Ebook-Originals, the Next Step in Traditional Publishing Strategy

Guest Post by Sue Brower

Our guest today is Sue Brower. She is Executive Editor at Zondervan in charge of fiction and thinks she has the best job in the world…she gets paid to read all day!  Zondervan is currently looking for completed manuscripts to fill the Zondervan First fiction eBook platform.  The ideal stories will primarily have romance-driven plots and vivid, realistic characters.  We are also looking for proposals in the Contemporary, Historical, Suspense, and Romance categories for our print program.  Sue lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband Todd, dogs Pepper and Ollie, and cat, Shep.


Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much the book market has changed in just a few short years.  Some bad, but mostly good because of all the new opportunities for innovation and creativity in publishing. Traditional publishing (print books sold through retail stores) is holding its own, but now there are so many more vehicles for authors to get published: print, epub-only, self-pub, etc.

A diehard fiction fan, I swore I would never give up my printed books and I didn’t believe that there would come a day when I wouldn’t be able to spend hours in a bookstore just browsing.  I love the way books smell; I love the way they feel.  Then the company I work for, Zondervan, gave me an IPad so that I could get comfortable with the format and so I could experience books electronically.  For a while everything I read was on my IPad; current books, as well as manuscripts I was considering for publication.  I thought it was so cool…for at first.  Then, a book was being released by my favorite author and I just had to have it in hardcover.  It wasn’t enough to have it loaded in perpetuity on my IPad, I wanted to be able to hold the story in my hands.  I enjoyed it more, become involved in the fantasy just as the writer intended.

So now, where do I read the majority of my books?  I would have to say, that my “disposable” reading is done on the IPad. Novels I want to “experience” are going to be in printed format.  If I want to be absorbed in what I am reading, it has to be on a printed page.  But boy is it fun to now have millions of titles at my fingertips whenever I want them.  E-publishing has done that for me.

What does this mean for the writer?  Publishing is about more than just traditional novels.  We are now content providers in a variety of formats.  As an acquiring editor I can look at publishing short stories, and novellas as well as serializations.  I can acquire more new authors and midlist authors.  I don’t have to wait a year to release a manuscript—I can do it in three months.  What I can’t and won’t do is sacrifice good storytelling and editing.

I am having so much fun playing in this new publishing field.  With our new imprint, Zondervan First fiction, we are able to provide readers a quality reading experience from a variety of new and established authors. We will publish original stories in the eBook format for the Christian audience.  Authors will have a chance to be edited and published by an established publishing house and readers will be introduced to new voices.  What more could you ask for?  I would love to hear your comments on ebook publishing and how it has changed the way you approach your writing career. The first title in our Zondervan First program is Love in Three Quarter Time by Dina Sleiman, one of Tamela Hancock Murray’s clients.

Oh, and by the way, we are still printing books for retail sales!  While electronic sales are growing exponentially, print still outsells electronic in every category.

For more information on Zondervan First fiction and our submission guidelines, please go to www.zondervanfirst.com.

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Spell Checking

Shortly after I became a book editor, I was working on a nonfiction manuscript that focused on Mormonism. When I finished editing, I ran the spell check. Imagine my reaction when the dear spell check wanted to replace every Mormon with moron and Mormonism with Moronism!

Since those long ago days, spell check has invaded countless emails, files, and text messages. As much as we appreciate it catching our errors, we curse it for “fixing” words that didn’t need fixing. So when I came across recently, I knew I wanted to share it with you.

So here, for your reading pleasure:


Eye halve a spelling chequer

It cam with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word

And weight four it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

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News You Can Use – July 17, 2012

The Top 10 Things That Have to be Edited in a Non-fiction Manuscript – Written to the academic market but I think it has universal applications. Check your manuscript today for these ten things.

What is the Future of Publishing? – a well done article for “Forbes” magazine.

Behind the Scenes of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature – Michael Cunningham reveals why a winner was not chosen this year. Part Two of this article can be found here.

Titles are Everything! – a link to an 11 part series on how to read great headlines. Study it to learn how to title your book or your article or even your blog post.

Amazon Moving to Same-Day Service? – Since they lost the sales tax battle Amazon can freely open shipping locations in every Metro area and offer same day delivery. Imagine placing an order for that DVD, book, dress, or lawnmower and it is delivered within hours. And at a price lower than your local retailer. Wow.

In light of the previous entry I provide a picture with the possible caption: “What Amazon.com looks like to a local retailer.” (or to a Publisher for that matter!)

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To Comma or Not to Comma?

by Steve Laube

I came across this entry in the Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss. The book is a classic on punctuation (although based on British English usage it is still a great book). Read the story below and then answer the questions in the comment section.

On his deathbed in April 1991, Graham Green corrected and signed a typed document which restricts access to his papers at Georgetown University. Or does it? The document, before correction, stated: “I, Graham Greene, grant permission to Norman Sherry, my authorised biographer, excluding any other to quote from my copyright material published or unpublished.” Being a chap who had corrected proofs all his life, Greene automatically aded a comma after “excluding any other” and died the next day without explaining what he meant by it. A great ambiguity was thereby created. Are all other researchers excluded from quoting the material? Or only other biographers?

Which do you think he meant?

What other ambiguities with commas have you seen or written with your own hand?

Why should it matter? It is just punctuation.

Is punctuation important in book contracts?

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Getting Our Books Into the Hands of Readers

Guest blog by Debby Mayne

Our guest today is Debby Mayne, an accomplished novelist with over 30 books and novellas published since 2000! She has also publshed over 400 short stories and a slew of devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, and a copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. For many years she has judged the Writers Digest Annual Competition, Short-Short Contest, and Self-Published Book Competition.

You can visit her web site at www.debbymayne.com.


Before I sold my first novel, I dreamed that once I wrote a book good enough to publish, an editor would call me immediately, tell me how brilliant my book was, offer to buy it, and maybe request a few revisions that’d I’d joyfully do (after I deposited my humongous advance that would cover hiring a publicist and purchasing a big house on the water). Then the publisher would print the book, and the marketing team would make sure it was available for people to purchase. I envisioned full window displays of my book at my favorite stores with people lining up to buy them…and of course I was sitting at a table signing my books as quickly as possible to keep the crowd moving.

I know, but remember this was a dream.

Eventually, an editor did call and say she loved my story, but I needed to address a few issues—and we talked for almost an hour before she sent pages of revisions.

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It’s Official – Thomas Nelson is Now Owned by HarperCollins

The sale of Thomas Nelson is now official.

From the press release:
“Thomas Nelson will continue to operate as an independent company with its unique editorial focus on inspirational and Christian content. Details, such as how Thomas Nelson will benefit from HarperCollins global print and digital platform, will be forthcoming.”

And if you were not aware, Zondervan Publisher is also owned by HarperCollins (purchased in 1988). This means two of the largest Christian publishers in the world are under the same corporate roof.

Last year I wrote some thoughts on the sale of Thomas Nelson to HarperCollins. Read those again to refresh your memory. www.stevelaube.com/perspective_sale_thomas_nelson_publishers

In other recent news, the parent company of HarperCollins, News Corp., said it was seriously exploring the idea of splitting into two different companies, one an entertainment business (TV, etc.) and the other a publishing business (newspapers, books, etc.).

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Does God Need a Makeover?

I have had some interesting conversations over the last few weeks with several different authors about the fact that God often doesn’t do things the way we expect. In fact, there are times when God’s ways—and the ways of those He used–seem…



Even–dare I say it?–wrong.

Think about it.

The person who came to work in the field just before the day ended got paid the same as the folks who’d worked all day.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so he wouldn’t let the Israelites go.

God promised Abram and Isaac that their descendants would be more than the sands on the beach…and gave them wives who were barren.

God gave a prophecy to Rebekah about Jacob, which she “helped along” by some of the most blatant favoritism found in Scripture.

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News You Can Use – July 10, 2012

Publishing on the Cloud is the Next Big Thing! – Mike Shatzkin writes yet another brilliant analysis of our industry.

Give Your Work Away for Free – Derek Webb makes an argument that “free” will end up making you money. Seth Godin used the same principle in some of his promotions. The difference is that Webb is talking about music. However, the music business and the book business are not equal. Do you agree or disagree?

Do Christian Bookstores Have too Much Power Over Content? – Rachel Held Evans expresses her opinion that they do. The topic is guaranteed to generate visceral reactions against the Christian bookstores. Be careful not to lump all stores into one generality.

The Rumors of the Death of Publishing Have Been Greatly Exaggerated – Vicki Hartley presented a sunnier picture. I happen to agree with her.

16 Tips on How to Survive and Thrive as a Writer – Brian Feinblum provides some sage advice.

The “God Particle” – Joe Carter posts an invaluable explanation of this new scientific discovery. And if it still beyond comprehension watch the seven minute tutorial at the end of his post.

Top 10 Zombie Scenes in the Bible – Bet that headline will make you click through to see what Michael Gilmour came up with!

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Can You Plagiarize Yourself?

by Steve Laube

Recently John Lehrer of “The New Yorker” was discovered to have reused past material for his articles and his bestselling book Imagine: How Creativity Works.  Here are links to the articles unveiling the controversy. From Jim Romenesko, Jacob Silverman, and Edward Champion. There has been considerable outrage and a genuine apology from John Lehrer.

This incident begs the question, “Can you plagiarize yourself?”

First you have to define plagiarism. The traditional definition is copying someone else’s words word-for-word without acknowledged of some kind, intentionally or not. In the United States this is actually illegal.

But what if the words are your own?

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