Australian bookseller Dymocks is launching a new self-publishing option, D Publishing, which lets writers publish ebooks and sell them through the Dymocks site, as well as offering a print-on-demand option. The big catch? It costs $499 to add a title to the service.
Picture by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images
The official D Publishing site goes live at midday today, but ahead of the launch I chatted with Dymocks' general manager of ecommerce Michael Allara about how the service will operate. The fee gets you two things once you have uploaded your manuscript. Firstly, there's automated typesetting of your work in a professional fashion — a feature Allara said was much harder to implement than it sounds:
Book production is really difficult, it's very complex. The average person won't be aware of all the technical complexities to typeset a book. The biggest challenge and the area that we've spent the most time on and that we're happiest with is the quality of the book on the page. For us to make that world accessible has been our biggest achievement.
Secondly, you get listed on Dymocks' site for sale in PDF format. Individual Dymocks stores will also have the option of ordering print copies of your work to sell (something I'd imagine might work with local interest or history titles).
You can set whatever price you like for the work, and you'll receive 80 per cent of that price, paid twice yearly (at the end of June and the end of December). If you just want ebook publishing in ePub format (with no print on demand service available), you'll pay $399; print book plus ePub (rather than PDF) is $699. In the future, Dymocks plans to offer editing and design services which will, naturally, attract an additional fee.
In the pre-ebook era, self-publishing was definitely viewed as a lesser alternative, and vanity publishers who charged authors to print their work were particularly poorly regarded. The boundaries are less clear these days — for specialist titles, publishing yourself can make more sense than trying to attract the attention of a mainstream publisher. That said, there are still some restrictions: the terms of service prohibit illegal or defamatory content. Authors retain copyright in their work, but Allara said that if a major publisher approached an author to publish a D Publishing title, it would have to be considered on a "case by case basis". (I'll be curious to see the exact terms when the site goes live.)
All ebook self-publishing deals need careful consideration and comparison. Amazon does have no-fee publishing options for the Kindle, for instance, but puts a lot of emphasis on getting you to sign up for additional marketing packages. Collecting payment can also be tricky in the Amazon context, since there's not many easy options for getting payment to an Australian bank account.
So would you be tempted to pay $499 (or $399) to get your book on the market in Australia? Share your thoughts in the comments.