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Competition, Slush Piles and Cavemen: Converting Your Novel to ePub


To coin a phrase from a well known US insurance company campaign, converting books to Kindle or other epub formats is so easy a caveman could do it.

Well, that is once you’ve done all the hard work of laying it out in InDesign. That part’s not easy.

No doubt about it, digital books are here to stay and they’ll only continue to gain ground in popularity; not only among readers and fans, but among authors as well. Platforms like Kindle and Nook (Amazon and Barns & Noble respectively) and iPad offer an inexpensive alternative for reading your favorite novels without the clutter, and for authors, they offer a larger profit margin than actual print books.

The Age Old Debate
I’m still a book purist at heart. I love my books. Books are sacred and oh so very special. Nothing will ever replace the feel of the pages in my hands or spending hours roaming through bookstores. But…

The times they are a-changin’ and we must change with them if we’re going to keep moving forward and not go the way of the dinosaurs. This is a truth no matter how much of a purist you are.

With the pending deadline for our novel this fall I’ve been exploring our marketing options. For us, or any other up and coming novelist, to ignore the power of ePublishing would be foolish. In our on the go, mobile culture we’d be missing out on a large portion of our audience.
Another part of the Age Old Debate is authenticity. That part of my argument was neatly blown out of the water when I read an article on The Book Designer about major bestselling authors going right to digital with their novels.

How The Slush Pile Raises the Bar
In traditional publishing there’s a little something called “The Slush Pile”. The slush pile consists of all the manuscripts literally not fit to print. With self-publishing so easily available (providing you have the skills, tools and/or budget to do so) anyone can get published. The problem here is should everyone be published?

The cold hard answer? No. I have a set of sculpting tools somewhere, but does that make me the next Michelangelo? And I’m sure you’ve all seen a few potential American Idols that make you wonder what they were thinking.

The slush pile weeded out downright crap from the manuscripts that at least had some potential. For every diamond in the rough there are ten times as many lumps of coal.

With that said, what do you think is going to happen now that self-publishing is so accessible?

It’s a blessing and a curse, much in the same way web design and every other digital medium is. We will be flooded with every kind of book possible. The ranks will swell and competition will be harder. We won’t just be competing with the Kings and Rowlings of the world, we’ll all be clamoring for attention against anyone with the budget and the programs required to publish a book.

But I’ll tell you what; this will make better writers of us all. The ones who have the skills and talent will rise to the top simply because we’re the ones who take the time and put in the effort to deliver quality. Many of these fly by nights are only interested in cranking out something fast for an equally fast buck. The rest of us will strive for the best we can do regardless of the blood, sweat and capital simply because in the end our names and our companies’ reputations are on the line.

And, like everything else on the web, we’ll reach a point where it all levels out. The pioneers will become tomorrow’s superstars and life will go on. For the time being though, build that ark and build it well.

Bandwagon or Useful Tool?
Anyone who knows me, or who’s been reading me or following me for a while, knows that I’m not one to follow the rest of the herd. It took me a year before I got on Twitter, and even longer before Wendi sold me on Facebook. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be excited about getting Kindle, or even an iPad. I’m slow that way. Always have been.

However, I do a lot of quiet contemplation when it comes to something that may seem like a fad on the surface. Most of the time the products and programs that look like fads on the surface are really very useful tools when you take the time to learn how to use them. Twitter and Facebook may have started out for fun, but people found a way to use them to promote businesses. The same thing happened with blogs. What was once considered a geek’s personal diary/soapbox has turned into a tool that many companies – both large and small – use regularly to reach hundreds, if not thousands, of potential new clients every day.

ePub media is here to stay and since it’s still in its infancy we have yet to see how it will mature. I don’t think physical books will ever totally disappear. I hope not. If the whole world fell apart and we had no way of using all this technology, we’d have nothing but pretty blank screens and dead electronic toys to show for our existence here.

Talk about a slush pile.

I believe that if both print and digital are used hand in hand, and if people take the time to create quality work, the rewards will be nothing short of astounding.

Deb Dorchak is the co-owner and Lead Designer of Blue Sun Studio, Inc./Sirius Graphix. Deb has been a graphic designer for more than 25 years and an artist since she could hold a crayon. She’s worked in the graphics industry doing everything from newspaper and glossy magazine layout, to animation in Las Vegas’ largest and oldest sign company. Deb got her start in Illustration, and her passion for telling stories through images hasn’t wavered yet. She and her business partner, Wendi Kelly, have finished their first novel Bonds of Blood & Spirit: Loyalties; due to release late October 2010.

You can find more articles on design, writing, and publishing at Sirius Graphix, or follow her @SiriusGraphix on Twitter.

Image Credit: iStock Photo

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