Dear Esteemed SFWA Members,
Recently, I submitted my novel to an ebook publisher. My reasons for submitting there were many, and I did not come to this decision easily. In this turbulent time for new authors, I decided that I would submit my novel to the ebook publisher first, before submitting to print publishers who accept unagented submissions. My main reason is that I have already established a modest readership among ebook enthusiasts, and I’m hoping my novel appeals to those readers.
Before submitting, I went to your SFWA Membership Requirements page, which is my first stop when submitting stories to short story markets. And I looked to see if you have started listing any ebook publishers yet.
You have not.
For years–probably for as long as you have been running a website–I have been checking with your qualifying markets page for good places to submit my short stories. I am a submission snob. I don’t submit to many markets that aren’t listed on your pages. There are a few semipro magazines I will submit to–but not many.
But why do you not list any ebook publishers? You don’t even acknowledge that they exist. Even your disapproved publishers are listed, such as PublishAmerica. Yet no Carina Press, no Samhain, no Ellora’s Cave, no Loose Id or any of the other epublishers where many writers make very good money–some as much as five figures–publishing books with great content, great covers and great editing, and which all publish a lot of science fiction and fantasy.
Ebook authors who write science fiction and fantasy need you to step up to the plate. For years, romance has dominated ebooks, but that’s changing. Those publishers have set the mark very high. Not only are the covers and editing thoroughly professional, but the books are widely available at ebook stores everywhere, and you see their ads everywhere. There’s no question that they’re trying to put out a professional product.
But because most professional writing organizations don’t acknowledge that they exist, the publishers are setting all the rules. There is some competition among them for royalty rates, but I know of nothing that demarks what a “professional” publisher should be paying vs. a “semipro”, like we have for short story markets. For short stories, 5 cents a word is the minimum. It is a goal for both writers and publishers alike. What should the minimum royalty rate be for ebooks? Some pay 40 percent off net. Others pay 15 percent off cover. Which is better for the author? Often, we don’t know. We have to go it alone, unless we can manage to find an agent. I sold a novella–I didn’t even look for an agent. I may look if my novel gets an offer, but I have not made that decision yet.
Please consider coming up with some membership guidelines for epublished authors. Please consider coming up with membership levels that will include them. And please consider vetting the ebook publishers and include a section about them in your Membership Requirements page, as a service to all writers, whether they are members, or hope to be one day.