"Dos and Don'ts" and Guide for Publishing Books and Ebooks
I was searching for a book publishing solution and after considerable research; I chose a print-on-demand (POD) outfit that Amazon owns, an operation called CreateSpace. In 2012-3, I published 24 books and titles with CreateSpace (Blue Matrix Publications). For those new to self-publishing, CreateSpace is considered a subsidy press or author-services company. The key to these companies is that books are printed only when someone orders a copy; neither author nor publisher are forced into buying any books and do their own marketing. Royalties are better than what "real" publishers offer, and true “self-publishing pros” prefer to cut out the subsidy press and go straight to a POD printer like Lightning Source to maximize their returns.
Anyways, here are my personal “dos and don’ts” for Self-Publishing and my complete Publishing Guide:
1. Self-publishing is really easy.
Self-publishing a print book is really easy and Self-publishing an e-book is even easier.
You choose a size for your book, format your Word manuscript to fit that size, turn your Word doc into a PDF, create some cover art in Photoshop, turn that into a PDF, and upload it all to the self-publisher of your choice and get a book proof back within a couple of weeks (if you succeeded in formatting everything correctly). You can then make changes and swap in new PDFs. After you officially publish your book, you can make changes to your cover and interior text by submitting new PDFs, though your book will go offline ("out of stock") for a week or so.
Both CreateSpace and Lulu offer good instructions.
2. Digital, with the current market demand, is the best approach.
I just came back from the Frankfurt Book Show, and learned that even the publishers’ of the Encyclopedia Britannica will only offer an eBook version beginning in 2012. So I advise authors who want to publish a print book is that print should be their secondary focus (and why not follow the big boys). People who have text-based books (no graphics, illustrations, or photos) should test the self-publishing waters with an e-book before moving on to hard copies. It's much easier to produce an e-book, particularly when it comes to formatting and cover design. (And you can also price a digital book for much less than a paperback, which makes it easier to sell (the majority of self-published print books cost $13.99 and up while the majority of indie e-books sell in the $.99-$5.99 range).
Once you have your book finalized in a Word or PDF file, it's relatively easy to convert it into e-book formats - or just offer it as a download as a PDF. There are several e-publishers geared to "indie" authors, including Smashwords, and Lulu, which I have found to be very easy and responsive. And after you have finished your cover and interior file and setup is approved, Amazon's CreateSpace points you toward uploading your book to Kindle Direct Publishing .
3. POD Print Quality is excellent.
The quality of POD books is excellent. The books look and feel like "real" books. The only “giveaway” that you're dealing with a self-published book would be - if the book jacket or cover is “less than par” as far as layout and design.
4. Warning for authors: Since self-publishing's so easy, everybody's doing it.
The growth of independent publishing in the world has been huge over the last couple of years. You can expect to go up against thousands of other motivated “indie” authors.
5. Good self-published books are few and far between.
The majority of self-published books are pretty bad. Given the relative ease to get “on the boat”. I'd venture to say less than 1 percent are actually worth reading. Maybe 5 percent are just ok.
6. The percentages are against you.
The average print self-published book sells about 100-150 copies -- or two-thirds to three-quarters of your friends and family combined.
7. Creating a "professional" book is the challenge.
Barrier to entry may be low, but creating a book that looks professional and is equal to a book published by a "real" publishing house is very difficult. It's hard to get everything just right (if you're a novice at book formatting, Microsoft Word will become your worst enemy).
8. You need clear objectives for your book.
This will help dictate what POD service you go with. For instance, if your objective is to create a book for posterity's and you won't have to invest a lot of time (or money). Lulu is probably your best bet.
9. There's a good chance your book won't sell.
Don't quit your day job yet, especially if your book is really mediocre, don't expect it to take off. And quality isn't a guarantee of success. Best to focus on making your investment back, and then see if it brings in some real income.
10. “Niche” books tend to do best.
Nonfiction books with a well-defined topic and a nice hook to them can do well, especially if they have a target audience that you can focus on.
11. Buy your own ISBN -- and create your own publishing house.
If you have market aspirations for your book, buy your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and create your own publishing company. Most self-publishing operations will provide you with a free ISBN for both your print book and e-book but whatever operation provides you with the ISBN will be listed as the publisher.
12. Create a unique book title.
Make your book easy to find in a search on Amazon and Google. (It should come up in the first couple of search results). You want to get the maximum SEO (search engine optimization) for your title, so if and when somebody's actually looking to buy it they'll find the link for your book.
13. “Turn-key” solutions cost a ton of money.
Proceed with caution. You've written your book and God knows you'd like to just hand it off to someone, have a team of professionals whip it into shape, and get it out there. You can do a search in Google for the companies you're considering and find testimonials -- good and bad -- from authors who've used such services, spending up to 25,000 usd.
14. Self-publishers don't care if your book is successful. Buy as little as possible from your publishing company.
I advise to never work with CreateSpace's in-house editors, copy editors, and in-house design people. They do decent work, but if you can, it's better to hire your own people and work directly with them.
15. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
CreateSpace and other self-publishing companies are always offering special deals on their various services. Ask for more free copies of your book and also ask about deals that have (technically) expired. Everything is negotiable.
16. Self-publishing is “interactive”.
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to self-publishing is that they expect to just put out a book and wait for it to magically sell. You have to be a relentless self-promoter.
What's the secret to marketing your book successfully?
The first thing is come up with a marketing plan well before you publish your book. The plan should have at least five options for you to pursue because chances are you're going to strike out a couple times. It's easy to get discouraged, so you have to be ready to move on to Plan B, C, and D.
There is "blog strategy," and social media campaigns to wage, local media angles to pursue, organizations to approach, and all kinds of ideas you can dream up. None of this will cost you a whole lot -- except time and perhaps a little pride. – it’s good to thick skin. When it comes to self-promotion, there's a fine line between being assertive and being overly aggressive in an obnoxious way.
17. Getting your book in bookstores.
CreateSpace offers its Expanded Distribution program for a $25 a year fee. It uses Baker & Taylor, as well as Ingram, as well as CreateSpace Direct to make your book available "to certified resellers through our wholesale website." You also get distribution to Amazon Europe (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, Amazon.de).
18. Design your book cover to look good small.
A solid indie cover effort, with Amazon becoming a dominant bookseller, your book has to stand out as a thumbnail image online because that's how most people are going to come across it. If you're primarily selling through Amazon, think small and work your way up.
19. If you're selling online, make the most out of your Amazon page.
It may not have a major impact, but it's better than doing nothing. You should check outAmazon's Author Central to get some helpful tips. Make sure your book is put into five browsing categories (it's only allowed five). It helps to categorize your book to readers and also will make your book look better if it's a bestseller in those categories.
To get a rough idea of how much money you can make selling your book, you should check out CreateSpace's royalty calculator. Overall, compared with what traditional publishers pay out, royalty rates for self-published books are actually quite decent.
Many of the self-publishing operations have their own online marketplaces where you can offer up your book and get a significantly better royalty rate. Lulu.com, has its own online store, which is well designed and has a big audience. And Amazon, which is the first place people generally go to look for a book when they hear about it. Amazon Author Central and Google are your best friends for helping to discover ways to better surface your book.
Self-publishing is changing as you read this.
Self-publishing industry is a rapidly evolving with lots of competitors that are constantly throwing out new platforms and information. Publishers are continually upgrading their facilities, infrastructure, and pricing. After four days this past October in Frankfurt I ask what does 2013 hold in store?
New Content: Added October: 2013
Publishing Comparison Guide
*Top Digital Publishers
Digital publishing has really taken off, especially the last three years or so. There are many, many companies offering a wide variety of services for anyone wanting to produce and sell an e-book. It is something of a brave new e-publishing world and potentially quite confusing for the uninitiated.
One way to gain one's bearings is through a very general understanding of the e-publishing pipeline. Writing and editing are at one end, marketing distribution and promotion at the other. Somewhere in the middle are design and production, including the crucial technical task of generating files in standard formats necessary for successful upload and distribution. Companies in the e-book domain rarely cover all phases of the process but instead tend to focus on one or another segment of the pipeline.
The popular PressWords, for example, is a CMS (content management system) for organizing, editing and formatting. Authors can use PressWords to write their books and prepare book files for production and publication.
Aggregators, such as Smashwords, on the other hand, help authors with distribution. Rather than uploading books to individual outlets (such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IBookstore, Kobo, Scribd, etc.…), an author will upload one properly formatted file only once. Smashwords then converts the file into the various formats required by the outlets, and does all the uploading. Smashwords also tracks and reports on sales, collects royalties and pays the author a lump sum, on a quarterly basis.
Perhaps more confusing than the diverse types of e-publishing platforms and companies are the various ways these businesses charge for their services. On the one hand, services related to editing, design and production generally involve bespoke pricing quoted for each individual project.
For example, production specialist EpubConversions.com will edit and format authors’ documents for distribution and help authors upload files directly, without the use of an aggregator, to top retailers Amazon, BN and Apple. Their technicians optimize file quality by hand with better results than aggregators can produce through automated conversion, and EpubConversions charges accordingly, on a project-by-project basis.
Along with editing, production and design, publicity and promotional work can also be sold as bespoke services (with prices tailored to individual projects). In some cases, fixed-price packages are also available. Lulu, for example, offers publicity campaigns as packages (ranging from $5299 to $11,999 for six-week campaigns) as well as an a-la-carte menu of items like press releases, video trailers and business cards, all with fixed prices displayed on the Lulu website.
The pricing practices of aggregators, distributors and retailers are much different. Some charge transaction fees but nearly all charge commissions based on book sales. The remaining revenues from sales are then paid as royalties to the author. The actual dollar amounts of royalties and commissions are often determined by market-based formulae taking multiple variables into account. An author’s royalties can thus vary depending not only on the retailer and distributor(s) involved (each with their own rates and formulae), but also on the list price of the book (with vastly different percentages for different price points), on whether or not there were discounts offered (price matches) and even on something as seemingly unimportant as whether the book in question was bought as a single item or as part of a larger purchase. With so many factors to account for, actual dollar amounts that will be paid to the author cannot be determined until the actual time of sale. There can also be "hidden" fees from credit card companies, PayPal and other payment services. And note that some companies will withhold 28-30% of all earnings if an author has not provided a TIN or SSN for tax purposes.
THE ULTIMATE AGGREGATOR
Smashwords, a Silicon Valley startup, is the ultimate e-book aggregator with the largest distribution network in e-book publishing. The company was launched in 2008 by Mark Coker, an industry influencer who maintains a very useful blog with widely read posts on best practices for e-book publishing. With its focus on distribution, Smashwords provides no design or production services (although a list of "formatters" is made available to those who need assistance preparing their documents for upload.) ISBN numbers are included for each e-book at no additional cost. DIY (do-it-yourself) online marketing and publicity tools are provided free of charge. Smashwords does not use DRM (Digital Rights Management) of any sort.
At Smashwords, authors pay no up-front fees and all commission and transaction fees are figured only at the time of purchase—when a customer actually pays for the e-book. As mentioned above, there are many variables that can contribute to the price of commissions and transactions. Smashwords maintains three separate distribution catalogs (standard, premium and mobile) with separate formulae for figuring costs. Smashwords generates an estimate of the overall cost of distributing a book (presented as a dynamic pie-chart graphic) with book submission.
In general, Smashwords takes 20-30% for books sold directly on the Smashwords website (the standard catalog), with the average being 26%. This includes all transaction fees. For books sold through the Smashwords premium and mobile catalogs, it will cost an author at least twice as much, 40-65%, and sometimes more for overseas and mobile sales. One exception would be sales through the Smashwords Library Direct channel (part of the premium catalog, bulk library sales direct from Smashwords by special arrangement) with commissions and fees at 30%.
Smashwords value proposition is no-frills access to wide distribution that includes libraries as well as retailers and other third-party distributors. The Smashwords Premium Catalog distributes through two library channels (with more on the way), and through an extremely robust retail channel that includes Apple, BN, Sony, Kobo and many other global retailers and third-party distributors, Please note that for technical reasons there is at this point only very limited distribution via retail giant, Amazon. The separate Smashwords Mobil Catalogue features atom opds channels for distribution directly to mobile apps.
MORE THAN JUST AN AGGREGATOR
Lulu has been providing a wide range of services to self-publishing authors for over a decade. Though Lulu’s focus is on print-based media--primarily books, photo albums and calendars, Lulu also offers I-book (for I-pads, only) and e-book options, with extremely convenient, cost-effective e-book publication packages ($219 for up to 250 pages and $289 for up to 500) that include a real live human project coordinator to take care of file conversion and overall management, guaranteeing successful publication to the Lulu Marketplace.
As an aggregator, Lulu will sell your book at its own online bookstore as well as through partnerships with BN Nook (roughly 25% e-book market share) and Apple IBooks (roughly 20% of the market). Unlike Smashwords, Lulu has no access to library channels and, for now, no distribution through Amazon (50+%). All Lulu accounts include online tools to track sales and revenues as well as the ability to generate customized reports.
Lulu charges a slightly lower commission than Smashwords (10% on net sales rather than15%); but when transaction fees and third-party sales commissions are taken into account, authors save less than 5% for distributing via Lulu rather than Smashwords.
Lulu’s true value lies instead in its various packaged services. Along with the e-book publishing package, Lulu also offers a broad range of services for editing (starting at $.23 per word), designing and promoting the books of independent authors. Though developed primarily for authors of conventional print books, many of Lulu’s services could be of value to e-book authors, too. For example, Lulu will build a website for your book, produce book and author video trailers and create business cards, postcards and other promotional materials to help authors sell their books.
Though primarily an aggregator, BookBaby, like Lulu, provides just about everything an e-book author would need, with secondary services offered across the publishing pipeline. BookBaby partners with Firstediting.com for proofreading, editing and rewrites and with PRNewswire for press releases. They employ in-house designers to create covers (starting $149) and also to format fixed layouts for interactive e-books (prices quoted per project). They'll scan a print book for digital conversion and they'll even produce a print version of your digital e-book. If you'd like an audio version of your e-book, that can be arranged, too, through their parent company CDbaby.
As an aggregator, BookBaby is somewhat unique for its pricing model. BookBaby charges up front with three tiers of fixed prices: $99 to upload an e-pub formatted file; $199 to have BookBaby convert the file from another format; and $349 for a premium tier with priority processing, a DIY promotional website, a digital pdf of the book and a few other things, too. ISBN numbers cost $19. For the two lower tiers, there is also an annual fee of $19 after the first year. Annual fees do not apply to the premium tier. (NOTE: There is an extra $3 per page fee for converting fixed-layout, interactive files with additional prices quoted for audio and video files.)
BookBaby has no bookstore of its own but distributes to all major e-book retailers: Amazon, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Reader Store (for Sony Reader), Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, eBookPie, eSentral, Scribd. It collects net sales (minus third-party commissions and transaction fees) and pays authors weekly, charging no extra commissions or fees of its own. Authors manage sales and generate reports anytime via a user-friendly accounting dashboard. BookBaby authors also have free access to a series of user's guides on e-publishing, distribution and sales.
BookBaby is a standout in customer service. While contact via email is the norm for e-book publishers, BookBaby, which is based in Portland, Oregon, provides phone and live-chat customer service during PST business hours.
Booktango is a newer, leaner alternative to BookBaby or Lulu, with DIY options, including a “freemium” plan, that make e-publishing extremely inexpensive. Though Booktango is a newcomer—its website went live to the general public less than one year ago—it has decades of experience behind it. It is owned by the Penguin Group (which is in the process of merging with Random House) and was developed, from the ground up, by longtime self-publishing company Author Solutions.
Booktango’s free features include ISBN assignment, a DIY E-Book Editor and DIY Cover Designer. Premium packages (ranging in price from $49 to $359) feature formatting and correction services, custom cover design; US copyright registration, book stubs and more. There is also a broad offering of a-la-carte publicity and promotional services, including a special $699 Hollywood package, offered in partnership with Thruline Entertainment, for authors interested in exploring adaptations for film and television.
Booktango claims to take 0% of net royalties. Like BookBaby, they make their money up-front with fixed-price packages, a-la-carte and custom services. As mentioned above, there is also a DIY free plan with no up-front cost and which really is free—with no annual fee after the first year. Third-party retailers (Booktango distributes to Amazon, BN, I-Books, Kobo, Google, Sony, Scribd,Books, and more) will take their percentage of sales, but the rest of the royalties go to the author. When books are sold on the Booktango Bookstore, the author receives 100% of the list price.
Booktango provides online sales tracking as well as quarterly royalty statements. Customer service is available via email and 24-hour live chat.
Two words of caution:
1) Booktango is slow to pay: whether by check or direct deposit, funds are made available about two months after the close of each quarter.
2) Booktango’s parent company, Author Solutions is known for its aggressive marketing practices. If you go with Booktango’s free plan, expect a hard sell, with tactics encouraging you to upgrade.
PRODUCTION PLATFORMS FOR DIRECT PUBLICATION
Amazon commands over 50% of the market in e-book sales (and close to 25% in sales of print books). Barnes & Noble’s e-book market share is somewhere between 20% and 25%. Apple recently announced it now holds nearly 20% of the U.S e-book market.
One issue for authors is whether or not they really need to use aggregators. For some, publishing only on Amazon or Nook or on Apple’s I-Bookstore may be all they want.
Here is a chart comparing aggregators with retailers in terms of royalties, fees, payment schedules and also file formats:
As the chart implies, the big aggregators convert an author’s word files to the required formats, such as epub. Most tablet devices, including Nook and IPad, read epub. The one huge exception, however, is Kindle. To sell e-books through Amazon requires that book files be converted to Kindle-specific formats PRC (mobi), AZW3, or the newer KF8 for enhanced, media-rich e-books. This is why Lulu does not distribute via Amazon and why Smashwords distributes only on a very limited basis. For additional information:
Amazon provides a free, easy-to-use online file converter and guide with its KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) services, as well as advanced tools for creating KF8 files by hand. It is not any more difficult to upload a book directly to Amazon than to an aggregator. If an author does it this way, there will be no fees or commissions to pay to aggregators and, if your aggregator is Lulu or Smashwords, you’ll have to upload to Amazon separately anyway.
Barnes & Noble has a brand new online publishing tool for Nook called NookPress. It is major improvement over the old pubit! Platform, and here is a recent Nook review:
Barnes & Noble's PubIt! self-publishing conduit has been active for well over two years, but you'd be forgiven for overlooking it with that somewhat forgettable (if very emphatic) name. The company might just know what you're thinking, as it's giving the service a considerably more memorable title, Nook Press, while upgrading features at the same time. Although the royalty structure remains the same, Nook Press now incorporates a web-based authoring tool: would-be Hemingways can write and preview their work through one online hub, sharing their drafts with others in a secure space. Those who commit should also get more exposure through an upcoming Nook Press channel on Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets. There's no guarantee that the rebranding will lure potential bestselling authors away from Amazon, but they may have a better sense of their options.
-Engadget (April, 2013)
The pioneer for enhanced e-book authoring is Apple’s I-Author. You have to download (free) software from Apple. It is not cloud-based, which is a bit of a drawback. It is very easy to work with and loads directly to apple for the i-pad. The major drawback is that anything created with I-Author cannot be sold or distributed anywhere else but through Apple.
PLATFORMS FOR EDITING, FORMATTING AND CONTENT MANAGEMENT
PressBooks is great for bloggers who want to publish books. If they already use WordPress, they will be in their element. PressBooks is, in fact a WordPress widget.
It does NOT support audio or visual files and the people building the product say that support for rich media is not high on their priority list. So, PressBooks is not a good option for creating enhanced e-books.
In either case the Pressbooks platform is exclusively for editing and formatting. It will output files in all the various formats for the major retailers.
Pressbooks has established a partnership with BookBaby for distribution and Bookbaby offers a discount for Pressbook users uploading Pressbook-generated files. Pressbook is free for now, but premium features are on the way.
Atavist and Creatavist cloud-based CMS are geared toward medium-to-long form non-fiction—investigative journalism, documentary storytelling, essays, criticism, etc. The Paris Review uses them, as well as Wall Street Journal, TED Books and others. They are a Brooklyn-based startup. They have three plans:
- Free for one story with up to 150MB of storage.
- $10/month for unlimited stories up to 5MG storage (1min. video = 1MG)
- Enterprise app for $250/month (this is what WSJ and other big names do)
OTHER PLATFORMS FOR NICHE MARKETS
LeanPub (for startup engineers)
Graphicly (for comic book and other graphic genre enthusiasts)
* Top independent or small presses that publish literary memoir & fiction
Independent Publishers for Fiction
Independent presses, those not part the large conglomerates, make up about half of the book publishing business. Unlike the big publishing houses, they generally operate as tax-exempt non-profits, often with a mission and aimed at a specific niche—to publish a very specific sort of literature, perhaps with a focus on an issue, cause or specific subject matter for a specific audience. Independent presses can, accordingly be highly selective about the books they choose to publish.
For an extreme example, Red Hen’s Boreal Books publishes fine literature from Alaska. Sottovoce Press focuses LGBT themed novels, novellas, anthologies and short story collections. Some publishers, such as Tarpaulin Sky or SF/LD Books are offshoots of literary journals and so tend to publish books of authors already contributing to their journals.
The submission policies of independent publishers can vary. Unlike the large New York houses, independent presses generally accept queries directly from authors. There does, however, seem to be a fairly recent trend away from this. While legendary beat generation publisher City Lights has not accepted unsolicited manuscripts for quite some time, Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press is one of several who have stopped accepting unsolicited submissions only in the last two or three years.
Many of those publishers who do accept direct submissions from authors quite often have very specific, logistical requirements that must be met (such as electronic only or no e-mails; or send ten pages—no more or no less—and in a specific format). Some publishers accept submissions only during certain months of the year when they have their specified “reading season.” There are also a few who invite submissions via annual contests, with winners’ and finalists’ books published as part of the prize.
Independent publishers contract with authors to edit, market and distribute the books they select to publish. Authors receive royalties, with 10% to 15% standard rates for print books. (Royalties for e-books can vary quite widely. See the separate section on e-book publishing.) Some independent presses offer advances, though generally in much smaller amounts than those from the major publishing houses.
What follows is an introduction to a handful of independent presses. They were chosen based on criteria for reputation, as outlined above, and also for the fact that they publish fiction and memoir, and are relatively open to first-time authors:
Small Beer Press
150 Pleasant St., #306
Easthampton, MA 01027
Small Beer Press is a well-regarded niche independent that publishes only four to six titles per year, but with award-winning novels and anthologies amongst them. One of their novels made it to the Publishers Weekly Top Ten for the year, 2011. Small Beer specializes in “speculative fiction,” which encompasses genres such as utopian, dystopian, fantasy and science fiction. Through their Big Mouth House imprint, they also publish works of general fiction for all ages—books that would be of interest to adults as well as appropriate for children and youth.
Small Beer accepts submissions directly from authors, with very specific logistical requirements. They pay standard royalties (10-15%) for print books. Their e-book royalty rate is 50% of net receipts. They offer some authors a small advance. Small Beer has no online platform for submission management. They are a very small, hands-on press. With their track record in mind, one can assume they are not only highly selective, but also committed to the success of the titles they accept for publication.
79 Thirteenth Avenue NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Another award-winning independent imprint, Coffeehouse Press (CHP) publishes fourteen to sixteen new books annually, with titles reflecting the individual tastes of its small staff. With a focus on emerging and mid-career authors, this publisher is looking for “writing that instructs, inspires, and/or entertains the reader, and that does so with a unique voice.” CHP does not publish genre fiction such as mysteries, Gothic romances, Westerns, science fiction, or children’s books. It does publish memoirs.
All Coffeehouse authors are paid advances, though amounts vary quite widely depending on the author’s past sales and reputation. Rights and royalties are also negotiated on a per title basis, based on similar criteria. Coffeehouse distributes through Consortium and Perseus and provides individualized marketing and promotional support. Their titles are carried by almost all independent book stores and are found in many libraries.
During their annual reading periods (March 1 to April 30 and September 1 to October 31), Coffee House Press accepts electronic submissions only, through an online submissions manager.
145 Plymouth Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Melville House, which operates a bricks and mortar bookstore as well as a small press, is at the epicenter of a Brooklyn-based community of independent publishers devoted in varying degrees to experimental and cutting edge literary practices. Within this local eco-system, Melville is perhaps the oldest and most wide-ranging in terms of genres and styles. Their books include non-fiction from investigative reporters to obscure novels and other works of fiction from authors with Nobel prizes. Melville has also pioneered interactive, enhanced books through its innovative HybridBook project.
No matter what the genre or style, Melville House takes pride in its many first-time writers who have gone on to success. They will not accept any unsolicited fiction submissiosn but they do invite direct queries via email from authors who have proposals or manuscripts for non-fiction, including memoir.
The Melville House sells book online, at its bookstore and also distributes through Random House. All matters regarding rights, royalties and advances are negotiable and strictly private.
840 S. West Temple #1
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
WiDo (pronounced like widow) Publishing is less widely known than Small Beer, Coffee House or Melville. It is small press with 40 titles published to date. All but a few are by first-time authors. WiDo specializes in memoir as well as literary fiction and distributes via the Celery Tree Bookstore, which also serves as an online sales portal for WiDo and other authors.
Like many independent publishers, WiDo does not offer advances and follows a fairly standard 10/12.5/15 royalty structure. For the first 5000 copies sold, authors receive 10% of list price; for the next 5000 to 10,000, royalties are 12.5%; after sales of 10,000 copies, 15% royalty kicks in. For e-books, WiDo pays 40% of net.
WiDo accepts submissions directly from authors year-round. Please note that their requirements include authors to submit an initial marketing plan along with other documents. Though there are staff on hand to advise and to implement marketing and promotions activities, Wido claims more successful sales when authors are fully engaged in the process.
6524 Brownlee Drive
Nashville, TN 37205-3038
Mid-List was founded in 1989 by a group of writers and editors who believed strongly that there was a need for an independent book publisher dedicated to the "midlist"—quality titles of general interest excluded from publication for reasons of profitability. Midlist actively seeks fiction and non-fiction by new and emerging writers and by writers ignored, marginalized, or excluded from publication by commercial publishers. Its mission is to increase access to publication for new writers, nurture the growth of emerging writers, and increase the diversity of books, authors, and readers.
Though Mid-List recently suspended its First Series Awards programs (which provided publication and cash advances every year to four first-time authors), it now accepts direct submissions via email from authors at all stages of their publishing careers. Mid-List publishes novels and memoirs and is particularly interested in authors who are not yet published.
UK based company, quite small, boutique services geared toward non-professional and novice authors. Their specialty is memoirs, but they will publish just about anything. Though a few or their titles are being sold successfully worldwide, they make it clear that most of the authors they publish do not intend to make much, if any money with their books.
The author pays for the project, with fees based on services involved, length of the final manuscript and number of copies produced. The founders of Memoirs Publishing provide one-on-one support. There is, at this time, no online platform. There are, however, loads of testimonials from enthusiastic customer/authors.
If deemed a good fit, Memoirs will sell a book through their own online bookstore (about 100 titles right now) and, when appropriate, will also help to market and distribute the book more widely. Please note that they have a policy requiring a print run of at least seven copies for distribution to the British Library and other official deposit libraries in the UK. Authors retain all rights of their books.
Fiction and Memoir Independents
Independent presses, those not part of the large conglomerates, make up about half of the book publishing business. Unlike the big publishing houses, they sometimes operate as tax-exempt non-profits and, whether non-profit or for-profit, are often mission-driven and aimed at a specific niche. An independent publisher may champion a particular genre of literature, or perhaps focus on an issue, cause or specific subject matter. Independent presses can, accordingly, be highly selective about the books they choose to publish and also exceedingly friendly to those authors who might fit the niche.
For example, Crossed Genres Publication is looking for novels with a progressive bent that not only “blend multiple genres,” but also include main characters from traditionally marginalized groups (women of color, the disabled). Fireship Press, on the other hand, is devoted to “the finest in nautical and historical fiction and non-fiction.” Belleview Literary Press, which is affiliated with the NYU School of Medicine, publishes award-winning literary fiction and nonfiction at the intersection of the arts and sciences. Red Hen’s Boreal Books publishes literature exclusively from Alaska. Sottovoce Press focuses on LGBT themed novels, novellas, anthologies and short story collections.
For help finding these and other niche markets suitable for a particular author or work, the Duotrope online writer’s resource lists five thousand independent publishers in its database, with a search engine that filters by genre, sub-genre, style and subject for fiction and non-fiction.
Reputations of independent presses can be based on various criteria, such as how long they have been in business, how many awards their books win and how successfully their books sell. Some authors will seek out publishers who display a particular aesthetic or for how open they are to experimental or cutting edge literary practices. Others will find value in a press known for its point of view, mission or cause.
For distribution of books, small presses often use independent distribution networks such as Consortium Book Sales, the Independent Publishers Group (IPG), and Ingram. (For information on these and other distributors, visit Bookmarket.com.) A few independents also distribute (as paying clients) through the big houses. Melville, for example pays Random House to distribute its books through the Random House network. Most small publishers also sell via their own websites and some (such as City Lights in San Francisco) operate bricks and mortar bookstores.
As noted in discussing the Big Five New York houses, working with a literary agent can be either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on an author’s needs and resources. For those authors preferring to work without an agent, publishing via an independent press would be the best option. Where a Big Five publisher generally requires working through an agent, most independent presses generally accept queries and submissions directly from authors. There does, however, seem to be a fairly recent trend away from accepting direct submissions. While the legendary publisher City Lights has not accepted unsolicited manuscripts for quite some time, Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press (which distributes through Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is one of several independents who have stopped accepting direct submissions only in the last two or three years. This may be related to the economy.
Whether or not they accept direct submissions from authors, independent publishers tend to have very specific, logistical requirements that must be met (such as “we accept electronic submissions only” or “emails will not be answered”; some will want the first two chapters; others will want only ten pages—no more or no less—and in a specific format). There are many independents that accept submissions only during certain months of the year when they have their specified “reading seasons.” There are also a few (such as Sarabande Books) who invite submissions via annual contests, with the books of winners published as part of the prize.
As with the Big Five, independent publishers negotiate contracts with the authors they select. The publishers then edit, produce, market, distribute and sometimes sell the books (via their own online or sometimes brick and mortar bookstores). Authors receive royalties, with somewhat negotiable rates for literary genres generally ranging from 10% to 15%, and varying according to projected sales. (Royalties for e-books can vary quite widely. See the separate section on e-book publishing.) Some independent presses offer advances, generally (though not always) in smaller amounts than those from the major publishing houses.
For more information on many more independent presses, visit the Small Presses list at AgentQuery.com.
*Top independent or small presses that publish personal growth, spirituality, self-help books
Monkfish Publishing in Rhinebeck, NY.
For more information on many more independent presses, visit the Small Presses list at AgentQuery.com.
* Top independent or small presses that publish business books or books related to innovation & creativity
For more information on many more independent presses, visit the Small Presses list at AgentQuery.com.
* Top Big 5 New York house imprints (within these publishing houses that publish literary memoir & fiction
Penguin Random House
New York, NY 10019
Even before last month’s (June, 2013) merger with the Penguin Group,
Random House was the world’s largest English-language general trade book publisher. It is now even bigger and also has a new name, Penguin Random House. (Some in the industry are calling it the Random Penguin.)
With over 250 imprints in 16 countries, the Penguin Random House has many doors for authors and their agents to go knocking. For example, you’ll find the following powerhouse subsidiaries all within Random’s Knopf Doubleday Group (one of a half dozen groups): Alfred A. Knopf, Doubleday, Nan A. Talese, Pantheon, Schocken. Vintage Books (including Black Lizard and Vintage Espanol), Anchor Books, and Everyman’s Library.
Be advised, however, that neither Random House nor Penguin nor their subsidiaries accept unsolicited manuscripts from authors. To publish with these big houses almost always requires working with a literary agent. This is a good thing: an agent should be able to advise you which imprints—and which editors at those imprints—will be more friendly to new authors and more interested in your work, whether or not you are a new author.
The best agents, however, will always appreciate well-informed authors. So, even before approaching an agent, you should try to have a sense of which imprints might be the best fit for you. For a few examples to illustrate the variety, Nan A. Talese (wife of Guy Talese) who has her own imprint at Doubleday (part of the Knopf Doubleday Group of Penguin Random) specializes in discovering extremely talented new literary authors (such as Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood). Black Lizard (a subsidiary of Vintage, also a Knopf Doubleday imprint), on the other hand, focuses in best-selling international thrillers (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and vintage crime (The Maltese Falcon). Most of the imprints at the Random Group aim for a wider audience than those at Knopf Doubleday, such as mystery and romance at Ballantine (where Jessica Brockwell’s first novel, Letters from Skye is doing well) and best-selling powerhouses (Danielle Steele, John Grisham and the works of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin) at Bantam. Amy Einhorn Books (a G. Putnam imprint and part of the Penguin Group), is looking for work that “hits the sweet spot between literary and commercial—intelligent writing with a strong narrative and great storytelling.” All of these imprints publish high quality, though very different work aimed at different readerships.
If your book is accepted for publication at one of Random Penguin’s imprints, you will have access to the Random House Author’s Portal along with one-on-one support from members of editorial, production, publicity and marketing teams. The online platform includes tools for tracking sales, viewing royalties and sub-rights, and managing social media channels.
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020-1586
75 Fifth Avenue (the Flatiron Building)
New York, NY 10010
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Friendliness toward new authors—see individual imprints and editors, author platform/promotion support, rights and digital rights, royalties—vary 8%-12% and sometimes higher, advances—often very little and rarely more than 50% of royalties from initial print run.
*Top Big 5 New York house imprints that publish personal growth, spirituality, and self-help
New World Library
Inner Traditions (spirituality - independent).
Shambhala Press (spirituality - independent).
Deepak Chopra, Amy Weintraub, Eckhart Tolle, Thomas Moore).
*Top Big 5 New York house imprints within these publishing houses that publish business
Books for solo-preneurs or entrepreneurs in marketing, start-up businesses:
Duct Tape Marketing; Drive by Daniel Pink; Give & Take by Adam Grant: So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport; Contagious by Jonah Berger; anything by the Heath Brothers.
Books on creativity in business:
The Icarus Deception; Metaskills by Neumeier; Creative Intelligence by Nussbaum; A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink; The Connected Mind by Stephen Johnson; anything by Malcolm Gladwell.
About the Author: Dr. Philip Gordon, PhD
Author and Publisher Dr. Philip Gordon, PhD, Blue Matrix Publications has been an “indie” creative since 1996 and writes about variety of global issues, artistic, design, children, business and academic subjects and is an avid book and ebook reader.
Blue Matrix Publications: Recent Books and eBooks: youtube.com LINKS:
Obama Presidential Campaign: TIPPING POINT: Media Analysis and Influence
Paris Hotels: Insiders Guide and Market Study
Principles and Practices of Lighting Design: The Art of Lighting Composition
Media Tipping Points: Analyzing and Predicting Global Events
DATA MINING: Predicting Tipping Points
Climate Change: Tipping Points
International Financial Crisis: 2007-2010: Tipping Points
Over 65: Writing for Pleasure and Profit!
Pendulum: An Original Screenplay
Jazz Compositions:Volume 1: The Zodiac Project: Parallel Universe
Jazz Compositions:Volume 2: The Zodiac Project: Secrets d'Histoire
GLOBAL EVENTS: TIPPING POINTS
Journey to Burgundy
JoE StuBBeD hiS ToE
The Zodiac Project
And more coming in 2013 – 2014!