Is Not A Test...
in the Real World
too many people do not take writing for electronic markets very seriously.
It's bad enough in readers, or even in writers who submit only to print
markets, but I've seen rather troubling attitudes in people submitting to
electronic markets as well. I've
even seen it described as a place 'to practice' getting published.
isn't a game, a test, or a practice run.
Publishing electronically is every bit as serious as publishing in print.
After all, won't real people still read your work?
Do you really want to put out 'practice' material with your name on it?
Even if you use a pseudonym, wouldn't you like to be able to claim
something as your own, not deny that you ever wrote it? This
isn't a practice run, but rather more akin to publishing in a small press, and
for little money. Too many people
equate money with professionalism, and it doesn't always have to be that way.
growth of the electronic market has been steadily increasing in the last couple
years. More readers are finding
what they want online, not only because they are becoming more comfortable with
computers and the Internet, but also because of the ease with which they can
find material once they know how to look. Add
to this the proliferation of PDA's, and the realization that business travelers
can carry a dozen books with them on one little device -- and still have plenty
of room for work related material -- and you can see why the medium is starting
to pick up.
remember that the 'shelf life' in epublishing far outstrips that of print.
That story you sell today could be available for a long, long time.
An ebook does not have to 'earn out ' in the first two weeks after
release. You can build up a
readership. You have time.
audience for epublishing is, by the very nature of how they come to this
material, predominantly tech-savvy -- and often professionals in their fields.
This means they are also less forgiving of grammar and punctuation
mistakes, as well as bad site design and presentation.
fixing those problems should be the work of the editor, right?
Authors can't always have perfect grammar and such, and some of us need
more help than others. And we have no say over how the ezine or ebook site is set
up. So that's not a problem the
writer should consider -- or is it?
is where choosing the right epublication is a very important step.
with some web space and a bit too much time on their hands can start an ezine,
or even an ebook publishing company. Far
too many people do. They proliferate and die out at a rate that would astonish
fruit flies, and both the good and the bad seem to have an equal chance of
surviving, at least for a few months. The presence of a publisher on the Internet is not an
indication that they are good at the work.
authors looking for publishers, we have to be vigilant about finding the proper
place, and more so on the Internet than we would in print publications.
A print publication, because of the expense, will not survive long if it
is not professionally handled. The
same cannot be said for epublication sites. They will linger, drawing a few new
people to submit material now and then (and sometimes filling the slots with
their own material, published under different names).
They have no reason to die out, since there is no 'survival of the
fittest' in the Internet where there is still room for everyone.
authors have to look carefully at epublication sites before they submit their
material to them. This is just the
first step in the process of making certain that your material is professionally
presented. You do not want to have
your story available at a site that would embarrass you.
and punctuation, proper sentences, spelling -- those are all things that writers
should want to do for themselves, if for no other reason than it gives them a
better chance at selling the piece, whether to an epublisher or a print
publisher. Another reason to
-- but not all -- epublications employ copy editors. Look for the ones who do.
While it may look nice if they say 'make sure your story is free from all
mistakes, we aren't going to touch it,' that means everyone else they accept has
to be as good as you are. And they
aren't. If you could guarantee that
your story or book is the first piece someone is going to happen upon, you don't
have to worry about what the perspective reader will find before they stumble
upon your book. Unfortunately, it
doesn't work that way. If the first book or story that she looks at is riddled with
mistakes, that person is never going to look at your material.
publishers often say so right in their contracts. In ezines, the publisher is
often the editor as well. If the
material in an ezine seems chaotic, with some material of a better edited
quality than the rest, it usually means that the ezine takes stories just as
they are presented to them, and the people running the publication don't put in
the extra work to bring all the stories up to par. Generally, these kinds of
sites are not ones you want to be associated with... however, there can be
exceptions. First, if it is a
narrow niche market for material that you can't publish elsewhere, it might be
the best choice. Second is something slightly more devious: if you place a very
well edited and well-written story at a site like this, it will stand out from
the others. This only works well if
it is a popular site, however. And popular sites are usually well edited.
you find an ebook publisher that you think you like, make certain that they
carry the type of books you write, and then read the sample chapters.
You might even email the authors of similar books to see if they have any
reservations about the publisher.
best advice I can give to an author who is considering epublication is to study
the market and take it seriously. Look
before you leap.
Gifford is the Managing Editor for Vision, and has sold more than fifty novels
and short stories on the Internet, as well as maintaining Sff.Net's Estand for
the promotion of on-line material.