People talk about epublishing as if it were some totally new and different thing.
From everything I’ve read over the past few years - and that’s a lot since I’m a professional and professional boards have been squabbling about the issue obsessively - nothing has really changed.
Yes, it’s absolutely true that you can get anything you want published. The numbers of “books” published has gone from around 50,000 a year to more than 250,000 a year over the last decade and next year’s numbers will probably dwarf that.
Those 50,000 books published by mainstream print publishers included a few dozen bestsellers, a few hundred moderately good sellers, many genre books that sold whatever was typical of their genre, and lots of books you’ve never heard of.
Those extra 200,000 ebooks that were self-published included a few dozen bestsellers, a few hundred moderately good sellers, many genre books that sold whatever was typical of their genre, and lots of books you’ve never heard of.
The only difference is that the tail of unknown books is longer. There have been many estimates of the average sale of an ebook and they all come in at around 100.
There are successes. The one is the news recently is Amanda Hocking. She couldn’t sell any books to publishers, self-published them, saw them take off, and had sales of a million through Kindle. And now she’s going through a traditional publisher. Because they and only they can get books into bookstores and because marketing and fulfillment for a successful author are full-time jobs beyond the writing.
She’s as typical of ebooks as J. K. Rowling is for print books. It won’t happen to you. (She writes young adult paranormal aimed at girls, which is the hottest genre. I bet you don’t.)
The marketing is the part that writers never figure on. A few writers have become very successful through incessant online promotion of themselves as brands and commodities. It works for the same reason that Coke and Pepsi market themselves incessantly. If you’re the type of person who can do this and do it well and do it incessantly then you have a good chance.
If not, then you will be among the 200,000 others each and every year who sell 100 copies.
Unless you’re a genius, of course. They make their own rules.