Is it attractive and easy to navigate, with not too many typographical errors? (Preferably there should, of course, be none!) Image is important on the Internet. However, what I perceive as a bad web site might not necessarily be seen that way by the majority of surfers. See Is your web site unfriendly? for my pet hates. Theres a return link at the bottom should you wish to come back to this page.
Does the publisher have its own domain name (something like www.thispublisher.com/)? Publishing is a business and its very unbusinesslike not to have an URL by which customers can easily find you. Im certainly not impressed by publishers with web sites located on free servers, such as Tripod, Xoom or Geocities. If there are banner and pop-up ads on the site it is definitely located on a free server. Shun it.
What does the publisher appear to be selling
An average-length novel, for instance, shouldnt cost more than around US$4-5 to download. In my opinion, theres absolutely no reason why a download version of a non-fiction book should cost all that much more either. E-publishers whose prices are consistently much higher than US$4-5 are just plain greedy. Shun them!
Is there a contract on the site? Is it easy to find? Is it easy to read? Once again, Im not impressed by loads of typographical errors. Another thing that puts me off is a badly laid out contract. However, these dont necessarily mean you have chosen a careless publisher; just a publisher who doesnt know the webmaster is either careless or lazy. The webmaster and the publisher arent necessarily the same person. Be wary of publishers who dont have a copy of their contract on their web sites
Is it comparable to other e-publishers? It should be a minimum of 25%. An average seems to be 30%. Many e-publishers offer more. Ive seen one as high as 60%
The publisher should be seeking no more than first English-language world electronic rights (or second rights if your book has already been electronically published). The contract should also have a time limit
What formats does the publisher offer? The more the better. Preferably books should be available for downloading as well as on disks and CDs. Disks, however, seem to be on the way out.
Does the publisher accept credit cards? Does it use Pay Pal, which enables you to buy things off the Internet without a credit card? Does the site tell you how long it takes to fulfil orders? Downloads should ideally be available within 24 hours.
These are considered essential. They certainly are if your book is to be sold in book shops, or even through online booksellers, such as Amazon. The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is used to order the book.
Will your book be sold through major online sources, e.g. Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Borders? These are often the only online places from which some people will buy. A disadvantage, of course, is that books will cost more than from your publishers own web site. (This is an area where CrossroadsPub fell down badly.)
says the cliché, is in the eating. Buy some of the publishers books, in different formats. Whats your first impression of them? Are they attractive, easy to read? And what about the quality of the editing? Does the book even look as though its been edited, or is it full of grammatical and punctuation errors that keep distracting you from the books content?
Never pay a publisher to publish your book. I repeat, never pay a publisher to publish your book. While not all vanity publishers are sharks surfing the Internet for vulnerable writers to rip off, its better to play safe. Vanity publishing isnt the same as self-publishing, by the way, but dont try this either unless you are exceptionally good at selling, or there is some other good reason for self-publication.
An exceptionally good list of e-publishers can be found on Piers Anthonys web site. The author comments on every entry, which is very useful for someone new to the world of e-publishing.
Once you have found an e-publisher for your book, you will need to do some promotion. You might like to start by getting it listed at
© L A Barker Enterprises