We make a small, once-only charge on the cost of ebook conversion, deducting it from royalties (if it's very expensive we may ask for payment up front). It will appear in the royalties section on your Financial page.
We feel justified in doing this because:
- The royalty starts at 50%, which is probably at least twice what you would get from any other mainstream traditional publisher.
- Conversion costs vary a lot; we try and make each book work on its own merits and costs.
- The distribution and warehousing charges for ebooks are as high as for print books. Wholesalers like Gardners in the UK charge 50% of the income. They argue, as do publishers who handle it themselves, that there are still large costs relating to ebooks, like building, managing and keeping secure e-warehouses, among other things. They are just different to print costs. There’s a useful article on this subject at: http://www.bookbrunch.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=17&Itemid=116.
- “Basic”: straight text, no special text styling or formatting. £0.30/$0.50 per page.
- “Advanced”: has a lot of text formatting and styling and/or tabular data. Or any images, particularly if they have captions or text wrapped around them. £0.90/$1.40 per page.
- Or “Custom” level (rarely used): when there is a rescan, linked index, or some complexity—like illustrated books with text placed around design elements. You will be contacted if your title falls within this level. If you wish us to go ahead with the conversion we will have to invoice you for this separately, rather than deduct from royalties, and payment will be needed before the conversion.
- We bring titles out in print and digital in the same month of publication.
- The release dates will not match exactly.
- We do not consider print and ebook rights separately—it just leads to too many complications, how the print and ebook editions are then presented on the same page on Amazon, prevents us from selling overseas rights, etc.
- Sales are shown separately on your Financials page; they appear as if sold in North America, because they are distributed worldwide from there. Sales on ebooks take two months to be reported.
- Royalties are 50% of our receipts, less conversion costs (see above). Retailers will still deduct a trade discount, with Amazon for instance it is usually 30% of the retail price. In the UK there is VAT (sales tax) to come off as well. That applies across all titles on the list that are bought out as ebooks. There's a useful post on how income divides at: http://www.idealog.com/blog/the-ebook-value-chain-is-still-sorting-itself-out-and-so-are-the-splits.
- All published titles have an ebook also created using the EPUB format, which is really just HTML and uses the paragraph tag to break paragraphs in titles. By default it has a one-line margin so this is what appears in the final ebook releases. Because of the many devices and readers out there, you may see your title displayed differently depending how the EPUB format is interpreted. We try to leave the html code as "stock" as possible in our ebook conversations to ensure the highest level of cross-device presentation.
- Please note: you will only be able to view your ebook file on these pages if you have an ereader that accepts this file type such as iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Sony Readers, Kobo Reader or the Nook from Barnes & Noble. If you have a Kindle or ereader that doesn’t support the EPUB file type you can download Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com/) for free and it will convert it to the correct file for you. If you have a Kindle you will need the ebook in the format MOBI or Amazon's own AZW. A quick web search will give you an explanation of which file type fits which ereader and you can read more at sites such as: http://www.edudemic.com/most-popular-ebook-formats/
- The difficulties with ebooks: Ebooks are essentially produced by dumping print-design files into software that performs a standard conversion process, converting every ebook the same way. This often does not work brilliantly. Tables, for instance, often get muddled. It usually produces terrible results in poetry. The only way to solve that is to do the coding by hand, book by book, but that is expensive. It also does not solve the problem. Because different web browsers, ebooks, ereaders, ereading apps, and so on, interpret the code and style in an EPUB file differently. Kindle has its own proprietary file format and style, and we provide separate formatting for them, but the same file can look different in iBooks, Kobo, Sony Reader etc. An indent might look right on one ereader but not another, because the two platforms are interpreting the same code differently.
DRM is software that you put on a file to limit the customer’s use (especially copying, printing, and sharing). It is a way to help fight copyright infringement. We distribute our EPUB through NBN Fusion and all their agreements with ebook vendors require that they all apply DRM to files distributed to them.
We give the ebook the same publication date as the print edition. It will not show on sites like Amazon before then (unlike the print book) as they only display the information when the book is available in ebook format. One quirk of our distributors' databases, is it does not work the other way around; if you want the ebook published early, the print book will be given the same date.
Note: Amazon does not release the file until the publication, although it is available for pre-order.
We cannot control the exact timing of availability. The ebook goes for conversion after the files are finished, the details come later. As some conversions end up being problematic and costly they may take a little longer. Different distributors take varying times to load the ebooks into their system.
- If you have a backlist title and we have not already converted it to an ebook, we convert them for free if sales have reached 1000 copies over the previous 12 months. Otherwise, please expect a price in the region of £100/$200 (it depends on the complexity of the text design). If you would like to go ahead with an ebook conversion please post your request on the Author Forum (editorial and production/ebooks) or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get a quote to you. Once payment has been received we will add your title to the next month’s batch of conversion titles. It takes around one month for the conversion, and a further month to make it available to retail.
- If your title is published in November 2010 or later, the publication date will match the physical version. If it is a backlist title, the publication date will match the date of the “ebook file loaded” stage on the Production page.
All ebook sales (worldwide) are listed in the US sales column on the Financials page because they are run through our US distributor, NBN. You can check on relative USA/UK sales on Kindle (not on other ereaders) on the Novelrank programme (more in the section on Online Sales in Chapter 13). The retailers to which NBN distribute include all the hundred or so main ones in North America and Europe, though some of these are selective, so not every title goes into every account.
We frequently price-promote ebooks, more in Reader Offer/Giveaway in Chapter 11.
- Some ebook outlets are pickier than others. Apple iTunes will reject any book with notes or references that are not linked. This element will add to the conversion costs, approx £0.10/$0.17 per page for one-directional notes. Our sales through Apple are marginal. We will assume you prefer not to have the cost deducted from royalties and are happy not to have the book available there, if your book has notes, unless you say otherwise.
Other reasons why Apple will reject titles:
- Too small a front cover.
- Pictures with too many pixels.
- Prices on the cover.
- Any charts/tables/images that are scanned in.
- Too much interactivity.