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Flying Pen Press

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

veinglory

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We've actually already paid for art for our first two fiction books.
.

From the website: "Artists receive shares of gross profit, based on per-project basis"

If you are paying some people up front and making others hope for sales for an undisclosed but probably small share of the royalties that is also an issue. i.e. people the editor knows personally get a better deal?

As an illustrator I have been on the wrong end of that sort of deal long often enough to be very cynical on the matter. So even if there is not in fact any 'some animals more equal than other' stuff it is a not a good look.
 

Tirjasdyn

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If you are paying some people up front and making others hope for sales for an undisclosed but probably small share of the royalties that is also an issue. i.e. people the editor knows personally get a better deal?

I was told that we purchased the art for the books for these first publications. What you are quoting is a posting for a job that unfulfilled and as such I do not have specifics for this job.

As for me, my job is to keep track of the calendar of things that need to get done. Minimal Secretary work. My commission is smaller than the author, the editors and everyone else. I can only speak for myself in this case.
 

Memnon624

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Wow, that thread at rpg.net speaks volumes. Thanks, Beth.

A question to those who might know: where does this notion come from that the industry is 'broken'? I've been with a small(er) press and now with a larger press and it seems to work just fine. A writer writes, submits, and is accepted or rejected based on the needs of the house and of the market (with some amount of leeway for editor preference/bias). Not every book written will get published, good or not. Isn't that just the nature of business in general (i.e.: not everyone who goes to work for GE will be the CEO)? Why should it be different for books?

This is me being curious . . .

Scott
 

Dave.C.Robinson

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I'm going to take a step in and address something that was mentioned earlier: namely the statement that "traditional publishers" aren't working to benefit most writers.

You're right, commercial publishers do not work to most writers' benefit. I don't know many businesses which have a business model aimed at working to their suppliers' benefit. Businesses work towards their customers' benefit. We, my friends, are a cost. The person seeking to benefit you is usually trying to get your money. Writers work towards a publisher's benefit. We want to provide them with something they can use to pry money out of the wallets of the great unwashed masses. Money flows one way; benefit flows the other.
 

Sassenach

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Tirjasdyn:

With all due respect, you shouldn't be speaking for Flying Pen. Perhaps you should invite David here to respond to these questions.
 

veinglory

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T, I posted the job ad because you seemed to be suggesting FP paid for art up front when as far as the public face of the company is concerned, they don't (you were replying to my suggestion that art paid by royalties is a bad business decision). So it was hardly in blindingly irrelevant thing for me to mention. This then led me to think they are looking to sign artists on for a poorer deal than their current artists get, which is unfair. Aside from being a writer I am a minor rpg artist and I would respond the same as 'Ash' at rpg.net. The up front vs. royalties payment for art and editing is a *major* sticking point.

I think it would be fair to say that the public face of this company does not give a good impression even to individuals like myself who are comparatively sympathetic to the POD model--which is not synonymous with being big press bashers. Which I hope is food for thought.
 
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Tirjasdyn

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Tirjasdyn:

With all due respect, you shouldn't be speaking for Flying Pen. Perhaps you should invite David here to respond to these questions.

That Thread is a nail. I'll tell him that he will have to come here.

Sorry Veinglory, I will see if I can get him to come here and speak.....All I can give is the assurances that I have been given. I have encouraged David to update his website info with the information he gave me and sent him rewrites for it.

I'll wish him the best of luck but I personally cannot defend that.
 
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HapiSofi

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For what it's worth, a quick Google turns up this thread on David:

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=272321

My goodness. Thank you, Beth. That certainly is informative.

Here's David:
But our overall philosophy is to make hte best use of modern technology to reduce the traditional risks of book publishing, and thus be able to publish a large number of books.
Henceforth, when David says risks, we should understand him to mean the expenses of producing, publishing, selling, and distributing books, which properly should accrue to the publisher, but which I wish to avoid.
Just in time manufacturing is available to book publsihers now (although it is not being used very effectively). We can print books as they are ordered for about the same costs that the conventonial sheet-fed press prints books, and on higher quality paper.
[sarcasm] Wooo, big-time expertise on display. [/sarcasm]

"Sheet-fed" is not a printing method. It just means the paper isn't coming off a continuous roll. Your elementary school teacher who ran off dittoed worksheets was using a sheet-fed machine. So's anyone who uses a desktop computer printer, or the coin-op copier at your local library. Usually, when an amateur talks about printing, I can at least tell whether they're talking about using a high-speed digital copier, an offset printing press, or a mimeograph. Not here. (And this is the printing expert who's sneering at publishers for not using just-in-time technologies very effectively? GMFB.)

No matter which technology he's talking about, there's only one way things can work out the way he describes them. If he's having books printed as the orders come in, he's using POD. The only way POD can match the per-unit cost of books printed via offset or high-speed digital is if he's talking very small quantities.

If so, I'm thinking this is a shabby deal. POD doesn't require an advance cash outlay, but that's a tradeoff for higher cover prices and fewer sales. It further lowers David's risk while increasing the risk undertaken by his employees.
We don't ahve to pay anything to set this up, as we would with conventional presses. We don't have inventory rotting on a shelf, as we would if we had to do an entire print run all at once. We focus on paying royalties instead of flat fees.
That further confirms the model I'm deriving: POD production, low total numbers, and an avoidance of cash outlays.
By keeping the capital costs down in this way, we can accept a larger number of submissions and organzie projects much faster than many of the other publishers.
That sounds to me like "a larger number of more marginal submissions, on which we expend less thought and care." Note that David incurs little or no opportunity cost, since he doesn't lay out much money for these titles; but that the books will still incur full charges for editing, copy editing, proofreading, interior and exterior design, and marketing.
If we purchase rights to a book that does not sell well, we are not out much money at all.
If I knew how to do it, I'd code that last sentence to flash like a multicolored strobe light.

Acquiring low-outlay marginal publishing projects is an unfair strategy in a company where all the work is done on a commission basis. The only word to describe that combination is exploitive. If David purchases rights to a book that does not sell well, he may not be out much money. His freelancers, who get paid only if the book sells, will be out the value of their labor -- and there's just as much editing and design work to do on a marginally saleable title as there is on a robustly commercial one.

That sucks. Even Publish America pays their copy editors up front.
 

Hobbes

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Has anyone had any more experience with Flying Pen since May? I understand they've launched their books. Any news, good or bad?
 

FlyingPenPress

Do not confuse silence with inactivity. Ask our authors, if you are curious.

Here is the information I think you are looking for:

We have had three book premieres. Our first national marketing efforts start in three weeks. Our first three titles are up on Amazon and selling fairly well. We have great reviews. I am currently doing the accounting for the first royalty payments. We have received great accolades and reviews purely for our quality of books. Our authors are very happy with the level of service and consideration we give them.

The only drawback is that we are small and new, so getting national attention remains our big challenge, but each day we make big strides. And yes, it is time to change our website, as the information is getting a little stale, but we have so much to do on a day to day basis that a few things are getting behind, such as the website and watching forums like this one.

--David Rozansky
Publisher
Flying Pen Press.
 
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FlyingPenPress

Reply to long post

Certainly.

First of all, my posting on RPGnet was posted long before Flying Pen Press was created; it is a fairly old and outdated posting. To judge Flying Pen Press by musings I had before its inception is harsh and unwarranted criticism.

The posting at RPGnet was seeking information and people interested in discussing a project. Since that posting, we have created an entire team of writers, editors, illustrators and indexers working furiously on the RPG project. Therefore, the posting is no longer valid. Flying Pen Press has struck equitable agreements with each team member. And no, I won't disclose what is in those contracts, as I would not wish to violate the confidence of any person on the team.

HS wrote: Henceforth, when David says risks, we should understand him to mean the expenses of producing, publishing, selling, and distributing books, which properly should accrue to the publisher, but which I wish to avoid.

I never said I wish to avoid the risk. I take full financial risk, any money lost is my money, with no one paying in but me. I do ask that people get paid on the basis of their performance, not on the basis of their promises. Our contracts clearly spell that out. By showing that much faith in their own abilities, I end up paying higher royalties to professionals with the skills to back up their claims. Their risk is in working on spec, but each person has a full understanding of how the project will be marketed, promoted, sold, distributed and all other aspects of the project, just as if they were financial partners--which in a way they are but with sweat equity.

HS wrote: The only way POD can match the per-unit cost of books printed via offset or high-speed digital is if he's talking very small quantities.

Actually, it's called Lightning Source, and it is owned by Ingram. Quite a few of the big publishing houses in the last three months have declared that they will start using them.

The cost of warehousing and inventory risk must be included in the cost of a book, and with those costs out of the equation completely, it is cheaper to print books upon demand with just in time distribution and EDI order handling than it is to print a large quantity of books with a cheaper press method. And it keeps working for large quantities, in fact, it works better. Lightning Source automatically transfers large orders to offset press to take advantage of lower costs. Just as "Sheet-fed press" is not a printing method, neither is "Print on Demand." POD is a process of handling orders, usually with a digital press, but also with other printing methods.

Keep in mind that almost all products in your local WalMart are manufactured on demand and fulfilled through just-in-time distribution. If you look at a WalMart and tell me that that manufacturing-on-demand process is only for short runs, you will fall behind in the industry. POD, JIT, RFID and EDI are all here, and they are real and they are driving the macro-economy. The book industry is just one of the last industries to catch on.

Random House, Simon & Schuster, Oxford Press, and many other names you have heard of are switching to POD. Lighting Source is growing so fast that they will be building five more printing plants on three continents within the next two years (they have two now, one in Tennessee and one in London). Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even small-press book distributors are giving Lightning Source competition, because the technology is now widely accepted.

As to HS's claim that we are avoiding cash outlays, I can't deny it. This is good business practice, and makes Flying Pen Press more nimble in the marketplace against our very large competitors. We cannot outspend a large global multi-media publishing conglomerate, but then again, we can treat our writers more intimately than a large publisher can, and ultimately, with the power of the Internet, we can compete on equal footing with those corporate giants. Flying Pen Press writers not only have a say in how their book is marketed and what goes on the cover, they can also call their publisher any time of day or night, at home, with whatever idea or question is on their mind, and have that idea or question acted upon quickly.

As to everything else in HS's post, it feels rather like a personal attack, and our policy is not to respond to such attacks online. HS is entitled to his/her opinion, and the only way we have to prove him/her wrong is through our own success. Flying Pen Press is not for every writer, just as any other publishing house would not be right for every writer.

Now, please excuse me, I have plenty of work to do. I wish I could take more time to speak upon HS's posting, but it is book purchasing season, and we are selling our first set of titles rather briskly.

This will be my last response on the topic of the RPGnet posting. It does not warrant any more thought, as that posting is no longer valid in any form, and anyone reading the RPGnet posting should realize it is horribly out of date. I addressed all criticism on that post a long long time ago and to pull that old posting out of its original forum without also attaching my initial responses to the resulting questions and comments is somewhat unfair. I stand on my 20-year reputation as a journalist and publisher. Only time and the vagaries of commerce will see if my business model is valid, but so far, we are happy with our results.

David Rozansky
Publisher
Flying Pen Press
 

herdon

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I'm not sure if you are naive or just trying to throw in some marketing spin, but if you think the internet means you can compete with the large publishing companies on "equal footing" you are quite mistaken. The internet only accounts for 10% (or less) of book sales. So, if you want to be optimistic, you can say you can compete on equal footing with 10% of their market, but even then you'd be talking fluff since the vast majority of those sales are books by large publishing companies that people already know about and don't need to shop for in a store (like the newest Harry Potter book.)

If you really want to make an impression here I'd suggest giving details about your plan for distribution and getting the books into brick and mortal stores and not just on a special order list.
 

Mac H.

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A couple of minor corrections:

First of all, my posting on RPGnet was posted long before Flying Pen Press was created; it is a fairly old and outdated posting. To judge Flying Pen Press by musings I had before its inception is harsh and unwarranted criticism.

But your posting on RPGnet says:
First of all, I am the owner of Flying Pen Press, LLC. Game Day is a trade name and imprint of Flying Pen Press. I have been doing business under the Flying Pen Press moniker for close to 20 years (as of this next week, in fact), for my freelance writing business, my aviation journalism business, my magazine publishing, my RPG work, and now for my small press, which was registered as an LLC last year

Clearly your statement that the posting on RPGnet was long before Flying Pen Press was created isn't quite true!

Keep in mind that almost all products in your local WalMart are manufactured on demand
You have to be joking. You are seriously saying that books sold at Walmart are POD !!? That any of them were printed via Lightening Press !?

I think you'll find that everyone here is familiar with Lightening Press, and understands it's place in the industry. But to imply that Random House are switching from their traditional model to POD (insisting that every book customer pays for an individual copy before they print it) is clearly wrong.

I wish you and your authors well.

Mac
(BTW: You might want to be a little more subtle with the planted Amazon reviews. When a reviewer hasn't reviewed a single other book, but starts a review with "Apparently this book is from a startup publisher called "Flying Pen Press". I rather like their tagline of "Giving flight to great books." I went through their web site and found that their intent is to only publish the best of the best, so if it says 'flying pen press' it has been vetted by multiple editors and found not just print worthy, but damn good." .. it looks just a little fake. You'll have to ask him to review some books that aren't related to your press to make it look more credible. (You've been in contact with him, because he's given you permission to repeat the praise on your website))
 
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eqb

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First of all, my posting on RPGnet was posted long before Flying Pen Press was created; it is a fairly old and outdated posting. To judge Flying Pen Press by musings I had before its inception is harsh and unwarranted criticism.

The post dates from July 2006--that's hardly old. In it, you state that you are the owner of Flying Pen Press. How is that outdated?

I never said I wish to avoid the risk. I take full financial risk, any money lost is my money, with no one paying in but me.
Not quite accurate. Your employees are not paying with money, but they are paying with their time and labor. If you choose books that don't sell, or you simply fail to market those books, your employees lose their income.

I do ask that people get paid on the basis of their performance, not on the basis of their promises.
What the heck does *that* mean?

Their risk is in working on spec, but each person has a full understanding of how the project will be marketed, promoted, sold, distributed and all other aspects of the project, just as if they were financial partners--which in a way they are but with sweat equity.
This contradicts what you said at the beginning of the paragraph, and confirms what I said. You're risking money; your employees are risking their time and labor that you know what you're doing.

We cannot outspend a large global multi-media publishing conglomerate, but then again, we can treat our writers more intimately than a large publisher can, and ultimately, with the power of the Internet, we can compete on equal footing with those corporate giants.
I don't know about anyone else, but I would want my publisher to sell lots of my books. Midnight phone conferences won't do that, good distribution will. From what I've read here, you don't have that in place. Until you do, you won't be much competition for the large commercial houses.

This will be my last response on the topic of the RPGnet posting. It does not warrant any more thought, as that posting is no longer valid in any form, and anyone reading the RPGnet posting should realize it is horribly out of date.
My comments have nothing to do with the RPGnet posting. I'm concerned solely with Flying Pen Press, and from what you've said, you're using the same model as you did with the gaming division--editors, copyeditors, artists, all your employees are working for royalty shares. And that's what I find troubling, and that is one aspect HapiSofi was addressing in her post.

For the sake of your employees and your writers, I hope you do succeed, but I'm not very optimistic.
 

Tigercub

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It's been over a year since the last post on this thread. Any news? Has anything changed?

I attended a panel with David and some of the staff and writers of Flying Pen Press last month at MileHiCon in Denver. I was impressed with them. They seem professional, responsible, and intelligent. And I realize that many small presses--well, maybe most--do not give advances but are royalty-based only.

But as Beth upthread pointed out, copyeditors, artists, etc. are working on a royalty basis as well. That makes me hesitate. I looked at the website, and they have a job opening for a copyeditor. I'd love to apply, but the fact that there's no paycheck makes me hesitate. A lot of things go into making a book a financial success. Good copyediting is one of them. But if other things don't come together (and it might not even have anything to do with the quality of the writing), the book might not make it, and the copyeditor (and everyone else involved) just plain doesn't get paid.

For me, I would need to know that my labor will pay off. I need to be able to rely on money coming in. I have five cats and an incredibly voracious mortgage company to feed.

My two cents. I do wish them much success, though.