Ebook aggregator Pronoun shuts down as Macmillan pulls the plug

Ebook distributor Pronoun which offered self-publishers ‘100% royalties’ is shutting down after its owner, traditional publisher Macmillan, admitted it couldn’t cope with the challenges of indie publishing.

Pronoun was set up in 2009 as Vook, changed its name to Pronoun in 2015 and was taken over by Macmillan in May 2016.

Pronoun had acquired several small firms, including ebook data analysis operation Booklr, literary ebook publisher Byliner, and Coliloquy (an adventure platform featuring enhanced ebooks and apps). One of Pronoun’s big draws for self-publishers was the fact it offered ‘100% royalties’ to authors (after the retailer had taken their percentage).

Macmillan was attracted by the data aspects of the company which it saw as a vital tool in ebook marketing. Authors were attracted by the fact they could get higher royalties and the slick interface and service offered by the company. It seems a terrible waste close the doors on all that  good technology.

At the time of the takeover, Pronoun CEO Josh Brody said, ‘Macmillan were interested in the data we gather at Pronoun and how it could impact the broader Macmillan publishing program. We’ve got new features coming and full commitment from Macmillan to support our growth.”

Now, in an ‘Epilogue’ published on the Pronoun website, Macmillan says:

Two years ago Pronoun set out to create a one-of-a-kind publishing tool that truly put authors first. We believed that the power of data could be harnessed for smarter book publishing, leveling the playing field for indie authors. We are proud of the product we built, but even more so, we’re grateful for the community of authors that made it grow. Your feedback shaped Pronoun’s development, and together we changed the way authors connect with readers.

Unfortunately, Pronoun’s story ends here.

While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun’s operation in its current form. Every option was considered before making the very difficult decision to end the business.

As of today, it is no longer possible to create a new account or publish a new book. Pronoun will be winding down its distribution, with an anticipated end date of January 15, 2018. Authors will still be able to log into their accounts and manage distributed books until that time.

For the next two months, our goal is to support your publishing needs through the holiday season and enable you to transition your books to other services. For more detail on how this will affect your books and payments, please refer to our FAQ.

Thank you for the time and attention you’ve contributed to this experience. It has been a privilege to publish together, and we look forward to meeting again. #keepwriting


Macmillan Publishers

If you have any books distributed through Pronoun then it looks like you’ll have until January 15, 2018 to sort out alternative distribution but the best plan is to get your books off Pronoun and on to another distributor straight away as the holiday season is almost upon us.

Here are some key points:

  • Pronoun says it will continue to pay earnings on its normal schedule and earnings from January 2018 will be paid on April 1, 2018 or before.
  • When you move a book off Pronoun and on to a new distributor, you may lose the reviews for your books, depending on the retailer.
  • On Amazon, reviews should carry over automatically when you relist the book but the book’s rank, URL and ASIN will be reset so you will need to change any links to the book.
  • The same should be true for Barnes & Noble, with reviews carrying over but the rank and URL being reset.
  • You’ll lose any reviews on Kobo, iBooks and Google Play as they don’t carry over and the URLs will be reset.

Draft2digital is the obvious choice when you’re looking for a new ebook distributor. It’s a fast and efficient service with a great front end. The company was set up in 2012 and has been steadily widening its distribution options and now distributes to Amazon’s Kindle store.

Other options include Smashwords which has been around since the dawn of self-publishing in 2008. It has a loyal following and is a solid operation led by staunch self-publishing supporter Mark Coker.

There is also StreetLib, an Italian-based aggregator, which offers distribution through Amazon with an interesting deal of 50% commission on all Kindle sales regardless of a book’s price and the size of file.

Another option is Publishdrive , which is offering an ‘automated’ transfer deal for Pronoun authors. Publishdrive appears to take the same 10% of net as D2D and Smashwords do. It is based in Hungary and has some very interesting distribution options, including retailers in China and throughout Eastern Europe.

Publishdrive claims authors can download their books from Pronoun as .zip files and upload them to PublishDrive and ‘the metadata, cover and epub file will magically appear’. It says it has approached its partner stores about reviews and rating and that everything should be transferred normally at Amazon, OverDrive, Barnes & Noble and Google but reviews will be lost for Kobo. More details on transferring books from Pronoun can be found at PublishDrive.

You can find out more details about the Pronoun shutdown on the Pronoun website.

Data lure leads to Macmillan taking over Pronoun