“If it sound too good to be true, it probably is,” rings to mind when thinking about my experiences e-publishing with a new ebook publisher.
Like the infamous ‘director’s couch,’ I bedded e-publishing to get my book published in the hopes of fame, fortune and a spot on “Oprah.” Instead, I came down with a ‘blue’ flu when everything fell apart.
While not all e-publishing experiences are bad, mine was one of unpaid royalties, broken promises of POD’s, unanswered messages, royalty percentage changes on bargain sales, failures in promotion, and a finale that included the company going out of business without any formal notice to writers. (I only found out my book was no longer available when I checked my account.)
It all started with a hope and a dream. I turned to e-publishing after several publishers rejected my book and when I found self-publishing was too costly an option.
When I received the original advertisement for the new company in the mail, it was the answer to my prayers. For no charge, zero, zip, nada, my book would be electronically published. (I know, I know, the red flags should have gone up right then.) Later, if I wanted, they would put it in POD form.
“Later” turned out to be “never,” as they changed the policy and now wanted to charge for such service. Again, unable to afford the expense at the time, I passed on the POD and happily stuck with the electronic version. However, that, too, went afoul when certain promised promotions were not done.
Still, I could have skipped-to-my-Lu just as well. Hey, I had an e-book on the market and that’s all that mattered…all that mattered until it came time for my royalty check to arrive. It didn’t. After endless calls, most of which were not returned, and countless letters, I finally got a check.
Joy? No. Once again, foiled. The amount was reduced because they sold my book, without notice or approval from me, on a bargain plan, thereby reducing my royalty amount.
Cloud nine was still fluffy, so I stuck with it, until the same thing happened all over again when the next royalty was due. When the following royalty was due, I checked my account and it was then, and only then, that I found out the company closed. Authors received no prior notice! The posting simply stated “(The company) has closed its electronic doors. While many reasons went into the decision, it was fraudulent orders that tipped the scales to force management to close for good. I know we were just a little ahead of our time…”
Has all this put a bad taste in my mouth in regard to e-publishing? You might be surprised to learn that it has not! In fact, I am looking into e-publishing with several other companies right now.
Why? Because it’s still the best option out there for all us unknown Hemmingways. Our day will come; it just may dawn a little differently. That’s where electronic and print on demand (POD) publishing come in.
Financially, e-publishing knocks the socks off self-publishing because the costs are lower and because one need not keep an inventory. Books are printed-on-demand (POD) so you only buy when someone else buys. Also of monetary concern, royalties are usually much higher than those paid through a traditional publisher.
Hindsight is 20/20. While I will, indeed, e-publish again, I will adhere to several basics. I will investigate a company’s history. I will get references. I will talk with current authors to hear their input as to how the company is doing.
I will look for signs of reputability. For example, does the company gouge you on set-up fees or have a standard rate? Are royalties based on list price, or “iffy” net profits? Are royalties paid monthly as opposed to quarterly?
As far as marketing, while I will enjoy the fruits of the e-publishers’ labors, I will incite my own riot. I will develop a website, seek out local publicity, hold book signings, and just plain sell out of the trunk of my car if I have to!
To e-publish, or not to e-publish; that is the question. If you get a reputable company, then the answer is yes.
Mary Jekielek Insprucker is a writer based in North Carolina. She has written for local, national, and international publications. In addition, she is currently working on a children’s book and with a Hollywood producer on a movie script.