November 22, 2011 Leave a comment
The journey of a self-pubbed eBook author is an arduous one. They go through the same challenges during the drafting, editing, redrafting, editing, writing, rewriting and polishing stages of developing their manuscripts as any author worth their salt. The difference lies in what happens then.
Traditionally, when an author was accepted by a publisher, the cover design, layout, formatting and promotion of the book were all taken on as part of this contract. The author might maintain their own website and even maybe write a blog, but the majority of promotional work was taken care of by the publisher (most of it by the mere use of their name).
I’ve written before about the changing nature of the publishing industry―as have many others―and I’ve expressed views about the need for publishers to adapt their game to remain relevant, so the other day when I heard that Penguin was jumping into technological relevance to be publishing eBooks of eAuthors I was overjoyed. Until I read the details.
The imprint Penguin is using for the self-pubbed author is Book Country, and by all accounts it presents reasonably well on initial examination. It’s not until you actually read through the entire process they propose that the hackles begin to rise. And I’m pretty sure you’d only recognise the issues if you’ve already experienced the eBook publishing process.
To have your eBook published by Book Country will cost you $99. And they say they will pay you 70% royalties. But that is NET royalties, which means 70% of the 30% royalty you’ll get from Amazon for example. It’s a little misleading. And what concerns me more about the Penguin eBook publishing proposal is that what they are offering to do can be done by the author, with relative ease at no cost. They don’t tell you this.
Penguin/Book Country will not take on any of the cover design or manuscript editing that a traditional publisher (or even print self-publisher agency) does, nor will they do any promotion. The Author still has to manage and/fund that crucial part of the process themselves. But they will convert your Word.doc into the appropriate format for eReaders. And they will distribute it to the major eBook retailers. So does Smashwords―for free! Amazon does the same thing―also for free.
Both Smashwords and Amazon also provide space for an Author Profile, and both provide informational assistance to point you in the right direction to promote your work. FOR FREE. They also both provide very clear instructions about how you can best format your manuscript for submission. It’s hard work and it is time consuming, yes. At least initially. But being an author is not an easy ride. And you can get someone to format your manuscript for you for much less that what Penguin is charging, without having to sacrifice your royalties.
Forgive me if I’m coming across a bit cynical, but it sounds to me like, rather than delving into 21st century book publishing in a positive and innovative way, Penguin recognises the possibility that they (along with other traditional publishers) may eventually sink into oblivion, and so are desperately attempting to assert their technological relevance by staking a financial claim on new and emerging authors. Seems a little disingenuous to me.
Have a look for yourself and see what you think: Penguin’s Book Country