I was an early pioneer in the e-book evolution. My first e-book was published in 1997 with The Fiction Works, just one of a handful of companies doing e-books at the time. The publisher was sure that there would soon be kiosks in shopping malls where people would be able to buy electronic or print-on-demand copies of books and we would all get rich.
That did not happen. There wasn't even a dedicated reading device until a year later when The Rocket eBook came out in 1998, so orders were fulfilled by sending disks to customers so they could read the book on a computer. Not a convenient or pleasant way to read a book.
Books We Love, Uncial Press, Venture Galleries, and now Untreed Reads. I don't recall how I first heard of Untreed Reads, but I was intrigued by the company name. It is clever, memorable, and definitely says what the company is about. It has been in business for a number of years, but the largest growth has been in the last couple of years. It was founded by Jay A. Hartman, who agreed to a brief interview.
Q. Why did you start Untreed Reads?
A. I had been an active part of the ebook world for about fifteen years, working on a website with my friend Kelly Ford that was named Knowbetter.com. In fact, that website is still up! I stopped writing and reporting about the industry for a while, but with the release of the Kindle came a lot of misinformation in the marketplace about what ebooks could and couldn't do. So, I started up my own blog to help deliver information and that was the genesis of Untreed Reads. Eventually, I found that I couldn't find the types of works I wanted to read in the various ebook retailers, so I thought it was time to take my knowledge and put it to good use. Luckily for me, I met K.D. Sullivan who comes from the print world and shares my vision. Ultimately, we took everything we disliked about the print and ebook worlds and said "ok, we can make a better publishing company for authors by not doing these things." I think we've done a great job so far of achieving that goal.
Q. What is your vision for five years from now?
A. I'd love to see Untreed Reads recognized on the same scale as some of the big New York publishers. We have incredible talent in our house, we have the biggest distribution of pretty much any ebook publisher and we have readers on every continent (including Antarctica). I'd love to see that global presence become more widely known, so I could tell someone in a coffee shop in Oslo or Budapest or Tokyo "I'm the Editor-in-Chief of Untreed Reads" and they know exactly what I'm talking about. With our expansion in 2014 into print-on-demand and audiobook for our own titles, plus distribution, editorial services and cover design for other publishers and authors, I think we're getting even closer to that reality.
Q. What one thing would you like to say to readers?
A. Without readers, there isn't much point to having authors or publishers. The key thing is to give us feedback. Tell us what you like and don't like or what you want to see more of.
Jay recognizes the importance of treating readers and authors well. Like other successful small publishers that plan to grow into successful large publishers, he offers fair contracts with authors - authors are given full-service editing, conversion, and cover art for no fees, and they receive a 50% royalty on the titles. Jay is always accessible to answer questions and deal with issues, and he is an enthusiastic supporter of all the books they publish and distribute. He is constantly looking for new markets for the authors, whether in-house clients or distribution clients, and does a tremendous amount of marketing and promotion through special sales.
In fact, there is one going on right now, through Valentines Day. All romance titles are on sale for 30% off through February 14th, from sweet to hot and sexy. My romance, Play it Again, Sam, is just one of the many titles offered for the discount.
That novel is published by Uncial Press, who uses Untreed Reads for wider distribution. As an indie-author, I have several other books in distribution with them as well and have been very satisfied. Distribution clients do not have to pay, but if you are as technically challenged as I am, you might want to pay the reasonable fee to have your Word document converted to all the different file types for all the different e-book markets. I know we all long for a simple one-size-fits-all format, but until then, we have to format for each outlet individually.
What I like most about Untreed Reads is the scope of their distribution, and that is the reason that I did not go back to one of the other publishers with more recent releases. Some only distribute to Amazon, and others to only a few more outlets. I want my work to be available to everyone, no matter what device they use to read, and I like how aggressively Untreed Reads is going after the library market.
Authors have lots of choices now when it comes to releasing a new book, and there is no right or wrong approach, unless you go with one of those vanity publishers that charge huge fees upfront. Many writers still take the traditional approach, while others are going the indie route. I have great respect for them all. The important thing is that there are choices, and there are new publishers that offer good things to their authors.
What do you think of the new advances in publishing? Are you going indie? Would you go with a third-party distributor?
|Posted by Maryann Miller - novelist, editor and sometimes actress. Her most recent release is Boxes For Beds, an historical mystery available as an e-book. Stalking Season is the second book in the Seasons Mystery Series. The first book, Open Season, is available as an e-book for all devices. To check out her editing rates visit her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas. She believes in the value of a good walk.|