A Written View – Starting Your Own Publishing Company
By Douglas Owen
Like most self-published writers, I opened a publishing company so each book would have an identifiable imprint. If you are a self-published author, I would suggest doing this as well. There are a number of tax benefits that make this something to really look into if you have not already done so yourself.
I went for a two-tiered approach, meaning a parent publishing company and then a secondary imprint. It allowed for failure, for we, as writers, know this can happen. But after two years, the success brought on by sales tells me I did the right thing. So the next phase started just at the end of 2014.
My small imprint flung open the doors and then, we were ready to go.
Yes, I put out a call for submissions.
The first couple of days brought head-scratching and wonder with regard to who was actually visiting the site. Not knowing why authors were not pounding down my door I posted my thoughts to my writers support group. I was not prepared for the response.
Let me explain. Writers, especially new writers, seem to misunderstand the changes that have taken place in the publishing industry. Let’s talk about these misconceptions so everyone understands what they are and how to avoid them.
I was asked by a few of the writers what type of advance they could expect. The answer surprised them. I asked what they have written or had published in the past, and said the company does not supply advances.
It started there. Then they understood. Why would a publishing company give money to a writer who had never worked with them before? Or a writer who had never been published traditionally? It would be akin to asking a company to pay you a salary before you come to work for them.
Even though this helped people understand why there would be no advance, several jumped off the topic feeling they deserved such, though they have never finished a manuscript.
Yes, I was asked how much they would make on royalties. I explained that the royalties were based on sales. They wanted to know how much money they would make in the first year. Hard to say, for no one has a working crystal ball, to my knowledge.
Heck, if I could tell how much something would make in twelve months, I would be a great futures trader, and not a writer.
Benefits I would provide
This was a big question. They wanted to know what my publishing company brought to the table. A valid question, and a very complicated one. Yes, editing of the manuscript, but that would affect the royalties. Artwork professionally created specifically for the novel. Market tests to make sure the cover would have the right effect.
Then I told them something most did not know. If they had an agent, the book would be fully edited before it was submitted to the publishing company. That is a big change in the publishing industry. Now, everything should be all but perfect before it comes to the editor.
Electronic or print rights
When it was explained that both rights needed to be transferred, some left the conversation. What did they expect? No publisher will give up digital rights for only print, and vice versa. It is an all-or-nothing option.
More questions showed up, but those were the main ones. Yes, it was a heated conversation.
One of the more interesting things was how each writer who asked about advances failed to show they were published in the past. It appears this is their stumbling block. They expected a big pay check before they even proved themselves. Remember what I said above?
I actually had a private conversation with one of them and he admitted to never finishing a manuscript, be it a book or short story. When he heard that, his questions of an advance disappeared. Realization set in and he promised to complete something soon. Maybe he’ll submit it to me, maybe he won’t.
I then had an agent contact me. He represents three authors, but only one has anything completed. The questions came non-stop. About halfway through our exchange, I wanted to ask him if he was real. Most agents would know the answers to the questions asked, or realize a small print shop would not have the finances he wanted it to have. After the reminder that it was just a start up at this time, he quieted down and the questions became more advanced. I then asked if he wanted to send the first three chapters of the manuscript. I have not heard from him since. Could be they are non-existent; hopefully, they are real.
One author kept saying to respect the author, and when asked about it she would not respond. Did I turn her novel away? No idea, but maybe if she had published in the past, her thoughts would be different, and she would respect the publisher as well.
I guess the theme here is to remember that a publisher is being hammered from all sides. They deal with the author or agent, as well as the distributers and retailers. This is something that makes the world a very difficult place for them.
So why did I do it? There was a need. I have read so many brilliant works over the last few years where the author could not get published because they had never published before. It became so upsetting to me that I decided my focus on publishing would be the underdog, the underrepresented author who writes brilliantly, but does not know where to turn.
Do you know an author who has a book that needs publishing? Point them my way. But remember, SF and Fantasy only at this time.
Doug’s Website: http://daowen.ca/