New E-Publishing Opportunities….or not?

The other day, one of my Facebook contacts had a guest post from a lady who very happily told everyone how she got her books published through a couple of  e-publishers.  She was very upbeat, happy, and proud of her accomplishment, but I found it hard to feel happy for her.

No offense to her, but I can’t fathom the appeal of a strictly e-publisher.  This lady’s story is telling.  Her books won’t come out until February and August of 2012, respectively.  In ebook.  Call me a Philistine, but I can’t see how in the world it could possibly take nearly a year to get a book out only in ebook format.

Look, I finished Masters last week.  Jeroen tells me he’ll start reading it in a week, maybe two, once he catches up on some other projects, and that he’ll have a preliminary cover design about a week after that.  In the meantime, I’ve got seven people reading it for content and typo errors.  I’ll probably contact Bubblecow or some other professional editor too, and maybe a proofreader.  With all that work, I fully expect to have Masters up for sale, in all ebook outlets, by mid to late June.  Doing it on my own.

So this lady is adding many months to the process, and I guarantee she’s giving up a sizable percentage of her royalties to boot.  And for what?  I don’t know these presses she signed with with, but really, what exactly are they going to do to earn that money that she couldn’t do for herself?  Maybe some marketing?  Maybe?  But mostly I suspect all she’ll get is an ego boost from having someone say she’s good.  And she’ll pay a lot of money for that.

I don’t know.  It smells like a bad deal to me.

I can see hooking up with print publishers, so you can have a better chance of getting your book into bookstore chains and what have you.  But signing with a publisher only for ebook publishing?  No way, Jose.  That makes no sense to me.

Now, I could be wrong.  Maybe she’s getting a lot more out of this deal than I suspect.  Maybe she’s getting a good percentage of the gross proceeds, so she’ll get close to the 65-70% royalty she could get just be doing it herself.  But I strongly doubt it.  More likely she’ll get 25-50% of the net at best.  And as J Daniel Sawyer points out in this post, when it comes to contracts, getting a piece of the net proceeds essentially means getting nothing.

Not for me.  No way.  No how.  I’m totally onboard with Dean Wesley Smith’s latest recommendations.  If someone wants a piece of my action, they better offer some SERIOUSLY good value for the money.  And even then, I’ll probably say no.  One should never pay for day labor with a percentage of ownership.  And make no mistake: if you’re giving someone a percentage of your royalties, you’re giving them partial ownership of your copyright.  There better be some HUGE value added to justify that.  But considering the copyright lasts until seventy years after the author dies, I can’t fathom what could add enough value to offset a sizable reduction of that long-lasting a cash flow stream.

Call me silly.

UPDATE: I just went through and re-read her post, and it’s even worse than I thought.  She went through an agent to get these deals.  So not only will she not get the ebook royalty she could have, but she’ll also have an agent skimming off part of what little she does get.  Ugh.