Saturday, August 10, 2013

August Theme Hot Topics: E-publishing

The discussion between traditional and digital publishing heats up any discussion. I asked Ben Woodard, a writer who made the decision to publish electronically, to weigh in on this hot topic.

How would you describe your writing?

Seat of the pants, struggling for words, and disorganized, but I can’t help it. My characters take off on their adventures and I struggle to keep up. They lead, and I follow demurely behind. My writer friends and editors are valiantly trying to teach me plotting, POV, and book arc, but my characters are stubborn. And together my characters and I have a great time. But I’ll get better.

Why did you choose e-publishing over traditional publishing?

Several reasons. My age, for one. I’m seventy and I can’t wait twenty years to get picked up by a publisher - if any are still around. And my genre. I’m writing adventure books for reluctant readers, especially boys, and that’s a limited market. Agents and editors have told me to add paranormal elements, but I want to write stories like the ones I remember as a boy. Books with friendship, adventure, and lots-a bad guys. I also have a shape shifter story I’m working on and will probably try to get it traditionally published.

How, if at all, does the writing process differ for writers who intend to publish their book digitally?

Not much. The main difference is that a self publisher can write any genre, or combination of genres, and try different writing styles. Publishers have to take those books that they expect will sell and they rarely want to try anything unusual.

Why do you think the debate between traditional and digital publishing is such a hot one?

I don’t know. Maybe there’s the legitimate concern by traditional publishers and writers that book quality is cheapened by self publishing. And they are right, but then publishers will put out a book by any famous name whether they are talented or not (Snookie) as long as it will sell. Or maybe there’s the fear that a writer who hasn’t been “vetted” by the system will be successful. But traditional published writers are now self publishing books and short stories that can’t be published anywhere else. So, there’s no war here and writers have an incredible opportunity that didn’t exist ten years ago. All of us should keep our options open.

What do you tell people who criticize your decision to publish digitally?

I agree with them. I criticize me, too. Continuing to write and query would have been much easier than doing everything myself. And, who knows, my shape shifter might have gotten published with an advance and that would have been more money than I’ve made self publishing. But I know I wouldn’t have published the books I really wanted to write.

Any advice for writers who are thinking of making the leap from traditional to digital publishing?

Buy extra chocolate and coffee. You’re going to need it. Now every decision about your book will be made by you. Sure, you can hire editors, designers, formatters and the like, but when it comes time to hit the publish button on Amazon or Nook, you know, and readers know, it’s your book. That’s why it’s called self publishing.

When can we expect to see your next book?

Steps Into Darkness will be out next Thursday, August 15. It’s the second book in the series and if you’d like to read the first, A Stairway To Danger, it’s free now as an e-book on Amazon through Saturday, the 10th. (Pssst, I think the second one is better. I am learning to write.)


  1. Fabulous post! Thanks for stopping by, Ben!

  2. E-books are so much easier to self-publish than paper-bound books that I imagine that we'll see many more of them. Traditional publishers have even started their own e-book only imprints (like Bloomsbury Spark). I'm interested to see how it all shakes out.

    Thanks for sharing Ben's experience as a pioneer!