Though ebook sales have been soaring and seem destined for a dominant place in book publishing they are not there yet and that poses a quandary for ePublishers.
In a word ‘length’. As everyone knows, print books are three dimensional and saddled with physical pages, which are bound together within a cover and a back with the use of a spine. This method of creating a book requires a minimum thickness and hence a minimum length of work, say 50,000 words but preferably more. eBooks have no binding hence no minimum thickness—no minimum length. This is good for epublishers and bad for print publishers…and authors.
Well, not all authors. I’m mostly talking about existing print authors and new writers who have been struggling over their hundred thousand word masterpiece for months or even years. Though ebooks are a fast growing segment of the publishing industry, they are not there yet. The day may be coming, but as of yet, there are no million seller ebooks. Therefore epubs have to be careful what they sell. They can easily spend more to prepare and publish a new ebook than they can recoup. A runaway bestselling ebook can exceed ten thousand sales, but that is the exception rather than the rule. I have no information to back this, but I’m guessing for every runaway bestseller that a hundred ebooks never reach two hundred sales.
EBook Publishers are fortunate they don’t have some of the enormous expenses traditional publishers have like printing, shipping and storage, but do have expenses and most epubs are small with less room for error. Therefore the safest position is to publish books they cost less to publish, but sell more and make more money for the investment.
Let me explain. When any publisher, traditional or electronic, takes on a new book, they are gambling that the book will make money. Many do not. Discounting website creation, maintenance and hosting, along with physical overhead, an epub’s largest expense per book is the cover, incidental costs like advertising and bar code numbers and of course editing and proofing. All these costs are the same per book, except editing. The longer the book the more it costs to edit. That’s where the long book comes in.
The cost to a publisher of editing a twenty thousand word book versus a hundred thousand word book is five times as much yet the difference in sales price is only double. To compound the problem long books sell less than short books, in some cases substantially less. Simple economics dictate there is less incentive for authors to write long epic stories and for epubs to publish them.
That’s what’s bad for existing print authors and brand new aspiring authors. They have been and are used to the old standard for publishing when a new dawning of publishing is changing the rules.
On February third my latest book, Naked Research was released.
Rebecca Roth, who authors erotic romance novels, writes from experience. Only her latest book is about something she has never experienced—a ménage à trois.
Seeking to expand her horizons, she visits a popular cocktail lounge and meets Kevin MacCloud, a man’s man and a woman’s Lothario. Sparks fly between them. She wants him desperately and the feeling is mutual, but she needs a second lover.
She studied him over the rim of her glass as she sipped her overpriced vodka martini. Five-eleven, dark brown hair, eye color unknown, dark gray blazer with open collar, black slacks and shiny black shoes. They have to have shiny shoes. She snickered. Unless they’re cowboys.
He stalked toward her with determination, each step straight in front of the last, like an arrow shot from a bow. Another good sign. He carried a bottle of beer. Bad sign, unless he’s a cowboy. Ah, but it’s imported.Heineken, if I’m not mistaken—a good sign.
Sitting in a secluded semicircular booth in chrome-and-mirror dominated Trends, the hottest new lounge in town, she set her martini down and watched him advance. As he drew close, she leaned forward and willed a friendly smile on her better than average face. Blue—his eyes are blue. He’ll do nicely.
Are you sure? It’s not too late to call this crazy gambit off.
The first time is always the hardest.
She held a welcoming hand out. “Hi, I’m Dede Wilson. Did you come to keep little ol’ me company?”
She’d preempted his line, so he seemed clueless as to how to respond. Appearing to gather his thoughts, he looked left, then right, as if to verify she’d addressed him and no one else.
He took her hand, but instead of shaking it, he made a magnificent gesture when he bent down and kissed it. A kiss she felt in her toes. A very good sign.
When he released her hand, he smiled. “Kevin MacCloud.” He hitched his strong cleft chin in the direction of the empty cushion next to her. “May I?”
“Why not?” Showing her overt friendliness, she slid to her right enough for him to sit, making sure to flash her long, stocking-clad legs, confirming what the man behind those cunning eyes probably suspected—she was on the make.
He stood eyeing her legs. As she tugged her blood red skirt to a more respectable position, he slid in until his thigh and hers hugged. As his handsome face revolved toward her, his smile blinded her. Kevin’s wide grin displayed a rack of the whitest, most perfect teeth on the planet Earth. He angled in her direction and rested his right elbow upon the backrest behind her head. “You had me going there.”
Lost in his great looks, minty breath and sexy masculine aroma, her mind initially failed to absorb what he’d said. “What? Oh, yes. I like to see the look on a man’s face when I do that.”
She sipped the last of her martini, and Kevin signaled the passing waitress and Kevin signaled the passing waitress. “Could you bring us another round. I’d like a glass for my beer, too?”
He slipped his arm behind her neck and over her shoulder. “So, do you do that often?”
Her silly, tight-lipped smile matched her answer. “No, you’re the first.”
Confusion materialized over his face, so she quickly added, “But I liked your reaction, so I’ll likely do it again.”
He laughed. A warm, hearty laugh—a good sign.
“Are you always so quirky?”
After the waitress set down their drinks, she studied him while taking a sip of her fresh martini and decided she loved his bedroom blue eyes. Sighing, she wished she had blue eyes like that. Instead, she was cursed with—blah—hazel eyes.
“Not really,” she answered, “but I’m really, really nervous.” The tiny wrinkles branching out from those gorgeous eyes were a sign that Kevin smiled and laughed a lot. Another good sign.
“I make you nervous?”
She decided she liked Kevin MacCloud. The trick was going to be not liking him too much. “A little.” She replied. “You are rather imposing, but it’s not you that’s making me nervous.”
After setting his Heineken down, he rested his hand high on her thigh. “I’ll bite. What’s making you nervous?”
Warmth concentrated in her core, a few inches above his hand. It felt good and she decided she liked that.
Leaning back, she responded by resting her hand on his thigh, but higher. “What I have planned for tonight.”
He squirmed a little, cleared his throat, then raised his chin and, shaking his head with two fingers down his collar, loosened his tie. “May I be so bold as to ask what that might be?”
She smiled enthusiastically. “Very well said. I’ll have to remember that for my hero in a future book.”
He took another drink of his beer and when his hand returned, it had moved up three and a half inches, make that four inches, up her thigh. “You’re a writer?”
She shook her head. “Author. I write romance novels.”