From The New York Times:
The Perseus Books Group has created a distribution and marketing service that will allow authors to self-publish their own e-books, the company said on Sunday.
The new service will give authors an alternative to other self-publishing services and a favorable revenue split that is unusual in the industry: 70 percent to the author and 30 percent to the distributor. Traditional publishers normally provide authors a royalty of about 25 percent for e-books.
The service arrives as authors are increasingly looking for ways to circumvent the traditional publishing model, take advantage of the infinite shelf space of the e-book world and release their own work. That’s especially the case for reviving out-of-print books whose rights have reverted back to the author.
. . . .
The new Perseus unit, called Argo Navis Author Services, will be available only to authors who are represented by an agency that has signed an agreement with Perseus. David Steinberger, the president and chief executive of the Perseus Books Group, said that the company had made an agreement with one major literary agency: Janklow & Nesbit Associates, whose authors include Ann Beattie, Anne Rice and Diane Johnson. Curtis Brown Ltd., which represents Karen Armstrong and Jim Collins, is also close to signing an agreement to make Argo Navis available to their authors. Perseus is in discussions with more than a dozen other agencies.
. . . .
He emphasized that while Argo Navis provided distribution and marketing services, the author remained the publisher. While authors get a much higher share of the revenue under this arrangement, they’ll receive fewer of the services, and financial support, provided by publishers under more conventional contracts.
In an effort to solve the problem of how to help readers discover e-books without print counterparts on tables in bookstores, Argo Navis will provide basic marketing services, like placing product pages on retailer Web sites. It will also make more extensive marketing services available for a fee.
. . . .
Tim Knowlton, the chief executive of Curtis Brown, said the service was an appealing option for authors whose books had gone out of print or books for which the author held the electronic rights.
“The ability to select which books an author or an heir would like to put into print, and to do so relatively inexpensively, is very appealing,” Mr. Knowlton said. “For any book that has potential for significant sales, it’s going to be a good opportunity to explore.”
Link to the rest at The New York Times
Let’s look at the basics:
For ebook conversion and putting the ebooks on the major ebook sites, Perseus charges 30%, presumably forever.
Perseus only works through agents. The agent charges 15%, presumably forever.
This is better than traditional publishers who only pay 25% royalties.
Let’s do the math for a $9.99 ebook on Amazon to compare traditional publisher vs. Perseus vs. Indie:
The Times article mentions Perseus receiving 30%, but does not specify if the 30% is calculated against the sales price of the book or the net after Amazon, Nook, etc., selling percentage. PG has given Perseus the benefit of the doubt and assumes their percentage applies to the net after Amazon takes its cut.
PG can’t let the “basic marketing services” of Perseus go by without a comment. These are apparently limited to putting product descriptions for each book on Amazon. PG would bet a 99 cent ebook that Perseus will not write the description and will palm that off on the author. As anyone knows who has ever listed an ebook with anybody, it’s way, way, way less than rocket science. PG bets Perseus is going to pitch the additional marketing services it provides for a fee very hard. PG didn’t see any mention that Perseus would provide a cover, for example.
One interesting question is whether Perseus maintains control of the Amazon/Pubit, etc., accounts or if the author has control. Where do the checks from Amazon, etc., go? Another interesting question is whether Perseus really does receive its percentage forever. Can the author cancel out after a year when she comes to her senses?
An author is much better off doing everything for himself or herself than working with Perseus if the indie author does the conversion and listing of of the ebooks for himself.
An author can simply pay someone a not-very-high flat fee to convert and list the ebook. Consider the possibility of paying Perseus $2.10 per book, you’ll see that paying someone a couple of hundred dollars (or less) to convert a file to ebook format is an expense that gets recouped very quickly over the sale of a hundred books or so.
And, of course, you can’t use Perseus unless you use your agent. PG is interested in exactly what the agent is doing to earn his/her fee for ebooks after they sign someone up with Perseus. Perhaps figuring out those terribly dense royalty reports from Amazon.
If you look at the difference between what an agent earns via traditional publishing and Perseus self-publishing, you’ll see a little potential conflict of interest drifts through the air. PG suspects Perseus may pitch agents on this model to avoid conflict of interest issues, but PG still thinks those issues exist, particularly if the agent pitches Perseus against the author going completely indie.
What is really the most shocking thing is the New York Times is, with general approval, recognizing that authors can get much better deals on ebook publishing than traditional publishers are giving them.