eBook publishing is now moving into market maturity and out of the early adopters phase. For the past several years, Kindle was the primary eBook channel and many self-published authors leveraged it to distribute their books, which is a good way to save money. Now mainstream publishers are selling eBooks, and some publishers are just getting into the eBook market like 3L Publishing. We waited for the market maturity phase, because we wanted to ensure a built-in audience. Those of you interested in eBooks, please be careful in your selection of your publisher. Here are some tips about what you should know before you get into a relationship with an eBook publisher:
Does this publisher have all of the eBook sales channels set up and functional? Do they have only Kindle? If they only offer Kindle, buyer beware. You could have Kindle. All self publishers could have Kindle. It is the big retail chain providers (Nook - Barnes and Noble; Kobo - Borders; and Apple - iBook) that aren't quite the walk in the park to have the accounts established. Apple and the iBook are on par with i-Tunes. When we went through the approval for Apple, they scrutinized our catalog, they looked at our website, they verified we were a reputable publisher. So, if your publisher says they do Apple, you might want to ensure that is the truth. Because I can promise you unknown publishers will not have the hotly sought after iBook accounts set up. It's actually quite a feather in our cap we do. And let me express that loss of the ability to sell to the iPad market is a huge, huge loss.
What is the quality of their eBook vendor and conversion process? Your printed copy may not show up from the conversion process looking the same. The conversion for each platform is unique. Make sure the look and feel of those eBooks is going to meet your standards. There are many, many conversions vendors out there, and most of them also want to run the sales channels and take a piece of your royalties.
Is the conversion vendor really the publisher or is the publisher? We hunted high and low until we found one that would not take royalties and control our sales channels -- again, those would be Borders, Barnes and Apple. We maintain control over our vendor relationships to give our authors very high royalties. If your publisher has outsourced to the conversion vendor, then your royalties will be much, much lower. Ask your publishers what is the process? Do they control their relationships with eBook bookstores? If not, it means they shopped it out and you are at the mercy of that vendor who is also inadvertently the publisher of your eBook.
With this market now in full maturation, watch out for the wanna-be eBook providers. Watch out in particular for publishers who don't really understand this market or haven't given the market research its due. Truth is 56% of all eBooks being sold are romance books. In the first quarter of 2011, the eBook market flipped to more eBooks sold then print books. Just last week, the announcement came that 56% of those eBooks are romance. If your publisher doesn't know this kind of information and doesn't follow the market or doesn't have the aptitude to understand it and has done any of the things I just described above, you should watch your back! 3L Publishing loves books. We are passionate providers of all books, but more importantly we are not motivated to just take money for money's sake. You're going to see a whole host of "publishers" enter this market, thinking that it's ripe for the pickings. Keep your guard up, do your homework, and make wise choices on who you work with!