A Groundbreaking Change for EBook Sales

Publishing is changing faster than the tide can go in and out, and authors are climbing to higher ground, building boats, or getting washed out to sea.  Many of us are putting up backlist titles as our own indy eBooks, while writing frontlist titles for traditional publishers. Much has been posted about do-it-yourself eBook publishing for ambitious authors, but we’ve been out of the loop on the eBook versions of our titles from major publishers.  Until now.

I am pleased to be one of the test authors on a new program, Cunable, managed by John Grace, formerly of Brilliance Audio. Cunable arranges for authors to sell their eBooks from major publishers directly on their own site. Working with us on the pilot project is Kensington Books, publishers of my Dan Shamble, Zombie PI series.

Normally, publishers sell their ePub and mobi files through the major online retailers, amazon, b&n.com, etc.—who take 30–35% of the sales price for themselves.  The publishers get their cut, and a percentage goes toward paying back the author’s advance, but the author is not likely to see much, certainly not for quite some time.  With Cunable, though, the same eBooks are sold directly through the author’s website for the same price.  The 30–35% cut that would normally go to the big retailers is split between Cunable and the author.  For the first time, a portion of the eBook sales from a major publisher goes directly into the author’s pocket.

It’s the difference between buying the same item for the same price from a local mom & pop store, or from giant WalMart.  The publisher (Kensington, in this case) gets the same amount for each sale, but an extra piece goes to the author. And the more an author makes from a sale, the more he or she is able to make a living writing…and to keep writing the books you love to read.  (I don’t for a minute think we’ll make the tiniest goosebump in amazon’s sales, but still this is an innovative and refreshing strategy, and I would love to see how well it works.

Currently, my first four Dan Shamble, Zombie PI adventures are available from Cunable, for the same price as elsewhere. Click on the links to check it out:

Death Warmed Over
Stakeout at the Vampire Circus
Unnatural Acts
Hair Raising


After receiving some comments and questions, I want to make clear that Cunable set up the sales page and handles all the transactions for the author; the author doesn’t need to implement a shopping cart or worry about processing orders. That is all entirely invisible. Right now it’s just a prototype site and they are adding more authors and titles. For basics, you can see their initial website at Cunable.com or send an email to “contact (at) cunable (dot) com.”

Another interesting advantage of this is that the author will have immediate and direct sales data on titles sold through his or her own website, which may be useful for relative comparison with the numbers reported on the publisher’s royalty statements.