Digital first publishing creating new opportunities for writers – Part 1 (Editia, Momentum and Xoum)

Australia. A large island with a spread-out population. Trucking books around has been a costly issue and added time to publication schedules. Now innovative new publishers are taking advantage of available technologies by launching digital first publishing companies. Digital first makes total sense to enable speed to market with ebooks and  print on demand – if books are printed at all. As a bit of a digital evangelist I’m fully supportive of this method of publishing and happy to see our market offering new options for authors by experimenting with this model.

All these publishers are open to submissions and in this post I feature Editia, Momentum, and Xoum. In my next post on this subject I’ll detail Really Blue Books, Harlequin Escape and Penguin’s Destiny Romance.

The latest entrant into the digital first publishing scene in Australia, Editia will focus on longform journalism and non-fiction shorts of between 10,000 to 35,000 words. With their ebooks available through large players including Amazon, Kobo and iBooks they are also working to support local indie booksellers. Editia’s first title is also now available through Booki.sh and BookU with ReadCloud platforms listing it soon as well. Going for maximum  coverage Editia are an early entrant on brand-spanking new ebook platform Bkclub. They have also said they intend to work with Booktopia, The Reading Room and also Copia when they launch in Australia. Where possible their titles will be DRM free.

There’s a good interview on Digital Publishing Australia with Editia Publisher and founder Charlotte Harper where she explains more about the benefits of digital first publishing, the Editia Corporate Advisory Board and the Editia Prize. You can find out more about Charlotte who is a publisher, journalist, author and blogger on Editia.

“…we made three substantial additions to Crowdfund it!’s text one hour before publication this week and will continue to update it regularly.”

Charlotte Harper, Founder and Publisher Editia as quoted on Digital Publishing Australia

Editia are open to submissions – but only between 6am to 7am and 6pm to 7pm on a Sunday! You can expect to hear back within one month about your proposal.

I asked Charlotte Harper to explain why she launched Editia as a digital first Publisher?

“I clearly remember the first tweets sporting the #appletablet and #islate hashtags in 2009. They came around the time I read my first ebook on the iPhone using the Stanza app.

The potential for the book industry, and for a journalist, magazine editor and web producer with a passion for books and all things digital, was hugely exciting for me. It was time to pursue my book publishing dream.

The potential for interactivity within the pages of books and on social media and reading platforms, for quick corrections and updates to published works and for fast turnaround publication were major attractions of the digital revolution.

From an online journalist’s perspective, the ebook infrastructure pioneered by Amazon demonstrated that it was possible to make money from digital content. Here was a business model that worked, where, as was the case with the app phenomenon, individuals expected to part with small amounts of cash in exchange for content for their mobile devices.

Newspapers continue to struggle to find an effective business model for their online content. Indeed they continue to make fatal mistakes, like giving their brand new iPad apps away for free, to this day. It was time for me to leave that ailing industry and make my own way.

As a book lover who has carted my 40 boxes of books all over the world, paid to store them for years at a time, and sneezed and wheezed each time I’ve unpacked them in a new house, the idea of readers housing their libraries online had huge appeal.

As a fledgling publisher, the environmental and financial benefits of avoiding costly distribution and warehousing of physical books were essential to my business strategy. The waste of dust-coated unwanted copies of outdated titles was not part of the plan.

Instant downloading and onsite printing make for happy customers too. Another benefit of digital is it allows books to be simultaneously global, which they must be to satisfy reader expectations.

While it will take time for the some in the industry and for the majority of readers to recognise all of these benefits, they will in time, and Editia will be ready.”

Charlotte Harper, Founder and Publisher Editia

I should point out that Editia are the publisher of my book Crowdfund it! At some stage I intend to write a post about the experience of being an author with a start-up digital publisher. It was an interesting contrast from my years of producing print titles – both from a process and scheduling viewpoint.

You can look at their website, their Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter.

 

An early entrant to the Australian market was Momentum who launched in February this year and I wrote about them here. The decision to launch Momentum as a digital-first was based on how to foster new authors without the prohibitive costs involved with the traditional publishing model, as well as casting an eye to the future of where publishing was heading. Momentum was founded to focus their model around readers AND writers because of course, there IS an overlap.

“In February 2013 after one year of operation we will have launched more than 100 titles at Momentum. More than 30% of these will be new previously unpublished books. The remainder are being republished for the first time in digital format.”

Joel Naoum, Publisher, Momentum Books

In November Momentum will launch a new series of erotic short stories called Hot Down Under. By January 2013 there will be 14 stories launched, priced at 0.99c and somewhere between 5,000 to 10,000 words. Like all Momentum titles these will be DRM free. You can read more on the Momentum press release.

“While 50 Shades of Grey may well have bought this genre into the mainstream and generated a lot of talk, people have always, and will continue to read erotic romance.”

Joel Naoum, Publisher, Momentum Books

With the series title of Hot Down Under we can certainly expect these stories to have an Australian angle, but with a global market they see this series as having the potential to attract global authors. At the price point of 0.99c they are perfectly priced to appeal to the voracious erotic romance reading market.

“We’ve received a significant amount of submissions and acquired a number of new authors from our submission process.”

Joel Naoum, Publisher, Momentum Books

Momentum Monday allows writers to submit their work between 12 midnight and 11.59pm midnight via email to submissions@momentumbooks.com.au. Check your time zone as it is Australian Eastern Standard Time and if received outside those times the submission will be deleted. Successful submissions can expect to hear back within three months four weeks (apologies to Momentum that I got the timing wrong so I have corrected it). And if you’re not successful? From a time and resource viewpoint they can’t get back to everyone. As usual, take the time to read the submission guidelines.

You can look at their website, their Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter.

Xoum Publishing was founded in 2011 by Rod Morrison with publishing and design professionals David Henley and Jon MacDonald. Morrison previously worked at Picador as Publisher and together the trio have over 40 years’ publishing experience. The new multi-media publisher is a wholly owned subsidiary of Xou Creative who offer design, marketing and publishing services.

Their core list is ebooks (both straight text and illustrated), but they are developing apps in the mind, body, spirit, lifestyle and children’s fiction areas, as well as reasonably simple games for iPhone and iPad.

“Xoum represents a new vision for publishing in the 21st century: local in conception; egalitarian in production; universal in dissemination.” 

Rod Morrison, Publisher and co-founder, Xoum Publishing.

Xoum is open to submissions from Australian or New Zealand writers via email in the areas of commercial fiction and non fiction for children and adults. Morrison said, ” We aim to release approximately 30–50 ebooks, enhanced ebooks, apps and games per year (around 1–3 per month).” It may take up to six weeks to hear back from them and make sure you read their submission guidelines.

I asked Rod Morrison what advantages a smaller start-up like Xoum and digital-first publishers have compared to larger publishers?

The Xoum model does away with many ‘legacy publishing liabilities’ (costly printing; warehousing; distribution, etc) and instead offers faster turnarounds, global reach, relentless R&D and, best of all, chart-topping royalties. Our size gives us supreme agility – we can afford to trial new technologies and approaches without jeopardising our core business model – and lack of operating capital actually means we have to be more innovative with every dollar we spend, and this means coming up with bespoke marketing and publicity approaches for every title.

Being independent means we are not beholden to corporate masters or impatient shareholders. In some ways, we are going back to the pre-corporatisation publishing landscape of the 1930s and riding a similar wave to Allen Lane’s paperback revolution. Ease of access and affordability are key. It truly is an invigorating time to be publishing!

Rod Morrison, Publisher and co-founder, Xoum Publishing.

Like many digital first publishers Xoum do not offer writers an advance, but offer them a higher royalty instead. By November 2012 their books will be available through iBookstore, Amazon, Kobo and OverDrive and their website. Unlike some other digital first publishers they have applied DRM to their titles.

You can look at their website.

In my next post I’ll look at some other digital first publishers including Really Blue Books, Harlequin Escape and Penguin’s Destiny Romance.

Do you think this new form of publishing is the way of the future?

2 thoughts on “Digital first publishing creating new opportunities for writers – Part 1 (Editia, Momentum and Xoum)

  1. I will be waiting for your next post. I am interested with your article now so please update me anytime.

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