An e-book sensation – from unknown author to a $1 million deal

8:20 am in News by Steve Krinks

Fifty Shades of Grey

Did you see the news story about the tiny Sydney e-book publisher that sold an erotic novel to Random House for $1 million after it hit #1 on the New York Times e-Book list?

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was written by an unpublished UK author by the name of E L James and released as an e-book by Hornsby publisher The Writer’s Coffee Shop. It’s been derided as ‘Mummy Porn’ and lashed by literary critics, but the point is an unknown author and an unknown publisher were able to hit the big time via an e-book.

e-Books are here to stay

With the rapid spread of iPads, tablet PCs and e-readers, e-books are only going to get more popular. Personally I think the rumour of the death of the book has been greatly exaggerated (who doesn’t appreciate the look, feel, smell of a well-loved book?) but there’s no denying e-books are here to stay. They’re easily accessible, have the potential for great interactivity, and they are cheap compared to printed books.

They’re also making a big dent in sales of printed books. BookScan figures show that sales of printed books in bookshops were down 17.5% in December vs the previous year, down 23.5% in February and close to 30% for the first two weeks of March. There are other factors at play, such as low consumer confidence and the collapse of Angus & Robertson and Borders, but the growth in e-Books over this period has been exponential.

Are you e-literate?

We’d like to hear from Publish Blue Mountains members who have experience in publishing e-books, as well as printed book authors with something to say about the e-book phenomenon.

You may like to be a guest speaker at one of our monthly meetings, or possibly play a role in one of our larger events later in the year. If that’s not your thing, feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below!

Some resources

If you’re interested in finding out more about self-publishing e-books, this article by C-Net editor David Carnoy is a great guide to the various platforms and online tools that are available.

Writer and recently self-published author Paul Jun put together this how-to guide to publishing on Amazon’s Kindle platform.

Here’s the original article on the Sydney Morning Herald website about Fifty Shades of Grey and a second, longer article about e-books in general.

…and if you want to find out why that particular erotic e-book is worth $1 million to Harper Collins, check it out at the author’s website here.