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Dystopia Press

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

CaoPaux

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Hey, hey, someone with actual publishing experience! Yeah, it's collegiate, but that's still heaps better than most.
 

jennontheisland

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Holy crap. They have more than no publishing experience. And a niche market. And trade paperbacks for less than $15.
 

Dystopia Press

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Hello all,

Holy crap indeed . . . a new press run by someone with more than no publishing experience! <g>

For what it's worth, it was about six years ago--after teaching college English for ten years--that I decided that what I really wanted to be was a book publisher running my own small press. After doing some initial research reading books by Tom Woll, Dan Poynter, Peter Hupalo, and folks like that, I figured out that it was a) pretty easy to throw tons of money away figuring out how to publish books and b) pretty disingenuous to expect authors to suffer along while you learned the business on their time and with their manuscripts.

Happily, around this time the school I was teaching at was starting up a book publishing division so I moved over to head that up. "Head that up" means I was sitting by myself in an old conference room reading even more books about publishing as fast as I could. Eighteen months later we published our first two books, since then have published about 60 more, and currently have a full-tiime staff of five plus graphics and editorial interns and large pool of freelancers.

To make a long story endless, my point is that people typically get into niche book publishing because they like those types of books, not because they necessarily have any inherent business sense. So, what I've expressly been working toward since 2004 is to build up my practical knowledge of the industry so that when I felt ready to start my own press, I could do so with a reasonable level of confidence.

Anyway, hope this makes some sort of sense . . . feel free to drop me a line with any questions or comments either here or at [email protected].

Mark Long
 

Dystopia Press

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In general, the starting point for royalty negotiations is the pretty standard industry rate of 10%, with over/under percentages based on varying discounts to wholesalers/distributors.That being said, based on my daytime incarnation as a textbook publisher, one thing I've learned is that the exact specifics of every book contract are different and depend on a variety of factors: sub-rights licensing, advances against royalties, author discounts, duration of contract, number of copies sold, and so on.

In the case of advances, the most typical arrangement would be 1/2 of advance upon contract signing (or acceptance of manuscript if substantial edits are requested) and the other 1/2 upon publication.

All that being said, one point I would like to make is that Dystopia Press is set up to make money because authors are making money from their books being sold, not from authors themselves. That is, one of my ongoing gripes with many online print-on-demand publishers is that they're actually just POD printers who make the vast majority of their money from selling books back to authors or, even worse, from offering overpriced add-on services like cover design, copy editing, ISBNs, barcodes, and the like (which are, of course, costs actual book publishers absorb on their end) under the guise of making the book more sell-able/marketable.

Mark
 

Dystopia Press

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yes, distributors . . . the folks that keep you from having five thousand copies of a book sitting in a garage for the next ten years because while printing books is one thing, actually selling them is something completely different. and, if you're going to drop the unit printing cost down to where the subsequent retail price is reasonable, you're going to have to go offset (+2K units printed at one time) as opposed to the higher per copy cost of POD that just makes the already slim margins in publishing almost completely evaporate.

That said, DP is currently in the process of getting distribution lined out but, no, it's not completely formalized as yet. Thankfully, though, at the day job we deal with a variety of wholesalers and distributors, so this is not the kind of insurmountable task it might be starting from scratch.
 

Dystopia Press

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Yes, I think offset is really the way to go. Sure, it means you're dropping $3K to $5K for a print run but:

a) that's the only way to get the unit price down to where with distributor/bookstore discounts there is any margin left to make any sort of profit; and

b) if you don't believe in a book enough to be willing to invest a minimum of $5K-$7K (author advance, editing, compliance elements, layout and design, offset print run, marketing components) then why even bother to do it at all? Either wait to find a book you believe enough to invest in or find another line of work.

It's possible to make money with print on demand (POD) but the issues are a lot trickier as you're heading down the road of time-consuming & labor intensive single copy sales as opposed to being able to move hundreds/thousands of copies at once through a distribution network. Plus, the pricing quickly gets out of whack because your retail price will have to be higher to cover increased printing costs so then it becomes easy to price yourself out of the genre you're publishing in. And, a rule of thumb is that if you anticipate selling 500 copies of a title, you may as well go offset because you can get 2000 copies printed offset for the same or less as 500 POD copies. And if you're planning to sell less than 500 copies--unless it's some sort of special limited edition--once again you're back to having to justify spending all that time and effort to at best, if you're very lucky, break even over the long haul.

Just a side note, a publisher I knew when I was first getting started out said that she calculated retail price as a function of multiplying the unit printing cost by ten. So, if she had a trade paperback that was $14.95 it meant she had printed enough copies offset that the unit cost was $1.5 apiece. That way, after all the various discounts--and looking at 30%-40% returns from bookstores under typical circumstances--she might, just might, have a slim profit left over when it's all said and done.

Finally, to make a long post endless, ebooks are rapidly turning into the next big thing with Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Apple generating rapidly more revenue from these sales so I think it a carefully thought out combination of print and ebook sales will drive books into profitability in the future.
 

defyalllogic

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Their first book just came out. Twenty Years Later by Emma Newman
 

CaoPaux

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Alas, only the one book published. Tw/FB activity ceased Oct '12.
 

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