Why ebooks?

On returning from RT, I’ve been posting about costs to authors and which ones they should pursue.  And I’ve been facing a conundrum.

Way back in the dark ages of ebooks (2011), I uploaded all of my available backlist (stories that had already been published somewhere) in the form of ebooks to Smashwords and Amazon.

My intention was to make my backlist available to people who prefer ereaders to hard copy or reading on computer.  They’re actually different readers than the above, so they would often be people who’d never had access to my stories before.

Most of my earlier work is available free somewhere on the internet.  On this webpage I have a navigation bar that includes the link for either SHORT FICTION (which has links to online venues or dead tree venues). And some of the stories that are no longer free in their original venues (like JBU, which requires a subscription), I’ve put them up free via the website itself, listed under FREE FICTION.

The idea has been to make things available.  Accessible.

Yesterday I posted about the covers to three of my ebooks, the Tales from Hawk’s Folly Farm ebooks.  Two are still available in dead tree version (links on SHORT FICTION page.) The third was not previously published.  An author at RT mentioned to me that the covers do not convey the genre, so I’ve been toying with the idea of new covers.

Trio of covers

[I based this design on that of several Regency Romances available at that time. They are now dated, and fail to convey the content of the books.]

When I mentioned this online, trying to get some people’s ideas about how the covers could convey the genre of FANTASY PERIOD HORSE ROMANCE, I had some people tell me rather forcefully that I needed to pay to have covers made. After all, when one self-publishes an ebook, one becomes the publisher as well as the author, and don’t you want your publisher to provide the best cover possible?

It’s an interesting conundrum.

The presupposition here is that my goal is to make money off these.  If it is, then yes, I really need to republish them with new professional covers.

But that’s not really my goal.  I just want them to be available.

I’ve considered putting them all up on Wattpad, but I’m a little concerned by the copyright concerns I’ve heard about over there. And the novellas are seriously too long to put on my webpage. A  few of them are close to 40K, which is far better suited to an ereader.

So I’m contemplating whether it would be better to pay for new covers. Considering the interstitial nature of the genre above, it’s very hard for a cover to convey all four of those things.  I can get premade covers for HORSE ROMANCE. I can get FANTASY ROMANCE w/HORSES, and I can find PERIOD ROMANCE.  Finding all four together in a premade cover has truly proven elusive (particularly when we’re talking about Edwardian period and a heroine with near-white hair.)

To get truly fitting covers, I would have to pay someone to design covers, and that reasonably runs about 200$ each.

Do I want to put that kind of money into ebooks that I never really intended to be an income stream?

(They’re all priced at .99 or FREE, so believe me, they don’t bring in big bucks.)

Anyhow, this is my current conundrum.  I will probably be puttering around with these this time next year.


(I am, however, reformatting the content, trying to chase away that weird block text issue that I’ve had with Amazon from the very beginning. My most recent upload of Iron Shoes seems to have conquered that.  It’s also FREE on Amazon, so if you open it up and find typos and weird formatting issues, I’d love to hear about them!)



3 thoughts on “Why ebooks?

  1. Unfortunately, your estimation for the cost of a quality cover is both too low and too high. If you are looking at premade covers, then you can certainly do better than $200 USD. If you are looking for a customer cover, then it may (?) run [much] higher than that. This is system problem in the SP industry in underestimating what a true cover artist’s (aside from designer’s) time is worth. And no, an “artist” and “designer” are not the same thing, though one person could wear both hats (legitimately or not).

    No matter the price point of the work, there is something to be said for presentation. Reconsider what is truly possible on a budget. It may not be as costly as you think.

    J.C. Hendee

    1. Hi, J. C.

      I shall take that into consideration. I’ve seen your covers and they’re very nice.

      As to the old covers, I have a designer friend who’s currently reading those stories and considering ways to move forward on the covers.

      When I try to release the 3 novellas that I’m planning for later this year, they -will- need new covers, and I will be shopping for new (because they’re all historical fantasy). And I am aware that $200 is a ‘starter’ price. I’ve got some fairly specific needs that would make the cost go up.

      (The price of premades are very variable, also. I’ve seen some fantastic ones for 60-80 dollars and some terrible ones for 195. But the premades still post the interstitial genre problem.)

  2. Another aspect to consider is the impression given when someone searches your name or clicks on your author bio on Amazon, etc.. If I’m considering a purchase from an author I haven’t read before, and I see nothing but beautiful (professional) covers, then I’ll assume better of them than if they have a mix of high- and low-quality covers. It’s judging a book (okay, author actually) by the cover(s), I know, but it’s still true.

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