View Full Version : To Be a Publisher...

07-11-2008, 09:51 PM
I have a question…..

First the background:
I have a printing company that has been established for over ten years. We got into doing short run soft cover books quite a while ago and over time added equipment the do everything in-house and gained the expertise to produce an excellent quality paperback book. Currently, we service a fair number of people in our area that are involved in the local writers groups as well as individuals looking to produce their work. Many are self-publishing by providing their own ISBN and other usual requirement. Others just want 100 books that they hand out to family and friends.

Depending on their level of expertise we end up with varying degrees of a finished manuscript. Some drop off a CD with a MS-Word file that needs a complete format and edit. Others, with a bit more experience, will consult with me about how to setup the text. I’ll give them some parameters based on the program they are using for page size, margins, turn this on, turn this off, etc. Pretty much the same with the covers, some we design others come print ready.

We charge for the time necessary to get what they have up to set up a producible book. If they want me to go through the text we charge based on the time it takes to do so. We don’t use automated spelling and grammatical correction software and call it good. Instead we, if contracted to do so, go through and make the necessary changes that are needed.

Part of the setup process included in the setup charge is a production proof. This goes to the author to make any further corrections. We do those and if it is just a few that don’t affect the formatting or any critical components we generally go to print from there. More than a dozen or anything that affects the format or page locations we produce another proof copy and require that the author give it a look before we go to print.

Most of what we have produced is memoirs, some biographies, fiction and a few instructional books. Many of the writers in the local groups are retired and have time to tell their life story. Some have been very successful in selling their books and over time have had us produce, at about 100 books at a time, 2000 in one case, 1400 in another and a handful between 500 and 800 copies. The quality of our output is good enough that we have produced some editions for a couple of national publications. One author contracted us to produce 200 “review copies” of a book that was later printed by a commercial printer in China (about 40 pages were full color it was hardbound).

So we are doing okay or at least we have a good reputation with those in our local area that we have done business with. So what’s the question……

The question…..
I’m wanting to look into spinning off that portion of the company into more of a publishing concern. After a number of months of research it seems that the whole vanity press concept has turned into a scam. POD has no respect with the mainstream bookseller.

Is it worth it? As a printer we are doing well with the books, as a publisher I’m not sure if I really want the hassle. I would prefer the “help publish” in other words act as a printer as we do now, but help get the critical registrations, ISBN, SAN, LOC, etc. in place and then transfer everything back to the author upon completion of the initial run of the books.

I would like to keep with we print ‘em you buy ‘em and it’s your responsibility to market and sell since you own the rights like we do now. Our prices per copy are very reasonable, less actually than what we see on a number of Internet sites, so I think we could be competitive. But I don’t want to have to sell the “publisher” concept where “you give me your stuff, and we’ll send you a check.”

Any thoughts from the community would be greatly appreciated.

07-11-2008, 10:07 PM
I don't see any reason to make that change. If you want to offer the additional services of registering ISBNs, etc., that's one thing. But to be a publisher, you would have to get into the business of finding and developing the content, which is a whole other animal. I think where POD has gotten such a bad rap is from manufacturers thinking that all it took to be publishers was to add a few services to their menu, when in reality, manufacturing is probably the least of a real publisher's concerns. If you're not going to hire acquisitions editors and marketing staff, you're best to just stick with what you're doing already and maybe adjust your marketing plans.

Just my 2¢.

07-12-2008, 03:00 AM
I don't see any reason to make that change. . . .

Ditto what pconsidine said.


07-12-2008, 04:58 AM
Ditto to the above. You seem perfectly happy and successful with what you are doing. Does it make sense to take a leap into something you don't seem all that eager about in the crazy, ever changing world of book publishing, to say nothing of these disastrous economic times?

07-20-2008, 01:32 AM
For what it's worth, you might want to check out http://www.booksjustbooks.com
Basically, they do what you already do, but I thought you might be interested to see how they are set up, see if that gives you any ideas for adjustments you might like to make.

I'd also add that while a lot of POD publishing does have a bad rep in a lot of cases, for what many of your customers are doing, it's fine.

There are even a few who pub POD first and go on to traditional contracts. If you're intersted, a site/biz for examples would be http://www.booklocker.com

Welcome and good question :-)