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caseyquinn
05-28-2009, 10:56 PM
Question for all of you wise and wonderful folks. I have found a few places that publish poetry chapbooks or short story chapbooks (okay...okay... any kind of chapbook) where the terms of the publishing model is interesting and wanted to get your take on it.

Basically the publisher produces a chapbook with an isbn, edits, gets artwork for it and produces a chapbook (no fees or costs related to the writer)

The publisher provides said author with 10 copies (or so) of the chapbook and the books are sold for usually around $8 - $10.

Now, here is where it got interesting... when you sold a copy of your book, the publisher sent you another copy of the book instead of royalties. So every 5 books you sell, they send you 5 more books where you can sell them and keep 100% of the money.

Now, I know the publisher should be pushing the books but with low paying things like poetry and short stories and even novella's for that matter, i thought it was an interesting an idea and a good model if you are an active marketer for your own product AKA your book.

What do you think of this? No royalty in the terms of cash but you get copies of the book for every book you sell. So basically it is like getting 50% royalty (if you can sell your copy)

What do you think? Now again, put on your small press hat and consider the type of writing forms i am mentioning.

Thanks for any feedback -

blacbird
05-28-2009, 11:15 PM
Basically the publisher produces a chapbook with an isbn, edits, gets artwork for it and produces a chapbook (no fees or costs related to the writer)

The publisher provides said author with 10 copies (or so) of the chapbook and the books are sold for usually around $8 - $10.

Now, here is where it got interesting... when you sold a copy of your book, the publisher sent you another copy of the book instead of royalties. So every 5 books you sell, they send you 5 more books where you can sell them and keep 100% of the money.

Where does the publisher make any money on this deal?

caw

caseyquinn
05-28-2009, 11:26 PM
From the sales of the book. They sell the book from their website and i would assume anywhere that will stock it. When the book sells the publisher keeps the money and sends a free copy of the book (in increments of 5) to the author.

blacbird
05-29-2009, 12:15 AM
I think maybe you need to do a real mathematical analysis of how this would work, with numbers printed in a first-printing run (or are you thinking of POD?), a book distributor's substantial cut, shipping costs, etc. The ISBN also costs a fee, though not a large one. None of these are negligible.

Not many standard publishers will take on things like poetry chapbooks, for obvious reasons. If you're planning on selling a substantial number of these yourself, why not go through an outfit like Lulu?

caw

caseyquinn
05-29-2009, 12:33 AM
lets say a one hundred page book on average from my experience costs about $3.00 to publish from the printer. Add in the 20$ for ISBN and a random $50 for other stuff like images, proofs, shipping and handling, etc

If the publisher does a print run of say 100 books, this would cost the publisher:

300.00 for the books
20 for isbn
50 for random
30 for 10 free copies to author
roughly 400.00 total to produce the book with 100 book run.


so the 100 books are sold at say 10.00 per book. To break even, the publisher needs to sell 40 copies of the book. During that time they would have to send to the author 40 copies as royalty leaving them 20 left. 10 for them to sell for profit, 10 for the author as a result and that would be the 100 book run leaving the publisher with roughly a 100 dollar profit.

I am just wondering if this publishing model could be succesful, these are all rough numbers so wondering if you make tweaks here and there if you could turn a profit as a publisher while providing quality to the writer with this model. More importantly if the terms seem fair to the writer in general.

I am interested in this as both a writer and as a publisher. Sometime in the future when i got my arms more around the publishign world with ReadMe Publishing and i was able to get more experience with marketing and distribution i was hoping to work with individual collections of poetry and short stories. Throwing around this model as a thought seeing if it is one way to make the short form somewhat reasonable to publish as a business.

Pat~
05-29-2009, 12:48 AM
I haven't done all the math yet, but for me, personally, I think I'd be reluctant to go with this model in that I'd want to be on the receiving end of profits from my books sales; I don't want to 'receive' just more books to sell. The idea being that any sales profit above and beyond my outlay (in self-publishing my poetry book say, POD) would likely be a prime reason for my going into self-publishing anyway.

Secondly, (and I have been considering this route, which is why this topic is of interest to me), I have my own sites (2 online, and a few more in other venues) from which I'd want to offer my book. Because of the traffic they already have (at least at 1-2, in particular), I'm of the opinion I'd get more sales than if my book were only available at this particular publisher's site. (Not sure if that's the situation you described, so correct me if I misunderstood that.)

caseyquinn
05-29-2009, 12:57 AM
And i see what you are saying completly. That is why i am always amazed at chapbooks in general because of their format they are so hard to get stocked anywhere or even made available in bookstores online. To me, maybe it makes more sense to make it a book not a chapbook, but a small book like one of those pocket sized books so then they could be distributed through more channels.

You think that would make it more of an efficient model?

Momento Mori
05-29-2009, 02:14 AM
I'm with blacbird on this one. I don't see how this is a sustainable business model for the publisher.


caseyquinn:
They sell the book from their website and i would assume anywhere that will stock it.

If the publisher is giving away all of its books to its authors to on-sell and it doesn't have any distribution in place to sell independently, then it's going to go bust very quickly.

I could see a scenario where such a publisher would effectively be incentivised to turn into an author-mill, recruiting more and more authors regardless of quality because they need them to sell the product. It's a similar scenario to one faced by many small presses that start off with good intentions but find that because they're effectively selling books to or through their authors, that's who their market is.

I think this is a model that would need an awful lot of money to set up for very little return.

MM

M.R.J. Le Blanc
05-29-2009, 02:41 AM
Yeah, I agree with the others in that I just don't see how this works. Poetry in particular is a small market. It's just not as popular as it may have used to be, and people generally don't sell tons unless they're a well-known poet. No business model is going to change the popularity of poetry.

The best way to learn about publishing is always from another publisher who's already successful :)

ChristineR
05-29-2009, 02:48 AM
Well, it's somewhat similar to PublishAmerica's model, except that instead of a minimal royalty, you get a free book.

caseyquinn
05-29-2009, 04:06 AM
Come on now Christine, I am looking to keep the thread informative and helpful - please don't put that crap here. please spam elsewhere, thanks -

MRJ and Mori, thanks for the feedback - i will have to play around with the thought a little more. i think you are right though, tough model to really succeed at.

Cyia
05-29-2009, 04:12 AM
She's not spamming. The model is suspect.

If the publisher/printer is the ONLY one who makes $ on on-line sales and the author is paid in their own books, not only is the bulk - if not all of the money - going to the publisher with NO royalty to the author, but the available audience that might purchase the books is being eaten by the publisher/printer. The author will end up with a number of books in a box in their garage, zero distribution and no one willing to let them sell at things like signings because the books are POD.

ETA -- does this "publisher" even take steps to edit the books they put out?

caseyquinn
05-29-2009, 04:29 AM
Cyia, I don't understand why you feel the need to be aggressive in your post. I am simply posting to learn some information. Your tone is really just acting like an ass. Read the entire thread please before posting. The publisher does a print run of 100 books, not POD that is posted above. The publisher edits the book and ensures it is of the best quality they can put out. That is posted above. Again, please read the thread...

I have nothing invested in this model, i just thought it interesting and could see how it be succesful for short story writers and poets, was wondering what you all thought. sounds like pretty much negative responses is the general feel. Good to know, looks like it might not be worth looking into any further.

thanks everyone for their feedback -

Cyia
05-29-2009, 04:33 AM
I don't understand your apparent need to act like a victim and resort to name calling. You want opinions, then take them without complaint when someone points out the shortfalls. You already knew there was something wrong with this scheme or else you wouldn't be having the reservations that made you post.

I did read the entire post, and them handing over a book each time one is sold negates the claim of it being a regular print run - they'd be cutting their own inventory in half. If they print off a new one each time one is sold it's POD.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
05-29-2009, 04:51 AM
Casey, with all due respect you were the one that got 'negative'. Christine was not spamming, nor was Cyia being aggressive in her post. Both made good points, if infavourable to the use of this model. You are the one who chose to respond aggressively, and in my opinion it was unwarranted. Tone doesn't always convey well online, so if you felt they were being aggressive or something perhaps it would have been better to take it to PMs or talk it out somehow instead of outright calling someone an ass. Just a friendly, unaggressive keep-in-mind-for-next-time. We've both been here long enough to know folks are seldomly aggressive here :)

ChristineR
05-29-2009, 04:52 AM
PA offers their writers books at half off all the time, and they'll happily print out 100 of them for you. Because they use laser printers, they can print a few books at a time cost effectively, but there's nothing really in their business model that says they have to print one book at a time. Sorry to offend you, but this sounds like a back-end vanity model, which is what PA does. If the fifty books don't sell in a year, chances are that they'll be urging the author to "buy one, get one free," or to urge his friends to buy a few. With an inventory of only 50 books, they're not going to be placing ads or placing books in stores, so the only market is the author and his immediate circle.

Soccer Mom
05-29-2009, 05:45 AM
Back on topic, please. No personal attacks.

Bubastes
05-29-2009, 06:09 AM
The publisher provides said author with 10 copies (or so) of the chapbook and the books are sold for usually around $8 - $10.


This price jumped out at me. How many stories to you plan to have per chapbook? If it's only one or a few, it seems a bit pricey. One Story magazine publishes a 3000- to 8000-word short story every three weeks in a chapbook format for $21/year (that's 18 issues) and they pay their authors $100 for a story.