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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Adam Riggio
    June 3, 2014 @ 3:58 am

    Amazon may have gotten the fact that online retail would be major business right, but I do want to point out an additional way in which they (and Apple) have manipulated the nature of epub commerce. Remember that the prices of ebooks weren't even the result of any competition dynamics in the market. Amazon and Apple essentially set prices for ebooks by fiat. Taking most production costs of writing, promotion, and artist compensation into account, Amazon's standard of $9.99 actually counts as an overall loss per unit. Apple's $12.99 or $14.99 allows a little more flexibility than Amazon's model, but those prices were essentially decided by the fiat of companies who were already enormous enough to dominate the ebook market oligarchically.

    Just another wrinkle in the mess.


  2. Kit Power
    June 3, 2014 @ 4:42 am

    "Taking most production costs of writing, promotion, and artist compensation into account, Amazon's standard of $9.99 actually counts as an overall loss per unit." – This of course only applies to the legacy publishing model. For indie published works, depending on the writer, subject, audience etc, price points of $2.99 or even less can be very profitable. At $2.99 per e-book as an indie author, you make 70% of that on each and every sale. This makes even modest sales figures enough to turn a modest second income/profit, especially if you keep sunk costs (editing, cover art etc) low of non-existent (providing you can do that without sacrificing quality, which is a big proviso). Needless to say, sales of that level as part of a legacy deal would be considered catastrophic.


  3. Jesse
    June 3, 2014 @ 6:57 am

    I've found two great advantages to traditional publishing (though they only apply to my book published by a large commercial press, not to the earlier one I published through an academic outlet[]):

    1. Publicity. You mentioned this one, but I want to reiterate it. This isn't all Harper's doing, but believe me, you're more likely to have places like Publishers Weekly and Book TV and so on pay attention to you if you've got a major publisher behind you. Having had the experience of writing a book that wasn't much noticed outside its niche and the experience of writing a book that a lot of people paid attention to, I definitely prefer the latter.

    2. If you can get a good advance, you can take time off your day job to write the book. When I wrote my first book, I was an unmarried renter, so I had the luxury of doing things like quitting a magazine job I'd come to hate and doing temp work when my funds got low. Now I have a mortgage and two kids to support, so I'm less flexible. And while my wife works too, it's much easier to write a book full-time if you don't suddenly drop from a two-income to a one-income family while you do it.

    Those aren't the only pluses—I was fortunate to have a good editor at Harper, for example—but they're the ones that really make a substantial difference. Or, put another way, they're the reasons I'm not likely to switch to self-publishing, except possibly for some sort of innately uncommercial side project that wouldn't take long to complete. (This, of course, says absolutely nothing about what people in circumstances different from mine ought to do. I think the rise of self-publishing is a terrific thing.)

    [ The advantages to academic publishing? Not many, but the book has stayed in print for 13 years. And it has an imprint that impresses professors, should I ever find myself in a situation where impressing professors is important.]


  4. Jesse
    June 3, 2014 @ 7:00 am

    quitting a magazine job I'd come to hate

    (I suppose I should make it clear that this refers to the magazine I job I quit to write my first book, and not the job with a different magazine I hold now.)


  5. Pen Name Pending
    June 3, 2014 @ 7:50 am

    Yikes. Just as I was thinking about how cheap Amazon is.

    As someone whose ultimate goal to be an author of children's/young adult fiction, traditional publishing is my only way to go. But I've already realized I need to wait until I'm financially sound and will have other jobs first while I continue to work on my books, which at least has the advantage of having a few manuscripts that have been written and edited extensively by the time I'm ready to query.

    My only issue with traditional publishers is the marketing…my first book maybe fits best in middle grade, but it is very much about the transition out of that phase. My concern with marketing it that way is that it might not be taken as seriously or won't reach the attention of, say, the many adults that read YA but hardly touch middle grade unless it's one of the rare exceptions like Philip Pullman, JK Rowling, or Rick Riordan.

    Actually I have just always despised the way traditional publishing treats YA, especially those published by female authors, because if it's got a romance subplot in it (which, granted, mine doesn't), it's going to overpower the marketing.

    I just dislike putting things into categories.


  6. elvwood
    June 3, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I have written a (thus-far unpublished) YA book, and the comment I got from one editor was that it was very good and I should keep trying to sell it, but that it was going to be a struggle to find a publisher at the moment because it wasn't the sort of thing that could be summed up in a sentence. The traditional publishing industry is in a conservative phase and really wants books with soundbite descriptions – "it's like Harry Potter but set in space", for instance. Which fits with your comments about romance and categories.


  7. Kit Power
    June 4, 2014 @ 12:01 am

    I understand how children books (especially picture books) might strongly prefer a traditional publishing model – but why do you think YA's need 'trad' publishing? Because parents buy books so they need paperback distribution? I'm genuinely curious, because from an outside perspective, I think you'd struggle to find a 'YA' that doesn't have a smartphone, and therefore a free Kindle reader, so I don't immediately see where the barrier to self publishing would be.


  8. Daibhid C
    June 4, 2014 @ 12:10 am

    So Amazon are deliberately making it difficult to buy books by a publisher in order to punish them and treat their workers horribly and Hachette … publish books by dead people.

    I'm … not really sure those things are morally equivalent?

    And I don't know much about the publishing industry, but Charles Stross says part of the reason he didn't go the self-publishing route is because he's not a businessman and doesn't want to be; he wants the publisher to do that for him, which it does.


  9. Kit
    June 4, 2014 @ 12:36 am

    Phil attempts to bury the Hachette.


  10. Pen Name Pending
    June 4, 2014 @ 7:18 am

    Ah, well I was thinking more middle grade since that's what I'm focusing on, and you're right that YA is at the beginning of the self pub spectrum. That said, I don't think I've seen the target audience too aware of what self pub is. (In all honesty, I would like it to become my full profession, so I will seek trad.)

    I might have a chance for a single-sentence description, even if it would be a little deceptive. (That said, my main theme is growing up, which is commonly what's told in middle grade, even if I didn't realize what growing up meant until I was in high school.) I'd read whateve novel you have, elvwood, whenever it comes out.

    There was an article a while back that expressed concern over the marketing of the movie adaptations of City of Bones and Divergent (which was then-unreleased and actually did well) because their promotion did not contain one-liners like "a boy who finds out he is a wizard," "a girl who falls in love with a vampire," '"a game in which kids must kill each other"…etc. However, both book series have sold very well, whatever you think of them, so I wonder what they were pitched as.


  11. Pen Name Pending
    June 4, 2014 @ 7:47 am

    (In addendum to the first paragraph): Unless it's Wattpad, of course, but I'm not sure how much royalty that generates, if any in some cases.


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