1. BookwormP
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    BookwormP New Member

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    Working on a self-publishing business project

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by BookwormP, Feb 4, 2016.

    Hey everybody! I'm Alex Tigges, and I'm working on a business project, and wanted to hear from some of the writing communities to see some of the biggest problems you've been facing with self publishing!

    My basic plan, just keeping things simple, is very similar to other self-publishing platforms, except that I'm aiming to drive the costs way down, and also to introduce an advertising platform. This advertising would include banners on different websites, advertising on social media, a formal press release, and for an additional fee, we would pay certain magazines or websites to post a review of your work.

    My question for you is, first off, how much would you say you'd be willing to pay for such a service, and second, what other major needs do you, as writers, have that our company could eventually address?
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the ideas, BookwormP.

    Now let's discuss your current WIP.
     
  3. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    The costs of self publishing are already small and mostly they come down to two services that most writers can't do for themselves. Editing and cover design. Everything else an indie can do, including marketing if they want to.

    But I have the horrible feeling that what you're thinking of setting up is not a publishing business in either the trade publishing sense or the Amazon self publishing model. It's vanity publishing where the author pays you for the service of publishing his book. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    I advise all writers to stay away from vanity publishing. If you go indie you can hire the professionals you need and do everything else yourself. And if you go trade the publisher pays for these services.

    Also, as an aside, paying for reviews is a distinct no no with Amazon and violates their TOS. Any author found to be doing it faces not only having the reviews pulled down, but potentially their book as well.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  4. BookwormP
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    BookwormP New Member

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    Hi Greg, thanks for the input! I didn't know about Amazon's strict rules about publishing reviews, I'll definitely have to be working on the business model for that part.

    As for the vanity publishing, I... wouldn't quite call my service that. When it first starts, it definitely will be, but as time goes on, I want to make this website be more community focused, as a good way to connect self-publishing authors with amateur artists or editors, in a way to help them both make money. We will of course offer professional services with both those categories, as well as for everything else, but I get the feeling that as time goes on, the community aspects will start to take over.

    Right now I'm thinking of having us use more of a subscription based model. We should be able to have things start going at $60 a month for advertising to continue, and to have access to the community. Would that be attractive to you as writers, or would you prefer to pay per service rendered (especially by the community)

    We're trying hard to make sure that this can actually be a boon to writers. I'm a writer myself, and I want to be able to design something that really will help you, without the hassle so many people have to go through with most vanity publishers.
     
  5. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think he is!

     
  6. BookwormP
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    BookwormP New Member

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    Ha, well, that's my business project. I am working on a novel as well! Later today I'll post a little bit of what I have planned for it. This is the most active forum I've been able to reach, so I'm curious about what the rest of you might have to say.
     
  7. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    Are you offering free website and blog services?
    Describe a little bit on how you plan to advertise on social media.
    Will you be the ones uploading on all the ebook services?
    How many libraries will you be posting our books to?
    What kind of deals are we going to get with printers?
    Is your service going to take care of printing?
    Is editing and cover creation part of the monthly fee?
    How are we going to track how many people actually check out our sites?

    I agree with the above post that you should not do the paid reviews.
    I will have more later.
     
  8. BookwormP
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    BookwormP New Member

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    Raven, thanks for all the questions, I'll try to just take them one at a time.

    Are you offering free website and blog services?


    Definitely! As we are trying to hep with advertising, that's a critical component of selling any self-published book. Despite what a lot of other companies will tell you, creating a basic website should be pretty easy to set up, and we'll definitely be helping with that. The monthly fees would pay for hosting.

    Describe a little bit on how you plan to advertise on social media.

    Like I said, we're still in a very early stage. I don't have much information on our social media advertising yet, mostly because we haven't hired a consultant to help us out with that. If you have ideas on what's helped other authors in the past, I'd love to hear it!

    Will you be the ones uploading on all the ebook services?

    Yes, definitely. Furthermore, we will be formatting the author's text for them as well, putting it in ebook format. I know it's not a very difficult thing to do on your own, or through Amazon, but a few of the writers I've talked to have mentioned being intimidated by that, so we have decided to add it in.

    How many libraries will you be posting our books to?

    We're still working on that right now, and it depends on if the author wants to emphasize just ebooks, or also print. Ideally we would send out five copies to five library systems (ie, the whole county) a month. If the author wants more copies sent out, we'd be happy to do so (for just the cost of printing and shipping), but as we're just trying to charge just $60 a month, we have to keep the baseline amounts relatively low.

    What kind of deals are we going to get with printers?

    That will change as time goes on, but essentially since we're already charging a monthly fee, we would ideally only charge them for the amount of money it costs to print. At first we're going to be outsourcing this, so the fees will be higher, but after we have enough money to own our own printers, we will be able to lower prices.

    Is your service going to take care of printing?

    Yes, if the author wants to go for it!

    Is editing and cover creation part of the monthly fee?

    That will be part of a start-up fee, similar to what a cable company might do. As I said above, with time we hope to have the community help out with this, so prices will be determined by community members, but we will have a selection of pre-made covers available for free, and custom covers available for an added fee. (That's not our price, that's determined by the illustrators we will be hiring)

    How are we going to track how many people actually check out our sites?


    That's pretty simple, just as with most websites, we'll have a view counter, to let you know how often which pages have been visited.

    I'd be happy to answer your other questions, but I'd like to hear from you as well! What have been some of the biggest challenges for you in trying to self-publish, and what would you like for our company to be able to offer?
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm confused. Why would you send books to libraries? Libraries choose the books for their collections; I doubt that they would accept random self-published works. Odds are that the author would have paid money to have their books printed, shipped, and then thrown out.

    $60 a month sounds like several multiples of the amount that the average self-published author would earn.

    I agree that paid reviews are not OK.

    Will your authors be able to withdraw their book the instant that they choose? One of the negative aspects of vanity versus self publishing is that the vanity publisher gets rights, and can thus imprison the book.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, that's not true. I have a friend who is self-published. He's given a copy of his book to several of the local libraries, and they've accepted the books and put them on the shelves. It's always worth a try. I wouldn't send them anonymously, though. If you make an appearance and ask to speak to the head librarian, you have a better chance of getting your books placed. And of course then a better chance of people reading them.

    My best friend is a recently-retired librarian in the USA, who has worked in school libraries as well as public ones all her working life. She said libraries LOVE getting donations of used books, because library budgets are small at the moment. And yes, her libraries accepted self-published books as well, although they put them in a pile for the library staff to read and 'pass' before putting them out onto the shelves.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm guessing that your friend's book is, well, good. :) And that the librarians recognized that. If a large number of unsolicited self-published works are sent out, I doubt that many of them will be good.
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, and I think if he'd just sent it out, he'd probably have been rejected as well. But he approached the library staff directly, and explained where he lived, what the book was about, etc—which was interesting, because the book is about the adventures of a heavy metal band! Not exactly the reader fodder for local libraries, you'd think. He's the leader of our local writing group, which may have helped, and the book is not only good (hilarious, in fact) but contains a lot of local ...colour. Most of the places he visited did accept and display his books, despite that. It's worth a try.
     
  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    The reason I'm skeptical of this whole thing is that I was approached by a company with a similar plan a while ago and it didn't do me much good.

    First, I made a grand total of $23.45 over ten years.

    Second, after two years, the company morphed into a vanity press and email-bombed me almost daily. Also, when I approached them with a third novel, they said I had to pay like everyone else, even though they published the first two at no cost to me.

    And finally, in the last couple of years before I pulled my books off their roster, I was aware of sales for which I got no commission. I kept waiting for them to pay up, but they never did.

    As a result, I'm wary of anyone offering services of this kind.
     
  14. BookwormP
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    BookwormP New Member

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    Thanks for the discussion everyone, I honestly hadn't considered (although I guess I should have) how many of the libraries might not appreciate having these books sent to them.

    One of our plans is to have selected 20 books a month (the top rated according to our website), and we would distribute them to different bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble. Obviously we can't do that with every book, because a book store really only wants books that people will enjoy reading, but I think that if we have a decent number of books coming in every month, we should be able to do 20 without too much trouble.

    That said, as writers, would you like to see something similar, but for libraries as well? Perhaps not the top rated, but the top read?

    Also, Chicken Freak, going to your questions, we DEFINITELY want the author to be able to withdraw their book at any time. Personally, I feel it would be completely unethical for us to steal the rights to the author's work, when we're just trying to help them. Since we're actually not making any money from each book sold (were only making money from the subscription), we actually don't really have any reason to hold on to the copyright of a book. That said, if it is a community member who designed the cover for the book, they'll have to discuss rights to that together, independent of us.
     
  15. BookwormP
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    BookwormP New Member

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    Sorry, Sack-a-Doo, I didn't see your post earlier. I'm sad you had that experience, and if I'm right about which company you're referring to, it actually got an F from the Better Business Bureau for some other things they did in stealing their author's work. There's another company near me which has done some similar things.

    That's all a bit off topic, but suffice to say, I have very little respect for those companies, which is why I'm trying to talk with the writers, and see how I can help you out best.

    Obviously we're still a few years away from promotion though. When it does launch, we won't be advertising it here. We just really want to get a dialog with the writers started.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not following how you expect to induce Barnes and Noble to give shelf space to your books?
     
  17. BookwormP
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    BookwormP New Member

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    That one I actually already have taken care of. Barnes and Noble's main concern with publishing self-published books, is taking up shelf space with low-quality books, and not having a professional organization to send refunds back to. As a professional publisher, as long as I only send them our best work, they will have no problem accepting it.

    That said, I also already have some contacts I can work with in the industry, which will make this process much easier than for somebody just trying to contact them out of the blue.
     
  18. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What are you basing the bold part on? Optimism and misguided belief, or do you actually have an agreement with Barnes and Noble in which they say they'll be happy to accept twenty books per month from a complete nobody?

    I mean, look at the big presses, the really big publishing houses, and see how many new books they're putting out per month. And quite a few of those books, which have been professionally selected, edited, designed, etc., will only get shelf space in select book stores.

    And in terms of costs you're looking at POD, I can only assume, so your physical books are going to almost certainly cost more than books from real publishers (because, no, you aren't a professional publisher, even if you say you are), with no real reason to expect they'll be any good. Self-publishers might be able to hand-sell books at about the same cost as real publishers' books (although even then, it's a stretch) but when you're building in the allowance for returns? You're using a much more expensive production model, suggesting an equally expensive distribution model, and selling books that will almost certainly be lower quality (at least on average, because it's really unlikely that 20 ready-for-primetime authors a month are going to trust their books to a fly-by-night startup). Why on earth would this be a model for success? Why would the bookstores agree to stock your more expensive, lower quality books instead of books from a reputable publisher?

    I'm sorry to be harsh, because usually I like dreamers and optimists. But people put a lot of themselves into their books - time, sure, but also a lot of heart and hopes. And to hear someone promising these authors things I really, really don't believe can be delivered? You're not just gambling with your own money (and you'd better have a hell of a lot of it if you plan to make half your plans in to reality), you're also gambling with other people's dreams, and that's not okay.

    Talk to your contacts within the industry. Hopefully they're not just part-time clerks in a bookstore, but even staff at that level probably know how their store orders its books. Ask them if there's anything remotely viable about your planning.

    I really don't think you know enough to be entrusted with any one else's work.
     
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  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm confused. Why do you believe this? If authors can be published by you just by paying a fee, you're not a professional publisher. You're either a vanity publisher or a self-publisher.

    I don't see why you would assume that any of your authors would produce works that Barnes and Noble would accept. Shelf space is precious; why would they invest that asset in your books, rather than the countless offerings of the traditional publishing houses?

    Are these contacts at Barnes & Noble? Do they owe you such huge favors that they'd be OK with the chain losing money, and are they so very powerful that they can force the chain to lose money?
     
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