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How To Choose An Epublisher

If you have taken the time to write a book, then it only makes sense that you should take the time to find the right publisher for your work. If you decide to epublish your book, be sure to carefully review epublishers before making a decision. There are a variety of models of ebook publishing, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Think ahead and make a list of questions and wants you have regarding your book. See which epublisher matches the most of your needs, and gives the best answers to your questions. You should still keep traditional publishers in mind for your book or novel, because many of them have or will be developing ebook imprints and releasing their existing books as electronic books. Here are some of the issues you should consider in your hunt for an epublisher.
  • Contracts. Read the contract very carefully. If possible, have an attorney look over the contract, especially if you have concerns. Look closely at royalties, advances (if any), costs and rights. What rights do you retain in your work? What rights does the publisher take? How many books do you get for your own use and for use as review copies? If you need more do you get an author discount? How often do you get paid royalties?

  • Formatting. In what type of format must you submit your work? Can you check for errors before the final publication? What if you have changes? How do you submit cover art, author photos and other information? What about ISBN numbers?

  • POD. Is print-on-demand publishing offered? Electronic books are great, but they have not yet reached mass acceptance by the consumer or reviewers. In the meantime, POD can help you get your book to readers in a format they are familiar with. Check to see if POD is an option.

  • Editing. Are the books edited or proofread, or are they it printed "as is"? Are additional fees charged for editing or proofreading? If editing services are offered, who are the editors? What experience do they have? You might want to read some books by other authors published by the epublisher to get a feel for the quality of the editing. If the epublisher has an open submissions policy and does not provide editing, you might consider using the editing service or hiring a freelance editor to proof your work for you prior to publication. It is a rare writer indeed that needs no editing at all.

  • Business Model. Although Internet companies are new and exciting, many of them have poor business models. Many of these companies aren't going to make it. Be sure to carefully review the company's business model. It doesn't do you any good to publish a book through an epublisher or publishing service if that company is out of business two months later.

  • Promotional Benefits. Does the publisher promote its authors? Does it contact the media for you? Does it compensate you for any promotional expenses? Does it offer online chats on their website? Does it have a media contact list or a mailing list where you can announce your book? How are review copies handled? How does the publisher feature its most recent releases? Many subsidy publishers offer "publish only" deals; all marketing and promotion is your responsibility. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but be sure you know what the company's policies are so that you aren't disappointed.

  • Book Covers. Book cover graphics are a real draw at bricks-and-mortar bookstores; the same is true on the Internet. A killer cover design can help your book stand out and increase sales. So it is important that the epublisher provides attractive covers, or if not, find out if there is a way you can submit your own cover art. You should hire an artist or graphics designer, if need be.

  • Blurb, Sample Chapter and Synopsis. Who writes the book synopsis for marketing purposes? Can the publisher help you find another author to blurb your book? Does your contract allow you to use part of your work for marketing? Will the publisher display a sample chapter in their online bookstore?

  • Book Price. How much will your book cost? How much will readers have to pay for your book? How does it compare to the price of other books in major bookstores? Is it too expensive? If the epublisher has deals with retailers, will the price of your book differ there than it does at the epublisher's bookstore?

  • Delivery Time. How long does it take for your book to be published after you have signed the contract and submitted the book? Also, how long does it take the epublisher to deliver purchased books to consumers? Are delivery times consistent?

  • Retail Partners. Who are the epublisher's retail partners? Does the publisher have agreements with Amazon.com, BN.com and/or Borders.com? What price will readers have to pay for your book at these retailers? Is there a discount or co-op available? How long will it take your book to be delivered to customers? A slow delivery time is a real turn-off to readers. How good is their relationship with these retailers?

  • Online Bookstore. How does the publisher promote its books? Does it have a bookstore on its website? Is it highly visible or hard to find? Does it get much traffic? Does it have a bestseller list? Does the bookstore have secure online ordering? Does the publisher take phone orders? A great online bookstore is essential, especially if you are sending people to the website to buy your book. Some epublishers offer you a higher commission for sales through their bookstore -- but this doesn't do you any good if they are not running a highly visible bookstore with reliable online ordering and quick delivery.



  • Sales. Will you have access to sales information? How often is it updated? If there is an online bookstore, can you find out how many people have accessed your book's page or description?

  • Troubleshooting. If you have a problem or a question, is there someone available by email or phone? Is there a support area on the website? How big is the staff?

  • Independent Resources. Be sure to check some independent resources for information about the epublisher you are considering -- do not rely solely on the information provided by the company itself or a website or service the epublishing company owns, as they tend to be biased.

  • Networking. What do other writing professionals think about the company? Talk to professionals in the community, including authors, editors and publishers and get their honest opinion to help you make an evaluation. Also get opinions from friends, newsgroups, writer's groups and professional organizations.
Thinking about these issues and asking these types of questions should help you become knowlegable about the differences between ebook publishers. You should also find out if the publisher prefers certain genres over others. For example, if the publisher only publishes fantasy and science fiction, then find out how active it is in the fantasy/sf community. Does it have booths at cons? Does it send people to the conferences? As you network with other writers and do your own research, you will also probably develop some needs and questions of your own. After putting in some solid research time, you should be able to choose an epublisher with confidence.





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