Monday, July 25, 2011

The BookEnds Strategy for Self-EPublishing

It's amazing how much publishing has changed in just the last year and how quickly authors, readers, and publishers are embracing this new world and these new publishing opportunities. As any of you who follow publishing news know, agents are tying themselves to self-epublishing in a variety of ways. Some are making the decision to represent authors who choose to self-epublish at the standard 15% commission, while others have started their own epublishing houses to fill the void between what we're calling "traditional" publishers and self-publishing, and still others have chosen to stay uninvolved and let their clients handle self-publishing on their own. After a lot of thought and work, BookEnds has also come up with a plan for how we will work with self-epublishing and what we want to be able to provide our clients, and it's a little bit of everything.

One of the things I've always said is that there is no universal way to be a great agent. Each client is an individual and each career needs to be approached differently. I feel the same about self-epublishing. In looking at what we could offer our clients, there wasn't one universal path that would fit every client and every need. So after much talk and consideration, BookEnds is taking a variety of approaches to self-epublishing in the hope that we can continue to provide the best opportunities for our clients.

Some of our clients are self-publishing all on their own. We are asking that they keep us informed of their activities so we can use the information they provide (numbers, books they are publishing, etc.) when working with their publishers. In other words, the more informed we are the more we can possibly leverage that self-epublishing success when negotiating contracts or even making new deals. With these clients who have chosen to handle all aspects on their own, we aren't involved in any other way. In other words, we aren't taking a commission and, frankly, we aren't doing any of the work.

We have clients who are working closely with us on their self-published books and using us as agents. For the work we are doing with them we are getting paid a 15% commission. In most of these cases we have worked with the clients on the books prior to the decision to self-epublish and are now continuing that work. The clients cover the costs of conversion, the cover, editing (if necessary), etc., and we manage all the books once they are ready to be loaded to the sites. We also provide revisions and edits for those books that might not have been published before. What this all means is that we work with the clients to market the books, upload them to the retail sites, and we're constantly talking to the clients about how we can leverage their self-epublished books to spark sales on their "traditionally published" books as well as build sales on the self-epublished books.

And last, we have Beyond the Page Publishing, a company we've built with a new and separate epublishing team to work with those clients who have a real interest in self-epublishing, but don't have the desire, inclination, or time to manage the publishing process. In other words, these clients want to test the self-epublishing market, but want the support that a publisher provides. With Beyond the Page, the author submits a manuscript and the publisher provides editorial services, manages the cover design, converts the files, and uploads the books to all sites. In addition, marketing and product management support is provided throughout the process. This could mean updating files to match changes in the author's career, price changes, book teaser changes, or general marketing changes to, again, help push the titles the author is publishing traditionally.

It's such an exciting time in publishing and I think we can all honestly say that we're exploring and experimenting to see what works best for each of us and our business models. Just as authors are testing self-epublishing, agents are testing the possibilities as well.