In the writing world, one of the most important lessons to learn is that patience is a virtue. It takes patience to finish a story. It takes patience to edit it over and over until it is just right. It takes patience to wait to hear back from agents to get the book accepted. Then there is the patience of waiting for the agent to find a publisher. (Yes, I am aware that there are many other aspects such as perseverance, commitment, a tough skin, etc. but we are just looking at patience today!) I will be the first to admit that patience is not my strong suit.
I have recently been having the debate of e-publishing with several of my friends. There is something very appealing about the idea, especially as you learn that you as a writer will be expected to do a large amount of the marketing yourself even working for a publishing firm. The simplicity and speed of e-publishing is exciting. The more books you publish the more money you can make, right? And with the advent of Amazon's new publishing program that allows you to publish basically for free and pay a small percentage of each sale, the ease of self-publishing and the cost become as close to instant gratification as a person can get. When you also have the benefit of removing editing fees, agent fees and publishers fees, where is the argument against it?
I am looking into it more and more. I am actually working on an e-book to give away to you, my loyal followers. My husband thinks I should not stop there. He believes that I should publish my next book this way. But there is a part of me that is more than a little bit old-fashioned. I am hesitant. And after all of the good points mentioned above, you may be asking yourself "Is she crazy? Where is the downside here?"
But I have taken a look at some of the books available through e-publishing and it is... scary. With such ease and instant gratification, there is the danger that anyone can do it.... so anyone will. Gone will be the culling of quality ideas, the shaping and crafting of each line. The second (or third or fourth...) pair of eyes to catch the little mistakes. My fear is that the quality of writing will begin to fail. Many already believe that the quality has gone downhill over the last several years. But I am not talking about a few minor errors, I am talking about a landslide destruction of the written language.
I think that the simplicity of e-publishing and the beauty of it will be destroyed by people who do not have the patience to create quality work. How long will this new industry survive in this format? How long will it take before these "open" sources will be neglected and ignored by the major populace because overall the quality of the work will not be worth the low cost of the product? If you are thinking of braving the e-publishing world, please keep these concerns in mind. Do not publish your book to the masses until you are absolutely certain that it is as complete as it can be.
Have every friend that is willing read, review and offer improvements. Find a teacher, or someone that is excellent at editing, and ask them to give it a go. Expect that not everyone will be willing to do it for free, but know that the cost will be worth putting out a quality product. If authors can take that responsibility, then I think that this new format can and will survive. But if we do not self-regulate, then this industry will become as weighted and as cumbersome to negotiate as the current publishing industry we have or it will die out.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts on e-publishing in the comments below.