This month’s selections at the DGLM book club

As many of you know, we have a book club here at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management.  Every month or so, we pick a category (of fiction usually) and each of us selects a different title in that category to read.  On the designated day, we meet after work and each of us presents our evaluation of the book:  first, we pitch it as if it were something we were representing, then we describe what we really thought  and, finally, we talk about how the book sold, its reviews, awards it was nominated for or won, and anything else we can find out by bugging the editor who worked on it.  In this way, over the years, we have all learned a lot about these categories and what is currently going on in our business.

This month we are doing something different—each of us is reading one of the top 100 bestselling e-novels from the kindle store.  We are curious about whether these books differ from those sold to traditional publishers and, if so, how.

More and more these days, books are being sold electronically.  There are now e-book bestseller lists in The New York Times and some of these titles are exclusive e-books—not published traditionally in any format.  We are trying to learn more about this phenomenon for our existing clients and maybe identify future clients as well.  It is a whole new era in the world of publishing, and we are going to be very much a part of it.

Are any of you published exclusively online and, if so, what has your experience been?

4 Responses to This month’s selections at the DGLM book club

  1. To date I’m published only online, via Drollerie Press. My experience with it to date has certainly tied in with what I’ve seen expressed on various publishing-related blogs: i.e., that if you’re e-pubbed, marketing still very much has to happen in order to let people know about your book. Drollerie’s a very tiny publisher and we don’t have much online presence; therefore, what marketing I’ve done has been mostly on me and therefore fairly minimal, just because it’s not one of my skills. (As with many writers.)

    I’ve also still found that when discussing my book in person, many people I know keep saying “well, I’d love to buy your book when it’s actually out in print” or “I hate reading electronically”. This is in Seattle, even, where you can’t swing a stick without hitting somebody with an ereader. Print does still dominate, even here.

  2. Silver James says:

    I have two novels that are published both in print and as ebooks and then I have two novellas that are digital only, as part of an anthology series, all through Wild Rose Press. As a Kindle owner, I prefer to read digitally, though I admit to “double buying” some books because 1) I want to support the author and 2) I want the paper version on my keeper shelves.

    It is harder to reach older readers more ingrained with traditional ideas of publishing with the novellas. That said, I also know a lot of older readers who are embracing ereaders. It’s a brave new world.

  3. Lisa Marie says:

    I’ve not published any of my books online, but I do write exclusively for online publications (not the same thing). In answer to your question, I pay very close attention to the NYT best-selling authors who e-pubbed. I’ve downloaded a lot of these books (romance) and, for the most part, I’ve found that they’re almost just as good in terms of quality as traditionally published books, even with a few minor spelling and grammatical errors. The Washington Post published an excellent article about romance writer Bella Andre recently; she was dumped by her publisher because her print books didn’t sell well. However, according to the article, her e-pub success – she published the same novels her publishers passed on — is largely based on price point, good cover art and the reading habits of romance readers themselves. I don’t automatically jump on the Konrath bandwagon of super-low pricing, but I do think that $2.99 – $4.99 e-books have a certain allure. This is about the same price that most people pay for their cell phone apps and ring tones.

    I’m not sure it’s possible for agents and big publishers to make the leap into e-publishing and be successful at it unless they find a way to dramatically cut the cost of editing, proofing, cover art, formatting, etc. to make it more in line with the national average. Out of curiosity, I priced the average cost of all of these services in NYC compared to the rest of the nation, and NYC professionals charge at least twice what they would in non-union states, but often far more. Why pay $500 for someone to format a book for various e-readers, when I can get a techno geek who’s freelancing on the side to do the same job for $100 in my own city?

  4. Eric Christopherson says:

    While DGLM’s John Rudolph reps a coauthored book of mine I’ve a pair of my own novels that I’ve e-pubbed. Despite the absence of a marketing plan–and very little marketing effort–one of the novels has taken spins in the Amazon USA and UK top 100 and sold about 20,000 copies, ranging in price from 99 cents to $2.99. It’s among the top 100 best rated suspense novels available for the Kindle based on reader reviews. (How I know this is Amazon recently offered a “top-rated” top 100 list for various categories, but alas they seem to have abandoned the experiment.) So that’s indeed gratifying. The other novel was my first effort at novel writing, so perhaps it’s not a surprise it isn’t selling nearly as well. Yet I’m grateful it has an audience now and I get some feedback on it. And what’s wrong with getting paid for your earliest artistic efforts? The Beatles got paid playing Hamburg, after all, years before the Sullivan show.

    FYI, I don’t think the self-pubbed works in the top 100 are up to par with the traditionally pubbed works. And what that means could be a long conversation.

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