Writing Books/ebook


Dear Bobbie, 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, 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

Congratulations on finishing your book to the point that you can even ask these questions! Way to go!

The plan is an interesting one, but if you hope to sell the book to a major publisher, I have a few concerns. First, Iím concerned about the term ďquick edit,Ē because it implies it would address only minor technical issues and not address major issues, such as whether the plot works, the dialogue is natural, and the characters capture the hearts of readers. As an editor, Iím sure you can understand why I never want to be told to undertake a quick edit on a book that is about to be published in any form, even an e-book.

Next, if you promote the book as an e-book and readers read the basically unfinished (not thoroughly edited) version, readers may give the book very poor reviews, which can remain on the Internet forever and be difficult to explain. Because you said you would post on your website that your book will be available, I wonder how many people actually see your website. Something must be driving people to the site, if you hope to get much response.

Assuming people do go to the site, read that the book is available, and buy the e-book, if readers note major problems in the plot, dialogue, characterization, pacing, or any other element of the book, the plan youíve laid out means youíll revise the book accordingly and then try to sell it to a publisher, without going back to a professional editor for a final polish. Again, as an editor, I have to say itís always advisable to get a final edit on the final product.

I also have a problem with taking advice from unprofessional people, even if they do represent readers. Itís easy to put too much stock in the opinion of an individual who is not aware of what the general market wants or what publishers demand. Again, only a professional editor can give you a reliable opinion of that type.

My final concern is that many publishers do not want to buy books that have already been available in any other form. They want to buy first rights, unless, of course, you can provide records that prove you have sold a few thousand copies, which would show that the book has great potential. Few e-books sell a few thousand copies without a tremendous amount of promotion and related expense, however.

Does any of the plan show that youíre a dedicated writer willing to perform the work necessary to get a book published? Maybe, but it has too many drawbacks, in my opinion.

Thereís a reason why the traditional methods and channels work and good reasons to stick to them. The traditional method is this:

1.   Write the book to your absolute best ability, rewriting it as many times as necessary until it is the best you can make it.
2.   Pay a professional book editor to edit and evaluate the entire book, including all the elements and the technical aspects.
3.   Write a kick-ass synopsis and strong query letter and submit them to literary agents that handle your type of book.  
4.   Once you sign with an agent, allow the agent to present the book to a publisher, who may decide to print the book as well as produce and promote it as an e-book.

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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