ePublisher: Non-subsidy, Subsidy or Reseller

ePublisher Types and Explanations

The ePublisher came into being with the emergence of the eBook and electronic media. In the beginning it was doubtful that the eBook would catch on, but catch on it did! The thirst for knowledge is a powerful force, and the eBook with it's easy acessibility and reasonable cost is the perfect medium.

As the desire for electronic books grew the ePublisher began to take on a variety of forms. In the beginning, ePublishers were simply publishers dealing in a new format. Today, ePublishers offer many different options to writers - so writers beware! Make sure you know exactly what you are getting - or may be paying for!

Let's examine the types of ePublishers...

First, is the traditional, royalty paying, non-subsidy ePublisher. In this form the publishing company pays you for the right to license your work. You do not pay up front for anything except the copyright to your work. Neither do you get any advance payment. You must wait until your book makes sales at which time you receive a percentage of each sale. These publishers will expect your work to be in "ready to publish" form when it is submitted. ePublishers do not usually require that you have an agent, as most publishers of hard copy do, but you should have your work edited before submitting. If accepted the ePublisher will produce, sell and promote your work. Royalty payments are usually around 40%.

Second, is the subsidy ePublisher. In this form the publisher provides a package of services that you pay for before your work can be published. The costs can range anywhere from $160 to $4999. Keep in mind that these costs are only for production services, not marketing. Promotion and marketing of the finished material will be at your expense also. In this instance, you, the author, pay the ePublisher to have your work available on line. Your book would appear on the ePublisher's site and possibly on sites that the ePublisher has agreements with. Royalty payments can vary widely and are usually between 10-50%.

For distribution of works by the author, he/she must buy the books (usually at a discounted price) and then would receive a royalty for the sale. Let's take an example: Your book sells for $8.95, your discount is 30% or $2.69. You will pay $6.26 for each book. You will then receive a royalty (let's say 40% or $3.58). The cost to sell your book will be $2.68 each. So if you wanted 100 books for a book signing, it would cost you $268.00. Since marketing and advertising are the author's responsibility, this is an important fact to consider.

Third, is the reseller. In this form the ePublisher functions as a printer and host site for your work. You must submit your work "ready to publish" and assume the responsibility of marketing and advertising. Some of these companies may charge a one time processing fee. Some may offer services for editing, proofreading, etc., or they may offer a list of service providers. With resellers you are paying to have your book printed and for the "privelege" of having your work presented on the booksellers web site for sale. Your royalty percentage will usually be anywhere from 20-50%. The cost for an author to purchase his/her books would be the same premise as with a subsidy ePublisher.

Following are some of the services you can contract to have a reseller provide for you: editing, proofreading, text conversion, cover design and custom illustrations, issuance of ISBN number, registration of your title in the Ingram database, submission of Copyright application ( I would always opt to do this myself), registration of Library of Congress forms. Before committing to any agreement, compare the prices with what you would pay for doing it yourself. Remember, you still have the expense of marketing and promotion ahead of you.

Also, keep in mind that having your book on an ePublishers site ready for sale does not necessarily mean the book will sell. Unless you actively pursue marketing and promoting to drive customers to the ePublisher's site to purchase your book you probably won't see many sales (and wasn't it nice of you to bring customers to the resellers site in a buying mood!).

What are your chances of getting published?

The difficulty level of being published with ePublishers is a simple deduction. The non-subsidy publisher will be the most difficult because they will be footing the bill. They have to be assured that your book is going to be profitable. The subsidy publisher would be second because they have put some money into the project and want to be sure of recouping their investment and of making a profit. Last would be the reseller. They will have some restrictions on the material, but they have already been paid for their services and any sales of your book is gravy.

Next you must determine what you need. A non-subsidy publisher that accepts (or not) your manuscript, handles the marketing, promotion, cover design, etc. and to whom you assign your rights; a subsidy publisher that you pay up-front to help you publish while you handle the marketing and promotion; or a reseller that charges you for any and all services performed in the process of printing and presenting your work on their website while you handle the marketing and promotion.

Lastly, read the contract! All ePublishers are not alike as we have just determined. Aside from the major differences, each publisher will have their own policies. Some companies may offer a combination of packages or options, some may not. Some subsidy and reseller companies may require you to sign over exclusive electronic rights rights (generally anywhere from 1 year to 10 years. I even saw one that was for the term of the copyright!). This type of arrangement is not in your best interest, unless there is an "opt out" clause. Make sure you read all the fine print before entering into any contract or you may find yourself sadly surprised.

The safest and most economical (although not the easiest - or quickest) way to have your work published is thru a standard non-subsidy ePublisher. However, if you feel a subsidy or reseller option is best for you, browse around, check out the sites, and read each contract carefully before making a final judgement.

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