Anne M. Marble, Associate Editor, Romance
Issue # 3: 04/01/01
A Theory of Alternate History
Five years after the Internet began evolving into a viable commercial enterprise, the 50 millionth American surfed online. it took radio 38 years, TV 13 years, cable TV 10 years to reach the coveted 50-million mark. It's estimated that the Internet grows by one new user every 1.67 seconds.
Karen S. Wiesner,
The Myths (and Facts) about Electronic Publishing
2001 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market
Writer's Digest Books
Many people love writing fantasy, futuristic, paranormal, and
Gothic romances, but few print publishers want to take a chance on those
genres. Likewise, fans of these genres have a tough time finding new
books in these fields. Is there a solution? Luckily, many independent
e-book publishers specialize in romance. These e-publishers relish
romances that fall outside of genre boundaries.
If your romance novel is something that's a bit different, or
even a lot different, it just might fit in as an e-book. E-book
publishers specializing in romance have put out everything from stories
about ghosts, elves, and vampires finding love to romances about
disabled individuals. Chances are that if your book doesn't fit the New
York guidelines, you'll find an e-book publisher willing to take a
chance on it.
This isn't to say that e-books are a "romantic
paradise" for writers. As an e-book author, you will face four main
problems: editing, publicity, reputation, and money.
Editing --E-books don't always receive the same
level of editing as books put out by paper-based publishers. Readers
often complain that the e-books they downloaded were riddled with
errors. Sometimes the publishers don't provide editing at all. Also, the
editing may not be up to typical standards. I recently found this
sentence on the web site of an e-publisher. "We want to insure that
the work is as free of structural, grammatical, and spelling and usage
errors as is humanly possible." Uhm, the word should be ensure,
not insure. See what I mean?
Publicity --Your e-book won't be given much
publicity, unless you're an established author. Most likely, you will
have to generate publicity on your own. (That can have its drawbacks.
Some fans quickly tire of authors who promote themselves on-line all the
Reputation -- If you publish an e-book,
some people will assume that's because you aren't ready for prime time
yet. While there are some great e-books out there, there are stinkers as
well. Because of bad experiences in the past, (many?) reviewers are
reluctant to review e-books. Two of the major romance review sites do
not accept e-books for review.
Money -- You won't make a lot of money by
becoming an e-book author. Heck, you will make very little. Don't expect
an advance, and don't expect to sell many copies. There have been cases
where someone sold only a few dozen copies of an e-book.
The e-book field is a wild frontier. Like any wild frontier,
snake oil salesmen sometimes amble into town. Investigate e-publishers
very carefully before signing up with them. If a publisher wants to
charge you a fee, run away! Besides avoiding fees like the
plague, read up on contracts. (For advice on contracts, check out http://www.sfwa.org/contracts/.)
The contracts of some e-publishers sound as though they were created by
greedy lawyers on acid.
Bad web sites happen to good e-publishers. Examine the
publisher's site thoroughly before you even think of sending your
manuscript to them. Don't trust your e-books with a publisher whose web
site looks as if it was designed by a someone who just learned how to
use HTML. Badly designed sites keep people from finding and buying your
Getting accepted isn't all that easy, either. Despite popular
misconceptions, many e-publishers are selective. Be sure to read the
guidelines! Also, e-publishers cope with limited staffing. They become
overstocked on a regular basis. Right now, Hard Shell Word Factor and
Awe-Struck Publishing are temporarily closed to submissions. Response
times among other e-publishers are becoming slower as well.
Still, if you do publish an e-book, you have the chance to win
over some of the most loyal fans in the romance genre. Maybe we'll see
you on the virtual bookshelf in the future.
Here is a sampling of independent e-publishers that publish
Awe-struck publishes romances in a plethora of categories,
ranging from contemporary romance to futuristics. One of the specialized
lines available here is the Ennoble line of romances, which features
heroes with disabilities. They publish in other genres, including
mainstream fiction and nonfiction.
Here is another pioneer of e-publishing. Besides romance, they
publish most other genres of fiction, as well as some nonfiction.
This publisher specializes in paranormal, futuristic, fantasy,
and erotic romances. While they have branched out into horror, most of
their titles are in the romance genre
Shell Word Factory
This publisher was established in 1996, so that makes them
veterans in the field of e-publishing. They publish many subgenres of
romance, but they are branching out into other fields as well.
Like Hard Shell Word Factory, this company was also founded in
1996. They publish romances as well as cross-over books such as romantic
This company has three imprints -- Starlight Writer
Publications, Darkstar Publications, and Pulsar Books. Through Starlight
Writer, they publish historical, contemporary, and Regency romance,
Gothics and romantic suspense, and horror. Within the other imprints,
they publish books in other genres as well as cross-over books such as
dark fantasy romances.