Electronic publishing finds a big fan in Sacramento

September 19, 1999
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

Louise Crawford of Sacramento writes mysteries, short stories, science fiction, romance, fantasy and horror.

"Basically I just like to write whatever strikes me," she said in a recent interview.

She decided about 10 years ago to pursue a career in writing. She would stay at home and be the main caretaker for her daughter while her husband went off to work. As soon as she strikes it reach, the plan is, her husband will retire.

Crawford joined the Sacramento Suburban Writers Group and began writing science fiction and fantasy.

"I'd read a lot of science fiction in high school and college and I had an idea of what to do. Beginners write too much narrative, not enough dialogue," she said.

"Everyone in the group had a different strength and weakness so it was possible to learn from them. We had published writers in the group too and that was a great help."

In fact, Crawford is still attending two writing groups regularly. She says it's a big help.

"The group was always encouraging and supportive and they kept me going," she added.

In 10 years Crawford has had some success and it looks like more of her books are on the brink of publication.

"The biggest breakthrough is luck. Networking is important. An agent can be helpful, too."

"Sabrina Says" was her first published work, a romance. It was written with a friend, Ramona Butler. The two woman have now written five books together. It's a contemporary romance between a part-time sheriff and a mother of twins, a Miss Lonelyhearts character, who moved to Nevada from Los Angeles. The two women got paid a total of $3,000 and overseas rights for that book.

"I do this for love, the money's got to be secondary," Crawford said.

She has written five romances and three mysteries so far and has published two science fiction short stories.

And since she is writing so much faster than she can possibly be published, Crawford has turned to electronic publishing. It's not necessarily easier to get published electronically, but it is a lot faster. She has now produced two mysteries featuring psychologist and eating disorder counselor Blaize McCue ( "Blaize of Glory" and "Hat Trick") via newconceptspublishing.com.

And in the process Crawford has become an enthusiastic fan of epublishing. Here are the pros and cons.

"Pros: Faster turnaround time between submission and editor's response. Submission are usually accepted by email so there are no postage costs. No trees are killed. There's no storage problem or dumping problem. Over half the paperbacks produced in the U.S. end up unsold and in landfills. Typical contracts last for one to three years and are author-friendly. Contracts can be extended if both parties agree. And even rejected novels will get editor comments, which can be very helpful. Manuscripts are edited just like a paper-publishing house. Cover art is contracted, just like a paper-publishing house. The author's input is asked for and considered. The author also supplies the back cover blurb. Once a book is accepted, publishing takes approximately six to nine months, much faster than paper-publishers (where the usual turnaround time is more than one year, sometimes two).

"Also, you don't have to write to a specific word count and you can write across genres, i.e., you can write a science fiction mystery, or a fantasy romance, both of which are hard to sell to New York. And you get paid royalty checks quarterly. E-publishers do not offer advances but the royalties are higher than those offered by paper-publishers. Small paper-publishers often do not offer advances either, but higher royalty rates. The average royalty rate is 20 percent to 40 percent compared to 4 percent to 8 percent for paperbacks. And the cost to readers is reduced. Ebooks downloaded from the publishers' Website cost approximately $3.50 and ebooks ordered on disk (with cover art) cost approximately $4 - $6. Distribution is worldwide. It's small right now, but growing. British Airways is offering the rocket ebook loaded with passenger-requested titles to its first-class passengers from the U.S. to England.

"On the down side, yes, your sales are smaller. A lot of self-promotion is required if you want to sell books. There is a lack of public awareness about ebooks. Lack of recognition. Your work may be looked upon as second-rate, although all the great reviews of many ebooks is banishing that perception. Many people confuse epublishers with vanity presses and assume that epublishers will print anything. Actually, the rejection rate is approximately 95 percent. But, you have to read the ebook on a PC or Palm Pilot or Ebook reader or print it out yourself. The readers are $300 and higher so they're still quite expensive."

Finally, Crawford says, when submitting to an epublisher you should send a query letter by email with the synopsis and first three chapters as an attachment. The attached chapters should be in standard manuscript format (double-spaced, 25 lines per page, one-inch margins). There should be no reading fees or charges of any kind. And the best of eluck to you.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

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