Friday Speak Out!: You Oughtta Write a Book! (Part 2 — The Digital Revolution. Or, There’s More than One Way to Skin a Cat)

Friday, January 09, 2015
by Heather Heyford

Ironically, the rise of the digital age has made publishing both more complicated and simpler. It’s essential to be familiar with the ways in which you might publish your finished manuscript.

Traditional Publishing. In the old days, your book was bought by a publishing house, either with or without the help of a literary agent. (Agents skim 15% off your royalties from the publisher. In return, they help you find a publisher in the first place then help negotiate the contract and intervene when problems arise.) Your publisher may give you an advance or you may only get royalties, a percentage of sales disbursed several times a year.

Digital. Sparked by technology, e-readers such as Kindle, Nook and iPad are now part of the culture. Consider the advantages of digital over print books: portability, storage capacity, low price points, instant gratification, and discretion, to name a few.

Indie, the of-the-moment term for self-publishing. The rise in popularity of indie is directly related to the evolution of digital. It is infinitely more affordable for a writer to produce ebooks than to have to pay to have books printed, distributed and warehoused. Once an ebook is written and edited and the cover designed, it can be reproduced digitally an unlimited number of times at little or no additional cost. What’s more, e-books can be marketed forever, and to a global audience.

The negative stigma once attached to authors who self-published is over. What’s more, indies, while often paying professionals for services like editing and cover art, don’t have to split the proceeds from the sale of their books.

The downside of self-publishing is the need to learn new skills, the expense of hiring a professional editor—strongly recommended, even if your grammar and spelling are top notch—and cover artist.

Print on Demand, or POD. Books are only produced as they are ordered by consumers, eliminating the waste of left over books as well as doing away with warehousing and distribution costs.

To clarify, both traditionally published and indie authors may be published digitally. In fact, publishers are more likely to offer new writers exclusively digital and POD contracts, to minimize their risk. For those writers, only if a book sells at least ten thousand digital and POD copies might it go into print and be stocked in actual stores.

Vanity Presses. These companies produce printed copies of your book for a fee. It is entirely up to you to store and sell them. An outmoded idea today, when you could publish yourself digitally at nominal expense and market your ebook to millions more potential buyers.

Hybrid Author. Simply an author who publishes both traditionally and independently.

With all these options, there has never been a better time to be a writer. In Part 3 of You Oughtta Write a Book! we’ll talk about getting your book noticed, regardless of which route to publication you choose. (You can read Part 1— Discover Your Style of Writing here.)

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Heather Heyford is the author of Wine Heiresses Series: A Taste of Chardonnay,  A Taste of Merlot, A Taste of Sauvignon, and A Taste of Sake, from Kensington Publishing. She is represented by The Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Visit her at, and

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Margo Dill said...

I'm looking forward to part 3 because now that there are more options than ever before, it seems harder and harder to get noticed. :) Of course, I know it takes hard work, but I'm always looking for ideas!

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