense of making and distributing a paper/hard-back book. This translates to more money in royalties, over three times more. E-publishing is easy, free, quick and a great way to get your work published. Of course, you still have to put out a great product and market it aggressively.

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