Have you noticed that more and more publishers are developing, or acquiring, digital first imprints? The most recent example that I’ve seen is Kensington Publishing’s acquisition of Lyrical Press. Here’s the link for the article at Publishers Weekly:
Seems to me that publishers are using the digital first imprints to scout out new talent in a way that doesn’t cost them big bucks, which makes sense, when you think about it and I see these digital first imprints as the new “slush pile” that editorial assistants used to go through prior to electronic submissions.
Now, you – the writer - still have to adhere to the publishers’ submission guidelines and requirements but digital first imprints allow publishers to take chances on lesser known authors without investing too much money up front. Seems like a win-win for both publisher and author but time will tell and organizations such as the National Writers Union (www.nwu.org) are going to be the ones that provide insight on this issue in the most objective way possible.
As most of us have come to realize, traditional publishers have increasingly required that an author’s work is represented by an agent before the publisher will even consider “looking” at it and this is, in my humble opinion, because publishers are using agents akin to scouts to do the weeding out of undesirable written works by authors, especially unknown authors. Digital first imprints also allow publishers to work with both agented and un-agented authors, at least for now.
Another change for the traditional publishers is that many of them are also paying royalties on a monthly basis with their digital first imprints to include the HarperCollins digital-first mystery imprint - Witness Impulse. According to the article (link below) from paidcontent.org, publishers are using their digital-first lines in an attempt to lure self-published authors away from Amazon.
Google – or Bing - the phrase "digital first imprints" and take a look at the results. I think it will give you an interesting starting point for discovering the relatively new landscape of Digital Imprints and how traditional publishers have been and continue to use them to redefine how they acquire new authors. You might also find the Publishers Weekly article on how “Digital Imprints Take Root” an interesting place to start. Here’s the link:
Keep in mind that digital first imprints are not a sure path to a print contract but it seems to be a good way to get your foot in the door. Also, keep in mind that how well a book sells, in any format, is still critical as far as publishers are concerned so you still have to promote your written work yourself and engage readers.