Saturday, April 05, 2008

Targeting an E-Publisher (Part 3)

Read Part 1 of the series here.
Read Part 2 of the series here.

E-Publisher Website Data
You can learn a surprising amount by looking around each e-publisher’s website. This is what customers will see and use and you should put yourself in the mindset of a customer when you explore it. If you find something confusing, so will other people. If you find something a pleasure to use, so will others. Customers are very easy to influence with website usability and design, so it pays to take it into account.

Things you see on the website can also be extrapolated to give you clues to certain behaviors or data that can make a difference on how you rank that e-publisher on your list.

How Long Has This E-Publisher Been In Business
Length of time in business is not the whole story. E-publishers have failed after months in business and years in business. What this information does do is give you a data point to look at when you also look at the number of releases or authors.
But a new e-publisher will most likely not have the customer base of an e-publisher that has been in business longer. New stories may not have the sales figures with a smaller or newer e-publisher that they would have with an older or larger one.

What Do Current Covers Look Like?
Covers can take many forms and many “looks.” Not everyone’s taste in covers is the same and it can make a significant difference for some readers and authors. You should wander through each e-publisher’s catalog of books and get a feel for what that e-publisher’s normal cover look is. Then decide whether you are comfortable having that cover on your book or not. You really are the only one who can make that call. If you don’t like or at least accept your cover, you’re less likely to be happy and less likely to promote your work.

How Many Releases Per Week?
The number of releases per week will give you a rough look at the volume of the e-publisher. Because e-publishers do not generally provide sales numbers, you have to make some rough guesses of what that might be. Typically, the number of releases per week corresponds to the e-publisher’s sales volumes. An e-publisher that has one release a week almost certainly has lower overall sales than an e-publisher that has four new releases per week.

How Many Authors in the Stable?
Take a look at the stable of authors the e-publisher has. If most of the stories published are from a small subset of the stable or the stable is very small in relation to the number of stories released per week, that may be a sign of either a publisher that is mostly focused on its owners.

Don’t mistake this for a publisher who is merely new and has a small stable because of that. In that case the e-publisher may only release one book a week and have a small stable of core authors.

What File Formats are Offered?
This is another factor that can have an impact on the customer base. People quickly develop favored formats based on how they read ebooks and are less likely to buy a format they cannot easily use unless they are already hooked on the author’s work.

Part 4 will be posted Sunday :)


Anonymous said...

The entire series of articles is, for the most part, right on target. Very well done, and very logical in its scope. The one area I tend to question, however, is the "number of new releases per week" section. I have read numerous times that since EC has gone to the "double releases per week" quota, their quality has dropped considerably. Of course, if a publisher puts out a lot of releases per week, and really does the editing and just doesn't put out garbage for the "sake of getting out new releases, quality be damned," that's one thing. But I've seen some publishers put out anything and everything just for the sake of getting out new titles, and the quality is horrid. So sometimes quality over quantity really does make a huge difference. I'd rather a publisher not release any new titles until they meet the quality standards of "good writing" (the author knows how to actually spell, etc.) then to rush crap out of the "cookie-cutter machine" just to appease customer demand. This can (and has been) the downfall of many publishers in the past, and has contributed to EC's dropping popularity.

Unknown said...

Interesting thought process. I have to agree to a certain extent, based on my own experiences. I have one publisher that only puts out one book a week, and quite frankly it's the publisher I am most happy with. I make the best sales there and I feel honestly supported as an author.

I guess it comes down to that there are always exceptions to every rule.

Maura Anderson said...

It's not so much that more releases per week makes the publisher better but that the number of releases per week seems in line with the number of authors on board and the length of time the publisher has been in business.

I'd be more worried if a brand new publisher (say, under a year) is putting out 8-10 a week because there are hard costs associated with every book published and I'd worry that this is a sign of the publisher trying too hard too early.

I'll try to clarify that in the PDF.

Thanks, Anon!

Maura Anderson said...

Thanks for the note, Samantha.

I'm actually right in line with you and it means I'm not stating my point about that well. I'll clarify it so it's more obvious than more releases per week does not necessarily make a publisher "better".

I appreciate the notes!

Teddy Pig said...

I like what you had to say in regards to amount of eBooks published in a week and number of authors represented.

I think between those two you can see the fact that Liquid Silver has just as good publishing quality as Samhain does. Just a smaller output but a healthy variety of authors.

I think most folks can follow that if discussed as a balance.

I would also add to that fact if the ePublisher does do book in print... How great of a variety of authors have they invested in regards to the number of books they have in print?

This would clue you into a ePublisher that might seem to be a healthy environment in publishing their eBooks but more like a vanity press when it comes to the investment of the print books oriented to only a few choice authors.

Maura Anderson said...

Oh - good points, too! I'll add that to the PDF version.

SMOOCHES the Pig :)