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Publishing News from RWA: Berkley & NAL to Acquire for Digital...

Berkley and NAL are currently looking to acquire works that are 55,000 words of original fiction to be published digitally. These works will be published in print on a case by case basis either in a collection or individually later at some undetermined time.

Shorter works are considered to be part of their existing “especial” books which, like Orbit, is primarily for their existing authors. While many of the “especials” were repurposed, there will be original digital fiction in the future.

The digital first books will be published globally in the English language and should be found at all major ebook retailers.

The submission*, editorial and production teams will be the same as the traditionally published print first books. These books will be marketed by the existing marketing team as well.

*This does mean that they accept both agented and unagented submissions.

Berkley has invited me to acquire for them in a vein similar to the Agony Ecstasy anthology.

The initial focus will be on romance oriented books but they are open to any strong story.

The books will be DRM and Agency priced although the pricing is unknown at this point.

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In all this talk about digital, some print readers are feeling left behind. Some readers have only been able to find ways to contact the author via twitter or Facebook instead of regular old email. Authors who don’t have a contact me link or have hidden their email address on an about page or a media page are frustrating readers.

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Maya Banks has started mbbookstore.com where readers can buy both print books and, in the future, digital books. International readers have had a hard time finding her books and this bookstore is, in part, a response to that demand. Additionally, Banks will be releasing her first self published title in the fall. This ebook will be available via her site and all other ebook retailers. The story is called “A Colter Christmas”. Banks has hired an editor, copyeditor, and proofreader, as well as a technical expert to code the books. Freelance artwork was obtained through Millennium Promotions.

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Dystel & Goderich is offering publishing services. They will assist authors in seeking out new platforms for a 15% fee. It’s a different and probably safer take on agent publishing.

Word is thick on the ground at RWA that other agents and agenting firms are offering these publishing services or actually publishing themselves.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Heather Massey
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 22:40:21

    Congrats on the new gig!

  2. Allie
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 23:32:57

    Maya Banks is a shining example of how authors should behave on the internet, if you ask me. She responds to her readers and does all she can to help them find her books in whatever format they desire. Her web site lists her books and the series are listed IN ORDER, bless her heart. She has excerpts, she has blurbs, she has it all. She updates her site with new and upcoming titles regularly, and if you have a question she is happy to answer it. I just adore that woman.

  3. Shannon Stacey
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 06:56:42

    Congratulations, Jane! That’s exciting news!

    I’m thrilled for Maya, too. Big things ahead for both of you.

  4. DS
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 07:43:57

    I read the source article and I’m still not sure what Dystel & Goderich is going to do for their 15% that the author couldn’t do for him or herself or obtain as work for hire– except maybe the subsidiary rights. I am assuming the agent is not going to front the cost of cover, editing, etc., just “facilitate” it and the author will pay for the actual work.
    ETA: sorry, wanted to say congratulations also.

  5. Cameron Belle
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 08:47:53

    Congratulations! Is the wordcount target 55,000 or more, or is it 55,000 on the relative nose?

  6. Jami Davenport
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 09:56:29

    Congratulations, Jane! Interesting news coming out of NY these days.

  7. Lisa Hendrix
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 10:49:54

    Congratulations, Jane. The industry is changing so fast, it’s hard to keep up. I had the same question as Cameron — Does 55,000 mean 55G *or more*, or are they requesting category length books?

  8. Elyssa Papa
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 11:38:57

    Congrats, Jane!!!

  9. MaryK
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 11:57:21

    That is very cool, congratulations! You can promote editor branding with an “acquired by Jane” tag. :D Will you be the only acquirer or will there be others?

  10. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 13:25:24

    I think even a 15% cut for an agent-turned-publisher is hinky and has significant potential for creating a conflict of interest. I did the math on this for a blog post I put up during RT in April and the results did not give me much comfort.

    Quoting myself:

    …if the agent takes the role of publisher, presumably he/she will “net out” the cost of digital distribution (typically 30-35% if the book is priced $2.99 to $9.99) and then skim his/her 15% of the remaining 70%. That is a HUGE change in the REAL percentage the agent is getting paid. And although 15% of an advance is a GUARANTEED amount, while there’s no guarantee on earnings from a book the agent publishes himself, 15% of 70% for a book you didn’t sell to New York is WAY better than 15% of nothing and it might even be better than 15% of a lower end advance.

    Using simple, round numbers, if the advance from a traditional publisher is $10,000, the agent earns $1500. If the book is mass market paperback at $7.99, 15,725 copies will have to sell before the agent receives another dime, and it will be a year or more before either the agent or author see additional payments. If instead of taking that offer, the agent publishes the book for the client and takes 15% of 70% of 2.99, the book only has to sell 3,345 copies to earn that $1,500 and the royalties will begin rolling in a few months after release.

    Of course, my analysis above doesn’t take into consideration the difference between the royalty rate for a digital book vs. the print copy when sold to a traditional publisher, but even if my projections on when the $7.99 book will earn out $10,000 are off by half, it’s still pretty clear that the agents route to $1,500 is shorter via the self-publishing route than by the traditional one.

    That makes me pretty uncomfortable and looks like a conflict of interest even though the percentages seem less egregious than the 50/50 split deals we’ve been hearing about.

  11. Worry-free romance readers, digital-first Penguin imprint, National Bookshop Day – Book Thingo
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 19:03:14

    […] Dear Author reports that Berkley and NAL, imprints of Penguin USA, are accepting submissions for digital-first books. They’re focusing primarily on romance, although there seems to be some flexibility on that. Unfortunately, it looks like the ebooks will be released with DRM. Let’s hope they have no geographic restrictions as well! […]

  12. Jane
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 23:39:06

    @Lisa Hendrix It’s 55,000 and more. My invitation from Berkley is to basically do an extension of the agony/ecstasy collection except this time with fewer authors and for digital. It’s a project at a time sort of thing (like I may decide after one project that it isn’t going to work or they might think after the first project it may not work). I am not quitting blogging or working for Berkley.

  13. Jane
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 23:40:22

    @MaryK As far as I know (and I don’t know much) the existing editorial staff will acquire. My involvement would be like the agony ecstasy collection, only digital.

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