PDA

View Full Version : E-Publishing an Existing Paperback



HarryChadwick
09-08-2013, 02:18 AM
Hi Folks,

I'm new here - and I wish I'd found it before.

Here's one very frustrated writer. My first novel is soon to be published by a small independent publisher. Clearly, because they're small, it won't be a large initial print run - but I thought that wouldn't be a problem because there'd also be the e-copies available.

At least, that's what I assumed. It appears to have been a naive assumption. I contacted the publisher about this, and they informed me that they're 'not yet set up for e-books, so will only be bringing out a hard copy.' That's fine. A hard copy is what I want. But not yet set up? Is it so complicated for a professional publisher? I thought it would just be a question of them assigning an e-book ISBN and then uploading the book in the usual way, so that it could then be married up with the hard-copy on Amazon or Waterstones and be automatically available as an option.

Having queried a bit further, I think the publisher is a bit 'old school', and isn't keen on the whole e-book thing. That seems, to me, to be a bit like commercial suicide - especially given the struggles all independents must be having.

So, my question is... if I can't persuade them to publish it in e-format, can I just go ahead and do it myself? I could assign it to them at Amazon, so it wouldn't be as if I'm entering into competition with them - a daft thing to do, and doubtlessly illegal anyway. Or is it? Doesn't copyright remain with me?

Is it, for commercial publishers, really much more complicated than it is for self-publishers?

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Medievalist
09-08-2013, 02:23 AM
I would ask them if they'd be willing to use you as a test case; they provide the ISBN, you provide the files/upload and you get a higher royalty.

aimeestates
09-08-2013, 02:35 AM
Default to your contract first. If there's no mention of electronic rights, then get on the phone and talk it out. It's pretty easy to format an eBook and pick up an ISBN if that's what you decide to do. With the popularity of eBooks, this is something I'd push for even if I had to go it on my own.

suki
09-08-2013, 02:50 AM
Default to your contract first. If there's no mention of electronic rights, then get on the phone and talk it out. It's pretty easy to format an eBook and pick up an ISBN if that's what you decide to do. With the popularity of eBooks, this is something I'd push for even if I had to go it on my own.

Both Medievalist and Aimeestates make a good point -- why not talk about it with the publisher. BUT, if they say no, they're not interested, then you need to read your contract more carefully that suggested.

It's not enough that it be silent as to e-rights. You need to specifically look at what rights you granted the publisher. If you gave the publisher exclusive right to publish in any territory, and did not reserve e-rights or specify you were granting print rights only -- then you may need their permission even to e-publish it yourself, and you might need their permission to use their final edit and definitely to use their cover art/design.

So, if they won't work with you, then try to at least get them to agree you are permitted to e-publish it yourself, and see if you can get permission to use the final version and art so you can do it yourself.

If they won't agree that you have the right to e-publish it yourself, then you need to read your contract very carefully and consult a literary attorney as to your rights.

~suki

thothguard51
09-08-2013, 03:08 AM
Please bear in mind, the publisher may not wish you publish an e-version yet so as not to cut into the hardback sales. Even the big 5 will often times hold back on e-versions of popular books to increase the hardback sales where the bigger profits are...

HarryChadwick
09-08-2013, 04:03 AM
Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate your time and advice.

Here's the rub... I've not yet signed any contract. They've been waiting on resources before going ahead with the hard copy publication. Well... it's now going ahead. It won't be coming out in hardback - only paperback. It's only a small independent house, and they do one title a year. I emailed again earlier to try to nudge them in the direction, and just got a reply 'We've neither the time nor the inclination at the moment to consider the e-book route.' Like I said. Old school. Probably head-in-the-sand, too. I'll put it to them that I could upload it myself if they provide the ISBN and see what they say.

Thanks again all.

gingerwoman
09-08-2013, 04:09 AM
Please bear in mind, the publisher may not wish you publish an e-version yet so as not to cut into the hardback sales. Even the big 5 will often times hold back on e-versions of popular books to increase the hardback sales where the bigger profits are...
My publisher works the opposite way publishing in ebook a year before trade paperback and they said the vast majority of sales will be in ebook not trade paperback.

suki
09-08-2013, 05:06 AM
Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate your time and advice.

Here's the rub... I've not yet signed any contract. They've been waiting on resources before going ahead with the hard copy publication. Well... it's now going ahead. It won't be coming out in hardback - only paperback. It's only a small independent house, and they do one title a year. I emailed again earlier to try to nudge them in the direction, and just got a reply 'We've neither the time nor the inclination at the moment to consider the e-book route.' Like I said. Old school. Probably head-in-the-sand, too. I'll put it to them that I could upload it myself if they provide the ISBN and see what they say.

Thanks again all.

Well, I'm sure this goes without saying, but...I'm going to say it.

Are you certain this is the best publisher for your book?

Have you explored other options?

Maybe there is a publisher that would be better suited to your desired publication terms?

Do they have distribution? How is your book getting into bookstores? What marketing will be done?

I guess I'm wondering why you would consider allowing a publisher who doesn't meet all your expectations to publish your book?

~suki

shadowwalker
09-08-2013, 09:49 AM
Here's the rub... I've not yet signed any contract. They've been waiting on resources before going ahead with the hard copy publication.

I'm confused. If you haven't signed a contract, why do you think you're stuck with them?

HarryChadwick
09-08-2013, 02:07 PM
Okay, folks. I'll come clean. The publisher is an old school friend. When I first wrote the book, I wasn't sure about it - even though I'd gotten favourable reviews on the writers' site I was posting on. I sent it to a few agencies. Most passed - but one good one in London was impressed enough by the writing to want to see anything else I did; In The Day, however, wasn't 'quite what we're looking for'. Then I saw this old friend again after a long passage of years. He runs a small publishing firm, specialising in writers from a particular region of Britain - the region I originally come from. I looked at his back catalogue and was impressed. He offered to look at my novel and straight away said he'd be happy to publish it. It wasn't as a favour, either, because he's taking a commercial risk. He genuinely believes in it and hopes to make it his 'breakout' title. And he's financing it, after all.

So, it's been an informal agreement so far - but the prospect of publication has been such a big deal for me that I've been buoyed and encouraged by it. So much so that I've now got a collection of short fiction together ready to upload independently to Amazon for Kindle. My publisher distributes via Amazon and Waterstones, plus some independent bookstores. He's built up a small reputation over many years, so I have faith that things will work out - and I don't want to back out now, because it means a lot to me personally (I've not long gotten over a serious illness, and this prospect has been a huge part of my recovery). I'll talk to him on the e-book thing. It was my fault for being naive and stupid. I assumed that an e-book format would naturally be a part of the whole shebang. I was wrong. I think I still have the ball in my court as far as other publishing options are concerned - and I do already have a lot of advance orders for the hard copy... friends and family, of course, but also a network of interested individuals I've built up: people who have a personal interest in the novel's subject matter (mental health). I'm going to work myself on promotion of the novel, but the publisher also has marketing experience and contacts. He's just a bit bull-headed with the e-book thing. I'll talk to him, and also discuss all contractual matters. Thanks again for all your help. I know I've been a bit foolish with this, but I'll learn from it. Please don't feel a need to add any more to this thread... I'll take from it all that you've told me.

girlyswot
09-09-2013, 01:41 AM
I think you're actually in a reasonable position. You do need a contract but since he's not interested in epublishing, you can just ask for the contract to leave the electronic publishing rights with you. You MUST make sure that you have signed a contract of some kind before publication though. Because if it does become a bestseller, you don't want there to be any kind of question about where the money ends up.

shadowwalker
09-09-2013, 05:35 AM
And he's financing it, after all.

All reputable publishers handle the financing (ie the author doesn't pay anything), so there shouldn't be any "beholden" factor on that point.

Old Hack
09-09-2013, 11:54 AM
I might have recognised the publisher you're talking about, Harry, and if I'm right then I strongly advise you not to sign with him: however impressive his business looks right now, and however friendly he is with you, if he's the one I'm thinking of he's not going to sell your book well and he's likely to stiff you when it comes to paying out your royalties.

I'm not happy naming names out in public but if you want to send me a private message about this, letting me know who the publisher is, I'll tell you if it's the one I'm thinking of.

If you'd rather not do that, that's fine.

If this publisher is flatly refusing to think of publishing a digital version of your book, but won't consider you publishing your own version (and won't provide you with the files to do that well), then walk away.

If they will help you self publish the electronic version that's better, but I'm still not sure it's a good or appropriate publisher. I'm glad you're asking questions; I hope you take the advice you're given.

gingerwoman
09-22-2013, 07:41 AM
All reputable publishers handle the financing (ie the author doesn't pay anything), so there shouldn't be any "beholden" factor on that point.
Very very true. You absolutely must have a contract if you go with this.Him being an old friend is irrelevant as far as that goes.
I don't think it's stupid or naive in this day and age to assume a publisher will put out an ebook as well as print version of a book. If there are still publishers like that I guess I don't know who they are.

Laer Carroll
09-23-2013, 01:31 AM
Be very wary about doing business with a friend. The conflicting loyalties can destroy both the friendship and the business relationship. Especially if the project is a financial disaster.

If you do go ahead with some sort of publishing relationship this MIGHT be a chance to bring your friend into the digital age. Publishing a digital book, while work, is not that difficult. Plus there are services which ease that process. Some small publishers likely have a sub-contracting deal with those services so as not to have to create full-blown digital wing.

Incidentally, Iím pretty sure the ISBN for a printed work canít be used for the digital work. An ISBN identifies the format of the book as well as the content. Also, both Amazon and B&N do not use an ISBN. Instead they use a proprietary ID format, ASIN and BN ID respectively.

The same cover could be used for the ebook, however, IF the pbook publisher agrees.

veinglory
09-23-2013, 02:25 AM
I would suggest checking if you assigned those rights to them, even if not see if you can get their agreement to posting your own ebook using their cover. They might find it interesting to see what the sales are like.