Friday, December 20, 2013

Question: does digital first mean digital forever?

I've been querying my novel and not having a lot of luck.  I know I shouldn't give up yet, there are lots of fish in the sea, etc, but if worse comes to worst and I exhaust all of the agents on my list... would publishing on my own with a digital-first press (assuming for the moment that THEY accept my query) ruin my chances of having a traditional writing career?

I've seen all over the Internet that self-publishing is only a positive thing to list on a bio if the book sells something like 20,000 copies.  Does the same thing apply to digital-first?  If I choose to try digital-first with this novel, will I be a digital-first author forever, unless I sell an absurd number of those ebooks?

Would it matter at all if I went digital first with a pen name, or is that still ruining my debut?  I am afraid to even ask such a thing on Twitter, for fear that the fact that I'm even *thinking* about it may make me seem less serious about a long-term career.

I'm glad you realize that self-publishing and digital publishing are NOT the same thing, although many people who self publish do so via digital means. You are NOT "on your own" if you publish with a digital first press that has an acquisitions editor, a copy editor, a marketing person, and plans to take over the best seller lists sometime soon.

Digital first publishing with a reputable publisher (be VERY careful about this because it's damn easy to set yourself up as a digital publisher these days) is a very good way to build a career.  If you're with a publisher that knows their stuff, you can get some very nice sales numbers that will attract the beady eye of many a mercantile-minded shark.

A lot of bigger publishers are trying digital-first for authors too.  I don't have any authors doing that but some of my colleagues do and it seems to be working just fine.



Stacy said...

A couple of places to ask questions about digital publishers are Writer Beware at Absolute Write at The people who run those sites tend to keep pretty diligent records of shady "publishers" and their reputations. (Sorry - I've never been able to manage hyperlinks in comments.)

Janet Reid said...

Stacy, here are the hyperlinks:


Absolute Write

Grace R. Pringle said...

What are some reputable digital publishers?

Bonnie Shaljean said...

Some further commentary here (I can't see any hyperlink commands either!):

and here:

Unknown said...

I signed my first novel with Escape Publishing, the AU digital branch of Harlequin. So far it's been wonderful having the backing of a large company with a smaller staff where I receive personal support. Plus the Escape Artists (writers) are a tight knit group.

Digital first does bring different challenges in the rest of the publishing world. Award competitions for your work many times require multiple printed copies. Signings can't be done on the person's book. You can digitally sign cover art and bluetooth or email it to them for them. However, since that's not widely known, some venues that have signings may put you lower on the list to include.

Would I do it again? The second book in the series is already submitted to Escape and I'm writing the!

Hope this helps. Cheers,

Lucy Hallowell said...

What are your thoughts on writers submitting short stories to smaller digital presses? For example, answering a call for submissions for short stories for an anthology (I've seen these with monthly anthologies, call for Christmas or other themed stories etc). Good way to build a career?

Bonnie Shaljean said...

A call for submissions is something to treat with caution, thorough research, and also get peer feedback on. I just read something recently about an anthology scam - possibly in Writer Beware? - so haste ye to the sites Stacy mentioned above that Janet provided links to. So many publishers are inundated with more material than they can ever possibly use, that it makes you wonder about the ones who have to ask. A lot depends on what they want you to commit to, so make sure you're fully informed about the legal implications.