Better Living in the Land of Digital Publishing


DMorrisThe WEbook guest author series continues with Daniel Morris. Daniel is the author of a noir horror novel called
The Canal, which is available as an e-book. 

Currently, he lives in Los Angeles and writes movie trailers for a living. He is also at work on a book about time travel. You can learn more about Daniel and his other books on his website.

These days, anyone with a pulse and a manuscript can publish an e-book. For authors in general, this can be a great thing. Personally, digital publishing has come to my own rescue on two occasions, and in ways that would have been practically impossible five years ago. 

Canal new cover button2After I finished my novel, The Canal, I was fortunate enough to land an agent. I was ready to pop the champagne and start celebrating—surely a book deal was just around the corner, right? Unfortunately, the publishing industry wasn’t in a very giving mood. My novel ended up being a tough sell, the general verdict being that the book just wasn’t commercial enough (whatever that means—feel free to check out the book and give me your own opinion).

So I decided to publish the book myself. This is where the beauty of digital publishing comes in—it gives authors the one thing that they feel they so often lack: control. You get to take destiny into your own hands (for very little cost) and have your book made available from almost all the major web booksellers (a service like Smashwords is a decent place to start). And if you sell enough copies, agents and editors will notice.

Of course, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Just because you have a book doesn’t mean that people want to read it. Which is where old fashioned networking comes into play. If you’re a natural at that sort of thing: I congratulate you. If you’re not (like myself), the road will be tougher, and you may find yourself where I did—with a book you believe in that’s available in a number of formats, but with rapidly dwindling sales.

Fortunately, my situation has a semi-happy ending. Digital publishing hasn’t just helped self-publishing authors; it has also helped independent publishers and literary agents. The agency that represents me recently created an independent spin-off, the digital publisher Diversion Books. Diversion picked me up, and the e-book version of my novel is now in their hands. An agency with a related publishing arm is unorthodox (and some might say controversial, although I’m guessing it will become much more common in the future), but it illustrates what happens when publishing is available to all—anyone can step into the game.

If publishing is available and affordable for everyone, then a publisher’s main responsibility will be to produce works of a certain quality or particular interest. Which is what a good literary agent does anyway.*

Safe to say, as the popularity of e-books continues to grow, more alternatives to the traditional publishing model will arise. Best of all, they’ll provide platforms and opportunities for a much wider diversity of voices than ever before. Which, for us writers, can only be a good thing.

* I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the following: when it comes to agents and any terms/services they may offer, ALWAYS research their reputation and legitimacy. You can always start here.

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