Official site for the high/dark fantasy books of authors Barb Hendee and J. C. Hendee, including the Noble Dead Saga (a.k.a. The Noble Dead series), the Mist-Torn Witches series, the Vampire Memories series, and TNDS: Tales from the world of the Noble Dead Saga.

Q&A: The ReaderStore Quandry


Although the Noble Dead Saga is widely available in ebook format for all major devices and apps, it is not so for our Tales from the world of the Noble Dead Saga. We still get queries from readers who use devices either not sold through our selected “Tales” vendors or which cannot load those vendors’ apps…

Q: Will any of the “Tales” be available soon on the Sony ReaderStore?

The ReaderStore serves ebooks specifically for the line of Sony Reader devices available for purchase in Canada and the USA. It is one of the major vendors we do not currently use that we have had our eye on for some time. Though the Reader line supports the EPUB format, the ReaderStore does not have a direct self-publishing portal through which we can submit and make available our privately published works such as “Tales.”

Q: Is there another way to get “Tales” into the Sony ReaderStore or other vendors without a direct self-publishing portal?

Yes. Some online vendors (with or without a portal) accept product submissions through an intermediary publishing service and/or what is sometimes called an “aggregator” service. The Sony ReaderStore currently supports submissions through Smashwords (aggregator) and Author Solutions (intermediary). However, we only work directly with vendor-run portals; we do not use either aggregators or intermediaries at this time.

Q: Are there problems in using aggregators and intermediaries?

Yes and no. For many authors seeking to break into the growing e-self-publishing arena, these types of services are a great way to start out. Smashwords in particular has been a boon to many. However, when working with an aggregator or intermediary (and some services are actually both), there is little to no direct control over the product once it is in the vendor’s hands.

When using a portal, the author has a direct contract with that vendor. Not so with an intermediary or aggregator (and some services are actually both). The author has a contract with the service, and then the service has (or not) a contract with each vendor to which it distributes. Contracts may differ in pertinent details, and with those between the service and the vendor, the author has no say and no rights. Authors do not have the resources to negotiate like a major publishing house; they must accept the standard contracts offered, and in the case of service to vendor contracts, they do not even know what is in them.

In author-to-vendor contracts, most stipulate that the author’s set price on a product will not be changed by the vendor unless the author sets a lower price at another vendor… or that other vendor changes the price outside of the author’s control. Yes, vendors watch each other’s products through automated code (not manually).

Imagine what happens when an ebook at, say, “Last Corner of the World” bookstore cuts the price on an author’s product to 50%. If the author submitted the product through a service and not directly, the author may not even know this has happened… at first. Likely major vendors are not watching LCW, but some medium sized operations may be doing so. One or more of those may decide to drop the price on the author’s product to 40% of the original price; and maybe some of those are being watched by a major vendor.

Along the way each vendor tries to undercut the last one, and a cascading price war occurs. Not only does the amount of royalties paid to author fall with a whistling sound, but at certain price levels the loss is compounded by a reduced royalty rate as well; different vendors may have different scales of royalty rates. And all of this can happen in hours (if not minutes) on the internet vs. physical book stores.

When using an aggregator and/or intermediary, the author has no control or recourse in this situation, even if they learn of it. Sometimes the same problem exists with a major vendor when there is no clause for the author’s control over price (and many other concerns) in that vendor’s contract.

NOTE: this is why we ceased working with GoogleBooks after only 9 hours and pulled everything we delivered through its portal. Unfortunate and partially it was our fault for not digging deeply enough into a convoluted author-to-vendor contract.

There are more issues where aggregators and/or intermediaries are concerned from formatting, quality of generate proprietary formats and non-textual content, output file sizes and delivery fees (oh yes) per unit, insertion of non-author content, etc. And they can differ between both services and the final vendors. There are even more concerns than these, but we will leave it at that. Some services do not allow choosing specific vendors and only allow choosing ebook formats to be distributed, which would not allow cutting that LCW vendor out of the loop. Oh, and to our knowledge no such vendor actual exists; it is a fictional example.

Much as aggregators and intermediaries are a great way for new authors to get their work in front of readers and maybe break into the business, they simple are not for us at this time. And so, we are always watching the few major vendors without direct portals and waiting in anticipation for that to change. We also peek at a few select aggregators from time to time, hoping for improved control over distribution and better options for product format delivery that serve the author as much as the service for its own cut of the profits.

If you have questions you would like to ask, please do so. Drop by and use the secured Contact page. Not all questions will make it into a Q&A, but we provide direct answers whenever we can.