E-Book Publishing: How Do You Decide?

02 Jun

Do you know the difference between a real e-book publisher who pays an advance and then publishes your finished book and an e-book publishing company which is in reality often vanity publishing and takes a certain commission from your book?  Or an author service company who charge small fees to produce your e-book, in which case you can earn 100% of your e-books’ whole sale price?


Kindle e-Reader

In all three variations the e-book retailers (Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Diesel etc.) always get a percentage of the e-book sales, mostly around 30%, for providing their sales platform, point-of-sales cost, money transfer fees, online customer service, marketing etc.

Compare e-book publishing company commission rates.|
E-book publishing companies hook you to have your book published without investing a dime, but as they act now as the official publisher they retain a big portion of your e-book sales to themselves – which is often not a good deal for you.

They offer free ISBN numbers, (in reality an amount which is only a negligible: $25 for one ISBN, if you buy a block of ten ISBN’s).   And then these so-called “publishers” how they call themselves wrongly, take an average of 15% commission from the net sales.  If your book becomes successful you can lose out on a lot of revenue! Another problem might occur when you decide to offer your e-book for free through the KDP Select program: it has to be free exclusive at Amazon for these 90 days, which means that you must remove your e-book (NOT the print version) – not an easy job.
Genuine E-Book Author-Publishing
Your investment in self–publishing will not be more than $500 and $900 if you do your homework and research for professional, yet inexpensive editing, cover design, ISBN number ( which is free in Canada), book formatting and uploading.  Author service companies, such as, offer all these services, but don’t act as publisher and don’t take any commission from the whole sale price. You receive 100%.

Read the fine print; know your contract.
Before you commit to publishing an e-book with any company, always read the fine printContact a lawyer who is specialized in publishing contracts / copyright issues, who can check your contract before you sign!

Research copyright details
Every publishing company plays by a different set of rules. Make sure that the e-book publisher you use, allows you to retain all other rights to your work, such as print, foreign rights, audio books or film rights. This is another reason why you need to let a lawyer screen your contract.

Screen the e-Publisher
E-publishers can be anything, from very amateurish to very professional:

  • Is their website professionally designed and easy to navigate? Is the text well-written and formatted? The website is the publisher’s shopping window, and should reflect professionalism.
  • Does their staff have publishing, editing, or marketing experience? Beware of publishers that don’t provide this information on their websites.
  • How long has the publisher been in business?  Are there any complaints about the publisher or its staff? A web search on the publisher’s name (and words such as “complaint”, ”issues”, “problems”, “caution”) will sometimes turn up information–often on authors’ websites or in their blogs.
  • Are other writers happy with the publisher? Contact a few of them, and ask.
  • Order a couple of the publisher’s books. Are they of good quality? Professionally presented? How’s the cover art? Do they show signs of having been edited? Have they been proofread? What’s the caliber of the writing? Bad, poorly formatted, and/or sloppily-edited books do not encourage readers to return for more.
  • For print books, if the publisher produces them, the royalty rate will be lower, but shouldn’t be less than what print publishers pay for trade paperback books–7%-10% of list.
  • What’s the optimum price for an e-book? There’s no consensus, and prices are all over the map. The big print houses charge as much as $14.99, while independent e-Publishers tend to stick to the $4.00 to $7.00 range.
  • How does the publisher market itself and its titles? As noted above, e-book authors are expected to shoulder a lot of the responsibility for marketing and promotion, but a professional e-Publisher will actively support its books–for instance, investing in some form of meaningful advertising to attract readers to its site, sending out press releases and advance reading copies, and attending and present your book at conventions and book fairs.
  • How forthcoming is the publisher? A reputable e-publisher should be willing to answer your questions about things like sales figures and formats, give references, make its contract available for your review, and in general to provide information about itself and its publications (preferably on its website).
  • A publisher who charges a fee or requires you to buy something as a condition of publication is either a vanity publisher or a self-publishing service, no matter what its claims to the contrary.

These points are not only helpful to find an e-publisher or an e-publishing service company / aggregator, but also when you have to decide on print publishing.  EPIC, an association for electronically-published authors, has a helpful list of contract clauses to watch out for. Explore their “Red Flag List” to find clauses that could become an issue with your future publisher.




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4 responses to “E-Book Publishing: How Do You Decide?

  1. dkorthbooks

    June 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    There are many “publishers” out there just willing to make anything off of your work, no matter how good or bad it is. But there are great places to go when you don’t know what in the world you are doing. It can be so overwhelming when you get started. There are times when going at it yourself may not be the answer. Readers complain more about indie works than anything. Find someone you are comfortable with and feel confident they are working in your best interest. Publishing is hard work and a good publisher earns every single penny they take. A good one should give you constructive criticism on your work, they should offer you the choice of your own cover or one they design using an artist, they should be able to offer your work in print and e-copies, they should have an agreeable contract with a way out if you aren’t satisfied completely, they should market you in every and any avenue, they should be willing to help you become established before the release of the book, they should organize a smashing beginning in the way of blog tours or other virtual parties as that book becomes available. Personally, I love the KDP program. I sell thousands more copies on that venue than I ever did anywhere else. Having five days every three months to promote your books is an awesome way to get some word of mouth exposure.
    As an author, I had the MOST deplorable experience with my publisher. As a publisher, I vouch to renew the faith and create successful authors.

  2. angel7090695001

    June 3, 2013 at 4:36 am

    I use Smashwords and Amazon to distribute to everywhere and my short stories are free (on smashwords.) I have over 2000 downloads on smashwords.

  3. jackieweger

    June 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I cannot raise when I click on it.


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