I'm not one of those people who believes that traditional publishing is doomed. I do believe, however, in hedging my bets. And of course I'm not the only one.
Kids and teens haven't yet taken a huge leap into ereading, but that day will be here soon enough. Canadian writer Art Slade decided that the phrase "out-of-print" didn't have much meaning in a world of ebooks, and chose to epublish some of his old titles, including the Edgar-nominated mystery Dust. Why would a Governor General's Award and TD Canadian Children's Literature Award-winning novelist with a successful traditional career want to do this?
"Two main reasons," he wrote on his blog . "One is that these books were out of print in various countries, so I could at least be making an income from them. The second is that right now in the publishing world there is great, numbing fear about the changes coming to the industry via ebooks (umm...update the changes are here) and, frankly, the e-rights being offered by major publishers are not very generous (to make it simple if I sell an ebook through a publisher I make $25% of net which on a $10.00 book would be $1.75. If I upload that same book to amazon myself I make $7.00). Obviously there are a multitude of factors on why a traditional contract is still very much in the cards for a new book ("paper" books are the vast majority of my sales and, at this moment, the sales of the Children's market, publishers have promotion budgets, editors, sales staff, etc.) For my out-of-print books it was an easy decision to go it alone. "
Art is a techie, proactive kind of guy, and he makes it sound pretty easy. Because experimenting with OOP titles seemed like a no-brainer to me as well, I also decided to put my OOP novel, Lily's Ghosts into ebook form myself. But there are a few hurdles. To epublish an OOP title, you'll need:
1) The Rights. Because Lily's Ghosts is an older title, contracted when the Kindle was just a twinkle in Amazon's eye, my agent had little trouble getting my rights back. But just because you held onto your erights doesn't mean you can produce an ebook on your own. If your book is still in print, non-compete clauses could prevent you from self-publishing. Check your contracts! And if you're a picture book author, you'll need to ask your illustrator to request his/her rights back, too.
2) An ISBN: Platforms like Amazon's Kindle and Lulu will assign you an ISBN, but you can also buy a block of your own ISBNs at Bowker, the official ISBN agency of the US. In the UK and other territories, the official agency is Nielson.
3) New Cover Art. Unless you're a designer, I'm not sure doing your own cover art is the best idea. Art Slade decided to hire an illustrator to work on a new cover, and gives the names of his cover illustrators on his blog. Be conscious of the fact that ebook cover art has to look striking even in thumbnail size. Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest has 10 tips for effective book covers here.
4) The text of the book. I'll be using a Word file that I just finished copyediting for clarity (and because I CANNOT STOP TWEAKING). But existing physical books can be scanned and then converted for publication. If you're comfortable with techie stuff, like Art, you can format your files and upload them yourself, or you can hire someone to scan/format your files for you.
Finally, you'll have to upload your files to the various ebook platforms. Amazon's Kindle is the best-known, but then there's uploading to iPad, B&N's Nook, Sony's ereader, etc. Yes, there are folks you can hire to do this for you, too (usually the same ones who format the files). Or you can use a program like Scrivener to export your file as an ebook.
I'm sure I've only touched on some of the issues involved, and I'll be blogging more about the process soon. In the meantime, despite the chaos in the publishing and bookselling industries, I'm happy that we'll see more fabulous books rising up from the