Some of you may be wondering, “Who is this stranger posting on the Bent Agency’s blog and what have they done with Susan and Molly?” Well, I’m TBA’s brand new agent, Victoria, specializing in digital-first titles. I’m so excited to join the Bent Agency and can’t wait to contribute to its impressive catalogue of titles!
I recently attended my first BookExpo America (BEA) at the Javits Center in New York City, and as I ventured from the International Digital Publishing Forum — where conversation revolved around evolving consumer habits, HTML5, metadata and EPUB file — upstairs to the show floor, I was able to talk to a few authors and was struck by how little most of them knew about their digital publishing options. We’ve all heard the statistics demonstrating the rising power of e-books, but I won’t bother you with them here — I just want to outline, in the broadest of strokes, four different ways an author can digitally publish her work.
1. Do-it-all-yourself publishing: This is the option where the author takes control over every facet of their work’s publication. The author is responsible for editing, designing, formatting, promoting and finding the appropriate distribution channels for her book.
– This option requires the least financial investment, as you don’t have to pay a penny out of pocket to get your book published.
– For those who aren’t the most tech-savvy, digital publishing platforms often don’t provide these services. If you are unsure about how to convert and format your work, aren’t experienced in cover design or editing, or aren’t well-versed in successful book marketing, your work, and consequentially your readership, will suffer.
2. Hiring independent service providers: This option requires hiring a number of specialists, such as an editor, a book designer, a publicist, etc., and coordinating all of them. Picking the right vendors and communicating your vision effectively are essential if you opt to go this route.
– You can select the people who work on each aspect of the book and get the benefit of their professional experience without relinquishing any of your rights to your work.
– This option could be the most costly and time-consuming.
3. Publishing packages: A third way to get your work digitally published is to work with an author-services company that bundles the services you require. Companies like BookBaby provide basic and premium packages which can cost up to hundreds of dollars, and include copyediting services, design, conversion and help distributing your work through the major channels.
– Perhaps the most convenient choice, this option offers everything you need to publish, promote and distribute your book in one place.
– Some companies may include services you don’t want or need, while others may not be as comprehensive as you’d like.
4. Digital-first publishers: Most of the Big Six publishers have developed digital-first imprints that accept submissions from agented and unagented writers. There are also publishers dedicated to digital-first work, like Astraea Press and Entranced Publishing.
– Publishing houses and digital publishers have sales and marketing teams as well as trained, professional editors who also have a stake in your book’s success.
– Publishing houses may be able to give your work wider distribution.
– Some publishers even offer an advance against royalties.
– If you decide to go in this direction, expect the longest wait to get your book into the marketplace.
– You have a lesser degree of control than with the first three options.
– You relinquish rights to the work as well as a percentage of your sales proceeds. However, more and more publishers are willing to negotiate a more attractive royalty split and more author involvement in the publishing process.
Whatever route you decide to take, the opportunities for success in the digital market were never more attainable than today. None of these options is inherently better than the others — it all depends on what your skills and needs dictate. The process can be overwhelming, but TBA has the knowledge and resources to help you make smart choices for your work and navigate these different channels as painlessly as possible.