Who Are Those POD and E-book Publishers?
A typical Xlibris contract takes your work, manufactures the book as orders come in, and ships to the customer or author. It’s up to you to promote the books, whether through author signings at libraries or standing in front of a supermarket. You pay for what they manufacture. Your tab begins at $499 and can run up to the “platinum level” of $14,999, depending on the level of services you choose.
Take a look at their Web site (http://www2.xlibris.com/) for detail. In order to review their 42-page publishing brochure, you’ll first need to provide them with your name, e-mail address and telephone number. (Wait a day for the phone solicitations to arrive; the e-mails will begin immediately.)
Lulu.com offers a similar business of manufacturing a writer’s book according to a schedule of services.
In this fast-moving business, a number of sites recently have come up offering no-frills POD. Amazon Publishing may be the biggest and neatest “no-nonsense” publisher. Its Amazon CreateSpace self-admittedly “provides one of the easiest, fastest and most economical ways to self-publish and make your content available to millions of potential customers on Amazon.com and other channels.” CreateSpace formats include books, DVDs, CDs, video downloads and MP3s. The company takes care of customer service and order fulfillment with no up-front author investment. And (whew!), there are no membership or title setup fees, there is a flexible royalty model, a non-exclusive agreement keeps the writer’s future publishing and distribution options open, and Amazon provides a free ISBN or UPC.
SmashWords is a contender to Amazon, inviting the writer to download a work and come up with—huzzah!—a finished book. SmashWords allows authors to sell their e-books through their site, while also supplying e-books to Borders’ Kobo, Apple’s iPad, B&N’s Nook, Sony, and Diesel. SmashWords’ variable agreement on royalties is based on the outlet and sales method. The company pays the author 85% for sales that originate at SmashWords or Stanza, and 70.5% for sales through its affiliates. “Net proceeds,” however, doesn’t mean cover price. Net is the received sale price less payment for processing fees, affiliate fees, retailer discounts, credit card charge-backs and the like.
Barnes & Noble’s publishing venture is titled Pubit (pronounced with a soft ŭ – not “pyu-bit.”) BN sets a “List Price for each e-book between $0.99 and $199.99. For e-books with a List Price at or between $2.99 and $9.99 the author receives 35%. For books listed at or below $2.98 or at or greater than $10.00, the royalties are 40%.
Hewlett-Packard’s MagCloud is another entrant, at http://www.magcloud.com/.
Long Live the E-book
What’s the value of an e-book self-pubbed over one handled by a publisher? A lot, according to J.A. Konrath on his blog, at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/09/konrath-ebooks-sales-top-100k.html. You’re going to do all the marketing yourself, so face it: Do you prefer to share royalties with a publisher charging $4.69 for your book or sell it direct for $2.99? Jack Konrath does the math for you, using Amazon and SmashWords as examples.
He reports that his best selling Hyperion e-book, Whiskey Sour, has sold 2,631 copies since 2004. That earned him about $2,200, or $34 a month since it was released. $34 a month per title is a far cry from the $1,700 a month per e-book he’s making though self-publishing. Hyperion is the Walt Disney Co. publishing unit.
Hyperion priced Whiskey Sour at $4.69 on Amazon, while he prices his e-books at $2.99. “For each $4.69 e-book they sell, I earn $1.17,” he blogs at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/. “For each $2.99 e-book I sell, I earn $2.04. So I'm basically losing money hand over fist because Hyperion is pricing my e-books too high, and giving me too low a royalty rate.”