Getting Published by a Major Book Publisher...Is it Worth It?

Oct 29th

So a while back a major book publisher read my ebook and said they loved it. They wanted to publish it & we went right up until the day I was supposed to get the contract with them saying that it shouldn't be a big deal for me to keep ebook publishing rights. On the last day they changed their mind on that front, and if I killed the ebook to make a print one it would likely kill the business model unless I started selling services or got big into AdSense & click pimping.

I may be able to segregate out the print book content stuff and the ebook content stuff and use the print book to upsell the ebook, but generally I am a bit uncertain as to what all should go in which.

My options are as follows:

  • turn down the publishing house, continue as I have
  • kill the ebook and just make the print book an amazing value for it's price
  • kill the ebook and sell a monthly newsletter service
  • try to add more advanced stuff to the ebook and maybe pull out most the for newbies stuff (but then it may be a bit hard for me to figure out where that line is)
  • if I altered the ebook stuff in any way those who are in on the ebook free updates would get whatever else I did instead (although I probably could not afford to buy and ship thousands of print books, so that would be treated as a separate product on that front)

If I got published the upsides could be

  • added distribution
  • those who wanted a print version or cheaper price point could get my book in a format that is more appealing to them
  • I would have more credibility / authority in the eyes of some
  • I would learn about the publishing process (which in turn would make it easier for me to publish future books if the idea sounded / felt cool down the road)
  • if the marketing worked synergistically then it would cause more flow
  • updating this channel and ebook is exceptionally time intensive compared to the time required to run a network of lower effort channels. If I changed my business model (doing lots of affiliate work and click pimping stuff I would probably make far greater profit)
  • if my ebook is pretty good then more people reading a print version would mean I could help more people

If I got published the downsides could be

  • if I did not update the ebook any longer or took large pieces of it out that could piss off many people who bought it already (and I am not willing to piss off past customers to gain market that is just bad karma)
  • it would take significant time
  • it could hurt the profitability of this site...since largely they would want this site to market the print book, and that could cause my added value higher priced offering to sell less
  • creating multiple price points, etc. is not one of my strengths & I think the simplicity of the current setup makes it easier to buy
  • print books have low margins
  • another company would control much of my content
  • there are already a number of print books covering the search space...I think most of them were printed to upsell services instead of another book or uncertain how much volume / demand there is for a print version
  • my potential publisher is one of the book publishers sueing Google, and I am not sure I would want my book publisher to do that
  • I have already sold more ebooks than the average physically printed book has sold. If I did self publishing or went with a smaller publishing house there would be added flexibility.

If my ebook was not my main source of income this would be a no brainer, but currently it is, and that makes the decision a bit harder.

I am not certain if I will say what I end up doing, but I like the idea of getting feedback.

More Google Print Lawsuits

Recently Google was sued by the Authors Guild for copyright infringement. It seems the Google Print product is making a few more enemies, as publishers sue Google as well:

Book publishers sued Google, escalating a nasty spat over the search-engine giant's ambitious book-indexing project.

The Association of American Publishers said it sued the Mountain View, Calif., Internet giant Wednesday morning after talks broke down.

McGraw-Hill, Wiley, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster are named as plaintiffs in the suit.

John Battelle sees no point to the suit:

I really don't get this. I have been both a publisher and an author, and I have to tell you, these guys sue for one reason and one reason alone, from what I can tell: Their legacy business model is imperiled, and they fear change. Of course, if they can get out of their own way, they'll end up making more money.

I wonder if Google will respond by blacklisting any publishers. Google only needs a few major publishers to start seeing increased revenues due to Google Print for the rest to follow along.

European Comission to Join Book Fray

From The Register:

Google's internet library project will face competition from Yahoo!, but also from a less predictable rival: the European Commission announced its own plan on Friday. And it has an advantage: if copyright laws interfere with its plans it can change the laws.

Why do so many people care about who controls what databases?

"Without a collective memory, we are nothing, and can achieve nothing. It defines our identity and we use it continuously for education, work and leisure," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

For historical perspective check out The Royal Library of Alexandria, which is also covered in the always ever recommendable Cosmos series, although the Carl Sagan site could sure use some SEO.

Need More Data...

Open Content Alliance - Yahoo! fights Google on book front. Gary has commentary from the founder of Project Gutenburg. And there is Wikibooks. I have not read any of them, but it sure takes a ton of effort to write a book.

As more and more people realize how easy it is to publish Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.

And it was all Yellow...
Consolidation on the yellow pages front. R.H. Donnelley to buy Dex media for 4.2 billion. How does a company worth 2 billion buy another company for 4.2 billion and assume 5.3 billion of their debt as well? They have to be getting squeezed by search, and it is only going to get worse ahead.

Scholarly Journals' Premier Status Is Diluted by Web, Media and Money

May 23rd

The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about smaller upstarts and the web challenging the business models of of big time academic publishers. It will be interesting to see how far advertising can take search companies before publishers get squeezed to the point where they revolt or make demands that spread to a critical mass.

In other, somewhat related news, Bill Moyers addressed the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis about a week ago.

One reason I'm in hot water is because my colleagues and I at "Now" didn't play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news.

he continues...

These "rules of the game" permit Washington officials to set the agenda for journalism, leaving the press all too often simply to recount what officials say instead of subjecting their words and deeds to critical scrutiny. Instead of acting as filters for readers and viewers, sifting the truth from the propaganda, reporters and anchors attentively transcribe both sides of the spin invariably failing to provide context, background or any sense of which claims hold up and which are misleading. ... Objectivity is not satisfied by two opposing people offering competing opinions, leaving the viewer to split the difference.

Later he comments on the Journal:

But I confess to some puzzlement that the Wall Street Journal, which in the past editorialized to cut PBS off the public tap, is now being subsidized by American taxpayers although its parent company, Dow Jones, had revenues in just the first quarter of this year of $400 million.

In other related news, Friday Ask Jeeves announced they bought out Excite Europe.

Any way you slice it, there are going to be a few gatekeepers to this thing we call the web, and to most media outlets in general. The more there are the better it is for consumers, and for that reason I might start trying a bit harder to use Google and Yahoo! a bit less.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but anyone who knows about SEO should see it as a personal responsibility to make sure people find what issues you feel are important.

Earlier today a friend of mine told me of a site he was creating about an ongoing, rarely covered, & brutal civil war.


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