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Thread: Red Willow Digital Press

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin JFK's Avatar
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    Red Willow Digital Press

    Anyone have any experience with Red Willow Digital Press? I came across them on Twitter. They have a website but I've not heard of them before.
    Last edited by JFK; 05-31-2011 at 12:53 AM. Reason: clarification

  2. #2
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    These folks? http://www.redwillowdigitalpress.com/

    Also, this probably belongs in the main section. I'm sure a mod will be along to take care of it.

  3. #3
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Red Willow Digital Press Website:
    Red Willow Digital Press is a digital and print publishing company with traditional terms. Authors submit their manuscript for review and if accepted, Red Willow takes care of the rest
    Traditional or commercial publishers also pay people for their manuscripts in the form of an advance.

    Red Willow Digital Press Website:
    We publish only high quality writing, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir, or any other genre.
    This in itself is a red flag. There's no money in publishing poetry and their willingness to accept anything, means there will be no strategising of marketing spend. Most publishers start small in one or two genres and build up their reputation before moving into other areas.

    Red Willow Digital Press Website:
    This is the big advantage to you—you save hundreds of dollars on conversion and publishing fees and we trust that your work is going to sell well enough to compensate our investment and also make money for you
    That all depends on who's doing the selling and who's doing the buying.

    The fact that the company's front page is aimed at writers more than book buyers suggests who their target audience is.

    Red Willow Digital Press Website:
    For example, a 26 year old author from a small farming town in southern Minnesota sold 450,000 copies of her e-books in one month: January 2011.
    Presumably this is a reference to Amanda Hocking, who just took a commercial publishing deal because she didn't want to have to keep doing all the work associated with self-publishing.

    Red Willow Digital Press Website:
    Our print books are listed in the Ingram catalog and are made available for any bookseller to order from.
    Made available to is not the same as made available in and there's a direct impact on sales.

    Red Willow Digital Press Website:
    Traditional publishing houses typically offer 4% to 8%—we offer 50% of royalties received. We also pay royalties quarterly or even sooner as we receive them from our distribution partners.
    I'd want to know if that's on net or cover price. I will say that there are publishers out there who give higher royalties and if you self-publish, you keep it all.

    Red Willow Digital Press Website:
    Most traditional publishing houses charge the author for returns of unsold books from bookstores. Obviously that is not an issue with e-books, but we never negotiate terms for distribution of print books that require the author pay for unsold copies. We believe that policy is ridiculous.
    "Ridiculous" is one word for it. Bullshit would be another. I've never heard of a commercial publisher doing this. It's a myth used to put people off commercial publishing.

    Red Willow Digital Press Website:
    How are royalties shared?
    Our authors receive 50% of royalties received. (Compare this with a standard 4% to 8% royalties in traditional print publishing.) All of our expenses come out of our share, not yours. If your book sells on the Kindle store and we receive 70% of the selling price, you receive a full 35%.
    This sounds like it's not 50% on cover, but I'd want to compare.

    Also, consider that while you might get 8 - 10% royalties with a commercial publisher, you will also have received an advance up front.

    MM

  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin JFK's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments, MM. I also thought the reference was to Amanda Hocking. I checked out the website and thought it unusual the author is required to upload the entire manuscript in the submission. Most ask for a chapter or even only a few pages.

  5. #5
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Wow.
    We also differ from the big, sleazy publishers in that we provide 50% net royalties and as much marketing as possible.
    My bolding. Yeah, I'm sure everyone thinks of Random House, S&S, Penguin, etc as sleazy.

    For marketing, we provide a website, all sorts of help optimizing your Amazon (and other) pages for good SEO practices, and sending professionally-designed flyers to hundreds of indie bookstores.
    Gee, why doesn't sleazy Random House do that? All they do is get books into bookstores and sell tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions, of copies per title.

  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I'm the guy who started Red Willow Digital Press and I thought I'd chime in to answer questions. First, I'm pretty sure I know where you're coming from with the whole trust issue. Let me just say that I'm a normal person who's trying to help authors (and my family, since they run the business with me) make some money from their writing.

    My last blog post (the one that used the word, sleazy) was reaction to the blog post I referenced. Several big publishers are engaging in sleazy tactics to get as much as they can from their authors, so I don't apologize. One of my dear friends just had this happen to her.

    No, we don't give advances—yet. We opened for business less than two months ago, so it'll take a bit before we have those resources.

    Starting with just a couple of genres and building from there is only way to start a business. I'm very open to learning, so if there's a good reason to do this, I'm open to hearing about it.

    We use CreateSpace for print publishing, but our focus is digital, so we use every venue we can. As far as I know, our titles are going into the Ingram catalog.

    The revenues are 50% of everything we receive. That varies depending on what format the book is selling in and where, but no matter what, 50% goes to the author. If there are publishers offering more, that's wonderful, but right now this is our business plan.

    And yes, most of the big publishers charge the author for returns of unsold books from bookstores. I've seen the contracts.

    I decided to have authors submit the whole manuscript because the first few pages or even first couple of chapters is not enough information to make a sound decision on the quality of the story as a whole. I can guarantee you that I don't do anything with the manuscripts submitted to me (other than read them) until the author has signed a contract.

    I'm not on here to get all huffy and tell anyone their wrong. I'm here to answer any questions and hopefully learn something I can apply to our business. I'm feeling A LOT of distrust in these comments, but folks, not everyone is a jerk trying to get the most they can for themselves. Some of us really are decent people.

  7. #7
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I would be interested as to which contracts those were because I cannot think of a commercial publisher that charges authors for returns. Like asking for the advance back if the book doesn't earn out, this is generally circulated as a myth. You don't earn a royalty from returned books, but the publisher generally holds a reserve against returns to cover this because once they have paid the author money, unless the author breaches contract, they generally ain't seeing that back.

    The question generally is not who is or is not decent, but what the publishers offers exactly and how it compares to the competition. So, in this case no bookstore distribution--I would be interested to know what your ebook cover prices, distribution and marketing strategy would be. Epublishing is a very crowded marketplace these days.
    Last edited by veinglory; 05-31-2011 at 05:20 AM.
    Emily Veinglory

  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    We usually work with the author to set prices. Most novels are either $3.99 or $4.99, but one author wanted to sell her very long novels at $2.99, so we do.

    To answer the question about marketing, I pulled this from a recent blog post:

    "But Red Willow provides more—it provides marketing. Some of that marketing is relatively passive, such as optimizing author pages on Amazon and Smashwords and writing book descriptions that incorporate appropriate keywords. Another part of our marketing is to provide books to reviewers. Many of those accept e-books, but plenty of reviewers still want print copies. We also send professionally-designed flyers monthly to a few hundred indie bookstores around the country.
    As part of our marketing package, we also design a full website for the author with a custom domain name, hosting, a blog, links to buy the book—the whole package.
    Additionally, there are several other marketing pieces including social networking, this blog, building a mailing list, assisting with blog tours, and many more smaller pieces that are almost too numerous to mention (such as filling out all the fields in the ISBN form on Bowker to enable better search results)."

    For distribution, we currently use Amazon, B&N, Smashwords (and via them, Apple, Diesel, and Kobo), Google eBooks, Scribd, XinXii (Germany), and as of this morning, we're trying Wattpad for single stories for authors that don't mind not getting paid for a single story, but using it as an opportunity to get their work read. I'm always on the lookout for new venues.

    And... your description of the returns process is more accurate than mine, thank you.

  9. #9
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisobyrne View Post
    I'm feeling A LOT of distrust in these comments, but folks, not everyone is a jerk trying to get the most they can for themselves. Some of us really are decent people.
    Please be aware that there is a difference between:
    distrust --> scammer trying to make a profit by screwing authors
    and
    distrust --> well-meaning-but-clueless amateur who will bring down themselves and their authors

    Your webpage does not reveal who the owner/staff of RWP are, and does not cite any experience in the publishing industry. The website, and your posts here, have demonstrated a lack of awareness re royalties, marketing, returns, etc. While scammers and clueless amateurs are not in the same ethical boat, neither one will do an author any good.

    Really, what it comes down to is that authors tend to decide to trust a publisher with their work based on the publisher's ability to sell books. That's why most successful new publishers open up with some proven-name authors already signed and books ready to hit the shelves: prove you can do it, and authors will come.
    Last edited by Unimportant; 05-31-2011 at 06:45 AM.

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Fortunately, this clueless amateur is selling a lot of books for his authors. My previous experience in the publishing industry means nothing if I can't sell books.

    And stay tuned for the proven-name author soon to be released on Red Willow. He has two previous bestsellers with one of the big New York publishers.

  11. #11
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, Chris. It's good to know that you've got good things happening in the background, and I expect that once you can release that info publicly it'll make all the difference in how authors view RWP. Right now, obviously, all we can go on is what's on the website. I look forward to seeing it updated with the additional info!

    Adding:
    Of course, every author will have their own opinion and make their own decision. Personally, I find that running a publishing house is a bit of a conflict of interest with running a paid editing service and pay-to-publish service; however, YMMV.

    I read with interest your blog post:
    This post is all about the bottom line of the business of Red Willow: how many books need to be sold before breaking even....

    That brings the total to 860 books and because I like to account for unseen expenses, letís round the whole thing to 1,000 books that we need to sell to break even.

    Now hereís the best part of all of this. Everything we earn after those first 1,000 books are sold are almost completely passive income. The work is done, now we just sit back and watch the money roll in.
    I hope that your optimism re future sales isn't misplaced. If you reach your goals, though, you'll be the first non-erotica start-up epress I'll have ever run across to make those kind of sales.
    Last edited by Unimportant; 05-31-2011 at 08:49 AM.

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I do struggle a little with the conflict of interest, but for now I need my "day job" to pay bills until the publishing company earns enough. I've been able to keep the two separate, so far. If someone contacts me via Red Willow Digital Press, I don't mention the other business at all, and vice versa. My day job these days is almost all e-book conversions.

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin jennyone1's Avatar
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    I read this with interest as I am considering epublishing.

    The one thing I will say is its a myth that every fiction writer gets an advance when they sign a contract. For my first novel How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks with Pulp Press, I didn't get an advance. I also know of other writers who haven't got an advance from their publishers. When authors do get advances for fiction these days its not often high sums they get.

  14. #14
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    jennyone1:
    The one thing I will say is its a myth that every fiction writer gets an advance when they sign a contract.
    That depends on who you're signing with and whether you're going with a commercial publisher that pays advances (in which case you're not dependent purely on sales to make money) or a royalty-paying publisher (in which case you're taking the risk on the publisher achieving sales in order to make money from your book).

    There are plenty of decent advance paying publishers out there, including small publishing outfits as well. There are also an increasing number of good royalty-paying publishers out there who have the sales figures to make it a risk worth taking.

    Ultimately, it turns on what you want to do with your manuscript and what level of risk you're prepared to take. Personally, I'd rather have a cheque in my hand from the outset and get involved with selling while writing my next book rather than take a risk on sales and find that I'm having to spend more time marketing and promoting to get those sales than I do writing. There are other writers here though who feel differently (and that's cool).

    My issue isn't with royalty-paying publishers per se, it's with royalty paying publishers who spout bullshit about how commercial publishing will make you pay back your advance if you don't earn out.

    MM

  15. #15
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin jennyone1's Avatar
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    I'm with a commerical publisher and they don't pay advances.

    Increasingly, other publishers are going down the no advance route, especially with new authors. Or the advance is very low.

    An advance would have been nice, but at least I won't be like some authors who get advances they don't even earn back, which puts off other publishers from publishing their books.
    Words can create new worlds and change worlds.

  16. #16
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Unless the publisher is Doing It Wrong, they will make their profit before the author earns out. IOW, "author didn't earn out" isn't the reason a low seller might have trouble placing their next book, it's "didn't even sell enough to make a profit for the publisher".
    ICAO
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  17. #17
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaoPaux View Post
    Unless the publisher is Doing It Wrong, they will make their profit before the author earns out. IOW, "author didn't earn out" isn't the reason a low seller might have trouble placing their next book, it's "didn't even sell enough to make a profit for the publisher".
    Yeah, and people still do the equivalent of sticking the fingers in their ears and singing "lalala" every time that's brought up.

  18. #18
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    jennyone1:
    I'm with a commerical publisher and they don't pay advances.
    I don't want to get into a discussion about Pulp Press on this thread, largely because it will descend into an argument over semantics. My point is that there are many advance paying commercial publishers out there.

    jennyone1:
    other publishers are going down the no advance route, especially with new authors. Or the advance is very low.
    Well a low advance is still better than no advance but I'd need to know what kind of publishers we're talking about to really respond to this - i.e. whether you mean new start-ups or former advance paying publishers that are now switching to a royalty-only model.

    None of this changes my underlying point that there are plenty of good publishers out there that are paying advances and to new authors (a mate of mine got a $50k deal with HarperCollins last year).

    jennyone1:
    but at least I won't be like some authors who get advances they don't even earn back, which puts off other publishers from publishing their books.
    "Earn back" means that they didn't sell enough copies to trigger the royalty paying provisions in their contract. That by itself doesn't mean that they will be denied a future publishing contract - as CaoPaux says what matters is what the levels of sales were as a book would have to tank bad for a publisher not to make any money from it. Plus, even if the author didn't make royalties, they still had that original advance, which is some remuneration for their work.

    MM

  19. #19
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Also published as Red Willow Books and Red Willow Publishing (redwillowbooks.com & redwillowpublishing.com), but all are gone now except for initial Smashwords page. Tw feed ceased July '12; last book published was his own in Aug '12.

    ETA: Ah. Cuz that's when he launched JETLAUNCH, "your self-publishing partner": http://www.jetlaunch.net/
    Last edited by CaoPaux; 05-18-2016 at 08:27 PM. Reason: updating w/o bumping
    ICAO
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    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

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