I mentioned in passing the different stories being put about in the publishing industry about ebook sales. Some reports say digital sales have leveled out or stagnated. The other side of the tales explains that this is actually only true when it comes to ebooks sales by the 5 big publishers and selected small presses. When you looks at ebooks sales taking in all the small presses and the indie authors, ebook sales are not stagnant at all. L. Diane Wolfe shared the truth that the Big 5 are trying to hide.
When I first started writing, there were few options to the Big 5. And there were rules to be followed if you wanted those entities to even look at your work. Everything was snail mail. They sneered at the idea of email queries. Not only did you have to send you submission in the mail, but you had to include a SASE so they can return it to you after a form rejection. An editor or agent might even scribble, No thanks, on your query letter. All that postage and trips to the post office and then waiting weeks and months for a reply. Some guidelines said they might take up to a year or more to get back to you.
Lots of agents and editors didn't even post their guidelines online, leaving you to search them out elsewhere. And those guidelines were sometimes very strict, especially for romance. Twenty pages per chapter and twenty chapters was an accepted length for a book. Some romance lines expected the hero and heroine meet in the first chapter, kiss by a certain page and other exacting plot points to made when directed. The number of words per page was also explained in detail.
This was if you could get an editor to read your manuscript. Many of the Big 5 won't accept a submission directly from a writer and will only look at something from an agent. If you happened to meet an agent or editor at a conference, you would hear tales of the six foot tall slush piles filling their offices. And horrors, what if your manuscript ended up in the slush pile!
Should you receive a contract, the standard time between signing and publication was around two years. If you were lucky, you might get more contracts during that time, but if that first book didn't earn back its miniature advance, the publisher probably wouldn't want that second book.
I signed on early with a digital publisher, years before the Big 5 were jumping into the ebook market. There were actually successful writers I knew who advised me I was ruining a chance at a writing career by doing that. It was the smartest career move I made. I've been with them for nearly eight years.
"Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent." Marilyn Von Savant
Now the latest news from the publishing industry is that many writers are finding success outside the New York overlords of publishing. Many are throwing the rules out the window and making their own way.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." Steve Jobs
Do you remember some of those old, strict rules? Have you been following the publishing news about ebook sales? How long have you been with your publisher? Any missteps along your career you would do differently?