Originating from Hungary, now based in the US, PublishDrive is the youngest of the new breed of aggregators born of the digital self-publishing revolution, offering a pay-as-you-sell service for authors and small presses.

That is, until this week.

Now PublishDrive has distanced itself from its competitors with a new four-tier finance model for authors and publishers that does not include a pay-as-you-sell option.

Back in October 2018 PublishDrive introduced an innovative $100 pcm subscription model whereby authors could pay upfront for PublishDrive digital distribution and collect 100% of the net royalties disbursed by the retail, library and subscription outlets supplied. But the original model, as also used by Smashwords, Draft2Digital and StreetLib, has now been set aside by CEO KInga Jentetics in favour of  a menu of four subscription options.

Tier 1 “Tryout” is free and allows the author to distribute one title and receive 100% of the net paid out by the retailer.

Tier 2 “Standard” allows up to 5 titles to be put into the PublishDrive channels and will set back the author $19.99 per month.

Tier 3 “Pro” sees a $99.99 charge each month but with 50-title capacity, again earning 100% of whatever the outlet delivers.

Tier 4 “Publisher” is for bigger players with any number over 50 titles and the monthly price will be negotiable.

The PublishDrive blog carries more details under the title “The most profitable option for aggregated ebook distribution is here.”

The announcement was made on September 9 and the new pricing mode is live with immediate effect.

It means authors coming to PublishDrive for the first time have only the four options to choose from, but existing PublishDrive clients will be able to stick with their existing pay-as-you-sell arrangement or migrate to the new pay-up-front models, with the caveat that they cannot then revert to the percentage model later.

It’s an interesting move by PublishDrive to shift their business model towards the more professional elements within the self-publishing community, but only time will tell how this will pan out.

High-selling indies stand to gain from the new model, of course. Under the pay-as-you-sell scheme a book being sold for, by way of example, $5 on Apple or Kobo or another outlet paying 70% would earn the author 60% – $3. Under the new model the author would collect $3.50. At a certain point it becomes more rewarding to pay that $100 upfront and collect those extra $0.50s. Values and break-even points will vary depending on the list price and other factors.

Not all authors stand to gain, and many authors will simply not be selling enough to warrant the up-front costs.

Innovation and experimentation are the keywords of the digital publishing revolution and new models are always a welcome addition to the scene. Pay-up-front ebook distribution services are nothing new – Bookbaby (US) and Ebook Partnership (UK) have been around a long time, offering an annual fee per title and 100% royalties. But the subscription model for indie authors that PublishDrive now offers is entirely different.

So far the response on the indie publishing circuit has been subdued, to say the least, but it will be interesting to monitor reactions as word spreads.