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
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
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
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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