Yesterday I heard some very sad and disturbing news: two publishing imprints shutting their doors.
Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A were closed by its parent company because they have “been unable to carve out their own niches with as much success.” [as parent company Angry Robot]
These imprints were at a level that I’m still only dreaming of: releasing a book a month, having multiple employees, being able to release a paperback to bookstores in both the US and the UK at the same time, having journalists waiting with bated breath on their releases! I’m told also that Strange Chemistry has the most unique and interesting YA books on the market today.
To have all that and still say that you can’t compete in the marketplace is pretty terrifying to hear.
It’s a strange business, book publishing. You may have heard how most books never earn back the money that was put into them. Big publishing houses depend heavily on there being a few run away best seller successes to carry the cost of all the loses.
Defining loss is a matter of perspective, of course. Even though I don’t sell as many books as I’m sure Exhibit A and Strange Chemistry did, I also have low overhead costs and can afford to wait for books to make a profit over a much longer time period than traditional publishers can. We only have one full time employee (me) and I don’t make a living from this yet. But we’re continuing to grow bigger and stronger with every passing year. For me I see no reason for that to change even given that our niche is extremely small and unusual.
For a lot of publishers, success of a book is defined by earning back their advances. I have not yet been able to offer advances at all. And even though that is changing, the advances I am able to offer in the near future are going to be very low. Someday I hope to give good advances, but in the meantime I make sure that authors get a high percentage in royalties.
For me publishing books is a lot more about a passion for stories than it is about making money. Of course I want my business to be profitable and to be able to keep devoting my time to the books I care about, but the top priority of Devoted Love Press is making great and unusual books available.
Writer Beware is where I first heard this news. They linked to this author’s blog and reading her story makes me very sad. I would do everything in my power to avoid leaving an author in the lurch like that.
[Side note: I live in fear of Writer Beware. It’s one of my very worst fears that I ever end up on their blog! I read them religiously. ]
My heart goes out to the authors and the staff of these imprints.