The Secret Dreamworld of an Aspiring Author by Anna Bell - E Publishing Companies and Selling Yourself Short
With the invention of ebook publishing not only has it become dead easy to become a self published author, but it’s become easy for people to set up as an ebook publisher. Whilst I might get some virtual rocks thrown at me, I think this a topic that needs addressing - I’m worried that a lot of aspiring authors are selling themselves short.
I was recently at a writerly event and, while networking, I spoke to another woman who looked like she didn’t know many people either. When I mentioned to her that I was on the Romantic Novelist Associations’ New Writers’ Scheme, she suddenly perked up and thrust a business card into my hand. She was a director of an ebook publisher calling for submissions.
As I took the card, I told her that I had actually recently self published my ebook. She laughed and said, ‘That’s okay, we take submissions from people that have.’ As if I was bound to have failed and that signing with her publishing company would propel me to great things. It didn’t make me warm to her. I know I’m not Amanda Hocking, but I haven’t done too badly with self publishing and her comments came across as patronising and rude.
When I got home I went onto this ebook publisher's website and I looked at the authors and their books on Amazon. I was outselling all of their books (by quite a lot in some cases). And that made me think, what would publishing with a small ebook publisher do for me? In this case, certainly not book sales.
If you sign with an ebook publisher then you may get cover design, line and copy editing and marketing, but you also give up a big chunk of your royalties. Think about it, there is no physical cost for you produce your ebook, other than editing and cover design. Both of these services you can outsource yourself. I know that it's a big expenditure at first, but in the long run, especially once you’ve hit your break-even point, it is worth it. if you had gone down the route of a 50-50% split with your ebook publisher, you’d have to sell double the amount of books to make the same amount of money!
I know, you’re probably not in it for the money, so let’s look at it another way. What will be more impressive to a big publishing company; that you sold 1000 books self publishing or you sold 1000 books with a small publishing company?
Perhaps I'm tarring all ebook publishers with the same brush. I’m sure that there are some great companies out there. But from what I can see online they're not transparent as to who is running the company, what their experience is and what the costs involved are. This is where you need to do your homework; tweet with their authors, ask other writers if they’ve heard good/bad things about them, Have bloggers heard of them? Are their authors getting reviewed? What is their chart position?
Signing with an ebook publisher may, strangely, make you eligible for the Romantic Novelists' Association, and you may like to call yourself a 'signed author', but is that worth such a huge chunk of your money?
If you’re going to go into business with an ebook publisher make sure they are giving you something that you couldn’t do yourself (and by that I mean something above and beyond services that you could outsource). At the end of the day you’re going to give them your money - make sure you research them properly so that you don’t sell yourself short.