Ebooks Writers
June 23, 2011 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Hi I am starting a ebooks community site where people can submit their books and then we will publish and sell the books for the authors. I was wondering if anyone knew a good way to reach independent authors and how to market our site to them? We are looking for writers of self help, recipes, novels, and anything else. We really want to empower writers to get their stuff out their and to help them make some money in the process. Any help on how to find people like that would be much appreciated! Thanks!
posted by Monkeyzulu to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think you are putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. You need to figure out, with actual data, if this is even a viable idea before you sink anytime or money into it. Where are the buyers going to come from? How are you going to attract them to your site? What can you offer ebook authors that Amazon.com isn't offering? What can you offer over lulu.com? What can you offer over a free website at Wordpress.com and a paypal account? If I were an ebook author I would expect the person promising to make me money seeling my ebooks to already be an expert in these things. If you aren't, why would anybody enlist you to help them?
posted by COD at 11:56 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

As an author who both publishes and self-publishes, I gotta second COD. You're not empowering people to do anything they can't already do themselves. What are you offering that's unique? What is your expertise? In short, what value are you adding to the process that you would deserve a cut of the profits?
posted by headspace at 12:04 PM on June 23, 2011

You also need to have a rock-solid idea of what your contracts will look like - will you offer an advance, or just royalties? How often will you pay? What percentage are you offering? Do you know under what conditions rights will revert to the author? (This gets tricky with ebooks because "out of print" isn't a relevant concept.)

Once you can rattle all that off, you need to figure out what sort of books your audience wants. (You know who your audience is, right? And how you're going to reach them?) Are you looking for ebook rights for books currently in print? Totally new works? What length? As COD says, what will distinguish your authors from all the ones who self-publish on Amazon?

Once you know that, you'll have a much better place to start attracting talent from. Then you can go someplace like Absolute Write and not get laughed off the site. Of course you'll also need to be able to prove you have editing chops, technical skills, graphic design talent, and marketing know-how under your company umbrella. Without those things, you're not offering much to even a novice author.

The fact that you are framing this as a "community site" rather than a publishing company makes me worry that you have a lot of remedial reading to do about the way rights and contracts work, first of all, and I suspect you need to firm that up before you can make a pitch to an author.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:07 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Benchmark against the existing giants in e-publishing: their terms, their prices, their contracts, etc. Explain, in detail, why you are the better deal. If you're not the better deal monetarily, you'd best have a darned good value proposition for why your community site is going to be a better channel for their works. What will you offer that they don't?

My parents have both self-published e-books with one of the early words-on-paper self-publishing houses (iUniverse), and the service, ability to view sales data, and quality of the conversion to eBook was far, far worse than if they'd just done it themselves through Amazon. (In some cases, unreadably so.) Eventually they pulled their books from the publisher entirely and re-released the ebook versions themselves.

If all you are is a channel to allow writers "get their stuff out there," I agree with everyone else that your issue won't be finding independent authors, it'll be the fact that there's no good reason for them to choose your service.
posted by deludingmyself at 3:19 PM on June 23, 2011

Echoing the above, publication, as such, is not much of an incentive (it would have been, before the web-- but that time has passed). The only sites that people visit in order to find ebooks are those that are niche-specific (and therefore likely to be informative) or those that already have massive traffic, like Amazon.

Consider what you can offer that sites like Amazon can't-- editing; or an in-house graphics team; or a crew of people pitching links to specific books to other website owners, or to independent bookstores.

Obviously, to perform any of these services for your authors, you can get people off of odesk or elance or craigslist.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:42 PM on June 23, 2011

Hey everyone! This is great information. Thank you!

I guess I should clarify a few things. We are not putting together a publishing company to compete with Amazon. We have a business plan in place and are still shaping and putting together our marketing plan. We are going to be partnering with some charity organizations to build campaigns around the sales of ebooks to benfit those charities. We also will be employing the community to have input on what books and charities will be featured weekly on our site. We are working on software, graphics, compensation and a structure that would be attractive to all parties. Any other input would be appreciated. You guys are awesome!
posted by Monkeyzulu at 7:57 PM on June 23, 2011

So wait, you're asking as a bookseller, then? Looking for ebooks published via other means? Because that's tooootally different.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:09 PM on June 23, 2011

We want to publish authors and possibly sell existing books.

What do you mean looking for ebooks published via other means? Thanks!
posted by Monkeyzulu at 7:33 AM on June 24, 2011

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