An e-book story

American author Marvin Wilson has released his second novel, Owen Fiddler, as an E-book and is currently on a whirlwind cyber book tour. Being a bit of an e-book skeptic, I was so intrigued by his in-your-face and innovative promotion tactics that I decided to find out a bit more about the project:

Why did you decide to go the e-book route?

Write Words, the publisher of the novel is an e-book subsidiary of Cambridge Books, who are always looking for gifted new talent among the field of emerging authors, and they prefer to use the e-book format for such initial publications. If an e-book takes off with lots of sales, they take the book to print also. So, I honestly didn’t choose the e-book format myself; I agreed to it. But the more I learn about the e-book format, the more I appreciate some of the advantages it has.

It’s said that non-fiction e-books do better than fiction. Do you agree?

Well, I hope not, because my new book is fiction! :) Actually, I have heard that, although I have not done the research to know the statistics, or why that may be. When I peruse the e-bookshelves on the many e-bookstores, I see plenty of both, so I would assume there’s plenty of success available in this format for fiction and non-fiction alike.

Your first book was self-published. Tell us how you ensured quality control.

My first book I Romanced the Stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie), was a self-publication through a POD subsidy press called Global Authors Publications. They produce high quality books, and they actually read the manuscript and evaluate it for literary merit before agreeing to publish it.

But you have to do your homework – there are hundreds of small to large self-pubs out there, and among them are plenty of rascal organizations that will publish anything, regardless of merit, as long as you pay their fees. They care nothing about quality or how many sales you make, because they get their money up front from you, the author. An excellent source for checking out companies is the Preditors and Editors site – they rank the different publishers, both self-pubs and traditional pubs, from “Strongly not Recommended” to “Highly Recommended” and give the reasons why.

Did you employ someone to do layout and design or did you do it yourself?

With Stone, the publisher had in-house layout and graphic design services as part of their package, so I worked with their artist with my concept of what I wanted, and she (the artist) came up with a fine product. With Owen, I had my son, who is a gifted sketch artist, do the drawing, and then Write Words used computer generated images to incorporate the sketch into an appealing front cover.

How do you market and sell your book? Do you use affiliates or your own e-commerce site?

If you’re marketing an e-book, you have to always keep in mind that your readers / buyers are online. They are not walking the aisles of a brick and mortar bookstore, they are surfing the internet. So, you have to meet and greet and sell to them where they are. Personal websites, Myspace, YouTube, e-commerce sites, links galore, tags, blogs, e-mail blasts, the sky is the limit.

Where did you get the idea of a cyber book tour? Is it working for you?

I network with professionals in the industry, belong to several writers and readers forums, blogger associations, etc. The Blog Tour is not my brainchild, but it is cutting edge marketing. I noticed it working for some colleagues, so I decided to take Owen on tour as part of my initial marketing push.

I see you’ve just been offered a POD deal with Cambridge Books. Do you think you would have got this without first launching your own e-book?

Maybe yes, maybe no, hard to tell. Any aspiring author will tell you how long and laborious the submissions and acceptance / rejection process is when trying to break into the realm of being an established published author. I was six months into the submissions process when I received the e-book contract offer from Write Words. I had literally a hundred submissions out there, and was tired of waiting, eager to get my book published. There may have been other offers still to come, but it’s a moot point now. I had already checked out Cambridge and Write Words, and I have a couple colleagues who have used them and highly recommended them, so I went with their offer. They (Write Words) were up front with me with the additional caveat that if I proved to be an author who is willing to work hard at promotion, I would be assured of a POD print deal as well.

This is your first e-book. What would you do better the next time around?

I’m happy with the book itself and the quality of the publication, and would do it all over again the same way. As for the marketing, you can never do enough. From pre-launch to launch to follow-up post-launch efforts, you have to be constantly learning and staying on top of what works in e-commerce and implementing marketing strategies tirelessly. There are thousands of good, well written books published every year, which are informative, entertaining, etc., but will never sell more than a few dozen copies because the authors did not do their work. New authors do not get picked up by the Big Six, and the small pubs that do take on new talent do not have the staff and funds to promote their authors for them. It is your job as a new kid on the block to make a name for yourself.

Will there be a second e-book or will you go the “conventional” route in future?

I must say, the way the industry is changing, and with the surge in popularity of e-books, I’ll probably publish my books from now on in both formats. The “old school” generation (like me – lol) still likes to cuddle up with a print copy in front of the fireplace and turn the pages, but the younger generation has embraced the e-book and is quite comfortable reading for hours at the computer monitor or on their Kindle Book reader. It makes sense to reach everyone in the way they want to be reached.

What advice would you give to authors considering producing their own e-books?

E-books, just like traditional print books, are literary works and should be of top quality. Work with a professional editor on your manuscript. Authors often cannot see their own work any more after months and months of working on it. No matter how good of an English major you are, and even if you are a credible editor yourself, you must have your manuscript gone over by another professional in the industry before publishing. And again, whether you produce your own e-book or go with a publisher that is producing it for you, if you want any kind of success with it, get ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Writing a book is about one-tenth the work of making a book a success.

jim-edwards-how-to-write-and-publish-your-own-ebook-in-as-little-as-7-daysI’m sure Crafty readers will agree that was a great interview. Thanks to Marvin for sharing his experience so willingly. Am I still an e-book skeptic? Well, perhaps a little less than before. And as Marvin says, why not offer your book in whatever form the reader prefers.

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4 comments on “An e-book story

  1. Peggy Ullman Bell on said:

    A very informative interview. I may look into eBook publishing for my next book. Great work you two.

  2. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    Tell us a bit more abou your eBook project, Penny …

  3. Joyce A. Anthony on said:

    Another great interview–I like the angle youu took for the questions, Fiona–and Marvin–as usual your answers met the challenge!!!!
    Joyce

  4. Pingback: Series Non Fiction Ebooks

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