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This is actually directed at authors, rather than readers, but any readers who want to chime in, can do so.

I’ve heard from certain publishers that during romance book conferences, e-book authors often feel inferior to their print counterparts, because print authors/publishers don’t consider e-bookers to be ‘real’ authors. I wonder how true that is?

I’ve also heard several authors defend their e-book author status, by saying that they’d choose e-books over print anyday, because they have greater freedom in terms of their work, they can write outside the box, yadda yadda yadda.

Is that really the general consensus?

Whenever an e-book author gets a contract with Kensington or any of the big NY houses, there’s this level of excitement, and a general feeling from the author that, yes, they finally made it, despite already having written multiple books for trhe likes of Samhain or Elloras Cave.

Let’s face it, when was the last time Lora Leigh had an e-book out? And she got her start in e-books.

So my my question to the e-book authors is this: If you had a choice between writing for a house like Elloras Cave or Samhain Publishing and writing for an NY house like Kensington, who would you choose? Honestly?

Which would Lora Leigh have chosen back in the day, had she been given the choice then?

36 Comments »


  • Stephanie
    June 22
    5:35 pm

    Print. No question.
    I like the idea of ebooks. They are good to the environment, low investment, bring new authors to the industry and give readers more options. The problem is anyone can start an epub. Sex is the biggest selling point on the internet. With ebooks it is no exception. The big sales are made in erotic work. The combination of these things makes electronic publication less reputable. If you say you are an ebook author, people expect nudity on the cover, no distribution, and you to hide your head. Most review sites expect ebooks to have a lower quality. I think Mrs. Giggles had a long bit about this a while back.

    It may not be right or fair but the ebook industry has done this to themselves. JMHO. I do buy ebooks.

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  • I would choose the one that would make me the most money, all things being equal this would be the larger press.

    That said, all things are not equal — someone like Samhain or Loose Id is best for my gay werewolf short novellas and weird gay high fantasy.

    Other people are committed to the e-format for some reason, or committed to cheerleading anyone who validates them as an author even if they are baby seal sex slave traders on the side. Me, I write what I want, and I then want to make the most money I can from that material. If that is ebooks, I am cool with that and don’t really care what the PTB might think about it.

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  • Good question.
    From a reader point of view, if I had to pick just one, I’d go with e-books.

    A lot of authors who used to be auto buys for me have moved onto print. Ever since they made that switch I have noticed that I liked thier books better when they were with e-pubs. They are no longer auto buys, and the SQUEEE feeling is now gone when I hear they have a new book out soon.
    Even Lora Leigh is one of those ‘used to be auto buys’.
    I still read her books, but not with the excitment I used to, and no longer do I buy every single release.

    Thats happened with most of my ex-favourite e-pub authors. I don’t know why 🙁
    They just put out better stuff when they were with e-pubs, IMO.

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  • Can I take one of each?

    I like that I can easily sell shorter, or more risqué works to ePubs, and I love that I get paid monthly at my publishers. Can’t sneeze at the time to publication either.

    But would I like to be in print – sure I would. There is a whole other market than with eBooks, and as my mother said ‘when are you writing something that will be in print that I can show off to the Zonta ladies?’ – they don’t much get the idea of iPhones/pda’s and eBook readers (although if anyone explained it to them, no doubt they’d jump on the band wagon)

    My ideal world would be to have both, because I believe in both. eBooks are definitely the wave of the future, and I’m glad to be in at the ground (okay ground’ish) floor level for that, but I don’t think any author ever really lets go of the ideal of holding the physical evidence of a printed on paper book.

    Am I happy just being ePubbed? Indeed. If I go no further I’ll be as equally happy as if I do (and possibly a little less stressed 😉 )

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  • I’m in this to make a living. And honestly, that can be done best at the NY level. But NY isn’t quite ready for what I write, and so I am perfectly thrilled to stay right where I am with EC. I might not be so thrilled to stay where I am if I were not with EC and was, instead, with an epub like, say, WRP or DCL whose sales are so dismal as to not even allow for a tank of gas in royalties.

    When NY is ready for what I write, will I try to go there? Absolutely. Will I never write another book for EC? Absolutely not. I can’t think of a single NY pub who would , even if they accepted gay erotic romance, allow for some of the things I get up to in my books. You can push the envelope so much more in e-books and I like pushing the envelope.

    But when it comes down to it, I am publishing for money, as Emily so wisely puts it. Write for love, publish for money. I will go where the best money is. Right now it’s with EC for what I write. If that changes then I will re-evaluate in the future.

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  • I’m in this to make a living. And honestly, that can be done best at the NY level. But NY isn’t quite ready for what I write, and so I am perfectly thrilled to stay right where I am

    Yeah, I can’t even really find a fit for my kind of books with smaller print publishers. But I have a soft spot for heroic fantasy/erotic romance with a strong emphasis bisexual heroines, and the only publishers that seem to be open to that are epubs. Print pubs tend to want the GL, and the BT can take a hike.

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  • Hi Karen. Here’s my two-cents-for-what-it’s-worth on the subject:
    I’ve met a lot of nice, unforgettable people through e-book publishing, and I’d be lying if I said the industry didn’t help me get a foot in the door of traditional print publishing. At the same time, the e-book industry is what it is and if Fate had offered the choice years ago? I’d definitely have picked traditional print publishing, no question about it. I don’t have the energy or interest to deal with the repetitive and often demoralizing problems that unfortunately plagues the e-book industry. Likewise, I really LIKE the opportunity for print readers to read my work, and appreciate making some measurable financial compensation for the work I do. With POD’s as costly as they are and the e-book reading audience as limited as it is, these opportunities are simply not yet there through writing e-books.

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  • sallahdog
    June 22
    8:16 pm

    Its funny you should have this post, because I was reading an OLD linda howard book the other day (Independant wife), it was one of her first books, and I believe might have been a Harlequin (which to me was the epub of yesterday, a lot of great single title authors got their starts with Harlequins)….

    This book was a complete wallbanger for me, of course some of it because times have changed and the misogny of the hero would have driven me to murder. But it reminded me that even authors who write great books (Open Season being one of my fave books of all time), have to start somewhere. They rarely have a truly great book right out of the gate. With the way print books are today (you betta deliver great numbers or you don’t get a book 2), authors need to build a following almost, before they hit print…

    I have followed several authors from ebook to print (or read a cool print book from them and went back and read their ebook backlist)… I wonder if its even possible, without a great deal of luck to be truly successful if your first book is a single title print book… I would say though, at some point, if an author wants to be widely read, they are going to have to make that leap.

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  • Keishon
    June 22
    8:54 pm

    I’d like both to be around but ebooks, most naturally. You’re library will be with you wherever you go. It’s the most assured method of keeping your books safe from fire and other catastrophes. Just sayin. But it’s also nice to have a library, too.

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  • mara
    June 22
    9:32 pm

    Print.

    I’m not sure if it makes any difference to say I don’t write for the money. I write because it is fun and because ever since I was a little girl reading Anne of Green Gables (in print) 🙂 I’ve wanted to have a book I wrote myself on the shelf in a bookstore. I did get a feeling of accomplishment with my e-book, but the longing for the print is still there. E-books still feel incomplete, somehow; maybe it’s because I’m 45 and print books have been a companion my whole life while e-books are relatively new to me.
    Also print books are much easier on my eyes.:)

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  • Hard to answer, Karen. Each option has its pros and cons. But since I am in this to earn a living, if I could only choose one, the way things are right now, I’d go with print.

    I love the freedom I can find with ebooks, shorter story lengths, weird storylines, etc, but I can’t take care of my family with just with that freedom. Takes money.

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  • Throwmearope
    June 22
    10:51 pm

    Reader, here! (Raising hand.) Loathe e-book, sucks, squick, yucky, yucky. I love the feel of a book, the page turning, the dead spiders in my old keepers that have been on the shelf way too long. . . I have read 3 ebooks and I printed all three out on paper, which is a pain in the patootie. But better than on the computer screen, which I stare at enough at work.

    I loved Shiloh’s Through the Veil, especially since it’s in print. (Oh, btw, Shi, great world building, reminds me of my favorite SFF authors. I felt like I got sucked through the veil into the world(s) you created.)

    I have proved to myself I can read ebooks, but I’d really rather not.

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  • Grace Draven
    June 22
    11:01 pm

    From an author standpoint, I’d pick print via NY. For me, it’s strictly a matter of exposure. Brick and mortar stores carry print books by the NY publishers, thereby offering the title to a wider scope of consumer. If B&N or Borders start offering e-books in a more tangible format (i.e., cds or something else that a walk-in customer can pick up, buy at the checkout and throw in their bag of stuff), I’ll be more than happy to stick strictly with e-book publishers, where the author has a little more freedom in what they choose to write. Also, as I’m currently exclusively in e-book format, pirating has more of an impact than if I had titles in both formats (just my opinion, and your mileage may vary on that one).

    As a reader, I read both e-book and print books equally. I don’t subscribe to the idea that one is superior to the other. I’ve read print titles that make me wonder what poor tree was sacrificed to print such garbage. I’ve also read e-books that have blown me away and made me an instant, rabid fan of the author (Bettie Sharpe anyone?).

    I will say, again as a reader, that print holds an edge over e-book for me because of the tactile pleasure of holding a book. Old fashioned yes, and not particularly green nor space-saving, but there nonetheless. Also, if the price point between a print version and an e-book version of the same title isn’t noticebly significant, I will pick the print version every time.

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  • Reader here: I love the instant gratification I get from buying e-books (since I order most my print books online due to the fact that there are no bookstores within 60 miles of my home), but I get screen-fatigue and I start skipping even when I love a book which then leads to a loss of emotional impact of the story and that’s a really *bad* thing as far as I’m concerned!

    And I also miss the physical evidence of how much book is left to be read. That scroll bar doesn’t quite equate to holding a book in your hands (also true when deciding to buy a book, I really, *really* hate buying e-books from publishers who do not give exact word count but some nebulous anything over 30k is a novel bs…)

    I prefer paper over e-book any time, but I also love having books I have read in paper available as e-books so I can take 100s of them with me when I travel. I re-read a lot.

    Like Throwmearope, I’ve printed out a number of e-books I love that aren’t available in print. I calculated ink, paper and pretty folders and figure I spent about 12-15 bucks on each of these e-books beyond their original e-purchase price. Not so cool.

    To date, I’ve read several hundred e-books from about 10 different e-pubs and while there are rare gems and also shoddily edited print books, I have to say quality is overall worse in e-pubbed e-books, both in story editing and most certainly in line/copy editing (for story editing most issues were with stories being kept artificially short and endings feeling rushed).

    I do have to say, however, that a few recent Harlequin print Blazes were really badly copy edited, much beyond the dropped comma or word that I had previously seen, which made me wonder if they are skimping on that step for whatever reason.

    In conclusion, give me a print book any day for a first reading experience, but keep the e-books coming for those story lines that NY is afraid of and for my travel convenience! 🙂

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  • Rosemary Laurey
    June 23
    12:24 am

    I (and my alternate personality) write for Kensington, EC and Samhain ( and a couple of others) and there are pluses on all sides.

    But have to say, since I write for money, Kensington earns me much more, but I do like writing for both NY and small press at the same time. From the budgeting side of things it is nice to get those monthly smaller check between the advances and twice yearly royalties.

    On the question of validation, and the perception that small press/ebooks are somehow ‘inferior” to NY published books.
    Yes there are individuals and associations working hard to spread that idea. IMO it’s a bunch of lumpy mashed potatoes. Yes there are less than professional small press, same can be said of some NY houses.

    Most publishers, of all shapes and sizes, put out a few brilliant books, a lot of pretty good ones and a handful of clunkers.

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  • Lori
    June 23
    12:26 am

    Tough question. I have to admit that while Ive been introduced to some fabulous authors whom I never would have known without ebooks, AND I can take my entire library with me on vacation in one little device rather than lugging a ton of books around with me, if I had to choose only one, I would still choose traditional print. Likely, it’s a product of my age, but there is nothing like the feel of a book in your hands, and seeing a stack next to your bed. Also, there is nothing like going into the bookstore and browsing through a book, wherever you choose to look, to see if you really want to buy it.

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  • DS
    June 23
    1:57 am

    Reader here. I’ve read very few ebooks that are not also available in print. I’m not interested in erotica and it’s hard to find a book from an epub that I might want to read. In fact the majority of POD books I have read have sucked– should admit I’ve probably read a few more than a dozen.

    I guess it has to be NY (or UK) print pubs who have graciously allowed their books to be digitalized. Oh, and my reason for ebooks is portability and storage. I still buy first editions of the authors I collect.

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  • TwoCents
    June 23
    2:11 am

    I’d go where the money is, plain and simple.

    Going to get blunt now. The “flourishing” e-pubs might be flourishing for their owners, but I seriously doubt they’re flourishing for any but a small percentage of individual authors (usually, those who are well established and maybe have moved on to NY).

    In their feverish attempt to out-distance one another, some e-pub’s have become formulaic book mills that clearly place a higher premium on quantity than on quality. Pump out the steam and rake in the bucks . . . but primarily, as I said, for the corporate coffers and not for individual authors.

    Don’t be fooled by the official stats. Many of us are suffering dreadfully declining sales.

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  • I loved Shiloh’s Through the Veil, especially since it’s in print. (Oh, btw, Shi, great world building, reminds me of my favorite SFF authors. I felt like I got sucked through the veil into the world(s) you created.)

    🙂 Thank you!

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  • queenbeetrainer
    June 23
    3:03 am

    Speaking as a reader, there are pros and cons to both. Print is much more portable and I don’t have to worry about batteries being charged. On the other hand, I love being able to browse for ebooks at home with my bunny slippers on, download and then read; instant gratification to the max. The one pet peeve I do have regarding ebooks is the absolutely awful cover art; I’d rather see just a colored background with the title and author than some of the horrible stuff that is put out there.

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  • Two Cents wrote: In their feverish attempt to out-distance one another, some e-pub’s have become formulaic book mills that clearly place a higher premium on quantity than on quality.

    That happens everywhere. Look at what happened when NY jumped on the paranormal bandwagon – its hard to find a good contemporary now!

    As for quality – this isn’t strictly an epub problem. Yes, there is a race to fill the ‘virtual shelves’ and many less reputable publishers are putting crap out there. I’ve been epublished since 98 and the stuff I’ve seen – WOOF! But those publishers hit the skids soon enough and the bodies are littering the highway of epublishing.

    But NY is guilty of some of this behavior as well. When the paranormal blitz began they put out a lot of crap and I spent a lot of time removing dents from my walls. For corporations – its all about the bottom line and quality can fall by the wayside.

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  • Lori
    June 23
    2:24 pm

    I’m just a paperback ho. And one of the things I love is seeing author’s names here and then finding them out there in *the real world*.

    In fact, my daughter and I were at Borders yesterday and Shiloh’s Through The Veil was right there prominently displayed at the check-out desk. Yes, I bought a copy. And you can’t beat that for getting your name out there.

    And one day I want to be published and have my own paperback in hand.

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  • Both. Definitely both.
    I prefer to read in ebook format. Strictly as a reader:
    1. I can alter the print size. With my poor eyesight, that’s a real plus.
    2. I live in the UK, so getting the print copies is sometimes difficult, sometimes impossible. I can go and buy an e-book whenever I like and all I need is that little bit of plastic…
    3. My ebookwise is backlit. I’m an insomniac, and the backlight means I can read and not wake up the DH. I don’t have to lie there staring into space and sighing any more.

    As a writer – I love writing for e-books. I’m doing okay, thanks to the higher royalty and the fact that I’m now with the ‘top’ publishing houses, which get lots of traffic and customers. Because it’s my format of choice, it also comes naturally to me.

    If I move to print, it will be because it pays better. I will, of course, give it my all, but I truly believe that e-books will become increasingly significant to market numbers, so abandoning it because it isn’t paying as much today, tends to negate my thinking of writing as a career, not just something I do today. However, the big publishers are moving into E-books in a big way, so eventually the question will become moot. And e-book companies have agreements with big publishers, too, so it’s going both ways.

    I just write books, ones I hope people enjoy reading. and from recent sales numbers, they do seem to be enjoying them, so thank you!

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  • Is that a trick qusetion, Karen, considering all the NY houses also release simultaneously in ebook?

    Kidding. I get the question. Initially I chose ebooks over NY five years ago simply because I thought my best path to success in the genre in which I wanted to write was to create a market for my WH. I didn’t know how much money could be made in ebooks at the time, so money wasn’t the goal. Exposing my Promise series to the world was. And at the time it was a very big plan based on a very small potential for success. It paid off, and I was able to include NY publication to my credits thus gaining more exposure for all my books and adding more security to my career.

    I actually love being epublished. Last year during one of the hullbaloos, I mentioned having difficulty finding an epublisher with which to do business that would take my length book and that also had a fair, realistic contract. I have two series I’m holding specifically for epublsihing, not because they are any different from my NY books or because NY has in an way censored my voice or plots, (they seem enthusiastic about my stories) but simply because I love the immediacy of epublishing and find the experience enjoyable. Anyway, one house contacted me, and as soon as I catch up on my NY contracts, I will go further into discussion with them in regard to the series, print options (which must be considered for those of my readers who do not read ebooks) etc

    So, while I am always epublished as all my NY publishers immediately put my books in ebook form, (and wouldn’t go with one that didn’t plan to) I also would choose to be e published because it’s an equally enjoyable experience and I like variety.

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  • If I was writing full-time, it would be print. I hear the money is better and, unless you have a trust fund, money matters. (However, when most print authors are telling me they make less than 50k/year and have been in the business five years or more, I don’t think I’ll be making a career change anytime soon.)

    But, thankfully, I have a Clark Kent job that allows me to dabble in my hobby, so I’m cool with e-books. I don’t like adhering to word count or hard deadlines or specific themes. I turn in books to my editor as I finish them. No pressure.

    (Well, there are deadlines and paralyzing pressure, but that’s not for public discussion.)

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  • A lot of [e-]authors who used to be auto buys for me have moved onto print. Ever since they made that switch I have noticed that I liked thier [sic] books better when they were with e-pubs.

    Ditto.

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  • Ditto what Chantal said! I thought I was the only one who felt that way. There are very, very few authors who have made that leap to NY from e-pubs that I still read. I’ve been disappointed waaaaay to many times.

    As a writer, I don’t plan to go for a NY pub. Not interested. I make enough money for my needs and wants. Maybe if I was starting at twenty or thirty, but I’m near retirement age now. I want to write when, where, and what interests me. I’m thrilled to death that I can do that in an e-book format. Certainly, I make more money book-for-book in e-format than I do in print.

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  • You would ask this question when I’m tied up all day, lol.

    I have to admit, much as I love my publisher, my goal is still print. I hope for a larger distribution at a lower price point for the reader, which will hopefully earn their consideration. I know there’s big problems with NY pubs too–the wait, primarily–but I also have Single Title dreams and I don’t think those will work with audiences in e-book market only. In the end, though, I have hopes to maintain both.

    Dee

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  • I have an ebookwise reader and I love it. What I can’t figure out is why if you find books in ebook…..why don’t they then give us the whole series? And why can’t they do both …ebook and paper?

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  • I got my start in ebooks. I developed my craft and now am ready to move on into print via NY. I don’t make as much money as I used to because I stopped putting out tons of shorts. It was a trap. Now, I write longer and more skillfully (at least I hope!)

    EC isn’t making me money like they used to. Sorry, but it is the truth. I have little choice but to move where the money is…and that is NY. In doing so, I have made an adjustment in what I wrote for consideration. Frankly, I have floundered for 2 years (along with a good dose of depression) trying to figure out where to go from here. I only now got up the courage to sub to Harlequin…

    Yes, sometimes authors degrade ebook published authors. I heard it. Even heard an editor refer to NY books as “real books”. It is a little insulting, but then I see NY picking up talents like Sarah McCarty, Chey McCray and Shiloh Walker who all were epubbed. Obviously, not all epub authors are hacks.

    As for formats I buy…I like the feel of a book, but then I do buy a lot in ebook too, mainly from Ebookwise…and titles I missed via Harlequin.

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  • E-books are fun, but I’d still love to have something in print. Until I keep thinking that oh, the kind of stuff I write (gay & trans erotic SF/F) isn’t in print. E-books are a way to write what I want and get paid for it. I’m still looking at it as a way to practice and get better at craft and get used to the editing process. Depending on what agents or publishers know about e-books, tucking those into a query letter can be a helpful thing, because then they know you have experience. And while e-books don’t pay a lot, it’s still enough to get me to a couple major conventions this year, and I’m certainly not complaining about that. I appreciate everything I’ve learned from e-books, but I’d still love to have something I can hold in my hand and sign for other people.

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  • Until I keep thinking that oh, the kind of stuff I write (gay & trans erotic SF/F) isn’t in print.

    I think there might be a print market for gay SF/F with smaller presses, but those publishers don’t seem to want to vary much from the one-guy/one-guy, one-girl/one-girl thing. Very frustrating for someone like me who writes romantic/erotic fantasy featuring characters of different genders and sexual orientations making varied romantic combinations, but all set in the same world. I don’t want to scatter all those books across ten different publishers, but most print presses aren’t interested in m/f AND m/f/f AND m/m/f AND m/f/f/f/f AND larger stories that might include all of these, plus a bunch of het stuff, too.

    Sigh.

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  • Hello Karen (waving) and everyone,

    Writing for a print publisher would be fun but I enjoy being and e-book author. All I have to do is read Laurell K. Hamilton’s blog about how pressured and miserable she is most of the time to think twice about print. Writing for a big publisher means you’d better produce and your story better not be too far off the beaten path. You also better make sure you SELL, or you could find yourself getting less and less support with each book you write.

    Another reason I like writing e-books is I’m able to push the envelope as far as story lines. I actually got two pieces of fan mail for my erotic science fiction thriller, Hungry Planet which shocked the hell out of me because the hero was the leader of a band of cannibals. Truthfully I never thought that story would do well but I liked it so I took a chance.

    I believe the future is in e-books. If you keep up with Fictionwise you’ll notice that ALL of the big print authors are going e-books (King, Hamilton, the list goes on and on). E-books can be five thousand words or over a hundred thousand and be marketable. Print rarely wants anything less than eighty thousand. E-books can also explore different and unusual themes that traditional print would run from. E-books embrace gay romance, every kind of shape shifter, and every kind of story. Heroes and heroines can be black, white, Hispanic, or green from another planet. Everything is welcome and I think that’s very cool.

    I’m proud to be part of this welcoming diversity.

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  • There is no question that NY books have to appeal to a larger audience than a strictly ebook publication to be viable. A book is a product after all and comes with associated costs. However, as a reader and an author, I don’t think there’s ever been a time in Romance publishing where I’ve seen more diversity of plots and ideas being offered by NY houses. So much so that the line between what used to be the forte of epublishing and the forte of NY have all but disappeared. There’s good and bad in this, but I think for writers and readers on the whole it’s good.

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  • Both.
    Ebooks have quicker release dates, more input on covers (most of the time) and a friendlier editing process. Exposure with ebooks is different. I like the risks ebook publishers are willing to take and will probably continue to epublish.
    Print publishers sell in bulk to Borders, Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc. My dream is still to see my book on the shelf at my local Borders.
    The money is an issue too, but I love epublishing for it’s online processing. Editing at Kensington and other NY houses involves paper, pencils and a key (which if not sent is SCARY, so I’ve heard). Epublishing edits through email and Word track changes program.
    To me, it’s ALL good.

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  • […] so hard, if you had to choose between print books and ebooks, which would you choose? Click here to read the entire post. She also has an interesting article asking why the BDBrotherhood series is […]


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