Book Launch and Marketing for a Small Press Publisher

Once you’ve got the manuscript to the best shape it can be and you’ve formatted and prepared the book, then you have to make sure people know about it. The marketing of books is really about connecting people with a reading experience they will love.

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You’ve got to convince people to give your book a chance and you’ve got to hope that you’ve targeted your message to the right people who are the ones who will most love your book. No book is right for everyone!

Some of these are things that I am already doing for our books and some are new things that I’m going to try on future books.

There are some promotional techniques that never go out of style in book publishing; things like sending out review copies and trying to get the media interested in author interviews and mentions of the book. Then there are new techniques that are growing around the new world of ebook publishing. Those methods and ideas change rapidly and the landscape is always shifting. I find it fun and interesting to keep up with developments.

To learn traditional promotion and marketing techniques I read books about book selling (so meta!) and to learn new ideas I read a lot of author blogs and writer forums.

As I read, I add notes to my master promotional spreadsheet (each individual book gets its own document listing all the promotional ideas I have for that particular title). The beauty with ebook marketing is, of course, that they don’t lose their shelf space so I can always try new things out with them. So this following list is ever evolving and growing…

6 to 9 months from publication date

–> sell to book clubs, reading groups, and catalogs

4 to 6 months from pub date

–> send out print ARCs (Advanced Reader/Review Copies) to  reviewers

* Library Journal
* Book List
* Publisher’s Weekly
* Foreward Magazine
* Midwest Book Review
* The Romantic Times
* New York Book Review
* Rowse Reviews

–> Upload to NetGalley for reviews

–> Mail copies to people you’d like to get blurb/endorsements from

–> Visit local bookstores or call indie bookstores to pitch the book, maybe arrange a book signing

–> Get in touch with the buyers for chain bookstores and other retail stores that sell books (consider hiring a sales rep to include your books in their catalog)

2 to 3 months from pub date

–> Prepare a press release and research where to send it to try to get media attention

–> Contact magazines about publishing excerpts (include a suggested excerpt)

–> Book Sense endorsement???

–> Check into requirements for local newspapers and magazine’s book review sections

–> Mail fliers or postcards to libraries and bookstores

–> Hire a blog book tour company to set up a blog tour

1 Month from pub date

–> Get set up to take pre-orders (it looks like Amazon might be allowing this now, will have to look into)

–> Send out press release

–> Make arrangements for a launch party

–> Email newsletter

–> Offer review copies to book bloggers not on the tour (at least fifty)

Launch

–> Have the launch party

–> Announce book availability on Facebook, Twitter, Message Boards, LinkedIn, Pinterest (make sure you post in message boards where author promotion is allowed and make sure that your forum signature has a teaser and a link for your book).

–> Spread around info about the blog tour

–> Add book to relevant lists on Goodreads

–> Do a giveaway of one paper copy on Goodreads

–> Send book to relevant contests

–> Think about what organizations, charities, or news stories might be relevant to the plot in the book and try to arrange to promote with them

–> Submit to Facebook groups for both readers and themes of the book

–> Tweet good sentences from the book with #novelines

–> Update website’s press kit with all buy links, reviews, media, images, etc. Include an excerpt of the first chapter so people can see if they like the writing.

–> Create a video for Youtube, either a trailer or an author interview or something else creative

–> Share new reviews and blog posts that review the book

–> Create a page for the book at third party sites like Squidoo or Hubpages

 

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Other Ideas…

* Some people gather a “launch team” and offer special incentives for people who buy in the first week or for people who are willing to promote the book to their friends and networks

* We’ve experimented with some ebook giveaways. It can be great for visibility to discount or make your book free and advertise the sale. I don’t like to do that too often, though!

* If you are the author or you know the author is willing, there’s lots of additional things that authors can do, such as blogging about their craft, having their own twitter, doing Q&As, speaking at panels at conventions, do guest posts on book blogs.

* Research places to advertise that are relevant to the book and consider classified sections

Some great people to follow for ideas on indie book promotion:

Since the landscape is changing so quickly it’s great to read about the things other people are trying and the results they’re getting. You don’t have to try to get all the data and do all the experimenting yourself!

And in the end, publish the next book. Promote the next thing and don’t get too hung up on pushing the hec out of one single title. Each title in your catalog will help promote the others. Readers who enjoy what you offer will come back again and again. Give them something new as often as you can!

 

Starting a Small Press Publisher: What Is It You Do?

It can be hard for people outside the book industry to understand what publishers are there for.

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When I told my family that I was starting a publishing company, they thought what I meant was that I’d be charging writers to format their books for them and put them up for sale. That’s what’s called an Author Services Company (or Vanity Press) and the vast majority are super scamy.

If you’ve been a writer for any amount of time I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that publishers don’t charge authors, they pay authors. You as an author should never be asked to pay fees or to pay for publisher’s services. That’s because authors are not a publisher’s clients.

The authors are not my clients.

The authors are, to make an analogy, my manufacturers. They create the product that I then sell. (By the way, going back for a moment to the legal side of things, my accountant has told me that the authors are 1099 contractors for me and as such I need to have them fill out a  W-9 form providing either their social security number or the EIN of their own business identity in order to report on taxes how much I’ve paid them. Check with your own accountant about this).

So who is my client? Readers. Anyone who buys books.

What’s the problem with Author Services Companies?

As with most things, you have to look at what the incentives are. If I’m making money from charging an author to edit her book or format his book, then what motivation do I have to hussle and sell that book? I’m already making money! Why would I care if it sold? I would be incentivized by the wrong thing.

The way publishing companies are set up is that we get paid when the book sells. We are incentized and motivated to sell that book as much as possible because the more money it brings in, the more money we all make.

I could have created a company around charging a small fee to format someone’s book or upload it to Kindle for them, and there’s be nothing wrong with that (as long as I was upfront with the authors about what service I’m providing), but that’s not being a publisher. That’s not the business I’m interested in being in.

So what do I do?

Get the book ready to sell and then sell it! Basically all the things on this list I either do or coordinate the hiring of someone to do and then I do all the publicity and talking to bookstore reps too. I hope that this series is illuminating the many things that a publisher does do for their authors’ books…there’s plenty of work left between finished manuscript and finished book!

Starting a Small Press Publisher: Finding Manuscripts

Now you’ve got your business all set up, you need some books to publish!

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I started out with some ideas of where to get the books I’d be publishing.

I did a new edition of my own book (W)hole and its sequel Breath(e) updated with new material. There were also two collections of short stories by authors in my field that had been gathered and edited by Lee Nilsen, a contact who became a friend on message boards. He wanted to showcase work with disabled characters but would prefer not to have to deal with the formatting for publication or the promotion after the fact. So we arranged for me to take the books over but then I had an issue. Where would the profits for the books go?

It didn’t seem right for me to keep them. The authors had donated stories without expecting any pay and it seemed like it would be tricky to set up a payment plan for them all. So we all agreed that the profits should be donated to a charity that supports quality of life for people with physical disabilities. The profits from these two collections go to LifeRollsOn.org
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With that taken care of, I needed to find a new author to publish.

I still felt weird about promoting my own work and I wanted to be able to whole heartedly promote someone’s work that I really believed in. So I went to a message board and blog where people were putting up stories for free in this niche genre. Not surprisingly the stories are hit or miss. There’s some messy amateur writing but also some real gems!

There was one story in particular that I remembered. It had been serialized but all together it amounted to over 50,000 words. Reading it on a webpage broken into pieces was messy and I knew this book had real potential.

I reached out to the author and asked if she would be interested in working with me. We had mutual friends, so it wasn’t a creepy situation for Annabelle! She liked the idea of her story getting a wider audience and so we pulled it from the blog and started editing, proofreading, and formatting (more on that next week).

That book became The Boy Next Door.
The Boy Next Door

 

 

 

 

 

 

As it turned out, Annabelle is quite prolific and she had some other manuscripts she’d been working on but hadn’t posted. I was glad to get some work of hers that hadn’t been previously seen and from that we got The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend. There are some other Annabelle manuscripts that I’m considering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, another contact from the same message board told us that she had been working on some books as well. Lucy brought us Love In Touch. She’s got another manuscript in the editing stages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now I had two other authors besides myself, though they were people that I knew on a friendship level before I published their work.

However, it wasn’t all smooth going.

Through the same source I had some other manuscripts to consider. One of them I did put under contact, but problems came up. First with the author breaking the terms of the contract, then with disagreements about editing, then with my enthusiasm for the project waning. In the end I let that one go and gave all publishing rights back to the author.

There have been others that I’ve put offers on but didn’t pan out. I don’t mind rejection on that side, I want the authors to find the very best possible home for their books and that might be me and it might not.

It’s very difficult to be on the other side of it, though, having to reject manuscripts. That’s an inevitable part of doing this job. I’ve found it’s important to remember that my taste is not everyone’s taste. Just because I’m not enthusiastic about a story doesn’t mean that it’s a bad story or badly written. It just needs to find another home. A publisher has got to really believe in your work!

It is tempting to try to take every manuscript that crosses your desk. Knowing that you want to grow and have lots of books to offer, you start making compromises about what you want to accept. It’s important to stay true to your vision at least until you’re big enough to expand that vision. I had someone bring me a manuscript that wasn’t really a love story at all. I kept trying to stretch it towards being a love story because that’s what we do here! I should have just let it go sooner and maintained my focus on bringing people the kind of story that my brand has promised.

Expanding

This post may not have been as relevant to you. Perhaps you don’t have access to authors through a message board of mutual interests. Perhaps you are only interested in publishing your own work.

But when and if you are ready, you can get the word out that you are open to submissions!

Now that I’ve got a rhythm going with Annabelle, Lucy, and myself, I’m thinking about putting an ad out in Writer’s Market. Before I do that, though, I want to make sure that I’ve really got the resources and knowledge to do the very best by these books as I can. Annabelle and Lucy have patience as I try out new things, but a new author that I don’t have a personal connection to will have higher expectations.

Another step to take is to contact agents of romance novels and let them know what we’re looking for so they can scout manuscripts for us.

I also hope to finish another of my own books soon(ish). People told me it would be challenging to write my own books and also publish and promote other authors and they were right. Challenging but not impossible.

I do have four novels in varying stages of completion, two of them quite close to a finished draft. But every time I try to make a prediction about when they will be ready, I’m wrong and then I disappoint people. So no guessing! But I hope some of those will be ready before too long.

Submission Guidelines

You will want to set up some guidelines for submissions. It really helps to set up rules to make the process uniform. That way you only ever have to look in one place and at one format to judge all incoming manuscripts.

People said I’d be inundated with submissions as soon as I opened my doors, but that hasn’t happened yet. Partly because it’s an unusual and obscure niche and partly because I haven’t heavily advertised that we’re open to submissions.

It’s important to me that I can fully handle all the books that I promise to publish and since I’m just one person, I have to be careful not to take on too many at once.

Here are our guidelines: Submissions to Dev Love Press

You’ll notice that I put where to send the query, what to include, what subject line to use in the email, and also what time frame to expect to hear back from me. (Anyone reading this who is working on a book: I really want one with a female character with the disability!)

 

Last Week: The Legal Bits                Next Week: From Manuscript to Book

Starting a Small Press Publisher: Setting the Terms

It’s possible to just make up a name for a fake company and slap it on your books when you’re self-publishing. But once you decide to publish other people, you’d better gets some legal things in order first.

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Choose a Name

I did a poor job of this one. I didn’t take my time and just picked a name quickly. I didn’t think about how important a name is and how I needed to be able to say it with pride, tell friends and family about it, put it on everything. I think our name is okay but it’s not great.

So don’t do what I did!

If you’re starting your own company, take some time to think about the best name for it. Particularly think about the connotations of the name and what people (like your target audience) will think when they hear it.

The book The Brand Called You recommends always using your own name but I’m not sure how well that advice works for forming a publishing house. Perhaps your last name will sound good and elegant as a publisher name. I agree with a lot of the premise of the book, which is that the brand you are creating is centered on you and who you are as a person. I don’t think that means you have to name it after yourself, though.

Form an LLC

Okay, so it turns out some of my background actually has come in handy! For the previous five years I’ve worked as an office manager handling a lot of accounting for a small company. Before that I took a number of night classes in the paralegal field.

Both those things helped me understand how to go about setting up a legal entity and running it!

The LLC stands for “limited liability company” and this means, to my understanding (and please know this is NOT legal advice) that if something goes catastrophically wrong or you get sued, you personally are not responsible for the money. Just your company is. Keeping yourself a little separated from the entity of your company is a wise move.

It’s been two years, but if I remember right, I think a DBA, or “doing business as” is another option. You can find out what you need by doing some Internet searching. How to get an LLC or a DBA depends on where you live. I found the process to be very simple and easy. So easy I wasn’t sure I’d done it right! (One thing I did need to have was a mission statement/explanation of what my company is. See more about that below).

Apply for an EIN

An EIN is an Employer Identification Number and it is your business’s equivalent of a social security number. You’ll use that number rather than your personal ssn when doing anything connected to money and taxes with your business.

Apply for a Bank Account

Use that EIN to set up a business bank account separate from your personal one.

This is easier for taxes and it gives you a clear idea of what money is for use within your company and to pay your authors and which money is for you to take home. You’ll pay yourself either a salary or a royalty from the profits of your company and you’ll transfer it over to your personal account with the same level or paperwork you would for any of your authors.

I can’t stress this enough: keep your business’s money separate from your personal money!

How much money will you need as seed money? Not that much.

Some businesses require a lot of money in start up costs: renting a space, furnishing it, getting the things to sell. This is not like that. You’ll need money to pay for things like editing, cover design, ISBN numbers. The way I have started is by using print-on-demand for physical paperbacks and that means not having to pay to print thousands of books or warehouse store them. I’d say probably $1,000 to $2,000 will get you started.

Write a Mission Statement and Business Plan

A business plan doesn’t have to be the size of a PhD thesis. The word can be intimidating, but in reality it doesn’t have to be more than a single page laying out your intentions. Answer questions like why you want to go into business, what your company offers that’s different from what’s already available, your practical steps to get books visibility. It’s like writing a query letter for your business instead of your book!

As part of this you’ll want to create a profile of your target audience. Who do you think is going to want to buy the books you publish? Get as specific as you possibly can because you can use that profile to figure out where to go to reach those people.

Having a niche is a great thing. It gives you focus and allows you to remember what you’re doing that’s different from the big guys. On the other hand, you have to be careful in selecting your niche that it’s not so narrow that you have no audience.

Being small, we don’t have a lot of overhead so we can afford to take on these quirky books that wouldn’t find a home in a bigger publishing house. Also, because it’s our sole focus, we know where to market them to.

Having a Niche: It’s a double edged sword, as they say. You want a narrow focus so you know exactly who to market to but you also want an audience large enough to sustain your company. The balance that I try to find with Dev Love Press is to take on books that my core audience, people like me who enjoy “wounded hero” romances for whatever reason, will love but also promote the books to general romance novel readers who have never considered giving a disabled hero a chance. I love when we see reviews where someone says that they would never expect to find one of these guys sexy but they totally do. A mainstream person comes to realize that a guy with a disability is still a guy and still a viable romantic partner. Now that’s what I call success!

Make a Contract

Again my paralegal classes prepared me pretty well for this. I had taken one class specifically in business law and contracts because at that point I knew that I was heading towards creating a company.

I got a lot of inspiration and ideas from the book Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self Publishers.

You’ll need to decide on a fee structure. How much royalty will you be giving your authors? Will that be gross or net? How much will you take as your own salary (in any) and what percentage will go towards advertising, towards getting new business, towards maintaining your office systems?

I regret the current way we’re set up. I think for future books I’ll do things a little differently. One thing that is a priority for me is getting the author’s a good royalty rate.  You’ll need to figure out what percentage of profits you’ll want to:

  1. pay authors
  2. pay yourself
  3. put into advertising and other promotional activities
  4. put towards physical copies for reviewers, giveaways, conferences
  5. save for taxes (I’ve been setting aside 14% for that)
  6. put into office supplies
  7. put towards future editing, cover design, ISBN numbers, etc.
  8. put towards future advances
  9. put towards professional development like conferences or organization fees

Since it’s a start up, you may want to not pay yourself for a while and put all your profits back into the business. That’s up to you. Luckily with Print on Demand and ebooks there is not much initial cost. I’ve focused on those while I build up enough money to branch into more traditional physical books.

In a later post I’ll talk to you about my favorite budget software and how to keep all these categories separate!

And make sure that you are clear on what rights you are getting! If you’re going to focus on e-books (as I do) then you’ll have to make sure that you have both digital and print rights!

Get an Accountant

Your taxes are about to get more complicated.

So get a professional to help you with them. No more TurboTax or Dad doing your taxes for you!

It’s going to be worth it because someone who understands taxes for small businesses will know what deductions you can get and will often save you money. So far for the last two years, my accountant’s fee has been completely covered by the refund he’s gotten me (and there was leftover too).

So you’re prepared for tax time, use having a business bank account (or budgeting software that I’ll talk in more detail about in the future) to keep totals of certain categories like: money spent on advertising, money spent on business travel, money paid to authors, money paid for office supplies and equipment (and keep receipts too)

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Does this sound horribly unsexy? Perhaps surprisingly, I found it fun. I enjoyed the process of getting all my ducks in a row.

 

Recommended Reading:

business and legal formsbrand called you(This last one recommended by Jane Friedman)

Last Week: Taking the Leap             Next Week: Finding Your Manuscripts

Guest Post: The Thrill of a Published Book

by Ruth Madison

We who dream of being authors anticipate for years holding a book in our hands with our name on the cover, the pages filled with out own words.

It is an amazing moment.

 But if can also feel a bit…unreal.

You’ve waited years for what you’ve written to be a proper book and now when you flip through the pages and see your own words, it feels like it must be a joke. These are your words and someone has put a binding on them, but they still look to you like the words you typed into Scrivener and saw scrolling by on your computer screen every day. Who hid them inside a book cover?

And then for us worrying types, it gets worse.

You’re on a high for a week, showing your book to everyone you know. But then worry catches up with you. You’ve accomplished this huge goal, but there’s another one waiting for you.

Will anyone buy it? Will anyone read it?

You start to worry that it will just sit there and not move a single copy and your publisher will wonder why they gave you this chance.

Then you see your sales figures. And it’s selling.

Another huge thrill that lasts a week or so. People are reading your work! People are connecting with the story that you have told!

Until worry catches up again. What if everyone hates it?

What if they think it’s awful and feel cheated and get angry at you? And you become consumed with anxiety again.

Then some reviews get posted. And they aren’t terrible. No one is yelling. Several people liked it and they thank you for writing it and you read their words with tears in your eyes (authors need your reviews like faeries need your claps!)

Yes, having your book published is quite a roller coaster ride.

I feel a little foolish for exposing the truth of my feelings like this. Aren’t I supposed to be just glowing with pride from the moment I get a contract until…well, forever? Is there something wrong with me that the thrill wears off and is replaced by worry each time?

Maybe there is! But I think it also helps me in being a career author. The high has to wear off so that I can go back to writing the next book, seeking to feel it again. Writing and drug addiction. Yeah, that’s totally the comparison I wanted to make. It’s true, though. Thrills never last forever, but they feel so good that we go back to doing whatever it was that allowed us to feel them in the first place. I’m glad for me that’s writing books. I’ve got plenty more ideas and I’ll keep chasing the elusive high that lasts.

Ruth’s first two books have just come out in their second editions…

(W)hole 

Paperback / Kindle /NookSmashwords

 

 

 

 

 

Breath(e)

Paperback / Kindle /Nook/ Smashwords

Visit Ruth at her site www.ruthmadison.com!

Why a Small Press?

Anyone interested in publishing knows that the business is experiencing a huge amount of change and growth in a very short time. The nature of this business is changing incredibly quickly and I think it’s a wonderful thing.

We all have the same goal: get good books into the hands of readers.

There are different ways to get to that goal, though. And the correct method will depend a lot on both the book being written and the author him- or herself.

One of the things that makes me sad is the division that’s been going on between indie/self-publishers and traditional publishers. There’s a lot of anger from indies who have felt rejection from publishing houses. There’s also frustration that some publishers are having trouble keeping up with new trends in book selling.

A question was posed the other day: Why would anyone want to go with a traditional publisher? 

After all, you can do all these things yourself and not share the profit with anyone. The person acknowledged that a large publishing house might be able to put extra muscle behind an author or offer a large advance (statistically unlikely for an unknown author, though). So perhaps, he thought, there would be a reason to go for a big publisher, but why would anyone choose a small press?

Let’s not forget the amount of work that small presses (and all publishers) are doing. The villain-ization of publishers has got to stop. We are not trying to make a quick buck off someone else’s hard work. A real publisher (as opposed to an author services company) is making money from how well they can sell your book. They work very hard at it. There are no quick bucks in the writing business.

So why would anyone share profits with a small publisher instead of doing it himself?

Because not everyone is the same. Not everyone has the same desires. You may want to do all the work to maintain complete control over your book. And that’s fantastic! You should definitely do that. Some authors do not want to learn how to:

  • format
  • upload
  • find a distributor
  • Figure out how to buy an ISBN and set up LCN, etc.
  • understand print sizes
  • gutter space, headings
  • front matter
  • commission a cover artist
  • find an editor
  • decide on a production schedule
  • send away for pre-publication reviews and blurbs
  • network
  • learn how to set up book signings
  • organize a book tour (virtual or IRL)
  • test out marketing strategies
  • set discounts
  • talk to bookstores about shelving
  • ETC.

They would like to write a book and hand it off to someone else to worry about the details and the receive a paycheck while they’re working on the next book. A good publisher is going to get the authors that paycheck. Because the only way for the publisher to make money is to sell those books!

The royalty check may be smaller than you would get on your own. But if you are not at all inclined to learn how to sell your book, it may also be bigger even with the marketing and overhead budget subtracted from it.

There will always be marketing that is better done by the author. I’m not going to start a twitter account in your name and tweet while pretending to be you. That would be ridiculous. A good publisher will help you understand what you can do to help your book succeed and they will be open to hearing your ideas too.

But let’s not discount all the hard work that a publisher can do for you. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes and when you’re a self-publisher, you are responsible for all of it. As I said before, there are no quick bucks in writing and a publisher can do you a valuable service. They take on the risk for you. They put their money on the line in the belief that they can sell your book and make it back. If you are with a publisher, you do not have to make that investment.

I encourage people to self-publish if they have the stamina and the drive for it. Just remember that it isn’t the path for everyone and there’s no need to make others feel bad about their choice to sign with a publisher, whether large or small.

Is it a scam to not offer an advance?

Something has been bothering me and when something bothers me, I write about it!

Writing and publishing scams are all around us. And there’s a lot of great advice out there about how to avoid fake publishers who are going to steal your work or make you buy author services that don’t do much to help your book.

I live in fear of someone accusing me of being such an operation!

The fact is, we are a very small press. We’re just starting out and we don’t have a track record yet.

The best way to tell what’s definitely a scam from what isn’t has always been this:

Money flows from the publisher to the writer and not the other way around.

If a publisher ever asks for your money, that’s a bad sign. The publisher takes on the risk of fronting the cost for editing, proofreading, cover design, review copies, etc.

I think that is absolutely true.

But yesterday I saw someone on Twitter claiming that if a publisher is too small to be able to offer you an advance, they don’t have the money to be handling your book.

That’s definitely your choice to make as you look at your options for who should publish your book. It is a warning sign that money is very tight at that company and you don’t want to attach yourself to a sinking ship. But many very legitimate small presses cannot afford advances. We’re in that position now. I hope someday we’ll be able to offer advances, but right now we’re stretched to the max, putting all our money and other resources into promotion.

I asked the woman on Twitter about this and she said:

1) Writers need a show of confidence in their work in the form of money, since a publisher is going to be making money off of their hard work.

2) She is owed thousands from a bad experience with an indie publisher

3) She’s never seen a good indie publisher, they don’t pay their royalties and they don’t promote

So let me address those. The first is a very valid way of looking at it. If you’re concerned that you might contract with someone shady, then you might want that good faith money up front. However, a company that doesn’t offer that is not necessarily a scam.

As I said earlier, the publisher puts a ton of resources into the book behind the scenes before they even know if it’s going to make any money at all. Most of the risk is the publisher’s (and I think that’s why so many look for short cuts or ways to make money off the author instead of from legitimate book selling). My good faith showing in your book is the money that I’m putting into proofreading, editing, cover design, etc.

An advance is a mixed blessing because it is an advance against royalties. That money is nothing more than royalties up front and you won’t make any more on your books until it is recouped by the publisher. Many small presses offer a higher royalty rate and one that you’ll earn much faster by not having the advance.

As far as number two, I’m not sure how it is possible for the press to owe her money. If she’s talking about a small press that didn’t offer an advance, but was otherwise identical to the large houses (in other words, if the maxim of money flows only from publisher to author and not the other way around was followed, then where is this missing money?) I haven’t asked because I was starting to feel like I was getting overly defensive in talking with her and I do think she has a legitimate point.

What I think could have happened is that when small presses fail and declare bankruptcy, it can tie up the rights to your work. You may end up fighting a legal battle to get your writing back. That really sucks.  Coming from the background of being a writer myself, I will never let that happen in my press.

Again, we are a baby press. We don’t know yet if we’ll be able to thrive. We’ve got hard work and passion on our side, but if it looks like we aren’t going to be able to make it, my number one priority is to get authors the rights to their works. As well as any money they are owed. The money coming in goes to the author first and then gets divided up for the rest of the company. That is how I operate. I will go into debt myself rather than see any authors not get their rights returned immediately if my business goes under.

The last point is the strangest to me. In a publishing house where money is never taken from the author, then promotion is the only way for them to make any money at all.

We’re in this together, my authors and me. The only way for either one of us to make any money is if I am working my butt off promoting and getting sales for their books. The only source of money for this business is through getting sales of the books. Unless you are an author services company and selling authors “promotional packages” or what have you, then you have to promote the books.

All businesses intend to make money. They see a need and decide to fill it, expecting to be able to profit from filling that need. If one is greedy or selfish, one might see the dreams of thousands of aspiring novelists as a place to get money. Many, many indie and small presses are not like that. We do not take money from authors, we find a way to get them money by working very hard ourselves.

I’m not asking you to trust me. If you decide to sign with this press, then you will know all the risks and benefits up front and that’s your choice. It might be the best option for some. It might be a terrible option for others and so you are not forced to become my author! It’s only if it’s the right choice for you and what you want for your career.

I hope to have a track record soon. I’m working on releases now so we can see if this little baby press can fly. I’ve advised more than one author to wait before signing with me, to make sure that I can do all that I think I can do for their books.

When vetting a publisher, look at their track record. Look at what they have done and how their books are doing. Make sure that you understand any contracts before you sign them. Writers, you are the ones with product here. You are the ones in control.

Don’t let anyone take advantage of you, but also don’t dismiss the small publishers just because we can’t offer an advance. Believe me, we are hungry to prove ourselves and sometimes that’s a big advantage for you.