Monday, August 13, 2012

Over a Decade of Changes, Part One

Author Kate Hill talks about the early days of epublishing from an author perspective.

My first epublished novel was released in 2000. The Darkness Therein was a vampire romance and had been rejected by several publishers. When I’d started shopping the book around, I wasn’t really aware of epublishing for novels. Most of my reading was traditional print books, as well as online zines that published short horror and science fiction stories.

Then I discovered full-length ebooks. They were cheaper than print books and didn’t fill up my living space. Best of all, the stories were different. Ebook authors were able to take more chances. They explored a wide variety of characters and plotlines. Most traditionally published romance novels were basically the same types of characters and plots by the same authors. In 2000 I was not only eager to be published, but I was starved for new stories with characters I could relate to.

Because I was satisfied with the presentation of ebooks (I wasn’t so eager for publication  that I’d try to sell something in a format I wouldn’t use myself), I started submitting my book to epublishers.
At the time, the popular opinion was that epublished authors couldn’t get published elsewhere and that epublishers weren’t picky and would accept anything. Other misconceptions were that ebooks weren’t edited and no one actually read them. Since I’d been rejected by epublishers I could safely say that no, epublishers didn’t accept every book that came their way. As for whether ebooks actually got read, I knew I read and even preferred them to print books. I didn’t believe I was alone.

My first novel was finally accepted and so began my journey into the world of ebooks. I learned that being a published author meant more than writing a story. Other parts of the business, such as editing (yes, epublishing skeptics, my books were edited) and promotion, took a great deal of time.

Back then, controversy surrounded epublishing. While some people were open to it, others considered it a trend that wouldn’t last. Some traditionalists even seemed offended by it. I remember telling a few coworkers about my epublished book and one guy basically called me a traitor. A traitor to what? Words on paper? To me, stories had never been about format, but about content. Wonderful characters and memorable adventures, not format, made a good story. Historically, stories had been passed down verbally. Did the people who told and listened to those stories dislike them because they weren’t written down?

Some people seemed to hope that ebooks would fail. Not only had the authors and publishers chosen to tell their stories through an unusual format, but they wrote unusual stories. They weren’t bound by the rules of traditional publishing. Atypical heroes and heroines populated cross-genre romances. What were these authors doing?

I learned to keep my frustration under control. Instead of getting defensive, I tried to persuade people who were unfamiliar with ebooks to try something new. Everyone has a right to decide what and how they like to read. Some people were open to ebooks while others preferred to stay with print. Both are equally good and I was glad both options were available.

Over the next couple of years I had a few novels published, but I was still learning and still searching for a publishing company in which I truly felt at home. In 2002 I heard about Ellora’s Cave from my mother, who is also an avid reader. A big fan of Jaid Black, she had been reading Ellora’s Cave books and suggested I submit a story to them. I decided to check out their books and was instantly hooked. Not only did this company publish ebooks, but their stories combined erotica with romance. At the time it was practically unheard of to find a love scene that used frank language instead of “purple prose”. As a publisher, Ellora’s Cave was unique among the unique.

In Part Two (later this week), Kate will talk about her journey at Ellora’s Cave.

1 comment:

Jan Springer said...

I remember those days, Kate. :-)
Great peek into the past.

Huggers!

jan