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For Those Considering Self-Publishing - Learn The Reality of the Business!



1.  The e-book industry is once again in turmoil.  The purchase of hand-held e-book readers are low due to high expense and consumers are not buying them until prices drop.  It is now predicted by industry sources e-book hand-held reading will not truly take off for another 8 to 10 years or more.  The readers do not allow publishers to insert graphics, photos and illustrations.  Only text can be read on the reading devices.  The public majority is just not interested to read books on hand-held devices.  The bright side is computer book download will allow graphics, illustrations and photos in the e-book using Adobe Reader software.  Computer e-book download is a viable market in development.

2.  E-books that can be downloaded to consumer computers will survive and grow, but still sales are tiny as most consumers still wish to purchase a book in hand.  Marketing development and consumer demand is not established.  Most troubling for self-published authors?  The publishing industry is pushing out the self-published author off major e-book Web sites.  This is accomplished by the e-book Web sites canceling contracts with self-published authors.   Publishers will dominate e-books just as they dominate print versions of books, as predicted.  Author's books are being dropped due to authors not marketing their titles to produce sales.

3.  Vanity presses - Web sites that charge authors money to list and sell their books - will be the only option left to the self-published author, which is not a good deal for the author no matter how you look at it.  Vanity presses only take the author's money and do not effectively market the books; even if the marketing program looks fantastic they usually fail miserably.  Authors don't sell books and they don't make money.  They also destroy their book as unmarketable to a legitimate publisher.  Most all publishers will not accept to reprint a book that has been published in any form.

4.  Obtaining a traditional publisher will be the only certain method of success for the author to receive income from the sales of their books.  Self-publishing will always be expensive and difficult to sell.   Consumers are resisting purchasing books unless they are published by a non-vanity press book publisher, including e-books.  

5. With the advent of e-books, the market for books is flooded.  It is now all too easy for a book to become lost in the crowd of millions of published titles.  Only targeted marketing can drive a book to sales.           

Note In this forum, e-publisher means a limited market publisher offering e-books on a Website.  Publisher (or p-publisher) means, a traditional book publisher publishing traditional books and e-books.  A p-book is a traditional printed book.

1. What Is An E-Book?

  The e-book is an electronic version of a book.  It can be on computer disk, data installed on an automated retrieval system, CD-ROM, downloaded as a digital file, displayed on a linear CRT or LED screen device.  It's anything other than a book printed on paper.  However, this does not mean your book will not be printed in paperback or hardcover form.  We first create the e-book and also download the book to the Print On Demand System.  Now your book is available in all formats for sale to individuals, libraries, bookstores, book clubs, etc.  We don't limit your book to just electronic form, it goes to print in small print runs first.   When sales justify, we perform a traditional print run to meet consumer demand.

2. How will authors benefit with e-books?

  More publishing opportunities!  Authors that otherwise would not see their books published can now be published. If the e-book sells well you can bet the publisher will schedule a larger print run.  It truly is a great opportunity for new writers to get that first book published to begin a career in writing.  We can now accept books we could not publish.  The initial print run is now just a few books instead of having to print one to five thousand copies or more.  This permits the publisher to take a chance on a new writer without the heavy investment in print runs.  However, the quality of the book still must be high for the book to be accepted by any publisher and to meet the harsh realities of the marketplace to obtain great media reviews.   Good reviews sell books.   

3. Why not publish the e-book myself?

  You can, but there are consequences to consider if you do decide to go this route.  You will only have a few resources to sell your book.  Assume you self-publish and place your books on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders.com Websites.   Will the book sell?  Only a few copies.  There is so much more to book marketing than just getting your book listed on a bookstore Website!  Read our Advice for Authors section about distribution and reprinting of books.  If that does not convince you, then consider how will you drive people to buy your book?  Your book is only one of well over 2-million or more on a bookstore database.   Nobody surfing the site will find your book!  How will you obtain sales from bricks and mortar bookstores worldwide?  What about libraries, colleges, book clubs, retail stores and industry?  Those huge markets will be locked-out.  Go to a bookstore and peruse marketing books.  Do you have the time, skills and money to market this book?  A book publisher has it all; distribution, advertising, know-how and money to make books sell.  Fact is, 52% of all books sold are not sold in bookstores!

Pratchett shuns e-revolution

Fantasy writer Terry Pratchett intends to shun the e-book revolution and

stick with traditional publishing methods. In an exclusive interview with

the Bookseller.com, Mr. Pratchett said that "as things stand" he would be

reluctant to follow the likes of Stephen King and Fay Weldon down the

e-route. Mr. Pratchett described the Internet "as a whining Californian mall

rat, forever demanding that the real world be redefined to suit its whims",

and argued that King had "not found things quite as pleasant as he'd hoped"

on the Internet.

4. I want to retain e-rights.  Can I still obtain a p-publisher?

  Why in the world do you want to retain e-rights for?  So you can earn royalties and bypass your publisher?  It won't happen.  You will have to sign over the e-rights in the Publisher & Author contract.  No legitimate publisher will permit an author to retain e-rights.  You are published, or not published, or a  self-published author, or a publisher yourself.  Take your pick.  If you want to be published by a publishing firm, the e-rights go to the publisher, just as all subsidiary rights do.   E-books is a small market segment compared to the total market available worldwide.  The e-market will grow, but a book publisher considers all the markets in the world, not just the Internet to obtain sales.  Bookstores, libraries wholesalers and distributors will not buy e-books from an e-book retailer or a vanity e-publisher, they buy from traditional publishers.  Publishers do not lease rights, they obtain and own them.   If you don't like that you don't need a publisher, you'll remain unpublished, so you'll need to self-publish.  E-books will not essentially change the established rules of the publishing industry.  See Answer #28. 

5. How long do publishers want the e-rights?

  The term of the copyright publishers are permitted by law.  The full term of the copyright.  Read the publisher's contract.  It will be spelled out there.   That does not mean you will lose your e-rights forever.  Many publishers have Reversion of Rights clauses that return all the rights back to you if the publisher can no longer sell the book.  Publishers only need the rights while they are actively publishing the book.  E-rights is nothing new, really.  It's just another subsidiary right.  That's all it is. 

6. What is an e-publisher and an e-marketer?

  This is a good question and an important one!  The new e-publishers that offer contracts to writers to publish their books on their Web site are nothing more than subsidy press retailers.  They are not true book distributors, wholesalers or book publishers!  These retailers are trying to take on the role of a book publisher, but they are a limited market vehicle - no matter if they obtain a million hits a day on the site - the market is still much too small and ineffective.  See Answer #3.  Hits are easy to obtain, just run an ad on TV and you have the hits.  Site hits are useless to the author because millions of people may visit the site's home page, but they will never find your book, Angels In Paradise because there is no focus in the ad pushing customers to buy your book.  Your book is only one of 2-million or more on the Website!  A book publisher knows how to drive readers to a site or bookstore to specifically order your book and reach all markets worldwide.  That's the main difference, but book publishers reach all the markets to sell your book and they have the distribution clout to get the book sold. 

7. E-book publishers offer writers 50% royalties.   Publishers offer less.  Why?

  The e-Publisher is luring writers to get published.  They know writers desperately want to be published.  They have devised a scheme equal to the vanity press, "Get Your Book Published" and the desperate author believes it's a good deal, jumps on board, and discovers sales are gloomy.  The author now wants to have his book published with a real book publisher only to discover the book will be rejected because it has been published.  Book publishers do reprint book, but only books published by other reputable publishers, not self-published authors.  The p-publisher pays lower royalties than the e-publisher because there are no gimmicks involved.  They have the marketing clout to give your book the best shot available to drive customers to buy your book.  The e-publisher will charge you fees to publish your book.  The publisher charges you no fee.  The e-publisher is a sophisticated vanity press operation with a limited market.  If you think they are a great deal, dream on!  Keep reading, you'll gain a basic education about publishing and marketing obstacles.

"A vanity press makes wonderful promises, but rarely delivers the dream."

8. Are there book publishers that allow the writer to retain e-rights?

  These are e-publishers, not traditional book publishers.  P-publishers will not permit an author to retain such rights to interfere and limit sales of the work.   Legal complications also materialize when two marketers are selling the same product.  If the publisher makes a mistake, the author becomes party to a lawsuit and visa versa.  Only one can own the rights.  The author transfers these rights to the p-publisher along with other subsidiary rights; motion picture rights, live performance rights, etc.  If you have never been published before this may all sound strange to you, but it's routine business in the publishing environment.  Authors sign over the rights, so the publisher can do their job; that is, to sell books.   Read books about publishing and legal contracts.  Many Websites offer advice.      

9. How does a book publisher sell electronic books?

  First, the book is listed in directories, distributor and wholesaler catalogs, bookstore Websites and the publisher advertises to the major markets to invite customers to visit the Websites to purchase your book.  There is more to it, but that's basically how it is done.  When the e-book becomes a hot seller, the p-publisher then initiates print versions and the book enters the traditional markets.  E-bookstores and vendors around the world can now order the e-book.  Yes, p-publishers will use the e-publisher's Web site to market your book.  The publisher will use all markets available.  The e-publisher has only one or two markets to offer you.   P-publishers have thousands.  Every bookstore in the world is just one example.   The p-publisher will use Print on Demand (POD) systems to launch your e-book to a p-book.  When sales of the p-book rise, a print run will be initiated and the p-book will be available worldwide in all markets in both e-book and p-book versions. 

10. If I sign on with an e-publisher can I sell my e-books to bookstores?

  No.  That major market is lost.  1) The e-publisher is keeping 50% up front, so that means there is no opportunity for a bookstore or distributor to mark up the book for resale. 2) Bookstores primarily sell p-books and they order from book distributors.  Since a self-published author cannot obtain distribution, the market cannot be accessed.  Some e-books may be available on Print On Demand systems in bookstores, but mostly e-books by established publishers.   Regardless, even if your book is available on bookstore ordering computers, it is lost in the crowd of millions of books.  3) The e-publisher will not distribute your book, they are only retailers with a very limited market.  Their market is essentially just one Web site out of millions.  How will readers find your book?  Can the e-publisher get your book on bookstore shelves?  Some e-marketers will offer access to a bookstore chain, but will likely be an exclusive arrangement and that will only leave you one market to sell your books.  Before you jump into self-publishing read books about the business.  It will open your eyes to the complexity of the business and the high-risk of failure.

11. Will e-books give authors an advantage over book publishers?

  You will see a slight increase in royalties over the coming years.  Other than this, the author will never hold the cards in the publishing environment.  The author's job is to write a book.  The publisher's job is to sell it.  Once your book is published, your job is done.  The publisher now has the advantage to sell it.   Some big name authors will benefit from e-books by-passing their publisher, but one thing you must remember; these authors have already made it big and have a huge marketing draw.  Stephen King is an example of this. Authors who do not have this advantage will not be able to see their e-books sell.

12. Why must I give up my e-rights to book publishers?

  The job of the publisher is to sell your books.  They can't sell the book in all the markets if you retain the e-rights.  In fact, they won't even publish your book until you do sign over the rights.  Novice writers do not understand subsidiary rights, so they believe they can keep certain rights and still get their books published.   The only right you keep is the basic copyright, that's all.  A publisher must have all the rights to all the markets to sell the book!  Publishers invest a lot of money to publish and promote a book and they will not cheat themselves by publishing a book and have the author compete with them for sales.  Retaining e-rights so you can sell the book bypassing the publisher is putting you in direct competition with your publisher.  Not a very good plan to sell books.  The e-book craze is distorting the realities of book publishing in many authors minds.   They believe e-publishing is the final answer to getting published, but it's only a single market, limited in book sales to any self-published author. Writers need to return to reality.  Write your books and let publishers sell your books.  This will always be the preferred route you can take.  It is precisely what all the established authors do.     They choose publishers to sell their books.  Very few famous writers will abandon their publishers.   

13.  Why are newspapers and magazines proclaiming e-books are great for authors?

  A good story is a good story, but you will notice in these articles there is no mention of distribution, advertising, etc., and how the author will drive customers to buy their book.  There's a lot of money to be made in the future with e-books, just as in p-books today, but be aware that money will still be controlled by the established publishing system.  E-books will revolutionize the industry, but again, the publisher will still be the prime promoter of e-books.  The major bookstore chains may list a self-published e-book, but they will only promote publisher's e-books, due to special discounting and advertising deals.  There are so many tricks to this marketing business, you can be certain publishers will be King of e-books.  The powerful markets will iron out self-published authors, you can count on it. 

14. I still receive rejection letters to publish my e-book.  What can I co?

  Has it been published already?  If so, you are out of luck.  If not, is the book professionally edited?  Even then, the book just may not be marketable at this time.  Write another book and keep trying.  With e-publishing more publishers will accept more authors than ever before in the history of publishing.   If the book is good, it will be published.  Publisher's standards are not being lowered due to e-books or the mad rush to get into the e-book market.  They still demand quality.  This weeding out factor will crush self-published authors, for there is already a bad reputation of inferior self-published books.  This reputation is firmly embedded.  Publishers will publish high quality books and that will establish in the mind of consumers to only buy e-books from reputable publishers.  The market for writers will increase with e-books, but only "high quality" e-books will be published and sold.  Nothing much has changed at all.  Is your query letter up to par?  Click here for a sample.  Read our Advice for Authors page.  It is important to hire a professional proofreader to edit your book manuscript.  Why?  The reading public, industry buyers and the reviewers demand it.  This is why publishers can't take on a book that is editorially in error.  There is only one book that can be published and not meet English standards and that is a book teaching how to write ad copy.   Advertising does not need to apply to grammar standards, they sell products and that is the bottom line.  All other books must comply with industry standards.

15 What is the difference between an e-publisher and a vanity press?

  None.  The vanity press, for a fee, promises to publish your book and promote it.  The e-publisher is doing the exact same thing.  Both fail to have the distribution, contacts, reputation, access to markets and clout of a p-publisher.  E-publishers have found a novel and wonderfully deceptive means to lure desperate writers to finally be published and offer incredible royalties.  Sure, you will receive everything they promise to do for you.  Your e-book will be published.  It will be listed on a Web site or two or three.  But they will they take on the responsibility to get your book sold?  A publisher must sell books to be paid, so they aggressively sell your books.  The vanity press only wants your money, and in return, they will print your books.  The e-publisher also wants your money to list your book.  No difference; both want your money.  Both prey on the author's desperation to be published.   

16. Is it impossible to self-publish an e-book and be successful?

  Not impossible, just improbable.  Some self-published books can sell well; such as, focused-market self-help and how-to books.  No doubt, some self-published e-book authors will become millionaires, but very few will.  It all depends on your marketing.  If you perform seminars or lectures, your book can sell here, if in paper form.  Some customers may be driven to the Internet to make an e-book purchase.  Here's a test.  Look upon a large city and ask "How am I going to reach all these people to buy my book?"  If you have money and answers, you may be successful.  If not, it's best not to dabble in self-publishing.  To be successful in publishing you will need to become a full-time publisher.  It's not enough to have a day job and a publishing job on the side.  It's a lot harder to sell a book than it is to write it!  You can write a book in two years, but marketing continues forever.

17. Why are you so assured publishers will dominate the e-book market?

  All of the established and famous authors are already with publishers.  It will be their books people will be buying, not self-published author's books.  The retail and distribution industry are gearing up to handle these e-book sales from the major and independent publishers.  It is futile to believe a multi-billion-dollar industry will simply roll over due to self-published e-books.  Most authors don't believe this, but they believe they can sell their e-books!  Collectively, thousands of authors will self-publish e-books and the publishers will just keep on going, passing them all.   All self-published e-books will simply be pushed further down the ranks, just as it is now with self-published p-books.  You can make your decision to be published by a publisher or go it alone.

18. I still prefer to self-publish my e-nook.  Any advice?

  Don't publish your best work.  Write a small book and test the waters with that.  If the venture fails, at least you did not ruin any opportunity of getting your best work published.  Once a book is published, in any medium, the book is doomed.  No publisher will publish the book, unless your are very lucky.

19. Are e-publishers ripping off authors?

  No.  They tell the truth.  They will publish your book, but so will a subsidy and vanity press.  The end results of both will be about the same; the author pays money and sees little to no return.  The E-publisher may even get you some sales, at least for a few months. When the Web site fills up with books, expect sales to fall as your book becomes lost in the maze.  What e-publishers are not telling you is that they do not perform distribution services to all markets, and they don't tell you they serve a very limited market.  They don't tell you only consumers who own computers will have access to purchase your e-book, that bookstores and other major markets will not buy your book or place large case quantity orders for your book.  They won't tell you they will market your book to the major markets.  They don't warn you that once you publish your book with them, there is a high risk the book will never be published by any other p-publisher.   There is so much they don't say, it's not a good deal for the author at all.   What they tell you is true.  What they don't tell you is another story.

20. Some authors claim their e-books are selling so well they don't need a publisher.  True?

  It very well may be true; however, one must be careful not to believe everything you read on Internet discussion forums and magazine articles.  The e-market is new, so it is possible a few authors will find sales attractive, depending on the type of book they have.  Just posting a book on a Web site is not marketing, not at all.  It's a very small segment of the marketing process.  There is so much more to it that you should read about book marketing just so you'll know what is involved. See our Books for Writers page for self-publishing books.  If you work hard, you can sell your e-book, but you will always reach limited markets.  The trick is to reach many limited markets and your sales will increase. In the coming years the e-market will be large, but then marketing skills will be required to get your book in demand or be lost in the crowd.  You will read a lot of hype about e-books in magazines and other media, but be careful, they will not inform you of the harshness of the publishing story.  Only the "dream" will be told, but not the realities of the business.  You will need a p-publisher to be successful in selling e-books.  Concentrate your efforts in getting a p-publisher as soon as you can.  Those who waste time trying to self-publish will only lose out on the great opportunity available today, as publishers are now opening the doors to more and more writers.  Soon the market of writers will be saturated and equilibrium will set forth locking out many writers again, just as it is today with self-published p-book authors.

21. Do you recommend any publishers to contact to get my e-book published?

  Contact them all.  Each week another publisher is coming on with e-books.   Whatever you read in the industry submission guidelines listings may already be outdated.  Publishers that specialized in only one market genre are now opening up to many genres. 

22. Should I query publishers mentioning I have an e-book?

  It is obvious to the publisher any manuscript can be converted to an e-book.   It is to your advantage to mention, "Golden Stars would be an excellent e-book."  Don't say anything more than that.  Most e-books submitted to publishers are tiny works or poorly written.  They already have a poor reputation as being inferior to p-books, so the more you mention the word e-book it implants images in the editor's mind the book is not up to standards and may lead to a rejection.

23. You are a nook publisher.  Is your advice bias?

  It is just a fact that publishers are in the book business full-time.  They know the markets and they know how to sell books.  Plus, any publisher that picks up your e-book, and sales increase, will place your book in print.  Don't worry, the e-book will be a huge market in the future, but it will not totally replace p-books.  One or the other will be the icing on the cake.  Regardless, a publisher will always have the advantage over the self-published author.  We do not insist that you publish your e-book with us.  We are not luring you, just explaining the business here.  You should query all the established agents and publishers, not just us.  

24. Isn't self-publishing an e-book better than ever being published at all?

  Yes.  But this is not the time to self-publish.  Why?  Because the markets are opening up wide with book publishers to many authors that otherwise would never be published.  This is the time to contact all the publishers with query letters.  Each year the opportunities will triple, or more!  When the day arrives when you read that e-book sales are approaching p-book sales, then you know the odds have closed to the point you may not be published with the works you have now.  At that point, you may as well self-publish, if that is your desire.  Now is not the time for those who want a publisher to publish their book.  

25. If a publisher accepts my e-nook how much money will I make?

  Nobody knows that answer.  The e-book may sell in the millions or may bomb.  Even p-books die on the vine due to a lack of market demand.  If you are going to self-publish, now is the time to do it before the influx of titles hit like a tidal wave.  Be aware the influx will come and knock your book aside in a major way.  Publishers don't care about market saturation.  They know how to handle it and they are skillful in penetrating markets.  Business as usual.  Realistically, expect sales to be low and grow as the years unfold and the market becomes ripe.  Not everyone is keyed on to the idea of e-books.  Just take a walk in Barnes & Noble and you'll see a lot of customer traffic with p-books in hand at the cash register.     

26. Are publishers fearful self-published e-nook authors will compete with them?

  No.  It is very easy for publishers to knock out all self-published author's books from any Website.  Imagine an e-publisher's Web site that rivals Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Borders.com.  Imagine your self-published book featured on the home page.  This new market may now be dominated by self-published authors that initially gained the advantage on the major publishers.  But what happened with Amazon.com when they first started out with self-published books?  All you see now are promotions of publisher's books on the home page.  Where are the self-published books?  Gone.  Hiding somewhere in the database of over 2-million titles!  P-book or e-book it does not matter, the self-published book will follow the same fate as described above.  The marketing clout of publishers is powerful, effective and relentless.  It is futile to believe an author can outsmart and beat publishers.  Many authors were wishing the e-book would liberate them from publishers, but this is foolish thinking.  Publishers are coming into the e-book market with a fury of new books, many by established authors.  Consumers will buy the books offered by publishers, not self-publishers.  You will look back and see that nothing has changed, nothing at all.  Publishers will dominate the e-book market just as they have done with the p-book market.  You'll see the New York Times Best-selling E-Book rankings splashed on every e-publisher and e-retailer home page.  Where will your book be?  It will be ranked below the major and independent publisher book listings.  Believe it, nothing with change.

27. How can I tell if a e-publisher from a traditional nook publisher?

  It is confusing to many writers.  The new e-publishers advertise in a big way they are book publishers, but of course they are, sort of.  The e-publisher promises to publish your e-book, but there is no distribution or advertising of your book, only on their Website, display device or some other limited market environment.  The p-publisher can also e-publish your book, but they will make the book available to many markets and potentially place your book in print for distribution worldwide in traditional book markets.   

28. Will e-books revolutionize books?

  Not the way you may believe it will.  Many people will purchase e-books in the future and eventually may even outsell p-books.  That is the extent of the revolution.  Other than that, nothing else will change.  The future will see more electronic libraries, e-bookstores and e-retail outlets.  The p-book will still exist in a big way.  There is something about buying, holding and reading on paper that a computer screen will never replace, so readers will still opt to buy p-books.   Bookstores will display e-book cover sheets on shelves, but there will be plenty of p-books on those shelves, if not more.  The world is bigger than the USA, so this means not everyone in the world will have access to e-books.  P-books will still be a major player on the world scene.  They said radio would destroy the book industry and TV would destroy the movie industry.  It didn't happen.  The e-book will not destroy p-books and it certainly will not retire publishers into the dark ages.  On the contrary, publishers will dominate the e-book market.  It's just common sense.   Authors will always need publishers to get their works sold.  If it were not true, you would see famous authors abandoning their publishers to self-publish their e-books.  That's not happening.  They understand it is the role of the author is to write and the publisher's role to sell their books.  Few can master both crafts.   Only a handful of famous authors have the media exposure and clout to go it alone without a publisher, but even then, they will still retain their traditional p-publisher.   The average writer has no media clout, so to self-publish is not a wise decision.    

29. I can sell my e-book to the new electronic libraries and bookstores?

  No.  Libraries and Bookstores generally do not make purchases from individuals.  Even publishers find it difficult to secure direct sales from libraries and bookstores.  Why?  These buyers consolidate book orders from distributors.   This way they can order hundreds of books on just one purchase order!  They save time and money doing this.  So, your e-book will still be locked out of the marketplace with these major buyers.  Remember, to obtain distributor representation you have to meet the distributor's qualifications.  A self-published author cannot meet the standard so they can't obtain a distributor.  So now you can't get libraries and bookstores to order you e-book!  You can see how the market is controlled by the middlemen.  The new e-publisher is a middleman that is worse than all, because they take 50% of the book's sales price up front and keep it all to themselves.  They do not discount off that 50%.  That leaves no profit margin for bookstores to markup the book for resale, so the e-publisher is worse than a vanity press... they prevent wide distribution!

30. Authors don't need a publisher to convert books to e-books, so we can sell them, too!

  True.  If you have the computer software you can convert to e-book formats.   You can post the e-book on e-publisher Websites.  If you get any sales, consider yourself lucky.  If you have a highly specialized how-to book and you advertise the book in the right mediums you can make sales.  Odds are, you won't make a profit.  It is hard to make a profit on having just a few book titles, unless you are really creative and secure co-marketing deals with major media magazines serving your market.  You can self-publish if you want to.  It may be good to give you a sense of accomplishment, but making money with the book will be unlikely for most all.   It's not the end of the world if you do fail.  You can always write another book and query publishers and agents to get it published.  One thing you should decide.  Do you want to be a writer or a publisher?  Pick one.  If you self-publish you will discover you will no longer have any time to write again promoting your book.  You may also find your bank account draining, fast.  It costs a lot of money to publish and promote a book, even if it is an e-book.  It is very expensive.  Year after year the costs keep rising to maintain a book in the marketplace.  Eventually sales slow to a dribble and that is why many authors discover their books backlisted and need to write another book to stay ahead.

31. Are there any books I can read about book marketing?

  Yes.  Go to our Books For Writers page to locate marketing books.  Before you decide to self-publish, read these books!  Once you finish reading them, you won't be so gun-ho to self-publish.  You'll see just how difficult it is for publishers to enter the markets and compete.  You'll also understand why royalties from publishers are low.  Publishers do not make all the money, there are many hands in the pie in the distribution and promotion of books.   Fact is, publishers earn about 10 to 15 percent profit when all is said and done, just as much as the author, and sometimes even less!

32. Shouldn't royalties should be much higher for e-books?

  Yes and no.  People do not want cheap books, they want quality books to read.  Quality is related to price.  E-books will not be sold dirt cheap.  Less than a p-book, but still not at $1 bargain basement prices.  The problem is that promotion costs for publishers to compete in the e-book market will be much higher than p-books.  Why?  Because there will be millions upon millions of new e-books published, so the publisher will have a constant fight to keep the book into the public's eyes to make sales.  There still will be distributors to deal with, the middlemen are not going away; in fact, there may even be more with e-books.  There will be hands in the pie.  A slight increase in royalties will be paid, five percent more, if that.  You are not going to see a reputable p-publisher offer you 50% royalties.  A vanity press operation will, but not a real publisher.  They can't due to the distribution chain and marketing expenses.  They can't if you want to earn royalties!  Competition will be hot between publisher's titles as it is now, only worse.  But don't worry, if your book is good and it sells, your publisher will earn you a lot of money while you are busy writing your next book. 

33. What royalty rate will your publishing firm pay authors?

  Same as our p-book rate, 10 to 15 percent.  The reason is, marketing the e-book will still be expensive, there will be more middlemen charging higher than normal deep-discount pricing (the e-publisher taking 50% up front, for example) and nobody yet knows what is the proper royalty in relation to the market.  It's a new market, so it has to shake up and settle down before royalties can be raised.  The publishing industry is hoping e-book sales can become cost effective so royalties can be raised.   If a publisher pays too high a royalty, they will end up like the vanity e-publisher, not delivering the sales and the book will be backlisted and go out of print.  The author and publisher lose. 

34. What is a subsidiary right?

  An extra right granted, under copyright law, from the author to the publisher.   The Author owns all rights to the work under the copyright.  The publisher requires, to sell the book, to obtain permission  be granted certain rights, so the selling of the book can be legally performed.  E-rights is a subsidiary right.   Publishing rights are also assigned rights.  Nobody can publish your work without your permission.  Motion picture rights permit the publisher to seek and obtain a movie sale.  There are more and the publisher must have these rights to sell the book.  Sub-rights are negotiable, to a degree.  If you don't meet the publisher's demands, they reject your book, so generally there is not much room for negotiation. 

35. Why are e-books so popular with writers?

  Authors are torn between e-and-p-publishers.  They are frustrated with p-publishers for two reasons; 1) Low royalties, 2) Constant rejection.  They are enthralled with the idea e-books now offer an alternative to traditional publishing, with great success in sight.  If you visit an e-publisher's Website, you will be highly tempted to self-publish.  All the promises sound too good to be true.  The high royalty rate is a powerful attraction, but as you read here, you now have a basic understanding to make an informed judgement as to which way you want to go with your book.  What will you do if your e-book gets into demand and traditional p-markets want to sell your book?  Can you handle all the printing, order processing, shipping, billing, returns, and dead accounts?  Other publishers won't touch the book, so that's out of the question (unless the book is extremely lucky, but is very rare this will occur).

"It's okay to self-publish a book if you don't want to sell it!"

36. Can a p-publisher guarantee success of my e-book?

  Of course not.  There are many factors that are totally out of the control of the publisher.  It is possible the book will not be accepted in the marketplace.   The book may receive condemning reviews by critics.  Readers may not like the book.  All sorts of things can go wrong.  Publishing is a gamble.  Of all the thousands of books published each year, how many ever see the New York Times bestseller list?  As you can see, no publisher can guarantee success.  All we can do is try.

37. Do you plan to deep-discount your e-books?

No.  Readers will pay top dollar for quality books.  We have no plans to compete in price war tactics with self-published authors.  We will retain a strong cover price to prevent profit liquidation and insure our author's royalties reflect the value of their work. 

38. E-books can only be purchased by readers with hand-held devices and computers?

  No.  The market for e-books is much greater than simply serving these isolated markets.  Major bookstores and distributors are already using the Print on Demand system.  They load the e-book file from the publisher, print the book and deliver the book to the customer.  Instead of the p-book being shipped, an electronic file is sent from the publisher.  Nothing much has changed.  The distributors and the distribution system remains the same.  The market for the e-book is larger for the publisher than the self-published author due to the distribution arrangements publishers have; including book marketing expertise.

39. When should I decide to allow a publisher to publish my book electronically?

  When you can't obtain a traditional book publishing deal.  If you can get your book into print with a publisher, by all means do so.  The e-book will be an added frill to the marketing of the book.  The problem is, publishers are tough on accepting p-books for publishing.  The standards are high.  They may consider e-book publishing as an introduction to see how the book holds up in the market.   Rejections can continue for a decade or longer.  If rejections continue, try marketing your book to publishers as an e-edition. 

40. When did you begin e-book publishing?

  We officially published our first e-books on May 4, 2000.  Our first p-book was published in 1981.  We started by self-publishing a book, then created more books.  After years of hard work, we finally obtained the qualifications to be accepted by the major book distributors and bookstores.  At that point, we became a recognized book publisher by the industry.  Launching the e-books was easy, as we already had the distribution lined up.  Anyone can self-publish a book, but getting the recognition as being a publisher and obtaining the distributor's acceptance is very hard to do.  We are very fortunate our prayers were answered!  Our distributors are geared up for e-book distribution, so we decided to join in with them in this new market.  All of our books are now e-books loaded on our distributor's Print on Demand Systems.

41. Will I see my e-book in the major bookstore chain?

  The major chains are installing the computers to order e-books from distributors and publishers.  They may print your e-book and place it on the shelves, if they decide to do so.  The avenue exists.  If many customers request your book, you can be sure it will be printed on the POD system and displayed on the store shelves.   Be aware, they are ordering from distributors and publishers, not self-published authors.  You will need a publisher to insert your e-books into the distribution system.  That is where the money is earned - in the distribution network.   

42. How large of a market will e-books be?

  The e-market will grow fast.  Publishing industry predicts 50% of all books sold will be e-books in ten years (or less).  You can bet most of those books will be sold by the major publishers by the existing pool of famous authors.  Publishers will dominate the electronic book market.

43. Bookstores are accepting self-published books now?

  Yes, but through the e-publisher's scheme on the local store's computerized ordering system.  Yes, your self-published book will be "listed" on the database along with millions of other books.  Again, you are lost in the maze.   Those in-store ordering systems just sit there and you have to hope some person dabbles with it and finds your book to order it?  The p-publisher performs intelligent marketing to drive customers into the store for the express purpose of finding and buying your book!  The e-publisher is not going to do any marketing for your, period! 

44. What do Print on Demand books look like?

  As good as any traditional print book or better.  Many of our POD books are printed on acid free paper and full color covers.  What we do is submit our e-books electronically to the POD system.    We use commercial POD systems for larger print runs and the traditional lithographic press.  The POD is simply an electronic printing press to make traditional paperback books in low quantities. 

45. If you publish my e-book will it be available in paperback?

  Yes.  We start production with the e-book then progress to the Print on Demand system.  This POD system is not limited in printing paperback books.  We begin printing small press runs and as the market for your book expands we increase press volume to meet the demand.  Only full-service publishers offer this service and have the distribution to facilitate sales in all markets throughout the world.

46. What is the difference between Print on Demand   and traditional printing?

  Electronic files (your e-book) is downloaded to the POD press and will print just one paperback book... it prints whatever quantity is demanded by the publisher.   Traditional press runs require a minimum of 1,000 to 5,000 books to become economical.  This requires warehouse space and costs.  The POD system allows publishers to accept author's books they otherwise would not publish since no warehousing is required.  The POD system has one drawback, each book printed costs about twice as much as the printing press.  When book sales increase the publisher generally will drop the POD and go to print with the traditional printing press.  

47. An e-book publisher wants to own my e-book electronic files.  Is this normal?

  No.  A publisher is granted rights, not 100% ownership.  You are dealing with another e-book vanity press marketer.  Publishers do not charge you money to publish a book.  Some e-book marketers will own (another word for confiscate) your e-book, so you can only market your book with that e-book marketer.   Plus, they usually charge you hundreds of dollars to publish your e-book for the privilege of taking your e-book.  These are the hidden dangers for self-published authors.  Your book gets published by one e-marketer's Web site and maybe one bookstore.  Desperate authors will self-publish and this perpetuates the vanity press market.  If you sign on with them, good luck!   

48. An e-book publisher offers a marketing plan for a fee.  Is this standard to the industry?

  Not in the traditional publishing industry.  Publishers do not charge the author fees to market and sell their books.  Be wary of any publisher that charges you fees to increase the sales of your book.  This is a vanity press operation no matter how respectable the publisher may seem to be.  They are more interested in making money on authors sending them checks instead of book buyers buying your books and the publisher sending you royalty checks!  A lot of authors fall victim to the vanity press scheme.  They put out money and never see the book sell.  The marketing plan you are being offered is likely lame with no distribution agreements with major distributors, etc.  You will get a few brochures, business cards and maybe some "temporary" exposure on a Web site or two.  Get yourself a real publisher.   It may be hard, but it's the best route to go.  

49. It is shameful for book publishers to only give 10% royalties on e-books.

  It looks bad due to the vanity press e-book distributors offering 50 to 60 percent royalties, but they are not going to give you hardly any royalty checks so it's not a good deal after all.  Book publishers publish the e-book and the paperback print version.  The costs have actually risen, not fallen.  It cost more now advertise and market the book in two formats.  Sure, e-book sales have a higher profit per sale due to no paper printing costs, but there are other costs the publisher must bear.  You can't compare a vanity press operation with a traditional book publisher.  E-book royalties will rise once the market matures.  At this point in time nobody knows what the proper royalty rate should be due the unknown marketing and distribution costs.  Publishers will simply stay with the status quo until the markets shake loose.  Vanity presses always offer the author more.  That's how they thrive, but they do not deliver like a traditional publisher can.

50. I am tempted to sign on with an e-book publisher as they have major bookstores signed on to carry their books.  What are the drawbacks?

  A limited market is the drawback and that means your book will be published, posted on a few Websites and made available on a few bookstore databases and you'll be lucky if you sell a book.  This is not distribution.  It is not marketing.   It is not advertising and publicity.  What it is?  A bad deal for the author.  You will lose your opportunity of having a traditional publisher publish your book worldwide in all the markets and in all the critical distributor databases.   Bookstores do not buy from other bookstores and they certainly will not buy from vanity press Websites, no matter how prestigious they appear to be.  The vanity press is exploding with the e-book market and it will be the ruin of many self-published authors.  Only the superstar authors will benefit from e-book sales, but they will still keep their traditional print publishers.  Paperback books will still sell in the millions and be in demand forever in the future.  Paper is not going away.

51. Much of this is confusing to me.  How can I learn more about the benefits of using a book publisher?

  Go to a bookstore and buy Publisher Weekly Magazine.  There is no other magazine that deals with the truth of publishing.  All of what you will read in newspapers, Web sites and Internet newsletters will throw you into left field.  The actual news reporting in these mediums are not complete or accurate and often designed to mislead the reader to a point of view that supports vanity press operations.  They deliver "good news" but only what is good for themselves or transmitting half-truth based on ignorance.  News reporters are not publishing specialists or publishers.  They went to college to learn how to report (and distort) news.  Publisher Weekly Magazine tells it the way it is.  Publishers, buyers, agents, bookstores, librarians, etc., all rely on PW Magazine.  The e-book issues on the Internet promise wild success for the author.  Dump the traditional book publisher and self-publishing will guarantee success.  It's vanity in all sense of the word.

52. What is the best software to produce an e-book?

  The best software at this point is Adobe Acrobat, but things are changing and evolving so fast at this point as Microsoft Reader was just launched yesterday.  The Reader is good for novels, but not for any books with photos, illustrations, art, etc.  At least not yet.  Acrobat will always be the king for publishers as the program communicates directly to the printing press retaining all fonts, locations, photos, etc in print-ready condition.  Right now, until the Open Book Standard is completed and ready in full production the e-book industry is in severe flux and there is no one perfect one-for-all program available at this time.  The OBS will consolidate all formats.  When it comes and we hope it is soon.  The one perfect format will be able to contain full-color graphics and illustrations with compatibility with all reading and printing devices.

53. How do I copyright an e-book?

  First, you need to realize that on-line publishing is not publishing at all.  And this fact is verified according to the Copyright Office and the Patent and Trademark Office.  Another reason to be careful of e-book marketing firms servicing self-publishers.  Publication, legally speaking, involves making a copy of the work (Copyright Office copyrights copies, hence the name). If a work (book) is only made available on the Internet for display on a computer or hand-held device monitor, then no copy has been made and distributed.  So, the Copyright Office deems a work that is made only available online and not in any other (printed) media as unpublished!   So, it must be registered as an unpublished work.  Patent and Trademark Office deems  the work as a service, not a product, so you must register as a service mark, not a trademark.  You won't have the protection that a traditional book publisher can offer you.  They will follow all the proper publishing procedures.  E-book publishing should be performed by a traditional book publisher.  

54. What is the best size manuscript for an e-book?

  The hand-held reading devices only support 8x11 inch page dimensions, so the manuscript (even novels) must be formatted to this page size.  The ideal page count is 118 pages for both e-books and Print on Demand systems (POD costs more to produce a book than traditional print runs).  As technology increases, reading devices will be better able to handle the traditional paperback book size of 5x8 inches.   Graphics is another problem.  Today's readers support few photos, illustrations or line art due to low memory and proprietary issues.  Digital Goods is good and the e-book distributor we use.  They support the intensive graphics in our books.

55. Where can I find a simple guide to assist me in my manuscript submissions?

  Read 20 Submission Tips for Authors.  You may print the page.  To maintain manuscript submissions and Web site contacts you may can purchase our Internet Address Book

56. Why are e-book sales slow?

  The public is not ready to abandon holding a paper book in their hand.  There is nothing like holding a hard copy of a book, flipping pages, taking it where you want to go with ease, etc.  Another reason is three major e-book distribution companies have failed and gone out of business.  E-books are selling, but just not as many millions than paperback books.  E-books have advantages since they require no shelf space to store them.  The market for e-books are still young and may always be so.   

bulletHave a question on e-publishing?  E-mail us.
bulletUse the Internet Address Book to help you manage manuscript and script submissions.

We Are Open To Book Queries

Our mailing address is on our Home Page. You may e-mail your query.  See our Manuscripts Wanted Submission Guidelines page for books we are looking for.    

  Legal Notice: The answers to questions are not legal advice, so consult with an attorney to guide you in legal matters.  The advice is free and is given for information purposes only.  We are not responsible for any damages if you use, misuse or misinterpret this information.  Do not construe the information herein is an inducement for you to have your book published by James Russell.  It is not the publisher's intent to convince you to publish your book with this firm, so you should also query other publishers to obtain the best publishing arrangement for your needs.

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