This started out as a series of panels for Norwescon in 2010. In 2011, I was invited to speak on a very similar topic for Mystery Writers of America. What is obvious is that the world of books hasn't changed so fast since a guy named Gutenberg figured out how to mass produce books.
MWA authors asked: How is the Northwest publishing scene expanding?
There are a number of enthusiastic souls launching publishing ventures in the Northwest. The advantages (for me) of working with a small press is that they are generally a bit more nimble in their schedules, more enthusiastic about promoting their authors, and often more informed about social media marketing. However, they are also less well-financed than New York. It's generally a "pay-as-you-sell" royalty model rather than upfront advances.
The more established Northwest publishing houses (i.e. those who have been around for ten years or more) tend to be niche publishers or part of a larger concern. They do pay advances. They do work with agents. They are just like "real NY publishers" (as one East Coast agent once said to me). Think Sasquatch, University of Washington Press, Parenting Press, Mountaineers, or Wizards of the Coast. Working with these folks can land you on the New York Times bestseller list. Like all publishers everywhere, take time to read their websites and learn about their submission process. Some are willing to work you without requiring an agent, but many have very small windows for blind submissions.
Is Electronic Publishing the Future?
Electronic publishing seems ideal for the midlist titles, instant titles (think Sarah Palin biographies in September 2008), and reprints. In short, everything once published as solely as a mass market paperback.
More and more large print publishers are releasing both print and e-books. My publisher Wizards of the Coast started releasing titles as e-books as well as mass-market paperbacks. My Mom bought City of the Dead for her Nook the day it appeared online at Barnes & Noble: thanks Mom! Shortly after that, I got a note from a friend in Hong Kong that he'd bought my book for his Kindle -- he had never ordered the print edition due to the cost of shipping from U.S. to his home.
A number of authors are beginning to mine their backlist by grabbing back rights to out-of-print titles and making them available as e-books. Some small publishers are even forming around such an out-of-print backlist, working with the author to secure rights and distribute through the e-book outlets.
*Many of these e-book publishers will make their e-books available as “print on demand” trade paperbacks if sales warrant.
2012 update: Amazon.com keeps improving this and newer versions of Word translate nicely into e-books using their online software. However if you want illustrations, charts, or other additions to the text, you may want to work with a professional for conversion.
Barnes & Noble jumped into the DIY market for the Nook and this is their website. Like Kindle, the Nook has its own demands and needs. 2012 update: Like Amazon's KDP system, the online tools allow conversions from Word docs or similar files to e-books without having to buy any additional software.
EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection)
If your books came out several years ago, you may or may not have an electronic version available. If you don't feel like typing your entire manuscript again, you can scan your paperback and hardback and then convert to electronic format with OCR (optical character reader software). Want to spend more time writing your next novel and avoid this? There are a number of services available. Phoebe Matthews recently used Blue Leaf Book Scanning Service and found their service very good.
For any book converted via OCR, expect to spend considerable time line editing. The scanners aren't perfect and words will be misread, odd characters will be popped into text, and line breaks don't always occur where they should.
Printing your e-book
Want a real book, i.e. paper copy of your work? Many e-book/small press also give readers the chance to purchase print-on-demand copies. Typically, these are available for order online but you may be able to do this at a bookstore near you. The Espresso book machine manufactures books instantly. There are currently three of these in western Washington at University Book Store, Third Place Books, and Village Books.
copyright 2010, 2011 Rosemary Jones - feel free to share using the tools below.