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Digital publishing may be a relatively new format, but the path to publication still requires commitment and determination from authors, whether a book is digital or a hard copy.

After working on her book, “An Alien’s Guide to World Domination,” for several years, local author Elizabeth Fountain, who is originally from Yakima, decided she was ready to pitch it at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference in Seattle.

After a bout of nerves, Fountain sat down with the editor.

“I told her about the book and she told me to send her the first three chapters,” Fountain said.

After a few months, Fountain got a letter from Champagne Books, a publishing company from Alberta, Canada, and they asked her for the whole book. After one more read through and one more proof, Fountain sent the book off.

“I edited it, did some re-arranging. From that point it was a year process, but that was a publishing problem. They had a lot of books in the pipeline,” Fountain said.

Different but the same

J. Ellen Smith, publisher at Champagne Books, says that while people tend to view digital publishing as entirely different from normal publishing, it’s really the same thing. Books that are digitally published by Champagne Books go through a process of checking if the writing is up to standards and checking out the author’s promotional platform. Then the publisher figures out how to promote the book and what type of cover art it needs. Once that is done, the publisher offers the author a contract.

“It’s exactly the same process you would get if you were in a bigger publishing house say in New York,” Smith said. “Just our red tape isn’t quite as much. We do all the same things, the scale is just a bit smaller.”

E-book to paperback

In April 2013, “An Alien’s Guide to World Domination” was put out as an e-book, and this past February, Champagne Books decided to bring the book to paperback.

For Fountain, it’s hard to tell whether her book is doing better in print or as an e-book, but she has noticed that it is doing better overall.

“In my Amazon novel rank, I see spikes coming after the print book was released, but I don’t know if they were sales for print or e-books,” Fountain said. “When I do signings, I see spikes after that. But it’s still not enough to quit my day job.”

Fountain is a lecturer at Central Washington University and is on the faculty at City University of Seattle, where she teaches mostly online courses.

Promotion can be one of the hardest parts of publishing digitally, Smith said.

“A lot of people feel that because it’s not in hard copy, that it’s not a real book, it’s not a real author,” Smith said. “That’s the biggest stigma. They are published, they are an author, just because it’s not on paper doesn’t give them any less credibility.”

Both Fountain and Smith said the best way to promote digitally published books is online.

“We do a lot of online stuff,” Smith said. “We have online ads, we have Twitter stuff and Facebook contests.”

Digital focus

Champagne, while it does have some paperbacks, tends to focus mainly on its digital books, because it’s where it makes the most money.

“There’s that whole world and it’s ever changing and people are really hungry for content,” Fountain said. “It’s also kind of tricky because people don’t really want to be sold to on social media.”

Fountain says she tries to get people to see her as a real person, and to engage and speak to her readers.

“I had to translate in my mind, selling books to connecting with readers,” Fountain said. “If I connect with three readers at a conference like that, it’s more satisfying that 1,000 hits on my website, but I’m not going to say no to 1,000 hits.”

Lawless realm

Fountain refers to the world of publishing as the “Wild West.”

“Everybody’s sort of making their own way,” Fountain said. “The things that you think are absolutely written in stone are not.”

Fountain said there’s no set way to get a book published.

“I don’t think there’s a recipe,” Fountain said. “Before the e-book revolution there was a recipe, you get your book to a publisher and they did that part. Now authors really have to be as much or more of their own marketing department.”

While Fountain said that self-publishing is good for those who want to get their work out there and are willing to put effort into quality control, if authors want to focus more on the creative side of writing, it’s better to find a publisher.


One popular self-publishing route is Amazon. With the popularity of the Kindle e-reading device, Amazon has its own digital publishing business called Kindle Direct Publishing.

Through KDP, authors can publish their own books online, as long as they follow the guidelines Amazon has set down and the book is exclusive to Amazon. Amazon’s KDP Select promotes books and makes them eligible for the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.

Fountain encourages self-publishers to find someone to edit their stories, whether it is a friend or a paid freelance editor. She believes it is a worthwhile investment.

“The best marketing in the world will bring people to your book,” Fountain said. “But if they read the first two pages, see errors and stop reading, they will never go to the second book.”

“An Alien’s Guide to World Domination” can be found in paperback at Jerrol’s, and in both paperback and e-book form on Amazon, and the Champagne Books website. On June 2, Fountain’s second book, entitled “You, Jane” was published through Amazon and Champagne books in e-book format.

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