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Getting To Know The E-Book Market

Author: Jerrye Sumrall
Date:   11-28-01

In a jungle of print market publishers lies the ever-tempting "E-Book Market".

Today as editors become more influenced by potential sales of a book and overwhelmed with an increasing number of manuscript submissions, they have become short on attention and long on rejections letters. We all have grown weary of those worn out cliches like, "your book doesn't fit our list," "your writing has a mid-list feel to it" or "we are temporarily closed to submissions." The reasons go on and on and are usually justified by, "I wish you the best of luck in finding a home for your work."

So where does that leave us? In one word, frustrated! We have become the victims of a "dog eat dog" business and are forced to search for other avenues and opportunities to get our work published. But what are they and where are they? One answer to that question is right in your own computer!

Electronic publishing, one of the newest and most upcoming publishing markets on the Internet, is only a few clicks away. Bright and colorful web-sites that draw you in and promise to fulfill your dreams of being published have caught the eye of many aspiring authors. Many e-book publishers accept a synopsis or a complete manuscript as an e-mail attachment. This serves to only further the urge to grab for "a bird in the hand".

I was ultimately drawn to this newest and most alluring market. I saw a quick and easy fix to years of struggling in the print market. I began contacting several e-book publishers and was fortunate enough to find two that were willing to publish at least one of my books online. At first I was overjoyed with the idea of finally getting my book published and having it on the Internet for everyone to see. I would even be paid a percentage. What I thought was a golden opportunity soon turned into a disillusioning experience.

The first e-book publisher taught me the lesson of waiting. After accepting their offer via e-mail, I was told my book had been sent to an editor and, as soon as the contracts were finalized, she would start editing my book. After two months of no word and wondering how difficult it was to issue a simple contract, I became wary and decided to decline their offer. I still have their web-site on my desktop screen and I'm sorry to say it is exactly the same as I found it nine months ago. There have been no new books added to their list and several categories such as poetry still have "coming soon" written under them.

My second experience was no more encouraging. After being issued a contract I downloaded from their web-site, I began to ask a series of important questions. Most were answered in a courteous and sensitive manner until I asked the wrong question. The answer was not only rude and insensitive but also very revealing about the editorial director's attitude toward authors. I decided to decline the offer in lieu of her insensitive manner. Thinking the whole matter closed, I subsequently received an e-mail from one of their authors I had contacted as a reference. After she revealed that she had not received a royalty check from them in almost a year, I was greatly relieved that I had refused their contract.

So where does this leave the issue of E-Book Publishers? It leaves it the same place I found it. A mixed bag of pros and cons, good and bad. A new and emerging market with great possibilities but not without the struggle of growing pains and sometimes, even failure. As we all strive to put our years of hard work into print, let us remember the phrase "cautiously optimistic".

Jerrye Sumrall is a former elementary school teacher and counselor, and is now a full time writer working on a middle-grade children's book series. For more information, visit http://jerrye3.homestead.com/homepage.html.

Copyright 2001 Jerrye Sumrall. All rights reserved.