Five Reasons Why Best-Selling Authors Are Going Direct

Many best-selling authors are going direct by publishing through epublishers instead of traditional publishing companies. Here's why.

The latest news has reflected a shift in best-selling authors who publish their manuscripts through epublishers rather than traditional publishing companies, and it's for a good reason. Readers are chomping at the bits for ebooks. Just recently, the Association of American Publishers reported that ebook sales have increased by 176 per cent in 2009, while print-book sales continues to decrease. The list of benefits for ebook writers is endless, but one major upside is that the authors are taking home more of the book sale profits. Not to mention that the editing process is simplified and that ebooks are produced much, much quicker. It also helps that authors have more control during the entire book production process and access to a whole new audience. The publishing industry is paying attention to the major move, including traditional publishers. More and more literary agencies, such as Andrew Wylie's agency, have plans to start agencies that deal exclusively with epublishers. It's no wonder why more authors are going direct.

You'll Have a Book Published in No Time

In traditional publishing, the process can take years. Just waiting for a publishing company to even give your manuscript a look takes up a big chunk of time. As for epublishing companies, the process is a lot faster. Online publishing outlets provide authors with a magnitude of tools at their fingertips. Writers can upload their content to the site, send it off to a network of editors and receive edits within days or even hours. Once the copy is cleaned up, authors can publish their books in a matter of a month. It's a plus for writers who want their time-sensitive books to keep their relevance. But it isn't only authors who see benefits. Readers do too. Book enthusiasts can instantly download an ebook upon its release, instead of driving to the closest bookstore.

Epublishing is a More Cost Effective Route

Authors love to hear that. Every penny counts, and creating books through epublishers drastically curbs the expenses related to printing. Think about all those manuscripts you have to print to send to publishers or copy editors? Also add costs associated with getting the material into their hands. Through epublishers, writers can ping editors their rough drafts in a matter of seconds. By selecting an online publisher, not only do you see a cost savings, but you also cut down your use of paper and ink. Printed books use three times more raw materials. Also, ebook companies offer more book sale royalties to authors compared to cost of going with traditional publishers. For example, on average lets authors walk away with 80 per cent of money accumulated from book sales when sold directly through their site. That's a steal. And another advantage for readers is most ebooks are usually cheaper to purchase than print-books - sometimes ebooks are offered for free.

You're the Main Honcho

From start to finish, authors who take the epublishing highway have the final say in all decisions related to their books. Once written, writers select who they want to edit their copy. They are also 100 per cent in charge of a book's marketing and of where they want to sell the book. Next-generation publishers provide writers with an extensive list of eRetailers where they can sell their books. Authors get to decide how much a book should cost and they are no longer at the whim of what traditional publishers would want to charge for a book. What this all means is authors have fewer contracts and more choices in the direction they want to take with their product.

Access to a Bigger, More Diverse Audience

Ebook authors find themselves exposed to a whole new category of readers – readers in love with technology. It's huge that authors have the option of including graphics, audio, short video clips, music and animation with their books. While writers can still utilise the conventional way of selling books through bookstores and personal websites, they can also reach out to even more people by interacting with, let's say, bloggers. Most bloggers have a review section on their blogs, and what better and quicker way to get them a book than sending them a copy through email? Once a review is posted, followers will take notice of the book and will most likely be compelled to buy a copy and post on their own blog. And ebooks are great option for people always on the go. Readers living extremely busy lives might not have as much time to visit bookstores. The process is simple – download books on computer in the comfort of your own home. Did you know that people are reading more in general because of the ebook option? A survey conducted by the Book Industry Study Group found that 51 per cent of eReader owners increased their ebook purchases in the past year.

Flexibility for the Future

Going digital and hosting books in the cloud and digital formats provides authors with a much easier editing process. Before online publishers took the world by storm, it was difficult for writers to make edits to their manuscripts. Then they have to reprint tons of copies for editors to review once again. In this day and age, it's easier to make edits. Writers can now select print-on-demand and indicate how many copies they want to print. What's impressive is that edits will automatically be updated on any eReader, such as Kindle, Nook or iPad, and epublishers can make the guarantee that a book can fit with whatever new reading device comes out in the future.

Michael Ashley (aka "Mash"), is the author of 'iPad Publishing Guide: Write, Publish and Sell Your Book on the Apple iPad with FastPencil'. Now available on Kindle, iPad and

Mash is founder and chief technology officer at FastPencil Inc, which helps authors connect, write, publish and distribute books with just a few clicks. He is a successful entrepreneur with over 12 years experience in web applications and internet publishing. Mash is responsible for innovation and product strategy at FastPencil. In this role, Mash has transformed the company from an online writing tool, to the only end-to-end social self-publishing platform with multi-channel, multi-format distribution. In his free time you can find him stand-up paddle surfing in his hometown, Santa Cruz.



    no paper, must save a few trees as well

    Yes, best-selling authors do have what it takes to sell their wares - especially if you are a 'tribe man' like Seth Godin. I evaluated his potential earnings in a blog post of mine (, and I think that will be the biggest motivator.

    And I think the prevalence of online channels of communication certainly helps.

    It's clear from this article that you have never had any association with a modern well run publishing company. Do you really imagine we move tons of printed paper around these days to edit? Editing is done directly on screen. Books do not take years to appear, what nonsense. Why would publishers delay getting a book in the stores when they have paid an advance and all the overheads that go along with the pre-print side of publishing. We need to get them out as soon as possible to earn back from the investment.

    You go on to say....

    ' on average lets authors walk away with 80 per cent of money accumulated from book sales when sold directly through their site. That’s a steal. And another advantage for readers is most ebooks are usually cheaper to purchase than print-books – sometimes ebooks are offered for free.

    Your excitement at the lower cost of ebooks fails to consider your decrease in earnings as a result. Duh! 80% of a free ebook is let me see... why precisely nothing! In addition though publishers may set the price of printed books you clearly haven't registered that ebooks prices are largely dictated by ebook retailers. Whose sole interest is to push the prices down. They aren't interested in what you earn from the sales.

    In a traditional publishing house the author's interests are defended as well as the publishers.

    In addition to which editing is an important and vital process for any writer - performed by a dispassionate, literate (the number of writers who can't spell and don't understand punctuation might amaze readers) editor. Writers are far too close to their own works.

    All in all your unbridled enthusiasm for ebooks may earn you a few crumbs now but I guarantee when ebook retailers start insisting that all books are sold at $4.99, you'll be wishing you had a few sales in hardback at $25.

    Your piece is ill informed and blinded by technology.

      Well said.

      The assumption by many that supply-chain efficiency and new business models always trump a tried-and-tested approach is breathtakingly naive.

      Frankly, anybody who can type can publish and anybody who can read can edit. None of this makes for good books or good reading.

      I'm amazed that anyone believes that successful books are simply released into the written ecosystem rather than nurtured, written, edited, re-written, marketed, promoted, sold, and marketed some more.

      It's clear that the publishing industry is shaking in their shoes right now and will do anything to hold tight to their income earners. But what they actually do is prevent many potential authors from reaching their customers, and rape the ones financially that they do allow.

      I have self-published and love it. I didn't have to wait for anyone to tell me my book had or didn't have an audience, I knew it did. Also, the writer maintains direct relationship with the customer so they can get feedback on their work, which is the reason why you write it. And, from a marketing sense, I get to keep the email list of who bought my book so I can sell them my next one. The benefits are plain and simple.

      I hope the big house publishing gatekeepers end up out on the street and homeless for all of the dreams they've stifled throughout the years.

    Oh yes and a few other things I failed to mention.

    Without an advance (which a traditional publisher pays) what is the writer going to live on while crafting their magnum opus? Advice don't give up the day job.

    When the book is published who is going to pay for advertising? Marketing? That'll all be done on line no doubt. Who is going to foot the bill for travel to book events? Who's going to pick up the bill for a few nights in a hotel while you're promoting your book? Oh yes, I forgot this is all coming out of that amazing 80%, which is growing smaller by the minute as the author funds expenses traditionally paid for by their publisher.

    And at said book event I assume the happy audience will sit there and download the book so that the author can sign their name in felt tip pen on the screens of the assembled iPads!

    The music industry having been decimated by downloads are going for tours and live events to earn money for their artists. Likewise anyone who knows anything about the way the literary world is going is seeing a huge upturn in book festivals. But who is going to bother to turn up at a literary festival if they can't walk away with a signed copy of the book?

    It's all very well you promoting authors to self publish digitally since you are also running a company that will earn from their efforts (that 20% they don't get from the sales) but what you're not providing them with are all the usual services that go along with traditonal print books and which are paid for by the publisher not the author.

    Your ebook paradise is a chimera.

    @anchovy, It may not take years for a conventionally published book to appear, but it certainly does take a significant amount of time - often a year. I speak from firsthand knowledge.

    Nor would I recommend that any writer give up a day job - at least not till the Bookers start rolling in (and perhaps not even then). You do realise, don't you, that most writers don't live solely on the income from their publications.

    I publish all my fiction electronically and have never hoped or intended to support myself in this way. This doesn't mean that I don't aim to write well, only that I prefer my independence from the marketplace. My readership is far larger - and far more international - than it would ever be through conventional publication. Audiobook (podcast) downloads alone of my second novel, Corvus are nearing 80,000. The audiobook is narrated by the professional Welsh actor Ioan Hefin, who has donated his time and considerable talent to the project, because he is also committed to this form of 'open culture'.

    In the end, the new media give back to writers what used to be - and ought to be - their own responsibility: revising, rewriting, editing.

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