Monday, June 30, 2008

Glass Ceiling, Sticky Floor--veinglory

While I roll my eyes when people say ‘oh, e-publishing is also so risky and terrible’—there is a reason to accentuate the negative when assessing prospective publishers for your work.

Look at it this way. If you ask: how many books do you want to sell? The answer is clearly: lots. But this is not something specific and empirical to help in selecting a press. If you ask: what number if sales in the first year would you consider so low you would regret your choice of publisher? The answers will vary depending on how ambitious and how realistic an author is. And if the publisher’s average sales or the lower end of their range are below that threshold, you need to cross them off your list.

‘How many could I sell’ is a best case scenario limited only by the e-book glass ceiling, that is factors such as the limited uptake of e-books and the lack of a universal format or reading device.

‘How few might I sell’ is a damage control question determined mainly by publisher liabilities such as a lack of skills, experience and funding.

If you choose an e-publisher at random there is a fairly large chance it is stuck to the floor, and a very small chance it is pressed to the ceiling. We need to keep this in mind when trying to divine the meaning of the latest sparkly website and opening day rah rah announcements.

I want all authors to head for the sky and get at least as far as the ceiling, but you absolutely have to hitch a ride with an e-publisher going in that direction. No amount of post-publication arm flapping will make up for hitching your book to the e-publishing equivalent of a lead balloon.

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