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View Full Version : What's the story with this new crop of e-publishers?



iwannabepublished
08-13-2011, 02:44 AM
While I continue to query (unsuccessfully) literary agents, I have begun thinking about other options. I've rejected the idea of self-publishing since I have no promotional skills. I have noticed more and more 'e-publishers' popping up. Many have nice websites and promise reasonable commissions. Here are my questions -

1. How do you know if these e-publishers are legitimate? Some are so new they haven't gotten into Preditors & Editors yet. If they have, there's very little on them.

For any agents that might like to respond -

2. If I go this root do I destroy the possibility of ever getting a legitimate agent and a 'real' book deal?

juniper
08-13-2011, 05:30 AM
"I've rejected the idea of self-publishing since I have no promotional skills."

I have some writer friends who've gone the ePub/POD route with a new publisher and they're still responsible for almost all of the marketing, it seems. The pub sends out FB announcements occasionally but doesn't seem to do much beyond that.

What the writers got from the pub was free cover art, free formatting for both e- and POD, free editing. Whether it was all done well or not is a matter of taste, I suppose.

I have another writer friend who almost went with them but then decided to self-publish instead, thinking she'd prefer to have more control over those elements, even though she had to pay for them.

They all seem to be doing the marketing themselves. Unless you sign with an established ePub like Samhain, Carina, etc, which has a built-in readership with people going to those websites looking for books, I think most new ePubs won't offer much in terms of promotion.

I've been thinking about this route too, and I think a prime concern would be whether the ePub goes out of business after a year or two (so many small businesses fail) and you have to go to the trouble of having your rights reverted to you.

Here's a thread discussing that.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=221689

KathleenD
08-13-2011, 06:47 AM
When I first submitted to Carina, there were many authors here that said "wait a year and see if they're still in business." I went ahead and subbed because I figured Harlequin would still be in business even if the Carina imprint folded.

And that's really the point I wanted to make. 99% of the time, "wait a year and see if they're still in business" is very good advice. In that time, a publisher will certainly make it into P&E, acquire a thread on this board, even show up on Piers Anthony's list. If you decide to ignore that advice for reasons of your own, as I did, make sure the contract clearly states that the rights automatically revert to you in case the publisher folds.

IceCreamEmpress
08-13-2011, 06:53 AM
2. If I go this root do I destroy the possibility of ever getting a legitimate agent and a 'real' book deal?

No, of course not. However, once you've epublished this particular book, you'll have to sell thousands of copies (about the same as the Big Six's minimum print run in your genre/subgenre) for it to count as a meaningful publishing credit.

Agents aren't going to Google you and see that you've epublished and assume you're strictly from Amateur Hour. However, they also aren't going to take your epublishing success into account in evaluating you unless you do meet Big Print's sales thresholds.

So having epublished any previous titles isn't going to hurt you with querying any given new work, but it doesn't help you unless you have hefty sales. (Those seem to be translating for
US agents to about 2,500 for niche non-fiction and literary fiction, 5,000 for topic-based non-fiction, and 10,000 for mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mainstream fiction, self-help, and memoir.)

thothguard51
08-13-2011, 07:29 AM
How do you know if these e-publishers are legitimate? Some are so new they haven't gotten into Preditors & Editors yet. If they have, there's very little on them.

As with anything...research.

Do a google search on them.

Visit their website. Is it geared to writers or readers?

Search for their books/authors at e-sites like Amazon, Apple, Smashwords or other venues.

Read samples of their work to know what to expect and what they represent.

Look at what they promise and don't promise.

Do they specialize in one or two genre's or do they take anything? I would rather go with a publisher that specializes in a few as it seems they pay more attention to the detail.

Do they limit the number of new books a year they produce or are they nothing more than an author mill?

Lastly, if you go this route, ask yourself what are your expectations and goals?

juniper
08-13-2011, 08:25 AM
So having epublished any previous titles isn't going to hurt you with querying any given new work, but it doesn't help you unless you have hefty sales. (Those seem to be translating for US agents to about 2,500 for niche non-fiction and literary fiction, 5,000 for topic-based non-fiction, and 10,000 for mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mainstream fiction, self-help, and memoir.)

Oh, thanks for these numbers, I was wondering what "good sales numbers" really meant. Boy, they seem rather huge to me, though. Especially for my poor little cozy mystery. Really, 10k copies is the threshold? Wow. :e2cry:

KathleenD
08-13-2011, 04:32 PM
Wait. A pub credit doesn't depend on sales, actually.

There are a number of threads here on this board where writers spoke to agents and editors at conferences and whatnot, and those agents and editors say it depends on the epublisher.

Samhain, Carina, Ellora's Cave, LooseId - those all count as pub credits. No one is going to ask for a receipt and see how many you sold from one of those.

Those numbers sound like what I've heard for SELF publishing, which is not at all the same as e-publishing.

VoireyLinger
08-13-2011, 05:29 PM
No, of course not. However, once you've epublished this particular book, you'll have to sell thousands of copies (about the same as the Big Six's minimum print run in your genre/subgenre) for it to count as a meaningful publishing credit.

Agents aren't going to Google you and see that you've epublished and assume you're strictly from Amateur Hour. However, they also aren't going to take your epublishing success into account in evaluating you unless you do meet Big Print's sales thresholds.

So having epublished any previous titles isn't going to hurt you with querying any given new work, but it doesn't help you unless you have hefty sales. (Those seem to be translating for
US agents to about 2,500 for niche non-fiction and literary fiction, 5,000 for topic-based non-fiction, and 10,000 for mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mainstream fiction, self-help, and memoir.)

I'm not sure where you got this information, but it's not accurate. If you sell to a publisher, it's a "meaningful" publication credit. Period. it doesn't matter if it's a epub or a print house.

Agents aren't looking at numbers, they are looking for professional experience. Selling a previous books shows you've worked with an editor and gone through the process before.

And someone mentioned promotion... Even traditional print authors have to deal with the lion's share of their own promo. I am a product; I market me. I'll continue to market me when I get a contract with a print house.

And the advice I got was give a pub three years to prove itself. I'll sell small stories, shorts to a new pub but I'm saving my full-length things for a more established business. Carina would be one exception for me, because the parent company is sound with a very long reputation in the business. I have faith that if it folds, rights will be properly reverted, royalties paid and all the problem areas handled by the parent company. They know what they are doing which puts them on a different playing field than a startup by someone who doesn't have the backing or business experience.

IceCreamEmpress
08-14-2011, 03:57 AM
Wait. A pub credit doesn't depend on sales, actually.

There are a number of threads here on this board where writers spoke to agents and editors at conferences and whatnot, and those agents and editors say it depends on the epublisher.

Samhain, Carina, Ellora's Cave, LooseId - those all count as pub credits. No one is going to ask for a receipt and see how many you sold from one of those.

The impact of a publishing credit absolutely depends on sales volumes. With the publishers you mention, nobody asks for individual sales numbers, because those publishers already have an established reputation for selling through in comparable numbers to print category romances. If Samhain accepts your book, they've given you their imprimatur as someone who can potentially sell a few thousand copies. (To be honest, you're better off than someone who published a print romance, because that person is going to stand or fall by their BookScan numbers.)

The OP here is talking about working with a brand-new epublisher, though, and agents are going to look at sales numbers to assess how much credibility to assign to that acceptance.



Agents aren't looking at numbers

This is so wrong it could be no wronger. Agents really care about numbers. Agents are dropping clients with low-end sales from Big Six publishing houses--I can think of a few friends who have had this happen. Agents are asking award-winning authors to adopt pseudonyms, because their sales record is discouraging publishers from picking up their new titles.

Now, it is absolutely true publishing with a well-thought-of epublishing house or a well-thought-of small press is an impressive credit regardless of what your individual title's actual sales numbers are. The reason for this is that those publishers have been accepted by agents as gatekeepers, and one of the reasons for that is that they can produce roughly comparable numbers to the large publishers' (or, in the case of a university press or prestige literary press with small print runs, roughly comparable buzz and credibility).

When you're talking about a brand-new, untested epublisher, as the original poster is in this thread, the heft of that publishing credit is going to be measured by sales. Agents have no other way of measuring whether a title published with BrandNewEPress, Inc. has commercial potential, because the folks at BrandNewEPress don't have a track record of picking winners.

Sorry that I was unclear about the distinction between established epublishers and the brand-new publishers iwannabepublished was talking about in their original post. I can see that that may have been confusing.

James D. Macdonald
08-15-2011, 06:29 PM
Here is a list of ratings of e-publishers: http://www.epublishabook.com/2011/07/12/epublishing-houses-ratings-list/

Maryn
08-15-2011, 07:57 PM
Am I blind, unable to find the "Next" link, or does the site Jim links include only epubs A - D?

FWIW, the data on two of them is identical, so we should be verifying independently.

Maryn, whose hearing is as selective as her vision

areteus
08-15-2011, 09:08 PM
I thought it was a short list too... are there more on other pages or is that it?

CaoPaux
08-15-2011, 09:52 PM
Looks like she's adding to the post every week, alphabetically.

veinglory
08-15-2011, 09:56 PM
A new epublisher starts almost every month. Of the ones I have tracked about half close within a few years. Of the reminder most never break into sales of 1000+ per unit.

Based on that, I would suggest that if you want to submit to an epublisher, start with the ones that are already successful. Because the odds are, the new ones never will be (the odds would have to be 10:1 against, or more).

veinglory
08-15-2011, 09:57 PM
Here is a list of ratings of e-publishers: http://www.epublishabook.com/2011/07/12/epublishing-houses-ratings-list/

The rating system is distinctly lacking the factor of sales/earnings or reputation/stability/timely payment. Based on the presses on that list that I know something about, I would not agree with the ratings being awarded. e.g. Cobblestone (way behind on their payments, recent staff walk out) is "very good" while Amber Quill is merely "Good" and shares that status with minnows like Club Lighthouse.

melodyclark
08-20-2011, 12:34 PM
No, of course not. However, once you've epublished this particular book, you'll have to sell thousands of copies (about the same as the Big Six's minimum print run in your genre/subgenre) for it to count as a meaningful publishing credit.

I stopped submitting to the NY publishers because I have clinical depression. I'd go through two or three rejections and give up ... such is the nature of my illness. That's why I love epublishers. It has enabled me to publish in a genre I like to write while permitting me to go on writing and submitting. I never would have without epublishing. EVERY publication I have is meaningful to me. Whether it's meaningful to the great primates at the top of the publishing pack, I don't care. lol

I wish people who insist upon disparaging epublishers would realize that some of us are good writers. I've been writing for standard submission for thirty years and have been print published. I just refuse to be dragged down emotionally by the endless rejection mill that gets harder and harder every year. It was epubs or quitting entirely. I wouldn't have gone on submitting without them. I know myself well enough to know that.

People buy epublished books. The profit margin is greater.I think what some people term "author mills" is really a model of publishing that helps the business make more money, allowing them to publish more titles. If people bought print books like this, you can bet the presses would be flying.

I don't mean this as a flame, I genuinely wonder why people who don't consider epublishing a legitimate professional credit, or "as good as" NY publish, even frequent this category?

James D. Macdonald
08-21-2011, 03:48 AM
I don't mean this as a flame, I genuinely wonder why people who don't consider epublishing a legitimate professional credit, or "as good as" NY publish, even frequent this category?

There are good epublishers and bad epublishers.

The good epublishers count as professional credits. The bad ones ... don't.

The good ones have good reputations and good sales. The bad ones ... don't.

The good ones pay well. The bad ones ... don't.

The good ones are honest. The bad ones ... aren't.

melodyclark
08-21-2011, 06:23 AM
There are good epublishers and bad epublishers.

The good epublishers count as professional credits. The bad ones ... don't.

The good ones have good reputations and good sales. The bad ones ... don't.

The good ones pay well. The bad ones ... don't.

The good ones are honest. The bad ones ... aren't.


Absolutely, I can't disagree with that at all. My only disagreement is with the knee-jerk and arbitrary conclusion that all epublishing is automatically substandard when compared to print publishing.

Anyone who doesn't thoroughly investigate ANY publisher, both by reading threads here and elsewhere, AND by asking for the direct experiences of friends (a lot of them), is in for a world of hurt, no matter the medium.

I worry about sales and readers more than I do professional "credits" -- I suspect a lot of old war horses like me feel the same.

FrederickCross
08-21-2011, 09:25 AM
Being a publisher is something I've really wanted to be for years. I learned about internet marketing, the web in general, social media, etc... and now I'm learning about writing. I personally feel that it's the best way to proceed but I'm sure many will disagree.

Don't get me wrong, I love writing and telling stories but I'm not sure that where my actual strength lies. And so I will start my "company" by self publishing stuff and, eventually, open up to a couple writers. We'll see where it goes.

One thing's for sure, I'll learn many things about what makes a good publisher from this place. I already know a few things about what makes a bad one and I don't intend to be like that ;)

Old Hack
08-21-2011, 12:03 PM
So having epublished any previous titles isn't going to hurt you with querying any given new work, but it doesn't help you unless you have hefty sales. (Those seem to be translating for US agents to about 2,500 for niche non-fiction and literary fiction, 5,000 for topic-based non-fiction, and 10,000 for mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mainstream fiction, self-help, and memoir.)

Those are the numbers I've seen discussed too.


Those numbers sound like what I've heard for SELF publishing, which is not at all the same as e-publishing.

I agree: but as there are so many new and/or dodgy e-publishers out there, some trade publishers which specialise in print publication are cautious, and do look for good sales numbers in e-published books no matter whether they're self-published or not. This is becoming less common now, especially when some of the better names in e-publishing are concerned: but it's still happening, I'm afraid.


I'm not sure where you got this information, but it's not accurate. If you sell to a publisher, it's a "meaningful" publication credit. Period. it doesn't matter if it's a epub or a print house.

That's not the case. There are plenty of clueless, exploitative and bizarre publishers out there which won't count as a credit.


Agents aren't looking at numbers, they are looking for professional experience.

Not true. Agents DO look at numbers, but mostly they look for excellent writing which they think they can sell.


And someone mentioned promotion... Even traditional print authors have to deal with the lion's share of their own promo.

Again, this isn't true. It's a claim that is mostly made by people who favour self-publishing. I don't know why they say it, but they do.


And the advice I got was give a pub three years to prove itself. I'll sell small stories, shorts to a new pub but I'm saving my full-length things for a more established business. Carina would be one exception for me, because the parent company is sound with a very long reputation in the business. I have faith that if it folds, rights will be properly reverted, royalties paid and all the problem areas handled by the parent company. They know what they are doing which puts them on a different playing field than a startup by someone who doesn't have the backing or business experience.

I wouldn't assume that because Carina is part of a big and successful publishing house that "if it folds, rights will be properly reverted, royalties paid and all the problem areas handled by the parent company". If Carina folds because of financial problems then the rights it owns are assets of the company and as such will be the only marketable thing it has to cover its debts with.


I stopped submitting to the NY publishers because I have clinical depression. I'd go through two or three rejections and give up ... such is the nature of my illness. That's why I love epublishers.

I'm sorry to hear about your illness, Melody. I hope things improve for you. I know first-hand how disabling depression can be.

I don't understand, though, why you prefer to work with e-publishers because of your depression. The good ones reject work just as readily as the big print publishers do, and I wouldn't want to work with a less-than-good publisher.


I wish people who insist upon disparaging epublishers would realize that some of us are good writers.

There's a big difference between e-publishers and writers. And urging writers to exercise caution before submitting to e-publishers isn't the same thing as disparaging them.


I think what some people term "author mills" is really a model of publishing that helps the business make more money, allowing them to publish more titles. If people bought print books like this, you can bet the presses would be flying.

Author mills are not the same thing as e-publishers: they're more akin to vanity presses.


I don't mean this as a flame, I genuinely wonder why people who don't consider epublishing a legitimate professional credit, or "as good as" NY publish, even frequent this category?

AW is for everybody. We don't forbid poets to post in the non-fiction boards, for example, and only Mac has the right to say who can't visit certain areas. At AW discussion is welcome from all quarters, and long may that continue.


Being a publisher is something I've really wanted to be for years. I learned about internet marketing, the web in general, social media, etc... and now I'm learning about writing. I personally feel that it's the best way to proceed but I'm sure many will disagree.

Please be careful. I've seen loads of people start their own publishing houses; I've seen most of them fail, and fail hard. It's an expensive business to get into if you want to do well, and if you do it badly you kill books which might otherwise have succeeded.

FrederickCross
08-21-2011, 12:09 PM
Please be careful. I've seen loads of people start their own publishing houses; I've seen most of them fail, and fail hard. It's an expensive business to get into if you want to do well, and if you do it badly you kill books which might otherwise have succeeded.

Yeah, I know a lot, if not most of them, fail hard. It's exactly why I'm taking my time and will start by self-publishing my own stuff. I want the experience of both writing and submitting things to other publishers before I sign anyone else up in my business.

If I feel that it's out of my league to publish anyone else but myself, it will be a lot easier to close shop if I'm not actually publishing anyone else ;)

LIBGirl
09-10-2011, 06:29 PM
I think you need to do 2 things before you sign with ANY ePub. First, talk to the authors. See how satisfied they are. Second, ask how many titles have sold more than 5000 copies (or what ever number you think is reasonable. 5000 is what I'd say could be reasonably expected). Also how many different authors have done that. If they have 20 books that have sold well, but they're all with the same author, chances are the pub isn't doing much. That author is. Epubs are a dime a dozen though. Caution is key.