ATTENTION, FOLKS: Length and ramble warning!!!
Save for a coffee break -- if you dare. But this may just interest BB contributors.
OK, we’re almost a week behind deadline in sending out the six-monthly royalties this time because of complexities involving the sudden introduction of a whole raft of new ebook retail outlets. But nobody’s so much as murmuring a minor moan because we and our authors fell victim to our own success.
As PayPal payments arrive and cheques start to drop through letterboxes, these are just a few initial responses today …
*Delighted with my royalties – the biggest cheque I ever got from BeWrite Books. (From Australia.)
*Wow! I shall greet my cheque with tremendous pleasure and thank you kindly for all your efforts in securing it. (From the UK on receipt of her royalties statement.)
*A huge increase in sales. It means more readers for the adventure. (From Australia.)
*Thanks. Great to see the Royalties cheques in good time! Well done. (From Canada.)
*First royalties just received. Wow! I’m gobsmacked! (Yup, I warned you; that was the actual word used by a fine fiction author, poet and artist in the UK to describe her excited reaction. CE, you should be ashamed of yourself. Stand in the corner. But thanks.)
And we're looking forward to US reaction later when the clocks there catch up with mine here in France. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a little history to fill you in:
Tony and I realised early on that ebooks were on verge of a giant-leap breakthrough that would come after Christmas 2010. And we were right. Although our paperback sales are holding their own, we’ve seen a massive swing this year from a maximum of 5% ebook sales to 95% paperback, to at least 95% ebook to at most 5% print. Do the sums. It’s remarkable.
Results are only now starting to kick in as more and more stores offer BB ebooks for sale and the publisher returns trickle into the bank.
It happened like this: After an uneasy, informal and non-exclusive partnership with a massive US aggregator who uses an automated system to mass convert to ebook formats and was struggling to get our titles into the big stores, which excluded publishers without an ‘official’ US presence, we got to work on putting things to rights ourselves early in 2010.
Tony took on the painstaking and tough job of converting all 120 titles in the current BeWrite Books catalogue, carefully and artfully creating, on a title-by-title basis, ebook formats known as Mobi, ePub and rebuilt PDF. It took him twelve solid months to crack that task alone. Now you can read a BB book anywhere, any time and on anything from your PC to mobile phone.
Meanwhile, we teamed up with legal eagle Petru Sangeorzan in America (now our US and Latin American rep and worthy advisor) to set the wheels in motion to gain registration as a publishing house in the USA in addition to the Canadian registration Tony set up last March. Our US paperwork eventually passed muster, after six or seven months' hard grind, in October … and the door was opened at last.
Also in the meantime, we established an agent in the massive Chinese market. Behind the Great Wall, she has already sold translation rights of several BB titles to major Chinese publishing houses, and our authors have seen the benefit. The tireless Jessie Wang -- who represented all our titles exclusively at the last Beijing International Book Fair -- is now moving enthusiastically on Simple Chinese translation for sale of ebook rights for the massive Chinese mainland market in digital reading.
Then Tony got to work uploading newly prepared BB titles to the huge new stores as he and I withdrew our ebook catalogue from Ingram – the biggest book distributor on the planet – and negotiated individual contracts with each retailer. We now already appear to have wider and more effective ebook retail reach than even Ingram itself does. (Though we could never hope to best Ingram at print distribution, so they still handle that for us.)
The first ebook uploaded in November was the illustrated A-Z of Punishment and Torture by Irene Thompson and Catherine Edmunds – our first ebook-only venture and first non-fiction title in a decade. Within a month, it had by far outsold all BB ebook editions over ten years ... combined!
We’d proven a point to ourselves and became even more embroiled and occupied with securing new ebook retail and promoting the digital side of the house, uploading titles from our catalogue by the day and new titles on release. We started to see the early result in terms of retail sales statements only a couple of months ago. Not all retail returns are yet in.
So we, and many books, still have a way to go before we’ll have a true idea of the full scale of this success.
Also, we’re interested to see how a new teaming with publisher Revel Barker to produce ebook-only editions of his ‘hack-lit’ print books catalogue will take off. The second of those ebook-onlies by old-hand journalists with mass reader-appeal will be released later this month. (The first was Forgive Us Our Press Passes by Ian Skidmore, second is Slip-Up by Anthony Delano, soon followed by Anthony's The Manacled Mormon -- the inside story of the infamously sex-obsessed kidnapper Joyce McKinney, now headlinging yet again in international press.)
HEARTACHES? Tony and I have been working flat out 16X7 for eighteen months and our lassies, Calina and Skovia respectively, have almost forgotten our names to the same extent that we’ve forgotten where our bedrooms are. And the rest of the team (with great thanks, especially, to BB's excellent senior editor Hugh McCracken) has been just as energetic and enthusiastic.
BACKACHES? Well, imagine how you’d feel after a string of 48-hours-a-stretch stints in your office chair, pouring over a keyboard and with urgent emails from around the globe dropping by the minute.
HEADACHES? The complexities and sheer cost of what we’ve coped with would give an entire floor of publishing pros a headache. At BB, we fly solo. And we had a major year-long problem with our printers and distributors that only started to fix itself after we sent harshly worded registered letters to the CEOs and Board members of Ingram and Lightning Source just before New Year threatening legal action. In a nut shell, we were paying their bills on the dot; they just weren’t paying our publisher returns. Now that was a pain in the bank!
GOBSMACKED? Yup, even we're gobsmacked by how things are working out. And we’ve no doubt that more of our authors will feel the same when returns on their newly store-placed ebook editions start to properly roll. Perhaps not everyone yet will have seen a true reflection of success in their current royalties … just wait until next time, folks, when things are ticking like clockwork and we see more stores added and more payments in from those already aboard.
I was going to include here an explanation of a simple and most effective new promotional tool Tony has implemented this week, but I’ve just realised how much I’ve already rambled mercilessly on. It can wait for the next blog update in a few days.
Meantime, thanks for the unfailing support of all BeWriters and the loyalty of their ever-growing reader-bases. You’ve done us proud, lads and lassies. We can only hope to have returned the favour in some measure.
Very best wishes. Neil (France), Tony (Canada), Hugh (Canada/Scotland), Sam (England), Ian (UK), Meredith (Australia), George and Gloria (USA), et al on the wee BB team.