I confess I do not know as much as I should about e-publishing, but I have always assumed when an e-publisher wants to acquire someone’s book that said author could finally say they had made a sell. And of course, now the author could pop open the champagne, go out to dinner, call or e-mail everyone they know and tell them their train had finally come a chugging into the station of legitimization. They had made it. They had reached for the golden pen and grasped it. No longer was this person a struggling writer, they were an author.
Two days ago, an interesting e-mail popped up on one of the writer’s loops of which I’m a member. In this e-mail the writer was, very nicely, debating whether someone who is with an e-publisher can actually say they sold or not. Her point being that if you do not get an advance, which you don’t with most e-publishers as far as I know, then you cannot say you have "sold” because to say this means that someone has paid you for the rights to publish your work. She feels that e-published writers should say “contracted with” until their first book is actually bought by someone.
I get that argument, and I agree with the definition, but my agreement left me in flux.
Another author, with an e-publisher, responded to the e-mail and stated that as an e-published author she says she "sold" her first book. Her point was that even though she didn’t get an advance, she will get a greater percentage of the royalties and earn just about the same thing, in the end, as she would with her advance. To her, the cash flow may come to you differently, but if it’s coming, then you have "sold".
Gee, I get this point as well. Of course, I guess there’s a slim chance you will not sell a single book, but this is doubtful since we all know at least our mothers will buy our books.
I think if I ever decide to go the e-route and I’m lucky enough that an e-publisher wants my book, then I will probably say I "sold" my first book. I see it like this: they want my book, and they certainly plan to sell it, and I will get money for it when it does sell, so the contract itself is a sell. This is my opinion.