Ebookling is a new self-publishing platform for authors that is as wide as the Internet with offices in Iceland, New York and Boulder, CO. eBookNewser caught up with Ebookling founder Colin Wright to discuss their approach to digital self-publishing.
EBN: Why did you decide to base the company in so many locations?
CW: Our team is scattered geographically (COO in NYC, CTO in Boulder and me, the CEO, in Reykjavik) because we all have different priorities when it comes to living our lives, and we want to show people that the technology we have available these days allows us to run a business that suits our needs, not the other way around. This applies to authors as well; they can easily work from anywhere while running a business build on the strength of their work, and we want to show them how.
EBN: How do select which authors to work with and which eBooks to publish?
CW: After creating an account on Ebookling (for free), authors are able to upload as many products as they wish to the site. These products are then screened for quality and if accepted, added to the store. If they aren’t accepted, we contact the author and make some suggestions as to what can be done to get the product up to standards…usually it’s something as simple as adding a cover or tweaking the layout.
EBN: Where are your eBooks for sale and how can readers find them?
CW: You can find Ebookling books on our site, and there are customized Ebookling stores all over the Internet, on people’s websites and blogs. This is part of how we are expanding the market for independently published books; we provide an affiliate commission to anyone who sells a book through our store, and folks who are signed up are able to share eBooks via Twitter and Facebook using their affiliate code, or create a custom shop filled with eBooks they like, which is them embeddable on their own page.
EBN: How do you see the indie publishing landscape?
CW: The way things generally work in the indie publishing world is that an author writes a book and then sells it through their own website. This allows them to reach the audience they’ve already built, their friends and family, and they can make a bit of money using this method. There’s also the option of publishing it through Amazon, iBooks and the like, though the same rules apply…there are so many products on those stores (and priority is given to those that come from mainstream publishing houses) that exposure is incredibly unlikely, and it really just gives friends, family and existing fans another place to purchase the book (with a cut coming out for the service).
The newer model is to create a book and then offer and affiliate commission to anyone who helps you sell a copy. This fee is usually 50% or more and tends to bring in a great deal of sales, so long as you have a decent-sized following to begin with. No one will sell your book if no one knows it exists.
This is something we wanted to fix. There’s no reason why an author with no name or marketing skills shouldn’t be able to come out of nowhere and wow the world with their work. So we set up a shop where authors could sell their work and be exposed to a new audience. A store that would focus on independently published products that provides all kinds of resources that help authors optimize their products and make them of an even higher quality.
EBN: Can you describe your pricing/royalty model?
CW: The pricing model for this system is as such: The author always keeps 50% of the profit from the sale of their book. This is the same as what they would make selling with an affiliate under the model mentioned above, and it essentially makes us at Ebookling a super-affiliate (getting the same amount, but providing more value).
Ebookling then takes 50%, but we also have our affiliate program, so if someone brings in a sale for us, they get 25% of the total sale, and that comes out of our cut. This means we can exponentially grow the potential audience for every product in our store while still making sure the author is able to make money for their work.
In other words, for a $20 ebook: $20 = $10 for Author + $10 for Ebookling (or $5 for Affiliate + $5 for Ebookling)
EBN: How are you competing with other self-publishing platforms like WattPad and SmashWords?
CW: We’re much newer, and making use of new technologies as a result. Both WattPad and SmashWords are excellent services, but their stores are a bit dated, and as a result they aren’t able to experiment with new models the way that we are…they can only make what is essentially a much smaller Amazon.
Also, both of these services are known to authors, but not to very many readers. Until I started Ebookling I had never heard of either, and I read 6-10 eBooks a month. What we’re doing is opening up the indie publishing world to the mainstream and rewarding readers by allowing them to make a side-income by becoming an affiliate from the work that they enjoy.
EBN: What new plans do you have this year?
CW: We’re launching a new service in March that will allow authors to publish chapters of their books directly to the mailboxes of their readers. What this means is that as an author you can conceivably start writing an infinitely long book (or a series that doesn’t have gaps in between the books) and charge readers a subscription fee to read along. There’s also the opportunity to share poetry in this way, or a newsletter about whatever you find interesting.
We’ve got other publishing platforms in the pipeline, but that’s probably the largest difference: we’re doing and going to be doing things that no one else has tried because it’s risky, but that we believe will help revolutionize the independent publishing scene, and increase the scale and quality of it as well.
Time will tell if we’re right or not, but at the end of the day if we’re able to help even just a few dozen authors become authorpreneurs – becoming the masters of their own financial destiny and able to produce the work they want to produce without a publisher looking over their shoulder and telling them no – we will have achieved our goal.