‘The People’s Publisher’ – Launch of D Publishing

After months of speculation Dymocks  launched D Publishing Network  last night!

Australia’s largest bookselling chain has launched a service to enable writers to to create, print, publish and commercially distribute their books and eBooks with Dymocks. Their web-based service allows anyone to become a published author with their books available on Dymocks.com.au and through Google ebooks.

The bookselling chain will have the ability to choose some titles to be distributed through their bookshop. This last point will be a huge carrot to writers – a publishing service AND online distribution AND possibility of appearing in the chain stores throughout Australia, New Zealand Hong Kong. With 96 stores in their network and over 60 million books sold last year, this service offers a unique proposition not currently matched elsewhere in Australia.

Edited added 09/12/11: I think it’s important that authors are aware of some of the debate online about the terms of the contract with D Publishing Network and I recommend they read the following blog post by the Australian Literature Review here. In particular I would draw your attention to the agreement that an author signs with D Publishing Network. Edited added 15/12/11: Read what Publishing contract expert Alex Adsett has to say about the terms on Bookseller & Publisher. Edited added 20/12/11Despite a number of ‘positive conversations’ we have not yet seen a change in the contract that will satisfy those that understand the implications of the D Publishing Contract. It now seems to be a publicity issue to let authors know about the impact. Here is the latest update I’ve seen and any writer should ensure they keep themselves updated. Edited added11/01/12: The Latest update on the 3rd Draft of the D Publishing Network Contract from Alex Adsett can be read here

I spoke to Michael Allara, General Manager of E-Commerce at Dymocks to find out some of the nuts and bolts of how D Publishing Network works with authors and what it costs.

Packages currently being offered by D Publishing Network

Print only – $499:  They take your manuscript and typeset it for their digital print  option. They understand that (as with any typesetting process) that it may not be correct the first time and you can keep adapting for up to five times. You also receive a PDF ebook with this package.

ePub only – $399: Conversion of your manuscript to an ePub ebook format.

Print and ePub – $699: Combined package deal.

As always I’d advise doing price comparisons with other suppliers.

Publishing Deal

What is interesting to hear from Michael is that although you can just use their services to print your book, if you publish with them then it is a single publishing deal. They will give first party distribution with www.dymocks.com.au and distribution partners Google ebooks. In the first quarter of 2012 they will have set up further distribution deals which are currently under negotiation.

If you publish with them it will be under the D Books imprint although they will announce further imprints next year. For instance Michael Allara said they intend to have an imprint for their pick of the ‘stand-out’ titles they publish. What will be of interest is to see the difference in the marketing and merchandising of these titles. Marketing services were not mentioned tonight but I assume that like many other services companies these will be offered.

Add-on Services

As yet they have not launched services like editorial and design which they expect to have operational by the first quarter of 2012.

Web-based solution

Michael stated that an author totally unfamiliar with the process may need to spend one day working through all the options until they were happy with the final product.Once you are familiar it would only take someone less than an hour! This solution, developed by Nexus is the key to the D Publishing Network and makes it different from many ‘one-stop-shop’ service companies. While those companies are able to consult and talk with the author through the process, the D Publishing Network is designed to guide the author through the process online.

As you can read on this blog post  the  ‘backend’ was designed and built by Nexus IT & Communications Solutions. John Dobbin, Principal of Nexus of  explained to me about their work with Dymocks:

Nexus built the production engine for Dymocks D Publishing Network. Text and images are received from the web front-end and automatically paginated into a printable book, eBook (PDF) or ePub file. The system can output a variety of sizes and accommodate sophisticated stylistic options such as image groups with captions, highlighted text boxes, end notes, tables and more.

Importantly, the book is processed through an advanced typographic engine which means it will come out exactly like a professionally typeset book — looking after widows and orphans and spacing and hyphenation and all sorts of factors that make a book look lovely. Most people would be hard pressed to tell that their book was not handset by a professional designer.

Power to the author

In the media release Dymocks General Manager of eCommerce, Michael Allara said:

We’re incredibly excited to reveal D Publishing. Unlike the conventional publishing model, D Publishing is driven by the author. The author can make decisions about book content, cover, distribution and printing via our website for a far lower cost than a traditional custom or vanity publishing house would charge.

Authors who publish with D Publishing will find we do not approve or reject authors based on perceived literary merit or commercial viability of their work – the author determines whether they are good enough to be published.

What is important to understand is that in offering this model in the local market they are offering Australian writers (what seems to me) a service not unlike what Amazon or Lulu offer but with the potential for physical distribution. Note added 09/12/11: Except the difference in terms being offered. Refer my note above.  It’s a smart business solution to offer these services. Anyone can be published, and many will be!

I spoke to Ashlee Jade Conway who was one of the aspiring writers who were chosen to produce their book through D Publishing. A medical student, 20 year-old Ashlee has written The Treaty – a political thriller about the Antarctic treaty and the impact on the environment. She’s thrilled to have her work published and to her it seems to be a wonderful opportunity.

I also met the first writer published by D Publishing Network, Lisa Rubinstein, author of True Leadership. As their first author she didn’t use the system herself as it was their opportunity to take a book through all the stages required. She used her own cover designer and their internal design templates and as an ex-Production Manager I can attest that it is of the quality you would want to have produced.

Go Local!

Readers of this blog will know I always support ‘go local’  and I think D Publishing Network is a good option for Australian writers to explore. Remember though, the services being offered are also available to you to access yourself, and sometimes cost is not the only thing you should consider when choosing suppliers. There are more and more ‘one-stop-shops’ available to Australian writers like Publish-Me and Palmer Higgs, offering them the full range of services that they need to see their self-publishing dream become a reality. Editorial, design and other services are available for any author wishing to go down the ‘a-la-carte publishing’ route and most services companies allow you to choose what services you wish to take up.

The smart approach would be to look at different offerings and choose what you want to access from different suppliers.

A plea from me…

When I conduct training for authors in Digital Opportunities I will always emphasise the importance of editing. That means investing in your work to ensure you are producing the best possible book and also to ensure that the lingering stigma about self-publishing is dispelled. Anyone who has worked in publishing understands the value that an editor brings to the process – and it’s not just about checking for typographic errors!  A good editor will give you advise on structure and plot and character development amongst other many benefits. There are many well-known Australian authors who would tell you that the quality of their work has been improved due to the careful work of their editor.

So please authors, please invest in having your work professionally edited. Not by friends or family. Not by someone who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Please have your work edited by a good book editor. You won’t be sorry and this investment will ensure your work will stand out from the majority of self-published work.

Congratulations to Dymocks on the launch of D Publishing Network. I’ll be very interested to see how this solution develops and if Australian writers see this as a viable alternative to dealing with some of the offshore players. And can they make money?!

The D Publishing Network Website with more details here.

4 thoughts on “‘The People’s Publisher’ – Launch of D Publishing

  1. Thanks so much for this wonderfully comprehensive report, Anna. (I wonder did you take the bus lane last night, after all? twitter) I will pass the info on, along with the info on YouWriteOn, to any of the relevant clients I encounter. I agree, the carrot of possible distribution through their bookstores will be a great attraction. At present, I’m seeing authors who come through small boutique publishers and Youwrite on having immense difficultites in placing their books in towns in the northern rivers. These stores will have to accept as the times change, of course – but right now, as far as they’re concerned, not yet.
    Thank you again, will bookmark this post.
    Warm wishes,
    DdeV

    • Thanks Danielle for your comment. Distribution for self-publishers in bookshops is always quite tricky. Note that Dymocks will choose which titles they will feature in-store, it’s not an automatic inclusion. But yes, as time goes on, and self-publishing is packaged with the quality of a title that comes from a traditional publisher (meaning editorial, design and production are matched) then I’m sure we will see more in traditional outlets.

  2. Anna, that’s a good intro to D Publishing. As an editor, I’m watching with interest how Dymocks will incorporate the editing and design aspects. I raised that with Michael Allara in September and it seems they’re still working out the details.

    • Thanks Dave. If I recall correctly what Michael said on the night they intend to bring other services on first 1/4 2012. I have to admit that I wish editorial was included from the beginning. Their backend system by Nexus will prepare a nicely set book from various templates. I gather they have template design covers or you can bring your own – currently!

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