Writing Books/ebook


Dear Cathy, my new book is in pretty good shape. My writing coach has suggested a strategy for my novel. It follows:

Announce on my website that my first novel, Blind Tomahawk (a submarine techno thriller), will be available as an eBook by January 1, 2012. With my second draft complete, I can now hire someone to proof and perform a quick edit as an eBook compatible with the Apple iPad, Sony Reader, Stanza, Nook, etc. I should be able to meet the January 1 deadline.

Now Blind Tomahawk would be out there and readers will supply comments. Hopefully, Iíll get my editing investment back from the sales. Then, armed with the knowledge of what works and what doesn't work as far as a commercial thriller goes, Iíll write the final draft and pitch it to major publishers.

By having already published it as an eBook then subsequently improve the writing several notches, I would show publishers that Iím a hard working author and not a wanna be.

So, I would like to know your opinion, Thanks Dickie

Hi, Richard,

Here's your problem: "Then, armed with the knowledge of what works and what doesn't work as far as a commercial thriller goes, Iíll write the final draft and pitch it to major publishers."

Why exactly would a major publisher want to produce a novel that has already been for sale to the public? Why would people pay for it a second time? Unless there is a larger market out there that the ebook didn't reach, publishers might not be interested. Yes, there are exceptions but those exceptions are novels that were already in the FINAL form---already edited and of shelf-level quality. Or at least they were produced by an author who already has an audience (perhaps in a different genre.)

The other problem you could run into is that the "first rights" (meaning contract rights to the manuscript) could be extinguished depending on what producer you select to put the ebook into the marketplace. Read the contracts and terms of use VERY carefully. You could easily give the rights to produce the book in all formats to a company you didn't intend. Then there's no print deal. This can include even a blog or display site. Kindle, for example, reserves a license in the ebooks for a period of time. Will that be an issue for a print publisher who might also want to produce an ebook? Hard to say. Same with the other formats. Check with an entertainment attorney once you select the companies you're interested in using.

Something else you need to keep in mind is that a commercial publisher will not be at all impressed with you hiring someone to edit the text. Proofreading for typos is fine. Editing is another thing entirely because the editor who is buying it has no guarantee you can produce an equivalant product the next time without help. If you can't, they're going to wonder how the first one was so good and whether someone else out there is going to come forward to claim credit for the book if it becomes a bestseller (it's happened...)

So you need to decide what you want. Do you want to have the book put out by a commercial publisher? Then do the homework, perfect the product and query them in the normal way. If you want to go the ebook route first, it's possible lightning will strike and the book will sell enough copies to interest a print publisher. It's happening more frequently, but in the dozens of cases, not the hundreds or thousands. So you need to put out the best book you can before a single solitary person buys it. That's your only guarantee that sales will come from word-of-mouth and increase.

Good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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