Instead of subjecting themselves to the grueling process of finding a “big six” publishing house to handle their debut novels, local authors James Erwin and Colleen Hoover joined the growing number of writers who take the self-published route.
“I spent a couple of years trying to find an agent,” Erwin said in a recent interview. “For someone without a track record, or who doesn’t have a marketable name, [I found] they don’t have time.”
In the past, first-time authors had to find an agent to “pitch” their work to one of the big six publishers. The big six houses include HarperCollins, Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan.
Until recently, self-publishing – a print-on-demand process – was the avenue of last resort because it was costly, the product looked cheap and thrown together and, most importantly, there was no editorial presence to guide the story through to release.
Erwin, who works at Ocean Spray, used Strategic Book Group in Connecticut to publish his book, “Black Water: Lake of Secrets,” in July of 2011. The printed book costs $18.95. The ebook version is $7.99.
“It’s kinda a hybrid between traditional publishing and self-publishing,” Erwin explained. “It’s a joint venture approach. They arranged for getting it published and set up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the printer. I did the editing myself.”
Hoover’s path to publishing grew out of her storytelling hobby.
“I love to share stories with my mother and sisters, so when I began the book in December, it was never an intention of mine to make money off of it or make it my career,” Hoover said.
She opted to use Amazon Digital Services to handle the distribution of her first book, “Slammed.” The e-book version is listed at amazon.com for $2.99. The print copy is $11.99.
According to a New York Times online commentary by Timothy Egan, published on April 26, 2012, “One-fifth of all American adults reported reading an e-book in the past year, according to an optimistic report from the Pew Center. And those digital consumers read far more books on average — about 24 a year — than the dead-tree consumers.
“Another surprise: e-book readers also buy lots of paper books. The buyers of digital tomes ‘read more books in all formats,’ Pew reported. By 2025, e-books will be 75 percent of total books sold, in Pew’s forecast. I know it’s hard for publishing to accept, but this is good news, given the voracious buying habits of the e-book reader.”
Hoover, the mother of three boys, thinks e-books and self-publishing are the wave of the future.
“I believe the new self-publishing programs offered by Amazon and Barnes & Noble are changing the publishing industry,” Hoover noted. “I don’t think there’s a right and wrong way to go. It just depends on the desires and situation of the author.”
Erwin’s book is an action mystery with Ethan Gray, a public service diver, as the central character.
Hoover’s “Slammed” series centers on the life of young Layken Cohen, who loses her father but finds an ally in Will Cooper.
Hoover, who has been married for 11 years, used social media to get the word out about “Slammed.”
“I spent the first few weeks marketing my book to friends through Facebook and Twitter,” she said. “I quickly learned what worked and what didn’t with self-publishing. It’s important to have an online presence, but spamming your book and hounding people to buy it is NOT the way to go.”
Erwin, who is married and the father of a two-year-old daughter, says Strategic would have marketed his book, but the company would have charged him a fee.
Although Erwin’s book hasn’t hit a best sellers list, he says the people who have read it have “loved it.” The book has received four 5-star reviews at amazon.com.
He plans on writiing more books and is in search of an agent, but admits to being the world’s “worst self-promoter.”
Hoover’s books have found a loyal following. Hoover now has an agent, having signed with Dystel & Goderich after they contacted her. She’s signed a deal for film and foreign rights to the books, but held on to the ebook and print rights.
“I’m very happy with my decision,” she noted. “I’m not saying I would never sign with a publisher. I just haven’t received an offer that I’ve felt was right for me yet.”
All three books are available at amazon.com or through the authors’ websites:
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