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Thread: TANSTAAFL Press

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW akaria's Avatar
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    TANSTAAFL Press

    http://tanstaaflpress.com/

    Looks like two authors with a lot of enthusiasm for Heinlein started a publishing company. The company's name is the acronym for There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

    They include a page with links for the people doing their editing, marketing, covers, etc. No bios for anyone but the authors/publishers. Neither of them have experience in publishing. Paperbacks are available for purchase on the website but the e-book is only available through Amazon. They also have small bookstore availability in the Olympia, WA area.

    Unfortunately they're singing the same song of "challenging the status quo of traditional publishing". There's no information about royalties.

    They've been around since 2011, but I never heard of them until today when I read an article one of the authors/publishers wrote in the Critique Circle newsletter.

    I don't see anything different from the dozens of other startups that come and go with barely a whisper.
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  2. #2
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Same old song, same old response: I will see where they are in two or three years.

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    Disapproving plot bun disapproves. FluffBunny's Avatar
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    Hmmm....I live a distance outside of Oly. Orca (not "Orcas" as given in one location on the website) Books is a small, independent bookstore that sells new and used books--more used than new. They do a lot of book-signings and such for local authors and are very self-consciously "counterculture".

    The domain gives their location as Yelm, the town best known for JZ Knight and her buddy Ramtha. They must not be making much noise if they're local and I've not heard of them, either. Our favorite movie theatre is in Yelm, so next time we grab a movie, I'll convince the husband to drive on by so we can take a peek.
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  4. #4
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FluffBunny View Post
    Hmmm....I live a distance outside of Oly. Orca (not "Orcas" as given in one location on the website) Books is a small, independent bookstore that sells new and used books--more used than new. They do a lot of book-signings and such for local authors and are very self-consciously "counterculture".
    Chances are they know the owner and he/she's allowed them some shelf space. But I agree with the others; sounds like a couple people with a dream and questionable credentials on knowing how to achieve it. I hope it works out for them.
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  5. #5
    Disapproving plot bun disapproves. FluffBunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris P View Post
    Chances are they know the owner and he/she's allowed them some shelf space. But I agree with the others; sounds like a couple people with a dream and questionable credentials on knowing how to achieve it. I hope it works out for them.
    Orca's good about stocking a book or two for locals--I've seen all sorts of things displayed there that'd never hit the shelves at Barnes & Noble. I agree--it'll be interesting to see where they're at in a year or two.
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  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin TGondolfi's Avatar
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    Hello there, all. My name is Thomas Gondolfi and I'm the owner of TANSTAAFL Press. I just thought I'd throw my two bits into the ring.

    Yes, we have no publishing experience. That having been said, in my day-job I've been dealing with vendors for almost thirty years (and publishing is nothing more than dealing with vendors and marketing). My other author has been in the game publishing business for twenty plus years and I've been associated with it.

    We are just wrapping up our first year of convention seasons / personal appearances. I do about 12 conventions a year (gaming and scifi) both local and away. Our website www.tanstaaflpress.com has all our personal appearances listed and I'm always looking for new places to go and meet the public. I give seminars on writing / marketing and other fun topics. I have done and event at Orca (correcting my earlier error) Books. I've also done Last Word Books. Even with a good deal of publicity very few attended either. I'm looking to do some free seminars (if I can get the stores / and or library to proffer the space) this fall.

    TANSTAAFL Press now has five titles with two more coming out in 2015 and two more planned for 2016. My business plan has me picking up one more author in 2015 but I've not found anyone that intrigues me enough to publish who isn't already published elsewhere. I specifically didn't mention royalties on my website because I do things a bit differently. I'm more than willing to chat with anyone with the way I have set things up.

    Long post but I just wanted to let you know... Yes, we are here. Yes, we are here for the long haul. Yes, we are looking for new talent!

    Thanks for taking the time to read this verbose missive.

    Thomas Gondolfi
    www.TANSTAAFLPress.com

  7. #7
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    That having been said, in my day-job I've been dealing with vendors for almost thirty years (and publishing is nothing more than dealing with vendors and marketing).
    Does "dealing with vendors and marketing" cover acquiring good manuscripts, editing, copyediting, layout and cover design? I expect all those from a publisher.
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  8. #8
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    I specifically didn't mention royalties on my website because I do things a bit differently. I'm more than willing to chat with anyone with the way I have set things up.
    Hi, Thomas, and thanks for coming to AW to explain a bit about your company.

    Would you be willing to elaborate a bit about the way you do things differently regarding royalties?
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  9. #9
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    Wow. There is a lot more to publishing than dealing with vendors and marketing. I'm a little alarmed to hear a publisher say that, honestly. Is editing, cover art, etc., the author's responsibility? Is this publisher just a way to help an author distribute a self-published book?


  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin TGondolfi's Avatar
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    Vendor Negotiations and More

    There seems to be a misunderstanding. By vendors I mean any vendor providing a service to TANSTAAFL Press. Someone mentioned editor.. we contract a freelance editor for each book. We contract a freelance typesetter. TANSTAAFL also contracts an illustrator for the cover illustrations. I do the cover layout (not difficult if you know photoshop). At one time we hired a marketing person but it didn't really pay off.

    Additionally, we provide the $$$. We don't publish a book that we won't/can't actively market and be excited about. Honestly I have to love the book to take it on board.

    I don't acquire manuscripts. I partner with authors over a long term. If an author can't be prolific and continue to write and create works on a moderately regular basis, then I suggest she/he look elsewhere. The public expects something new at least yearly from a publisher. Both my other author (Bruce Graw) and I are writing, rewriting and bringing to market at least one new property a year. I'm looking for such people.

    We at TANSTAAFL press are exploring hetrodyning properties (such as a board game based on Toy Wars and an Anime movie based on Toy Wars). Are we sanguine that these will take place? No, but we are making the effort. Note that the author owns these rights, they aren't part of a package deal to TANSTAAFL Press.

    We attend no fewer than 12 conventions a year and that number is growing. We've been receiving good press from both our customers and well.. the press (as an example see http://scifimonkeys.com/sfm-exclusiv...ticon-seattle/).

    On the subject of royalties I am an author before I'm a publisher. I've seen some of the author-be-screwed contracts out there. I believe in the touchstone of a fair deal... does it feel the same from both sides. I want long term relationships with authors (and vendors for that matter) and as such I want a deal that both people (throughout the deal's history) feel GOOD about.

    We define a list of costs that TANSTAAFL Press is going to incur. The author has the right to pay some, all or none of these cost. As gross receipts come in, the expenses are paid back to TANSTAAFL and the Author in exact % that they were paid. After those initial costs are recouped (by both parties) then royalties start being paid in a sliding scale based on participation. If the author provided nothing, the amount might be (this is a negotiation point so these numbers are just for argument sake) 50% of all further income (minus expenses that are defined by contract) goes to the Author. This could slide all the way up to 85% if the author chose to pay those expenses himself. I keep my financial books completely open to my Authors both by contract and by my policy to hide nothing from the people I do business with. Author's retain their own Copyright and we take only first print right for a negotiated length (which could also affect the percentage listed above).

    Please, by all means if you have more questions you can contact me at tgondolfi@tanstaaflpress.com. Our website is www.tanstaaflpress.com

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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW
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    Welcome, Thomas... Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    Could you please provide us with a bit more information regarding marketing and promotion? I know you invited email contacts for further questions, but this is a topic on most authors' minds. A response on this site would be most helpful to many.

    Thanks in advance...

  13. #13
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    On the subject of royalties I am an author before I'm a publisher. I've seen some of the author-be-screwed contracts out there. I believe in the touchstone of a fair deal... does it feel the same from both sides. I want long term relationships with authors (and vendors for that matter) and as such I want a deal that both people (throughout the deal's history) feel GOOD about.

    We define a list of costs that TANSTAAFL Press is going to incur. The author has the right to pay some, all or none of these cost. As gross receipts come in, the expenses are paid back to TANSTAAFL and the Author in exact % that they were paid. After those initial costs are recouped (by both parties) then royalties start being paid in a sliding scale based on participation. If the author provided nothing, the amount might be (this is a negotiation point so these numbers are just for argument sake) 50% of all further income (minus expenses that are defined by contract) goes to the Author. This could slide all the way up to 85% if the author chose to pay those expenses himself. I keep my financial books completely open to my Authors both by contract and by my policy to hide nothing from the people I do business with. Author's retain their own Copyright and we take only first print right for a negotiated length (which could also affect the percentage listed above).
    So basically, if the author doesn't want to be on the hook for publication expenses, the publisher keeps all sales proceeds until the expenses are recouped (and I'm sorry to be blunt, but based on your books' sales rankings on Amazon, I'm guessing that this takes a very long time). Alternatively, the author can pay part or all of the costs and gamble that he or she will make his/her money back and maybe start earning royalties. This doesn't sound to me like a good deal at all.

    - Victoria

  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin TGondolfi's Avatar
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    Good Deals and Marketing

    First let me address Victoria, not expecting to change her mind but so that everyone understands our viewpoint.

    Victoria the touchstone of a fair deal is if it feels the same on both sides and that is what I work toward. If an author doesn't feel proud and excited about their work enough to invest $$ and time then why should I? If they don't have the wherewithal to do so we still have a methodology to get a book I'm excited about to market.

    The costs are not only defined up front (and approximate values listed) there is none of the "crap" that traditional publishers pull by just piling on new expenses so there is no "net". A rough idea printing - (~$5 per book), cover art ($800), editing ($1000), typesetting ($500). $200 for some marketing material (banners / handouts, etc). Hell I don't even charge for doing the cover layout. Most books are sold at $12 so after printing $7 per book to defray $2500 or about 350 sold before "profit" is being realized. Honestly 350 is not that many books. Most Indie published books sell less than 100 because the person has no plan and no drive putting it into the category of a vanity press. I want real authors wanting to publish a book a year or more! I have two right now who have that drive to develop a readership that takes 3-6 years to develop.

    Now this is obviously my opinion and it is worth what you paid for it (eg nada) however it is the way we are doing business and barring someone convincing me that I'm doing my serious writer(s) a disservice, that will continue to be my plan. Again, all of these points are negotiable with the writer themselves, something most publishers won't even consider (here sign this contract.. no don't change it.. just sign).

    I'd encourage anyone wanting to be published to chat with me up front and if we still don't see eye to eye, let's go in different directions without rancor as everyone sees business differently. Enough about this.

    Re Marketing... most of my marketing at this point is of the "I'm HERE!" type. As I'm a relatively dynamic individual, this works to not only pull people into our booth but to excite them. Had one young lady at a seminar at Origins Game Fair say "You would make a great motivational speaker." We are vendors at 12+ conventions a year (and growing that number!) as far away as Ohio (hopefully I'll increase that range in the future), I give seminars on a number of different topics, I encourage my author(s) to do the same to spread their name. We are working to become invited Guest speakers at conventions, not only to lower cost but to improve our visibility. Print and visual media as it can be obtained. We tried some local advertising in movie theaters but it didn't really pay off.

    I obviously do social media or I wouldn't be on here chatting with you folks. We are looking at online marketing primarily to boost ebook sales which we are not doing well at the moment. Quarterly newsletters (send me an email if you want to be included on our mailing list).

    We work with young and budding authors to help them with their skills (in business, marketing[the things we've learned], and craft). Whether they become authors in the future, or customers, or just spreader's of our name (as a group that will help).. it all falls into a bucket I'll call marketing.

    I mentioned that we are neophytes and we are trying many things and remembering the ones that work and ditching the ones that don't. We just crossed over into our second convention season so (as some of you have said) "Let's see where they are in 3 years or so." Hopefully by then I'm smare enough to have a fairly solid marketing plan for each new book. Note that marketing investments are NOT "costs" that I assign toward the books. This are all part of what a publisher SHOULD do for their cut and rarely does.

    We are looking a cross marketing such as doing a board game on one of our products and investigating creating an Anime movie out of one (this is pie in the sky).

    I was asked bluntly at the NW Book Festival (in Portland) yesterday "Where do you see yourself in ten years."

    "Easy. In ten years I will be doing this full time (and making as much as I do on my day job) and putting out 3-4 books a year. Conventions will be contacting and paying me to attend their convention as a guest speaker. I'll do book signings at those conventions and sell over a hundred books without even having a booth." It caught the gentleman off guard.

    Some people might call this a pipe dream. I don't. I believe it is a very achievable goal. I have a good product. I'm willing to back it. I am personable and willing to stand up and share not only about my product but about myself, and my skills. The key is to get enough people reading my novels and talking to their friends about them.

    Sorry if I went off on a bit of a tangent and was once again verbose. I'm very passionate about not only my writing but my business and that leads to many words.

    Again, any specific inquiries please send to tgondolfi@tanstaaflpress.com. Want me to speak at your writers/readers group with a seminar or things we've learned over the last year plus? Just want to chat about your book? Give me a yell!

  15. #15
    Live a little. Write a lot. Karen Junker's Avatar
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    I hate to be the one to burst your pipe dream, but conventions just simply don't pay for small publishers to speak at their events.

    Here's something else you can learn as you grow your business: Conventions, writers groups, readers groups and the like get a lot of proposals from new publishers, self or small published authors, and sometimes even their well-meaning friends to try to get speaking gigs. You have to be doing extremely well to stand out from that pack and give them the impression that you offer something they haven't heard before.

    ETA: You know, Thomas, on your website you list Rustycon as a confirmed appearance for January 2015 -- I'm actually on the Programming team for Rustycon, as the chair of the Writing track -- and you are listed on our database as not confirmed. If you'd like to PM me, I can give you my email and we can try to get that straightened out.

    And also, just as an amusing aside, you take your name from Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress -- I was actually very good friends with the Heinleins and spent some time visiting with Robert while he was writing that book (ETA: Wrong book -- it was Time Enough for Love -- I apologize, my memory for time lines isn't always the greatest). I thought you might find that an interesting coincidence.
    Last edited by Karen Junker; 07-28-2014 at 11:30 PM. Reason: Ack! Wrong book!
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  16. #16
    Ships full of vampires are hell. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    If an author doesn't feel proud and excited about their work enough to invest $$ and time then why should I?
    You know, authors spent time and $$ writing the damn thing, don't you?

    The book *is* our investment. Our time. Our intellectual property. Our product.

    Why the heck should I give you something I spent months producing? What are you going to do for me besides take my cash?

    That, as an author, is what I want to know. It's what I base my decisions off of--what are you going to do for me?

    As it turns out, I found a publisher willing to hand me money for my book. *shrugs*
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  17. #17
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    If an author doesn't feel proud and excited about their work enough to invest $$ and time then why should I?
    I've never paid an employer to allow me to work for them, even when I was proud and excited about the job. So why should I pay a press to publish my books?
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  18. #18
    Grr. Argh. Thedrellum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    Most Indie published books sell less than 100 because the person has no plan and no drive putting it into the category of a vanity press.
    Generally, the question defining a vanity press is "Does it accept money from its authors in order for said authors to have their books published?" Since you are encouraging (if not requiring) authors to provide you with capital for your company, that would seem to put you in the vanity press category.

    Note that no judgment is being made about your intentions here, and from what you've written I believe you are fully invested in making your press and your authors successful.

    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    Again, all of these points are negotiable with the writer themselves, something most publishers won't even consider (here sign this contract.. no don't change it.. just sign).
    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    This are all part of what a publisher SHOULD do for their cut and rarely does.
    The two quotes above make me think that you don't have much experience with real publishers. A good publisher will certainly allow changes in a contract (and this is where agents come in as especially helpful) and a good publisher certainly does a ton of marketing of its authors' books, because that how the publisher makes its money.

  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin TGondolfi's Avatar
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    So many responses

    Karen Junker, I just found the invite to Rustycon today (it was addressed improperly and dropped into the webmaster email that I don't check as regularly) and put in my 2c worth and big yes to being a panelist.

    I want to disagree (respectfully) about your notion that conventions don't pay their guests of honor. I've been doing conventions for oh nearly three decades and guests are reimbursed in one form or the other. In the beginning it can be something as simple as comping a dealer table, paying for transportation / room. But many/most conventions do this. I agree that they aren't going to offer lavish cash payments and this isn't part of my business plan.

    amergina, You seem to assume I'm not an author. I've been writing for 35+ years and serious about it for the last two decades. I know what I put forward and I know what a good publisher must do. Fortunately the Indies are winning and we are seeing more good publishers out there.

    I'm glad you found someone willing to pay you up front and hope that continues to work for you and your publisher!

    Thedrellum, if you wish to define vanity press' that way, you may. I drive to make not only myself but my author(s) as productive as possible and NOT be vanity published but rather a successful, profitable authors. I don't see it the way you do but rather a partnership but you have your right to your opinion and to voice it.

    To the rest, I appreciate your comments. Some of what you have has validity and I'll keep that in mind.

    I will say simply that if what I propose doesn't resonate within you, I suggest that you continue to work on the "traditional" forms of publishing or self publish your own work. Honestly if I never get another author, I'll be happy to continue down the road I've charted. I have no illusions that I won't have to make changes, but I will make them as they appear.

    I believe strongly in TANSTAAFL and have defined my press in that way. I'm not asking anyone to join my view unless they feel the same way and our business sense matches.

    Thank you for your time,

    Tom Gondolfi
    www.tanstaaflpress.com

  20. #20
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    Yes, we have no publishing experience. That having been said, in my day-job I've been dealing with vendors for almost thirty years (and publishing is nothing more than dealing with vendors and marketing). My other author has been in the game publishing business for twenty plus years and I've been associated with it.
    I worked in game-publishing for a while before switching to book publishing, and the two are very different. If you don't have publishing experience you're not going to know what you're missing, and this is going to cause problems for the authors you publish.

    And as others have said, publishing is a LOT more than "dealing with vendors".

    We are just wrapping up our first year of convention seasons / personal appearances. I do about 12 conventions a year (gaming and scifi) both local and away.
    This might help sell your books, but it's not going to help you publish books well.

    I give seminars on writing / marketing and other fun topics.
    What qualifies you to give other people advice on writing or marketing?

    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    There seems to be a misunderstanding. By vendors I mean any vendor providing a service to TANSTAAFL Press. Someone mentioned editor.. we contract a freelance editor for each book. We contract a freelance typesetter. TANSTAAFL also contracts an illustrator for the cover illustrations.
    Publishing involves a lot more than dealing with "vendors" in this way.

    I do the cover layout (not difficult if you know photoshop).
    If this is true, why do trade publishers pay good salaries to highly-trained designers?

    We define a list of costs that TANSTAAFL Press is going to incur. The author has the right to pay some, all or none of these cost. As gross receipts come in, the expenses are paid back to TANSTAAFL and the Author in exact % that they were paid. After those initial costs are recouped (by both parties) then royalties start being paid in a sliding scale based on participation. If the author provided nothing, the amount might be (this is a negotiation point so these numbers are just for argument sake) 50% of all further income (minus expenses that are defined by contract) goes to the Author. This could slide all the way up to 85% if the author chose to pay those expenses himself. I keep my financial books completely open to my Authors both by contract and by my policy to hide nothing from the people I do business with. Author's retain their own Copyright and we take only first print right for a negotiated length (which could also affect the percentage listed above).
    If your authors contribute to the costs of their own publication with you, you are a vanity press.

    There is no wiggle-room here.

    Further, if you recoup all your publishing costs prior to paying any royalties (which is a very bad deal for your authors), why do you then pay lower royalties to the authors who didn't pay for publication? Once your costs have been recouped everything you get is profit: why give some authors a bigger share than others?

    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    So basically, if the author doesn't want to be on the hook for publication expenses, the publisher keeps all sales proceeds until the expenses are recouped (and I'm sorry to be blunt, but based on your books' sales rankings on Amazon, I'm guessing that this takes a very long time). Alternatively, the author can pay part or all of the costs and gamble that he or she will make his/her money back and maybe start earning royalties. This doesn't sound to me like a good deal at all.
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by TGondolfi View Post
    Victoria the touchstone of a fair deal is if it feels the same on both sides and that is what I work toward.
    No: the "touchstone of a fair deal" is if it's fair. Not how the two signatories feel about it.

    If an author doesn't feel proud and excited about their work enough to invest $$ and time then why should I?
    That argument is direct from the vanity presses. It's misleading and illogical.

    Authors invest in their books by writing them.

    Publishers invest in books by publishing them.

    The costs are not only defined up front (and approximate values listed) there is none of the "crap" that traditional publishers pull by just piling on new expenses so there is no "net".
    I've worked for many trade publishers, large and small, and not one of them have done what you say they do.

    A rough idea printing - (~$5 per book), cover art ($800), editing ($1000), typesetting ($500). $200 for some marketing material (banners / handouts, etc). Hell I don't even charge for doing the cover layout. Most books are sold at $12 so after printing $7 per book to defray $2500 or about 350 sold before "profit" is being realized. Honestly 350 is not that many books.
    If you're confident of selling 350 copies or more per book, offset would probably be cheaper than POD. You're close to the break-even point at 350 copies.

    Most Indie published books sell less than 100 because the person has no plan and no drive putting it into the category of a vanity press.
    Are you talking about books from independent presses, or books which are self published?

    You're right that statistics show that most self published books sell fewer than 100 copies apiece: but those statistics refer to print editions, not digital editions, which are a different kettle of fish.

    The poor sales, in most part, had nothing to do with the authors' drive or plan: the poor sales were due to things like poor writing, poor publication, and a lack of distribution. Distributors won't work with most self publishers. When digital editions became available, the distribution issue was resolved to some degree, and so their sales took off.

    What distribution do you have? Which distributor do you work with?

    Again, all of these points are negotiable with the writer themselves, something most publishers won't even consider (here sign this contract.. no don't change it.. just sign).
    This is nonsense.

    Over the last thirty years I've acquired many books for many publishers. Every single contract that I offered was negotiable, and was negotiated.

    Re Marketing... most of my marketing at this point is of the "I'm HERE!" type. As I'm a relatively dynamic individual, this works to not only pull people into our booth but to excite them. Had one young lady at a seminar at Origins Game Fair say "You would make a great motivational speaker." We are vendors at 12+ conventions a year (and growing that number!) as far away as Ohio (hopefully I'll increase that range in the future), I give seminars on a number of different topics, I encourage my author(s) to do the same to spread their name. We are working to become invited Guest speakers at conventions, not only to lower cost but to improve our visibility. Print and visual media as it can be obtained.
    Appearing at conventions is all very well and good: but do you get your books into bookshops? Because that's where you'll make your sales.

    We tried some local advertising in movie theaters but it didn't really pay off.
    If your books weren't simultaneously available for sale in local bookshops, it wouldn't help your sales.

    Few trade publishers pay for advertising because advertising is not an effective way of selling books.

    I mentioned that we are neophytes and we are trying many things and remembering the ones that work and ditching the ones that don't.
    So you're experimenting with the books you've already acquired.

    We just crossed over into our second convention season so (as some of you have said) "Let's see where they are in 3 years or so." Hopefully by then I'm smare enough to have a fairly solid marketing plan for each new book.
    If you don't already have a solid marketing plan in place for your business and the books you publish, I don't think you should be publishing anything.

    Note that marketing investments are NOT "costs" that I assign toward the books. This are all part of what a publisher SHOULD do for their cut and rarely does.
    Publishers do market and promote the books they publish: it's a myth that they don't.

    I was asked bluntly at the NW Book Festival (in Portland) yesterday "Where do you see yourself in ten years."

    "Easy. In ten years I will be doing this full time (and making as much as I do on my day job) and putting out 3-4 books a year. Conventions will be contacting and paying me to attend their convention as a guest speaker. I'll do book signings at those conventions and sell over a hundred books without even having a booth." It caught the gentleman off guard.
    Publishers can't live off the income from three to four new books a year.

    Selling over a hundred books per convention is unlikely. Twenty or thirty? You might manage that. But one hundred? Few speakers manage that. I've spoken at several prestigious, established events, and I have friends who do the same, some of them big best-sellers: book sales rarely equal the numbers you're aiming for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karen Junker View Post
    I hate to be the one to burst your pipe dream, but conventions just simply don't pay for small publishers to speak at their events.
    This might be true of the convention you organise, Karen, but it's not true of many of them. I've been paid to speak at all the events I've attended, and so have many people I know: writers, agents, and editors.

    To go off-topic for a while, I won't take part in events which don't pay. The event organisers charge people to attend, they pay the caterers, the location, and everyone else involved: why shouldn't they also pay the talent, without which there could be no event?
    Last edited by Old Hack; 07-28-2014 at 12:33 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    This might be true of the convention you organise, Karen, but it's not true of many of them. I've been paid to speak at all the events I've attended, and so have many people I know: writers, agents, and editors.
    SF/F conventions do not pay, alas. Yes, GOHs will have hotel, meals, and some expenses paid for, possibly a small stipend. (You have to be notable in the field before you get an invitation to br a GOH, however.) Panelists get free admission, nothing more. And some don't provide that.

  22. #22
    Live a little. Write a lot. Karen Junker's Avatar
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    Yes, Old Hack -- I was not speaking of just the one event -- my comment was based on my experience working with committees in the US (specifically the Pacific Northwest, but I'm friends with the organizers of Worldcon, Westercon, World Fantasy and other larger global events), in the SFF arena and also with Romance Writers of America. I know quite a few authors, editors and agents (over a period of the last dozen years or so). I agree with Mr. Gondolfi that they do sometimes offer a free or discounted membership, free or discounted use of a vendor table or 'fan' table, occasionally some room & board, sometimes some travel expenses are reimbursed, but I have never seen any of the speakers get paid a direct stipend *except* for the main Guest of Honor speakers. For example, I think I offered George RR Martin a speaker fee in addition to first class airfare for him and a plus one, his hotel expenses and a per diem for meals.

    In addition, for all of the events I have mentioned above, the staff and volunteers pay for their own memberships (which are sometimes discounted for doing a certain number of hours of work). RWA national is different, there is a paid staff who run that.

    I haven't worked on large conventions put on by writers' organizations such as Pacific Northwest Writers Conference or Williamette Writers Conference, but I know a lot of the people who are speakers for them (including agents and editors from large NY publishers) and none of them have ever been paid -- but I do not know for sure that they *never* pay *anyone*. So maybe they do. I know they've had Anne Lamott and (at least last time I checked) her contact info refers you to a speaker bureau that charges several thousand dollars for some of their speakers.

    Other conventions, such as the ComicCons, may pay -- they have larger budgets than the non-profit organizations that run SFF and Romance cons. I just don't know. If you can get them to pay you, I think that is awesome.
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  23. #23
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I recognise that we're venturing off-topic here, but I do think this is an important point.

    I've been invited to speak at quite a few conferences and conventions, both in the UK and the US, and elsewhere too--Europe and the UAE, for example. I've only accepted the UK invitations because I have work and family here, and I don't have the time to travel too: but in every case I was offered a fee, in addition to having my travel and accommodation expenses covered too.

    Fees are often available if you demand them.

    I do not think it appropriate for conventions to make money by charging aspiring writers to attend, while not paying the people who those aspiring writers are coming to see.

  24. #24
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Old Hack and I cross-posted, so I'll edit and clarify.

    The thing with a lot of the smaller conventions in the US is they are non-profits and they work hard to keep their costs low to people who attend. As Karen pointed out, the guests of honor usually get their expenses covered, and panelists might get a comp. I think the key is that they're not out to make a profit.

    On the other hand, most regional conventions charge $50 or less for three days. If I were spending several hundred to attend a professional conference, I would expect the speakers to be compensated for their time, and if I were speaking at an event like that I would ask for a fee and to have my expenses covered.

    Editing a second time to clarify: When I say "professional conference," I mean a conference put on by a group that will be making a profit from the event. If their goal is to make a profit, they'd better darn well be paying their speakers.
    Last edited by JulieB; 07-29-2014 at 12:51 AM.

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    As another data point, World Fantasy charges $250 to attend and does not provide any compensation for the panelists--no refund of the entrance fee, no extra stipend, and no expenses. Worldcon is charging $225 this year, and might refund the fee for panelists, but it's not a given.

    Asking for extra payment will not get you anywhere. Really.

    I'm not saying it's right or fair, but for TAANSTAFL to think they will get anything beyond their membership comped for an SF/F convention is not realistic.

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