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Thread: Macmillan Forms Partnership with Entangled

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    Have Harp Will Travel JSSchley's Avatar
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    Macmillan Forms Partnership with Entangled

    So this is fascinating.

    http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013...ed-publishing/

    and I'm posting it here as well as in BR&BC because I think there's a second conversation to be had about e-publishing more generally, and not just this particular press. I keep hearing over and over and over that publishing is in upheaval, that everyone has to do whatever they can to get ahead, etc. etc.

    Yet, I'm one of those stodgy people who thinks we might see a slight shift in paradigm, but with the same result--that the Big 5/6 get bigger, and just have more (and now, proven) options to choose from.

    Distribution always wins the game.

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    It was bound to happen, what with the popularity of E-books. Something like 2.5 million (could be wrong on that figure) digital readers were sold over the Christmas period in 2011 alone, so the big boys in publishing are probably jumping onto the new bandwagon now before their own sinks (excuse all the twisted metaphors there).
    All to the good though, as it opens up yet more avenues for writers without having to go the self-pub route.

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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    This is not the usual type of deal where a stodgy old press acquired in epublishing imprint. In this deal Entangled is providing the content and Macmillan is providing the distribution. So the superior ability to distribute ebooks is what MacMillan is bringing to the table.
    Last edited by veinglory; 01-09-2013 at 12:02 AM.

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    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Big publishers often provide smaller publishers with sales, distribution and marketing support, in exchange for a share of the profit. This is not a new thing. What's interesting is that this is being done for e-books rather than print books, which would be more common; but it doesn't represent huge strides into a new territory. It's more of a step in a slightly new direction which runs parallel to a tried and tested route.

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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    It will probably have implications for the current $3 cover/40% royalty strategy. I doubt that will still be possible.

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    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    It will probably have implications for the current $3 cover/40% royalty strategy. I doubt that will still be possible.
    If they pay 40% on net then they might just squeeze through, but I doubt it. If it's paid on cover price then I don't see how that can continue. Print royalties shouldn't be affected unless they're way over the industry standard--but existing contracts should be secure in any case, as it's not lawful to alter their terms after the contracts have been agreed and signed up to.

    Quote Originally Posted by JSSchley View Post
    So this is fascinating.

    http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013...ed-publishing/

    and I'm posting it here as well as in BR&BC because I think there's a second conversation to be had about e-publishing more generally, and not just this particular press. I keep hearing over and over and over that publishing is in upheaval, that everyone has to do whatever they can to get ahead, etc. etc.

    Yet, I'm one of those stodgy people who thinks we might see a slight shift in paradigm, but with the same result--that the Big 5/6 get bigger, and just have more (and now, proven) options to choose from.

    Distribution always wins the game.
    Damn. I should have read this more closely when I first saw the thread. JSS, please don't make multiple posts about the same subject: one is enough.

    I should merge this thread with the Entangled thread in BR&BC but I'll give you a bit of headroom. If this thread develops as a discussion about Entangled and Macmillan specifically, I'll merge it with the one in BR&BC. If it develops into a separate discussion about publishing in general it'll stay here, as a separate thread.

    My view is that publishing has always been in upheaval. Businesses always develop and change over time. This is nothing new. I don't see how this particular news changes anything too significant, or how it heralds in a new paradigm or anything like that, but I'll let you run with it for now.

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    Have Harp Will Travel JSSchley's Avatar
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    Sorry, I guess I should've been more specific, because I didn't intend this to be only about this specific publisher, which is why I didn't post this question in BR&BC. It was only belatedly that I realized that such news might be of interest to people who wish to publish with Entangled and posted the link to the article there. As someone who isn't a romance writer and thus has no manuscripts appropriate to pitch to them, I'm interested in how this deal reflects trends or lack thereof in e-publishing more generally (and trade e-only-publishing, as opposed to self e-publishing).

    The discussion I'd really like to come out of this thread is exactly this question and its answer:

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack
    My view is that publishing has always been in upheaval. Businesses always develop and change over time. This is nothing new. I don't see how this particular news changes anything too significant, or how it heralds in a new paradigm or anything like that, but I'll let you run with it for now.
    My thoughts exactly. I think this is evidence that trade publishing is not scrambling. As you say, it's always simultaneously in upheaval and yet also changing strategically. I think we will see, just as we've seen with successful self-pubs and successful single titles coming out of micro-e-presses, trade publishers starting to take on an entire successful e-publisher as an imprint.

    I suspect this will get lifted up as a "big publishing has to bow down to e-publishing" kind of event, and while I think it could be spun that way, I think it's more interesting that this is the Big 6 adapting to a changing paradigm by making it work in their favor. And benefiting the smaller house simultaneously.

    I'm curious what other people think.

    Also, like veinglory, I think this does raise questions about prices and royalties. For instance, Entangled has had bestsellers, but many of them have been $2.99. Will they still hit USA Today, if, for instance, this deal means they're $5.99 or higher, like many Big 5/6 e-book new releases? Bargain-basement pricing and big royalty rates have been part of what has made trade e-publishing so nimble compared to the Big 6 and the larger indie houses. Will that start to get lost?
    Last edited by JSSchley; 01-09-2013 at 12:48 AM.

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    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    This is going to get spun in every direction by all sorts of people. Their conclusions will support their various agendas, as usual.

    My view is that this will probably increase Entangled's sales, as their books will become more widely available.

    How they'll handle royalties on books already under contract will be interesting as they can't force a change onto the authors concerned. But without a change to royalties, they might not be able to sell their books under this new plan. It will be interesting to see how this side of the deal is handled.

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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    It makes me think this deal will only affect a small subgroup of authors whose books are put in a Macmillan stream. The rest will probably stay under the current deal.

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    Sargent has become increasingly interested in and receptive to ebooks in the last three years.

    It's been an interesting evolution. Keep in mind that Macmillan is one of the publishers sued by the DOJ, that Amazon has specifically targeted Macmillan with a variety of abusive tactics, and that Sargent is one of the principle architects of the "agency model."

    I note that Macmillan has begun marketing its own ebooks via Twitter etc. just recently, and that one of the Macmillan subsidiaries, Tor has already announced its own ebook store (now late; it was supposed to happen by now).

    This story and the various spins all bear close attention.

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    A few agents have got a sideline in ebooks too. It's no real surprise that it's filtering through to the big 6. Long term it's better to jump in now rather than later and have a decent framework in place when ebooks kick off even more in the years to come.

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    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    To clarify, Macmillan isn't "jumping in" to e-books here: it's been publishing books in this format for years. All that's happened here is it's signed a deal to take care of Entangled's distribution, as far as I can tell, which big publishers often do for smaller ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    It makes me think this deal will only affect a small subgroup of authors whose books are put in a Macmillan stream. The rest will probably stay under the current deal.
    That's what I read elsewhere. Under a
    separate agreement, St. Martin's will co-publish select Entangled titles in print editions under the joint-venture imprint St.Martin's/Entangled.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guinea View Post
    It was bound to happen, what with the popularity of E-books. Something like 2.5 million (could be wrong on that figure) digital readers were sold over the Christmas period in 2011 alone, so the big boys in publishing are probably jumping onto the new bandwagon now before their own sinks (excuse all the twisted metaphors there).
    All to the good though, as it opens up yet more avenues for writers without having to go the self-pub route.
    Quote Originally Posted by Guinea View Post
    A few agents have got a sideline in ebooks too. It's no real surprise that it's filtering through to the big 6. Long term it's better to jump in now rather than later and have a decent framework in place when ebooks kick off even more in the years to come.
    You don't seem to be aware that the Big5/6 have been publishing e-books for years now. Go look at the top Kindle 100, for example, and the vast majority of e-books there will have been published by Big 5/6 publishers. It's not new territory for agents, either.
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    Have Harp Will Travel JSSchley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    You don't seem to be aware that the Big5/6 have been publishing e-books for years now. Go look at the top Kindle 100, for example, and the vast majority of e-books there will have been published by Big 5/6 publishers. It's not new territory for agents, either.
    That's what I think is interesting about this, if it makes sense for something to be interesting precisely because it's not. It is un-new, in a great many ways. Though I do think it's interesting that first successful e-books and primarily e-only authors were being snapped up by the Big 5/6 and now it's entire successful imprints being picked up. That's a progression that makes perfect sense, and yet makes me curious about the fates of e-only trade houses.

    The one thing that I do wonder, and this is just me genuinely being dumb--what exactly is e-book distribution? Admittedly, ebooks weren't nearly as popular before I left publishing for grad school, but at that time, the distributors for our house (Consortium and then PGW) were the ones who did the selling in to various sales outlets. But those were physical books that required convincing someone to give your titles some of their precious shelf space.

    Perhaps someone can enlighten me what distribution looks like for e-books? I'm thinking back to those sales meetings and trying to imagine if our wares had been digital copies instead...

    Quote Originally Posted by Medi
    It's been an interesting evolution. Keep in mind that Macmillan is one of the publishers sued by the DOJ, that Amazon has specifically targeted Macmillan with a variety of abusive tactics, and that Sargent is one of the principle architects of the "agency model."

    I note that Macmillan has begun marketing its own ebooks via Twitter etc. just recently, and that one of the Macmillan subsidiaries, Tor has already announced its own ebook store (now late; it was supposed to happen by now).
    I had forgotten all about the Macmillan/Amazon brouhaha. That is a interesting element I need to mull over. And I'm really sad about the Tor store having not opened yet. I really, really want to see DRM-free books floating around from the bigger houses, and I was thrilled by that aspect of their bookstore.

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    Five years ago when writers were proclaiming the death of the big six and the rise of small independents and self publishing as the way to go, I laughed.

    When they asked why I laughed I told them, do you think the big six, with the big deep pockets and business savvy are going to just sit back and quietly watch their business slide into the sunset.

    In the last couple of years, with all the buyouts and mergers from the big 6, I was not far off...
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    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSSchley View Post
    That's what I think is interesting about this, if it makes sense for something to be interesting precisely because it's not. It is un-new, in a great many ways. Though I do think it's interesting that first successful e-books and primarily e-only authors were being snapped up by the Big 5/6 and now it's entire successful imprints being picked up. That's a progression that makes perfect sense, and yet makes me curious about the fates of e-only trade houses.
    Publishers have always acquired other publishers: the only thing new about this discussion is that it centres on a relatively new format. But then when hardback publishers acquired paperback publishers, that was also true.

    Also, note that in the specific case of Macmillan and Entangled, Macmillan has not acquired Entangled, it's just going to provide distribution services for Entangled, which is a different thing entirely: and Entangled isn't an imprint, it's an independent press.

    The one thing that I do wonder, and this is just me genuinely being dumb--what exactly is e-book distribution?

    <snipped>

    Perhaps someone can enlighten me what distribution looks like for e-books? I'm thinking back to those sales meetings and trying to imagine if our wares had been digital copies instead...
    Very roughly, it's the process of getting the books in front of their readership, so that they can buy them.

    So, it's ensuring that the books are listed in all the best and most lucrative retail outlets, online and off; and doing all you can to ensure that those retailers are keener to sell your books than anyone else's.

    Distributors also take care of invoicing and returns, collecting money from the purchasers, and ensuring various contracts (such as some sales and promotional events, minimum numbers of sales, etc) are adhered to. So in the Macmillan-Entangled case, Entangled won't have to spend resources ensuring that they're paid on time: instead they'll receive regular statements and payments from Macmillan for the books that have sold.

    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    Five years ago when writers were proclaiming the death of the big six and the rise of small independents and self publishing as the way to go, I laughed.
    Me too. I've been hearing variations on that theme ever since I first started working in publishing, around thirty years ago.

    So long as people want to read books and people want to write them, there will be publishers. The publishers which produce the best books, and sell them in the greatest number, are going to be the biggest, and are going to have the capital to buy up other publishers which underperform, but which have good reputations or strong backlists.

    They'll also have the market reach and expertise to provide publishing-related services to other, smaller publishers without buying them up, as is the case with Macmillan and Entangled.

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    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    It will probably have implications for the current $3 cover/40% royalty strategy. I doubt that will still be possible.
    I read on another board that the owner has said the royalty rates won't change.
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    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Royalties on existing contracts would be very difficult to change.

    New contracts, however, are a different thing.

    Did that undertaking not to alter royalties extend to new contracts, or was it just referring to existing ones?

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