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jcdelatorre
07-27-2006, 08:10 AM
Greetings!

My name is JC De La Torre and I'm the author of Ancient Rising. I originally published the book via Lulu.com before I decided to start my own small publishing company, Luna Brillante Publishing. Hopefully some of you remember the name as I have been on Absolute Write for awhile...

Anyway, I decided I wanted my company to specialize exclusively in Speculative Fiction (SciFi, Fantasy, Horror, Alternate Realities, etc.). My plan was to start releasing books via POD and then as the company grew, transition into off-set and try our damndest to be the next Baen or Wizards on the Coast type niche publisher.

Things started well as we began to receive manuscripts. We had an agreement with the sensational graphic artist who did my cover and the cover for my wife's book, Dark Dragon, set up. We had our editor, who did a great job on my book. I have a computer background so I was able to produce a great website ( http://www.lunabrillantepublishing.com (http://www.lunabrillantepublishing.com/) ). We had our ISBNs and our contract with Ingrams Wholesaler set up. We had distribution to all the online stores secured and were actively searching for a brick-and-mortar distributor. We got a great manuscript from an author we really, really liked.

We were raring to go....and then the financing dropped out.

The company itself has lived on albeit via life support and I still have the dream of having a company that will produce some great works of speculative fiction from exciting, new and brilliant authors.

I just realize now that we cannot exist as a traditional publisher. We simply don't have the financial backing to do it so I’ve wrestled with the decision to turn Luna Brillante Publishing into a true POD publisher, ergo, charge for the services of producing a book.

It was a tough decision, to say the least. However, I still feel that LBP can still achieve the dream I set out so long ago.

So I wanted to come to you, the POD writers, and ask you – what would be your ideal POD company?

What is important to you when you decide between one POD publisher and another?
Of course, I know price is a big one but what about services? I know Lulu will give you a book for cut rate prices – but they offer little in terms of services.

What services would be important to you?

What is the ideal contract for a POD publisher?

What’s the biggest mistake a POD publisher would do?

What is a fair royalty?

My vision is to form partnerships with my authors. We’re in this together. It’s my company’s name that your books would represent – so I’m not going to produce works that aren’t going to be marketable. I won’t be producing just anything. I still see Luna Brillante Publishing being a Spec Fic force and I DO NOT want LBP to be a vanity publisher.

In the spirit of partnership, LBP would do all the leg work for the author. We’d format the book, typeset it, arrange for editing and if the author did not have their own cover, arrange for a cover to be professionally produced. No templates at LBP, real true artwork. Once the book was ready to go, we’d assign it an ISBN (both 10 and 13), send ARCs to reviewers, and prepare a release date. Once the book was released, we’d have a professional press release sent to all the relevant news feeds. The books would be sold at all the major online retailers as well as our own website. As an add on, an author could choose our returns program (which would be significantly less than what I’ve seen sold at other sites, btw) and make their books marketable.

In this business model, since we’d be charging fees for these services, I don’t believe it would be fair to offer the low industry standards of 15% royalty on net sales. My initial thoughts would be 60% for the author on netsales.

So really…I am looking for opinions on what makes an ideal POD, what's fair pricing in today's POD service marketplace and perhaps some suggestions on what I can do to achieve my dream yet not lose my shirt in the process.

I look forward to hearing your opinions!

Thanks!

james1611
07-28-2006, 01:08 AM
Greetings!

My name is JC De La Torre and I'm the author of Ancient Rising. I originally published the book via Lulu.com before I decided to start my own small publishing company, Luna Brillante Publishing. Hopefully some of you remember the name as I have been on Absolute Write for awhile...

Anyway, I decided I wanted my company to specialize exclusively in Speculative Fiction (SciFi, Fantasy, Horror, Alternate Realities, etc.). My plan was to start releasing books via POD and then as the company grew, transition into off-set and try our damndest to be the next Baen or Wizards on the Coast type niche publisher.

Things started well as we began to receive manuscripts. We had an agreement with the sensational graphic artist who did my cover and the cover for my wife's book, Dark Dragon, set up. We had our editor, who did a great job on my book. I have a computer background so I was able to produce a great website ( http://www.lunabrillantepublishing.com (http://www.lunabrillantepublishing.com/) ). We had our ISBNs and our contract with Ingrams Wholesaler set up. We had distribution to all the online stores secured and were actively searching for a brick-and-mortar distributor. We got a great manuscript from an author we really, really liked.

We were raring to go....and then the financing dropped out.

The company itself has lived on albeit via life support and I still have the dream of having a company that will produce some great works of speculative fiction from exciting, new and brilliant authors.

I just realize now that we cannot exist as a traditional publisher. We simply don't have the financial backing to do it so I’ve wrestled with the decision to turn Luna Brillante Publishing into a true POD publisher, ergo, charge for the services of producing a book.

It was a tough decision, to say the least. However, I still feel that LBP can still achieve the dream I set out so long ago.

So I wanted to come to you, the POD writers, and ask you – what would be your ideal POD company?

What is important to you when you decide between one POD publisher and another?
Of course, I know price is a big one but what about services? I know Lulu will give you a book for cut rate prices – but they offer little in terms of services.

What services would be important to you?

What is the ideal contract for a POD publisher?

What’s the biggest mistake a POD publisher would do?

What is a fair royalty?

My vision is to form partnerships with my authors. We’re in this together. It’s my company’s name that your books would represent – so I’m not going to produce works that aren’t going to be marketable. I won’t be producing just anything. I still see Luna Brillante Publishing being a Spec Fic force and I DO NOT want LBP to be a vanity publisher.

In the spirit of partnership, LBP would do all the leg work for the author. We’d format the book, typeset it, arrange for editing and if the author did not have their own cover, arrange for a cover to be professionally produced. No templates at LBP, real true artwork. Once the book was ready to go, we’d assign it an ISBN (both 10 and 13), send ARCs to reviewers, and prepare a release date. Once the book was released, we’d have a professional press release sent to all the relevant news feeds. The books would be sold at all the major online retailers as well as our own website. As an add on, an author could choose our returns program (which would be significantly less than what I’ve seen sold at other sites, btw) and make their books marketable.

In this business model, since we’d be charging fees for these services, I don’t believe it would be fair to offer the low industry standards of 15% royalty on net sales. My initial thoughts would be 60% for the author on netsales.

So really…I am looking for opinions on what makes an ideal POD, what's fair pricing in today's POD service marketplace and perhaps some suggestions on what I can do to achieve my dream yet not lose my shirt in the process.

I look forward to hearing your opinions!

Thanks!

Jason,

I think the provision of quality editing and book covers would be a main point to consider. Book cover art can be expensive, so that would be a big hurdle to overcome with regard to pricing and what the author had to contribute. I would forget any set-up fees, since lulu.com doesn't have them, although others do.

since you are a computer savvy person and created your own nice looking website...this might be something attractive you could offer authors that others don't--namely that you would offer FREE author site design for books published with LBP and of course the author would be responsible for obtaining their own hosting and domain names.

This might be an attractive offer since others don't do this and many author websites traditional and self pubbed are just horrible looking bland things that no one would be interested in visiting.

As for editing, this is another vital necessity for producing a quality book and it is usually pricey...so if you could offer professional editing at an extremely reasonable rate and personally it needs to be a mandatory item in whatever package you offer--many vanity presses make this an optional item and it really shouldn't be an option. Beyond that they say they are doing editing and charge for it, but the records show they really don't do it.....make sure you are different in that respect.

a 60% royalty is good--I think LULU.com is 80%, but they offer no services in that equation...so you're still doing good in that.

In an online market, cover will be a key factor, and web presence will be a key factor. I know you've read POD PEOPLE, so the ideas in that manual will be valuable to you as well.

You should definitely be responsible for sending out the review copies and not charging the authors for these copies...that really shouldn't amount to much cost for you, since you have a direct account with LS...but it is something that many self pub authors neglect and once again in an online market place, reviews are vital asset for getting books sold.

Also...a big no-no I've noticed is that many small presses and I'm thinking specifically of Windstorm creative with this--they don't post the artwork for their books in a timely fashion or they don't seem to post it at all to the online booksellers like Amazon.com and so forth. That is unforgiveable when this is your primary market!...I doubt you would be guilty of it, since your own books already appear with nice artwork and you utilize the Amazon programs like CONNECT and so forth already....I just thought I would mention it.

I guess if you can secure good cover art and editing at a very reasonable price to the author and maybe some added goodies like your proposed royalty and maybe the FREE website design for your authors, then you're already a long way toward accomplishing your goal...

Then you just need some good manuscripts to work with--perhaps the greatest hurdle of all.

--James

jcdelatorre
07-28-2006, 04:16 AM
Jason,

I think the provision of quality editing and book covers would be a main point to consider. Book cover art can be expensive, so that would be a big hurdle to overcome with regard to pricing and what the author had to contribute. I would forget any set-up fees, since lulu.com doesn't have them, although others do.

since you are a computer savvy person and created your own nice looking website...this might be something attractive you could offer authors that others don't--namely that you would offer FREE author site design for books published with LBP and of course the author would be responsible for obtaining their own hosting and domain names.

This might be an attractive offer since others don't do this and many author websites traditional and self pubbed are just horrible looking bland things that no one would be interested in visiting.

As for editing, this is another vital necessity for producing a quality book and it is usually pricey...so if you could offer professional editing at an extremely reasonable rate and personally it needs to be a mandatory item in whatever package you offer--many vanity presses make this an optional item and it really shouldn't be an option. Beyond that they say they are doing editing and charge for it, but the records show they really don't do it.....make sure you are different in that respect.

a 60% royalty is good--I think LULU.com is 80%, but they offer no services in that equation...so you're still doing good in that.

In an online market, cover will be a key factor, and web presence will be a key factor. I know you've read POD PEOPLE, so the ideas in that manual will be valuable to you as well.

You should definitely be responsible for sending out the review copies and not charging the authors for these copies...that really shouldn't amount to much cost for you, since you have a direct account with LS...but it is something that many self pub authors neglect and once again in an online market place, reviews are vital asset for getting books sold.

Also...a big no-no I've noticed is that many small presses and I'm thinking specifically of Windstorm creative with this--they don't post the artwork for their books in a timely fashion or they don't seem to post it at all to the online booksellers like Amazon.com and so forth. That is unforgiveable when this is your primary market!...I doubt you would be guilty of it, since your own books already appear with nice artwork and you utilize the Amazon programs like CONNECT and so forth already....I just thought I would mention it.

I guess if you can secure good cover art and editing at a very reasonable price to the author and maybe some added goodies like your proposed royalty and maybe the FREE website design for your authors, then you're already a long way toward accomplishing your goal...

Then you just need some good manuscripts to work with--perhaps the greatest hurdle of all.

--James

Hey James, you're right...the cover art and editing are definitely pricey out there. You have some really good suggestions though, I'll definitely consider them as I try to figure out my marketing plan.

I think one of the big problems is that many subsidy publishers (which is what we will be) go for the big money grab up front and leave the authors with books but them not knowing what to do with it. Maybe I can buy a bunch of Jeremy's books and give each a "free" copy.

I'll have to talk to him about that.

veinglory
07-28-2006, 05:51 AM
All IMHO

* So I wanted to come to you, the POD writers, and ask you – what would be your ideal POD company?

A belief that they only took the best. Great editors. Good cover art--I am *so* sick of tacky cover art. Good communication. The best distribution possible with the tech. But one thing more than any other....

a clear niche. I don't want a random selection of books but a strong tone to the entire catalogue that hits a chord with readers that will make them seek out this publisher and buy from it across authors. There are a bunch of spec fic areas not currently well catered to at the quality end of the market. The reality of POD is that a lot of sales will be direct from publisher so you need a defined and determined readership.

* What is important to you when you decide between one POD publisher and another?

Ability to sell, quality of catalogue, presentation, stated goals and submission guidelines.

* Of course, I know price is a big one but what about services? I know Lulu will give you a book for cut rate prices – but they offer little in terms of services.

I would expect you to edit, provide cover art and sell the book. Any gimmicks suggesting effort is not going into selling the book would put me right off.

* What is the ideal contract for a POD publisher?

Anything that looks standard, nothing cute.

* What’s the biggest mistake a POD publisher would do?

Dissing other publishers. Tacky cover art. Taking laughably substandard books. Not being reader focussed--I want to see a website targetted to readers. Gimmicks (anything from animated web pictures and flash movies to getting all excited about pod casts and such not the plain old business of selling books)

* What is a fair royalty?

Whatever is standard

Unimportant
07-28-2006, 06:27 AM
what would be your ideal POD company? What is important to you when you decide between one POD publisher and another?

To me, a POD publisher is one that uses POD to produce and distribute its books. Most likely it will be a small press servicing a niche market. Ideally it should be highly selective in the manuscripts it accepts, have a rigorous editorial process, have an author-friendly contract, and pay standard royalties. There are quite a few small presses that fall into this category.

A vanity publisher is one that charges the author money for the service of producing and printing his book. Whether they use a POD model and charge the author a few hundred, or do large print runs and charge the author thousands for all those copies, they're a vanity press.

Perhaps, instead of calling your new company a POD publisher, you should more honestly define it as a vanity publisher, with the additional information that you will use POD to produce and sell the books.

soloset
07-28-2006, 09:27 AM
"Subsidy" sounds more accurate than "vanity". I always picture vanity presses as what that guy I used to work with who I keep seeing slip copies of his book onto the shelves at B&N used. Subsidy, on the other hand -- that's a joint effort, a partnership so to speak. Nobody's ego is being stroked; you're entering into a business deal.

Eh, I always get all those terms mixed up, no matter how many times I read the proper definitions.

Anyway, I think, as veinglory said, in order to make something like this viable, you'd really, really need to have a strong niche. Books you offer that nobody else does, or at least that there's room for. Say, old-fashioned sword and sorcery fantasy or retro-BEM sci-fi.

james1611
07-28-2006, 07:48 PM
"Subsidy" sounds more accurate than "vanity". I always picture vanity presses as what that guy I used to work with who I keep seeing slip copies of his book onto the shelves at B&N used. Subsidy, on the other hand -- that's a joint effort, a partnership so to speak. Nobody's ego is being stroked; you're entering into a business deal.

Eh, I always get all those terms mixed up, no matter how many times I read the proper definitions.

Anyway, I think, as veinglory said, in order to make something like this viable, you'd really, really need to have a strong niche. Books you offer that nobody else does, or at least that there's room for. Say, old-fashioned sword and sorcery fantasy or retro-BEM sci-fi.

I would say that as far as the Vanity vs. Subsidy terminology question, I think what Mr. De La Torres is attempting to put together is a Subsidy Publisher--"Truly Selective" and yet the author is a partner in the costs of publication, with both contributing more equally.

This is a far cry from a Vanity press that will accept anything a.k.a. "Atlanta Nights" and does not do editing, or otherwise and then charges the author along with the expectation that the author will be the one actually buying the most copies of the book!

I see a big difference in these two--LBP would be using the subsidy model to move forward because of the financial component, but still wanting to put out the best it could find--instead of just taking everything submitted to it and charging the author.

At least that is my impression from Mr. De La Torres description.

--James

veinglory
07-28-2006, 08:23 PM
It's a fine line but I can think of niche subsidy publishers that comes out the right side of it (several in the gay/lesbian area)

jcdelatorre
07-28-2006, 11:29 PM
It's a fine line but I can think of niche subsidy publishers that comes out the right side of it (several in the gay/lesbian area)
veinglory and all...thank you for your responses, they are greatly appreciated!

Veinglory, I totally agree with you. I've seen the crizap that some of these publishers have produced. Shotty covers, substandard editing, and no concise form of publishing seem to be the downfall of many of these PODs. I appreciate your suggestions and I think my business model will attach itself to many of those principals that you suggest.

Unimportant, actually, I was thinking along the same lines as you but as James mentioned, I've been told this isn't a vanity but a subsidy. There is a difference, although I think it has been blurred by some subsidies.

Soleset, I definitely think "a niche" is the way to go. I understand we won't be IUNIVERSE but I don't want to be IUNIVERSE. I think I have a pretty clear vision for the company and hopefully it will attract some authors and readers.

Thanks again for all the help and suggestions!

Keep em coming!

Popeyesays
07-29-2006, 02:31 AM
Greetings!

My name is JC De La Torre and I'm the author of Ancient Rising. I originally published the book via Lulu.com before I decided to start my own small publishing company, Luna Brillante Publishing. Hopefully some of you remember the name as I have been on Absolute Write for awhile...

I remember it well. I was really pulling for you to succeed to.


Anyway, I decided I wanted my company to specialize exclusively in Speculative Fiction (SciFi, Fantasy, Horror, Alternate Realities, etc.). My plan was to start releasing books via POD and then as the company grew, transition into off-set and try our damndest to be the next Baen or Wizards on the Coast type niche publisher.

That was ambitious, but then Baen started small and Wizards of the Coast was once a start-up too. They invented "Magic: the Gathering"


That was ambitious, but then Baen started small and Wizards of the Coast was once a start-up too. They invented "Magic: the Gathering"

Things started well as we began to receive manuscripts. We had an agreement with the sensational graphic artist who did my cover and the cover for my wife's book, Dark Dragon, set up. We had our editor, who did a great job on my book. I have a computer background so I was able to produce a great website ( http://www.lunabrillantepublishing.com (http://www.lunabrillantepublishing.com/) ). We had our ISBNs and our contract with Ingrams Wholesaler set up. We had distribution to all the online stores secured and were actively searching for a brick-and-mortar distributor. We got a great manuscript from an author we really, really liked.

We were raring to go....and then the financing dropped out.

I know. It was a disaster. Would you believe that I submitted to you and one of your editors e-mailed a question to me less than an hour before you announced you were closed for submissions.


The company itself has lived on albeit via life support and I still have the dream of having a company that will produce some great works of speculative fiction from exciting, new and brilliant authors.

I was kind of looking forward to being one of them.


I just realize now that we cannot exist as a traditional publisher. We simply don't have the financial backing to do it so I’ve wrestled with the decision to turn Luna Brillante Publishing into a true POD publisher, ergo, charge for the services of producing a book.

I think you have a misunderstanding of POD and subsidy pubishing. POD is Print on Demand, and it's not a business model at all. It's a technology. Neither is "traditional publisher" a standard term. It was invented by Publish America. I doubt if you wish to be PA under any circumstances.

The biggest publishers are likely to use print on demand technology when its meant to do smaller runs of books.

Ellora's Cave has made the breakthrough to brick and mortar stores by using POD technology to actually "PRint TO Demand" -- one to three thousand copy print runs and distribute those books through Ingrams, Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc. with the books appearing on shelves at those stores.

I think this is what you really sought.


It was a tough decision, to say the least. However, I still feel that LBP can still achieve the dream I set out so long ago.

You might be able to do so, if you are prepared to make the move from subsidy to small print house when it is feasible, but I would heartily suggest you create a new name for the enterprise, so that when LBP can come back it has not acquired the onus attached to places like PA, and vanity houses in general.

If you seek the ability to become a publishing house that could be a bad smell that never goes away.




So I wanted to come to you, the POD writers, and ask you – what would be your ideal POD company?


What is important to you when you decide between one POD publisher and another?[quote=jcdelatorre]

Paying a subsidy is not what I can do. I do not have the cash to do it, and if I did, I would be loathe to consider it.

I would suggest you look at it as a business partnership and consider "incorporating" each book. Figure out what costs will be involved and offer the writer a percentage buy in. Then you could figure royalties due the author by the actual percentage of their investment.

And by all means consider short print runs PRINT TO DEMAND rather than PRINT ON DEMAND. If you print to demand you can handle your own returns, and in the end remainder that which cannot be sold. Then the publisher and the author take a bath together if a particular book does not succeed, as well as share in the profits from books that do succeed.

Doing it that way instead of strictly to demand opens up the avenue of brick and mortar sales rather than strict web sales.

Strict web sales are amazingly limited, you understand. Two books of equal marketability one sold only by web stores and one by brick and mortar stores will be vastly different in potential sales. Strictly speaking the one available at physical book stores will sell nine-to-one over web store sales. So the means to succeed do not exist in web sales, when compared.

Your piece of the sales pie will always be tiny compared to publishers who place books on store shelves.

Generally speaking you will have to have three titles or more to interest the distributors, and you will have to be able to supply at least a thousand books at a time.

If you can't do that, you'll be out in the cold.

Cover design, editing quality, every single other factor is really meaningless unless you can solve the distribution problem, and you can't do that by printing books one at a time for sales one at a time through web marketing.

Web marketing will even be limited if the posted delivery date is too long--more than three days. That indicates to the book buyer that the books are not actually in stock at the web store and they have to wait for printing and shipping from the publisher to the web outles before they can possibly get their book.

I think this answers most of the questions you asked, so I won't itemize the answers.

I wish you all the luck in the world, but I think you have to break the mold if you are going to have a chance to succeed as you want.

My very best regards to you, I think you have
been shafted mightily by the individual who withheld your financing at
the last moment like that,

Scott, who may want to publish through you some day, when he sees a chance to succeed offered.

:e2flowers

Silverhand
07-29-2006, 06:49 AM
Hi JC,

I am really pulling for you guys, and hope that you can get your new business model up and running.

As an author that took your company very seriously, I wanted to weigh in on what I personally look for.

Readers will want all the fluff and knuckles of good editing, cover art, and other solid oppurtunities each book should offer. In that same breath, authors might WANT those things, but really, most of us our prepared to take less as long as one condition is met. The publisher, in my opinion, must have the willingness and ability to market their wares to the largest possible audience.

When you and I first started talking, that is what sold me on the fact that your company is serious. You stated it would be a dang hard task to accomplish, but a return policy and discount policy were in place to get to your largest possible audience: bookstores.

Anyways, that is just my two cents. I hope everything goes well for you guys in the future...and I appreciate the oppurtunity you offered.

jcdelatorre
07-29-2006, 08:08 PM
Popeyesays,

Thanks for the responses and good vibes!


That was ambitious, but then Baen started small and Wizards of the Coast was once a start-up too. They invented "Magic: the Gathering"

It was but I think it was a good goal. It still is and I think, in time, we may be able to get there.


I know. It was a disaster. Would you believe that I submitted to you and one of your editors e-mailed a question to me less than an hour before you announced you were closed for submissions.

It was sudden and shocking. A lot of decent people lost a lot when the rug was swiped from under us.


I think you have a misunderstanding of POD and subsidy pubishing. POD is Print on Demand, and it's not a business model at all. It's a technology. Neither is "traditional publisher" a standard term. It was invented by Publish America. I doubt if you wish to be PA under any circumstances.
No, definitely not. PA has done more damage to the POD method than any other company out there. The term POD is a technology, but the term itself is now (rightly or wrongly) interchangeable with subsidy and vanity publishing.


Ellora's Cave has made the breakthrough to brick and mortar stores by using POD technology to actually "PRint TO Demand" -- one to three thousand copy print runs and distribute those books through Ingrams, Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc. with the books appearing on shelves at those stores.

I think this is what you really sought.
Indeed...that was probably what we had been looking to do.




You might be able to do so, if you are prepared to make the move from subsidy to small print house when it is feasible, but I would heartily suggest you create a new name for the enterprise, so that when LBP can come back it has not acquired the onus attached to places like PA, and vanity houses in general.

If you seek the ability to become a publishing house that could be a bad smell that never goes away.

You right about the name, but at this point we are trying to be as cost effective as possible. We have everything name brand with LBP. I think once we are ready to move back to small print, it would be good to shed the name and have a clean, new start.


Paying a subsidy is not what I can do. I do not have the cash to do it, and if I did, I would be loathe to consider it.

There's a lot of authors that feel that way and I can definitely understand it. Some would rather never see their book in print rather than pay someone to do it for them.


I would suggest you look at it as a business partnership and consider "incorporating" each book. Figure out what costs will be involved and offer the writer a percentage buy in. Then you could figure royalties due the author by the actual percentage of their investment.

Partnership is definitely what we're striving for,



And by all means consider short print runs PRINT TO DEMAND rather than PRINT ON DEMAND. If you print to demand you can handle your own returns, and in the end remainder that which cannot be sold. Then the publisher and the author take a bath together if a particular book does not succeed, as well as share in the profits from books that do succeed.

Good points all, I'm definitely going to look into how Ellora's Cave did their thing.


Doing it that way instead of strictly to demand opens up the avenue of brick and mortar sales rather than strict web sales.

Agreed.


Strict web sales are amazingly limited, you understand. Two books of equal marketability one sold only by web stores and one by brick and mortar stores will be vastly different in potential sales. Strictly speaking the one available at physical book stores will sell nine-to-one over web store sales. So the means to succeed do not exist in web sales, when compared.

Your piece of the sales pie will always be tiny compared to publishers who place books on store shelves.

Definitely true.


Generally speaking you will have to have three titles or more to interest the distributors, and you will have to be able to supply at least a thousand books at a time. If you can't do that, you'll be out in the cold.

Yep, and there in lies the problem for us right now...if we had the financial backing to do that, we wouldn't be going subsidy.


Cover design, editing quality, every single other factor is really meaningless unless you can solve the distribution problem, and you can't do that by printing books one at a time for sales one at a time through web marketing.

Web marketing will even be limited if the posted delivery date is too long--more than three days. That indicates to the book buyer that the books are not actually in stock at the web store and they have to wait for printing and shipping from the publisher to the web outles before they can possibly get their book.

All true and stuff that I was always aware of. Our books are listed on Amazon and most other sites as "sent in 1 to 3 business days".


I wish you all the luck in the world, but I think you have to break the mold if you are going to have a chance to succeed as you want.

My very best regards to you, I think you have
been shafted mightily by the individual who withheld your financing at
the last moment like that,

Scott, who may want to publish through you some day, when he sees a chance to succeed offered.

:e2flowers [/quote]

I appreciate all the comments and advice! I wish you the best of luck in finding a home for your work.


Hi JC,

I am really pulling for you guys, and hope that you can get your new business model up and running.

As an author that took your company very seriously, I wanted to weigh in on what I personally look for.

Readers will want all the fluff and knuckles of good editing, cover art, and other solid oppurtunities each book should offer. In that same breath, authors might WANT those things, but really, most of us our prepared to take less as long as one condition is met. The publisher, in my opinion, must have the willingness and ability to market their wares to the largest possible audience.

When you and I first started talking, that is what sold me on the fact that your company is serious. You stated it would be a dang hard task to accomplish, but a return policy and discount policy were in place to get to your largest possible audience: bookstores.

Anyways, that is just my two cents. I hope everything goes well for you guys in the future...and I appreciate the oppurtunity you offered.

Hey Eric, you know how we feel about you. I do wish you the very best of luck with Breakneck Books. If Jeremy knows what he's doing (and I believe he does), he will sign you ASAP! We are looking forward to seeing Forge of the Gods available somewhere. As I stated to you privately, even though we are going subsidy, the returns and discount policies will remain in place for ALL of our titles at no extra cost to the author. I've seen some SPs that try to "protect themselves" by charging authors $500 to make their books returnable. To me, its an injustice. It costs a company nothing to put that little checkmark that says "make this returnable". If they aren't willing to do the risk, they shouldn't be in the business, in my opinion. You are absolutely killing your authors ability to market to stores if you fail to offer that option. Returns definitely suck, but as Popeyesays said, its a definitely challenge, even with the benefit of the discount and returns, to get a POD book shelved. Still, you have NO chance if you don't offer industry standards.

Unimportant
07-31-2006, 01:50 AM
Subsidy vs vanity -- yes, vanity has no quality control, whereas subsidy may (I've seen subsidy go both ways so I really don't have it fixed in my head).

I think to succeed as a small press -- as Ellora's Cave etc have done -- you need a defined niche market that's not being serviced by mainstream publishers. EC hit the mark with erotica, and found the untapped market was so big that they've succeeded very well indeed, and lots of mainstream publishers are now setting up erotica imprints of their own. Baen has leaned heavily on military SF and practically become synonymous with the subgenre.

JC, do you have in mind a fiction genre/subgenre/style that your company will publish for which you know there is a market and that won't be competing with other presses (small or large)? That seems to be the best way to success.

icerose
08-01-2006, 10:25 PM
Have you considered moving to ebook publishing, then once a book has sold enough copies doing a print run? Wouldn't this both cut costs and spare the writer having to publish vanity way?

If you really want high quality the last thing you want to do is charge for it, because if they are good enough to be published, they shouldn't be paying to be published.

Am I wrong in thinking this way?

I just balk at the idea of a writer having to pay after creating a sellable work.

Just my thoughts, e-book first, then small print runs as you mature and as the books get out there.

Good luck.

Sara

ETA - You could also focus purely on Library markets, getting the orders going and such, printing in hard cover as another publisher does, I don't know if this is more or less risky, but there is at least one company 5 star mysteries I believe it is called who is thriving in that market.

Unimportant
08-02-2006, 04:46 AM
If you really want high quality the last thing you want to do is charge for it, because if they are good enough to be published, they shouldn't be paying to be published.

Am I wrong in thinking this way?
I agree with you on this one. If my book is commercial fiction, I'll sell it to a mainstream house. If it's niche fiction, I'll sell it to a small press or e-press. If it's super-niche but I've got a defined market, I'll self publish it and flog it one copy at a time. If my book is commercial, or niche, or superniche, but it's just not good enough (quality) to sell to its market, I'll bin it -- or, if I insist on publication, I'll vanity publish, with the knowledge that it'll never sell more than a few dozen copies because, well, frankly, it's crap.

There may be some niche markets for which no small presses exits, where a subsidy publisher could successfully attract high quality books and sell them to the target market in large enough quantities that both publisher and author recoup their investments....but I can't think of any offhand.

jcdelatorre
08-10-2006, 07:35 PM
I agree with you on this one. If my book is commercial fiction, I'll sell it to a mainstream house. If it's niche fiction, I'll sell it to a small press or e-press. If it's super-niche but I've got a defined market, I'll self publish it and flog it one copy at a time. If my book is commercial, or niche, or superniche, but it's just not good enough (quality) to sell to its market, I'll bin it -- or, if I insist on publication, I'll vanity publish, with the knowledge that it'll never sell more than a few dozen copies because, well, frankly, it's crap.

There may be some niche markets for which no small presses exits, where a subsidy publisher could successfully attract high quality books and sell them to the target market in large enough quantities that both publisher and author recoup their investments....but I can't think of any offhand.
icerose and unimportant, you both make very valid points. However, keep in mind the amount of subs that get submitted to all of these authorhouses. Perhaps the author doesn't know how to write a query letter properly or the reader for some reason doesn't have time to consider it fully and it slips through the cracks. Perhaps the author wants more creative control over their work. There's a lot of possibilities or as POD Girl of PODDY MOUTH fame says, so few needles, so much hay. I think there are likely great needles out there that just need to be discovered. I don't expect the manuscripts I get to be perfection, but I believe if there is enough there to work with, we can help the author get their work to the level it needs to be to be marketable.

Unimportant, I am definitely focusing on Speculative Fiction (Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy, Alt Realties, Alt History, Strange Worlds).

I have tried to take all of your advice and form the best POD company I could. I hope I've succeeded.

If you folks have some time, please visit my site at http://www.lunabrillantepublishing.com and let me know what you think.

I appreciate all of your help. If I could answer any questions or you have more suggestions, please, feel free to post them here or email me.

Thanks!

JC

Unimportant
08-11-2006, 01:18 AM
JC, I looked at your website. It's easy on the eyes and easy to navigate. However, a couple thoughts came to mind:

From your comment of 'no offense to this author' next to the picture of 'bad' cover art, I got the feeling the author hadn't given you permission to post that picture. That's probably a breach of copyright, not to mention it looked to me a tad unprofessional. If you want to show an example of bad cover art, surely you could design one that mimics all the worst traits of DIY covers without lampooning an actual artist or author?

Your package names struck me as -- sorry, dorky. Moonbeam and Moondrop sounds like something a ten year old would name her unicorn. YMMV.

My biggest query was the lack of specific information wrt artists, editors, etc. The lower priced package requires the author to provide you with the name and credentials of the professional who edited their manuscript. I would have expected LBP to have done the same -- before I submitted my manuscript for the $899 option I'd want to know who LBP's panel of editors and artists are. As the front page says the company was set up =by authors= that gives me no assurance that anyone with professional editing credentials is on board.

my $0.02

jchines
08-11-2006, 04:27 PM
The first thing I noticed was this quote on the main page:

"You will never see a poorly edited, badly typeset novels..."

It's a minor mistake, but given the context, it wouldn't give me confidence in the editing skills

Also, the animated gif banner was a little fuzzy on my screen. Don't know if that's just me.

Overall, the page looks pretty clean and professional. I very much appreciate the attempt to present authors with an honest and realistic idea about what they'll get if they go the PoD route with you.

I do agree with Unimportant about the package names, though. No offense intended, but they didn't match the more "professional" nature of the rest of the site.

huw
08-12-2006, 09:08 PM
While injections of vanity money may provide you with the financing you believe you need, they will not help you (or your authors) sell any more books. Possibly the opposite, in fact. You will need to recognise that your business is now based on selling publishing services, rather than books.

Also, you may find it hard to maintain the standards you're aiming for--after all, the best manuscripts will find a home that doesn't require the author to pay.

With those observations out of the way, I would suggest that an on-demand vanity publisher that wants to stand out from the crowd could try providing:

- professionaly edited and produced books
- at a competitive cover price
- with decent wholesale and author discounts
- and clarity about what the buyer is really getting for his/her money.

Resist the temptation to milk the author by inflating print costs. Charge what you need up-front, so that the book can be priced at a level that at least gives it a chance.

Finally, you should consider the impact on any authors who signed with you as a commercial publisher, if you continue as a vanity press with the same business name and ISBN allocation.

seanie blue
08-18-2006, 08:56 AM
I agree with HUW's advice on resisting the temptation to mark up the print costs.

If I was in your position I would willingly take a LOSS on each book project, while keeping all the costs completely transparent. So if the edit/design/print package cost, say, $5,436 shipped for 1000 books, I'd tell the author to give me 75% of the costs. But here's the rub: I would only do that with authors whose work was worthy of my quality standards. Let the author do all the marketing and distribution work. There are talented writers quite willing to pay for the credibility of a publishing "house." Five grand on a credit card at 12% interest is like buying a second-hand car, and I'd rather have the boooks in hand to go after a bigger publishing deal.

But since you've invested 25% in each book, you would also be working on the marketing of your publishing house rather than the fate of each individual title, and I think that effort would be attractive to writers looking for credibility. After a few titles, your publishing house would get a rep if you could keep the quality fairly high. After a few years, the sales would start coming naturally if you were constantly pushing your catalogue. And if one of the writers you have backed gets a good deal elsewhere, benefits would rebound in your direction as well.

I think the stigma of self-publication is quickly going away, thanks to the internet and technology and the growing appreciation for our boutique culture. But you could be a bridge for the writer who is still leery of bringing out his book written by John about John's life published by John. And forbid your stable of writers from giving each other blurbs; that's cheesy. Any writer should be able to get some good blurbs on their own or their not going to pull their weight in moving their own titles anyway.

Okay, brain dead. My 2c. I'll look at it in the morning and see if I made sense.

PODLINGMASTER
08-18-2006, 06:46 PM
While injections of vanity money may provide you with the financing you believe you need, they will not help you (or your authors) sell any more books. Possibly the opposite, in fact. You will need to recognise that your business is now based on selling publishing services, rather than books.

Also, you may find it hard to maintain the standards you're aiming for--after all, the best manuscripts will find a home that doesn't require the author to pay.


Greetings,

I would disagree with the statement that "the best manuscripts will find a home, that doesn't require the author to pay."
I think that many wonderful manuscripts do not find such a home, and one main reason being that editors are looking for something that fits into a certain mold--the types of books they normally sell. If an agent doesn't think the editor will buy it, (because they sell to the same editors again and again) then they won't represent it. And if the editor doesn't normally accept and publish a particular type of story then they won't take it either.

I've read a number of self published books that were quite good and hope to read and review more, but some stories fall through the cracks.

I would agree with the package names though.... I found the site professional except for the "Hello Kitty" names for the packages. No offense, but I would change that. I thought the web design thing was an interesting twist.

Others have said this and I think it is true--if your intent is to partner with the author and sell quality books, then you must act like a partner, meaning you must not charge any fees to the author that you will be keeping for yourself as a profit. That's not partnering, that's the same thing Vanity presses do. You should enter into an agreement and have all costs on the table, letting the author know that all monies they give Luna Brillante are being used specifically toward the production of the book and in what amounts to each task.

This way the author really is your partner and not your customer.

No offense to you sir. And if you have any wonderful books you would like to have reviewed from Luna Brillante, please send me an email at pod_master1@yahoo.com with a short synopsis and we'd be glad to do some reviews for your books over at P.O.D.LINGS--we review for small to medium presses and the self published author (traditonal or print-on-demand)

Until then,

Podlingmaster

huw
08-18-2006, 08:43 PM
I would disagree with the statement that "the best manuscripts will find a home, that doesn't require the author to pay."
I was generalising of course. You know what they say: if you're good enough, you will be published--but only for certain values of "good enough" :)

PODLINGMASTER
08-18-2006, 11:07 PM
I was generalising of course. You know what they say: if you're good enough, you will be published--but only for certain values of "good enough" :)

Greetings Huw,

It's sad that many good stories are passed by in New York and the big Publishing firms, while some unbelievable stuff is Published. I notice one from Haskins thread--"Oh good Lord"

That's one of the things I hope to do at P.O.D.LINGS--see some exceptional stories that aren't (so-called New York worthy) get some much deserved attention.

Looking forward to yours also--(Huw Lyan?)

Until then,

Podlingmaster

huw
08-19-2006, 01:20 PM
Looking forward to yours also--(Huw Lyan?)
That's me--this forum is where I came across your review blog. I usually go by plain "Huw" though, pronounced the same as "Hugh".

PODLINGMASTER
08-21-2006, 09:39 PM
That's me--this forum is where I came across your review blog. I usually go by plain "Huw" though, pronounced the same as "Hugh".

Glad to hear it. Huw, please share any helpful info you have on Velluminous if you don't mind to?

I like smaller presses that have a professionalism about them as Velluminous appears to and it looks like they have some interesting books coming out over their way as well.

Medallion also comes to mind and I actually saw one of their sci-fi titles, The Killing Frost, in a local Books-a-Million.

Good books can be found anywhere a good author teams up with a good publisher and produces one.

Until then,

Podlingmaster

huw
08-21-2006, 11:36 PM
Glad to hear it. Huw, please share any helpful info you have on Velluminous if you don't mind to?
I don't want to morph jcdelatorre's morphing thread any further than it's already morphed, and please understand that I have an interest in Velluminous, so any info from me would inevitably be partial. I'm here to participate and to share my views, not to beat the drum for submissions or anything :)

jcdelatorre
01-12-2007, 08:46 AM
All,

Well, I have exciting news!

LBP is subsidy NO MORE!

Read all about it here!

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=51669

JC

Anthony Ravenscroft
01-21-2007, 08:00 PM
Still, JC, you started an interesting thought: is it possible to have a subsidy-type publisher that maintains high enough standards to get the same attention as a quality small press?

If you don't want to keep it going, that's fine. In any case, thanks for giving me something that we've discussed in our offices.