Digital Publishing: Do you have to go it alone?

Good news – you don’t need to be a lone pioneer to have your book published electronically. There are now a wide range of digital first publishers looking for submissions.


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 Digital Publishing Lines within large Print Publishers

Romance readers were really the early risers on the digital adoption curve. They were the first to get excited about digital reading and publishers have responded to that huge surge in demand.

The five major trade book publishing houses, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Shuster have recognised the huge demand for digital versions of their books and have created digital publishing brands as part of their publishing operations.

Here are a few examples:

Random House Publishing in the U.S. now has a digital only publishing imprint focused on romance and women’s fiction titles called Loveswept and a sister imprint focused on the New Adult romance audiences called Flirt.

The Random House Group launched a straight-to-digital romance list called Rouge in 2011 in the UK.

HarperCollins in the U.S. now has a digital publishing unit called Avon which specialises in Romance Fiction

While Harper Collins in the U.K. has recently launched Harper Impulse – a  Digital First romance publisher.

Little Brown UK, which is part of Hachette, have their own digital romance publishing unit called Entice which is part of the Piatkus imprint.

Outside the big five, publishers such as Harlequin have been at the forefront of e-publishing for many years and now have a number of digital only imprints which operate as separate business units.

The most well known of these are Carina Press in the U.S. and Carina U.K.

More recently there is now a new series called Harlequin Digital First which is actively seeking new submissions. You might be surprised to know that although all three of these imprints are part of the Harlequin family, they are looking for a wide range of genre fiction which does not have to contain romantic elements. Be sure to check the writing and submission guidelines.

And there are many more examples in an expanding market.

*The best news for authors is that these publishers are constantly looking for new material to publish and are welcoming to debut authors as well as authors who are already published.

Without new titles they don’t have a business!

*And you don’t need a literary agent to submit your manuscript.

The bad news for authors is that you have to do your research very carefully before you agree to sign a publishing contract with these publishers.

Some, like Random House Loveswept will offer you the choice between an advance on royalties and a standard 25% royalty on all digital sales, OR a higher royalty rate but without an advance payment.

Most have standard contracts which do not offer any advance payment, but pay you between 30 and 50% of the net price of your eBook or the cover price of your eBook depending on whether your book is sold from the publisher’s website or from an online bookseller which the company has to share revenue.

These rates change constantly so you must always check the website for every publisher for the latest information for authors.

But there is no doubt that the growing number of digital imprints within the big publishing houses reflect the market awareness that the popularity of digital books for genre fiction, and especially romance fiction, is a game changer.

If these companies did not have these imprints then they would lose out to the new generation of readers who are seeking to read books in a new way.


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