CUMBERLAND - For aspiring authors, putting pen to paper is often the easiest part, as the nation's handful of major publishing houses do not freely dole out book deals.

But in the age of the iPad and Kindle, more writers are taking the business side into their own hands and self-publishing e-books that can be downloaded and read faster than the time it takes to pitch a novel to industry executives.

Bowker, the country's official ISBN Agency and leading provider of bibliographic information, reported in October that the number of self-published titles in 2012 was more than 391,000, which is an increase of 59 percent over 2011, and a whopping 422 percent over 2007.

The ProQuest affiliate also reported that more than 80 percent of those titles came through with support from just eight companies, including Smashwords, a distributor of independent e-books that was founded in 2008.

The market for e-books has been rising in tandem with self-publishing, with BookStats, an industry statistics model launched by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group, reporting in may that the e-book market has grown 45 percent since 2011.

One of those Smashwords e-books was "Second Chances," a novel written by Cumberland resident Victoria Corliss and Leigh Brown, of East Greenwich.

The co-authors, who met while their sons were on the same baseball team and immediately bonded over a shared love of books and writing, decided to use Smashwords as they stepped into the self-publishing world because of the site's user-friendly aspects that walked them through marketing, legalities and registering the book's ISBN with the Library of Congress.

"Let's face it, we needed 'Self-Publishing for Dummies,'" Corliss said with a smile.

But getting through the process and coming out on the other side with a published work boosted their confidence in writing and publishing, Brown said. After four years of work, the book about three people facing their past, present and future mistakes is now available through Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

"The beauty of self-publishing," Corliss said, "is that it gives every author the opportunity to get their book out there right away."

That means immediate feedback from readers, which helps as authors begin to tackle subsequent projects.

Now that they are beginning to master the business-side of the industry, the authors are onto their second book, "The Pie Sisters."

Corliss, who has worked in public relations, and Brown, who has a background in interior design, now focus on writing full-time with the hopes of getting the next book out by next year.

Taking on publishing, especially in a digital format, makes that a possibility.

"We're writing this because we want to share it with people," Corliss said. "We're trying to share our love of reading, and use our love of writing to share that."

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