I am now *open* for review requests. Check out my Review Policy Page for more info

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Guest Post: Writing in a Digital World: The Pros and Cons of Digital First Releases

Today we have a guest post from Chanel Cleeton, author of the upcoming Harlequin New Adult novel, I See London.

The growing popularity of e-books has greatly altered the publishing landscape.  One notable change has been the new influx of digital first imprints. Imprints like Harlequin’s Carina Press have been focused on the e-book market for several years; however, within the past two years, the number of digital first imprints has dramatically increased. 
For authors, there are several advantages to digital first.  For authors looking to traditionally publish, digital first imprints provide the support of a traditional publisher with enhanced flexibility.  Authors enjoy the support and backing of an established publisher and editorial staff.  Digital first also releases authors from production costs.  In contrast to self-publishing, your publisher will bear the production costs and handle the production side of your release. 
Additionally, digital first can be a great option for authors looking to establish a relationship with a publisher and ideally work together with their publisher to build their author platform.  For newer authors and debut authors, digital first imprints are a great way to “get a foot in the door.”  Many digital first imprints will look at unagented submissions, giving authors a chance to get their manuscripts in front of publishers.
Accessibility— notably, pricing and timing— is key to digital first’s popularity and success.  Many digital first imprints are pricing e-books at $3.99 or below, enabling authors to reach readers at a competitive price point.  Another benefit to digital first is that your release will be much faster than with a traditional print release.The shortened timeframe allows readers to enjoy releases from their favorite authors at a more rapid rate.  Additionally, for speedy writers this is a great way to release a fewtitles throughout the year without the lengthy traditional print production schedule.  If you’re writing in a “hot” genre or category— like New Adult, digital first’s quick timeframe allows you to build your author platform more quickly than you would be able to with a traditional print release. 
Distribution options are also important when considering the merits of a digital first release.  If your book sells well, the publisher may do a print run months later.  The option for a print run provides for the possibility of greater distribution down the road.  Moreover, a traditional publisher will have the ability to place your book in foreign markets, either digitally or in print, as well as stocking it at major retailers.
While there are many benefits to digital first imprints, there are also some downsides.  Many digital first imprints pay a higher royalty rate, but no advance.For many authors the lack of an advance, or small advance, serves as a major detractor.  Additionally, publishers may pay royalties quarterly so it may be a few months before you receive your earnings.
Another downside to digital first is the lack of control.  With digital first your publisher will be responsible for major decisions.  Price point, release date, cover, and more, will likely be out of your control.  Some publishers will consult more than others, but ultimately, your publisher will have the final say.  This can be a benefit for those looking for more support,but for others it may be a deal-breaker.  Additionally, limited distribution can be a downside to digital first imprints.  While your book may be released in print if it sells well digitally, there is often no guarantee.  Some authors may choose to self-publish themselves and do print on demand or simply self-publish digitally.
            Ultimately, digital first isn’t right for everyone.  Authors have to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether a digital first release will complement their career goals.  But the important thing to remember is that between traditional publishing, digital first, hybrid, and self-publishing, authors have many options.  While digital first may not be for everyone, it provides one more opportunity to reach readers.

Bio: Chanel Cleeton writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers.  Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 1, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year.  An avid reader and hopeless romantic, Chanel is happiest curled up with a book.  She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband.  Chanel loves to travel and is currently living an adventure in South Korea.  Learn more about Chanel at www.chanelcleeton.com.  


  1. This is something I've been struggling with for a while now. It's just something I need to think about/look into more. But the post is great! :)