Editorial by Sharmaine Lovegrove and Barbara Thiele, epubli
Self-publishing has stepped out of the shadows to become a key part of the publishing industry. Authors are individual writers and today these writers have more choice. epubli, founded in 2008 within the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, are providing a way for writers to become authors whilst staying in control of the production of their books and allowing the readers to be the ultimate gatekeepers.
Epubli offers the future of publishing with its disruptive model combining innovative digital print solutions with traditional practices of book printing. Starting with its print-on-demand service in 2010, epubli was the first German self-publishing platform to offer ebooks on Amazon and Apple’s digital bookstores. We are taking this success to the English-speaking market, starting with the UK.
There are so many would be writers in Great Britain, and with the traditional industry currently in a state of flux over how to overcome some of the challenges that have been created by new major players, advances in technology and readers embracing digital publishing, now it is a harder time than ever before to secure an attractive deal within traditional publishing. With the advent of writers such as E.L. James finding success with self-publishing and then getting a six-figure publishing deal with a traditional publisher, writers are realizing there is little to lose with self-publishing.
From the beginning you have a wonderful opportunity to create your own book, sales record and active reading community with the benefit of gaining up to 80% of the royalties and last year one of our authors Jana Falkenberg made a five-figure sum with her royalties and was number seven in the Books of 2012 Apple iBookstore chart.
Recently, we have noticed the shift of established star writers becoming independent and choosing self-publishing as the way to get their books to readers, we at epubli believe that there are four major drivers as to why this is occurring.
Traditional publishing houses usually offer between 15-20% royalties to authors at epubli, we are offering 80% for books sold on our platform and 60% for book sold through our distribution partners, such as Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Google and Barnes and Noble. For more and more published authors, this is a no brainer and new writers this offering suddenly makes it viable for them to enter the publishing market place with no risk but potentially a lot to gain. One of our authors Jochen Krisch, author of Advance E-commerce, says of this: “If I wanted to get the same royalties with a traditional publishing house, I had to sell three times as many copies.”
Once the author submits their manuscript to an agent and it is taken on, they often start the process of working with the author to enhance their work to get it ready for market. An editors role is also to make changes to the text to improve the structure of the book but sometimes these changes can radically alter the plot from the story that the author wanted to tell. We asked author Kavitha Rasch of her experience and why she chose self-publishing Rasch said “I didn’t want my ideas to be reduced and end up with a manuscript I did not intend to write with the words not feeling like mine.” We believe that whilst the author should seek advice from editors and use services such as our Page Tailors and find professionals to make corrections and tidy the text the author should always be in control of their work and allow the readers to decide its success.
Flexibility and Speed
Different authors write for different reasons and the ability to be able to publish a book as soon as the manuscript is complete is an important aspect of allowing the author to maintain control. As is having the freedom to set the price and how many copies are printed. “I can decide the way my book is published and how many copies are going to be printed — nobody is messing with that” says epubli author and academic Prof. Dr. Hans Dieter Huber. At epubli we offer all of these services so our authors can be fast, flexible and in control of the publications of their print and eBooks.
With many bookshops closing on high streets throughout the world, it is important that we ensure visibility of our author’s books with the retailers. We embrace the fact there are many readers reading on a multitude of devices and so want to make sure that our books are on all the retailers that support those devices so we work with Apple, Amazon, Google, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and many more. It is important to us that we do that. After all, on a high street filled with bookshops an author would want to have their books in more than one shop and the same applies to online retailers, why be on one when you can be on all.
With these offerings we have been able to work with some great authors and have expanded our services to include an Author Relations team, working closely with the author to ensure success. In both the UK and German teams we have specialists that work alongside the author, creating marketing plans, press releases and blogs, hosting reading and social media events and giving helpful tips and advice through our new blog. The Author Relations team is actively engaging the author by offering such high-level customer service. The authors are chosen for this free service in a multitude of ways. We have authors coming from the traditional industry, through agents, journalists and newspapers that want their columns in book form such as Die Welt, exciting and dynamic publishing houses such as MikroText and Frisch & Co. and internationally renowned institutes such as the Max Planck Institute. These individuals and companies need specialist attention to ensure their publications reach the right audience and our assiduous in-house team use their PR skills to make this happen.
After five years, epubli has grown to be a major player in the self-publishing industry. By only earning money when the author earns money, the epubli model is to put the author at the centre of all our activities. Working closely with our printers and eBook distribution partners for quality printed books and broad access within the book marketplace, many authors, independent publishers and media businesses are gaining knowledge, experience and importantly readers by using the epubli platform. As we grow and expand into new territories, whatever the language and whatever the formats and partners we are working with the key message is more freedom for the authors and higher earnings for their work. This innovative and inclusive approach is attracting more and more writers to take the chance and we are proud to be at the heart of it.
Sharmaine Lovegrove is responsible for international author relations at epubli. Barbara Thiele is the company’s Chief Product Officer.