Third Way Publishing

Traditional Publishing, Independent Publishing, Hybrid, Old Model, New Model, Etc.
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ThomasKCarpenter
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Third Way Publishing

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:17 am

Not a new approach, I think Book View Cafe has been doing something similar, but certainly another option for writers, especially those with readers already. I'm curious if they're all similar genres (I'm not familiar with them)or diverse genres.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/12/third-way-traditional-self-publishing-notting-hill-press

Quote I liked:

Gorman said that Notting Hill Press – which she believes is unique, because authors pay nothing to the company and it has no financial interest in the authors – will release both ebooks and print titles, depending on what the author requires. "I'm now writing a book my agent will put out to publishers in the UK, and I'm also writing another one I will publish independently through Notting Hill Press. I want to do two or three books a year and my publishers have not been in a position to do that. I tend to write quicker than publishers may want to publish," she said.
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby LDWriter2 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:55 pm

This is interesting.



Once I have my novel ready I may look into it more.
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:16 pm

I have a feeling there's some vital information missing here:

"Notting Hill Press – which she believes is unique, because authors pay nothing to the company and it has no financial interest in the authors – will release both ebooks and print titles, depending on what the author requires."

The authors pay -nothing- to the company, and it releases print books? So if I walk up and say "Print 5,000
hardcovers and 30,000 mass market paperbacks" it will cost me nothing? I think they left out a step -- like perhaps the author pays all the costs and they'll blurb it on their web page for free, or some such.

But even then it's misleading. I pay for printing the book, OK...and they don't charge me for shipping thousands
of hard covers or tade paperbacks to a few hundred stores? And they gobble still more shipping on returns? Doesn't sound right.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:12 am

Mike Resnick wrote:I have a feeling there's some vital information missing here:

"Notting Hill Press – which she believes is unique, because authors pay nothing to the company and it has no financial interest in the authors – will release both ebooks and print titles, depending on what the author requires."

The authors pay -nothing- to the company, and it releases print books? So if I walk up and say "Print 5,000
hardcovers and 30,000 mass market paperbacks" it will cost me nothing? I think they left out a step -- like perhaps the author pays all the costs and they'll blurb it on their web page for free, or some such.

But even then it's misleading. I pay for printing the book, OK...and they don't charge me for shipping thousands
of hard covers or tade paperbacks to a few hundred stores? And they gobble still more shipping on returns? Doesn't sound right.

-- Mike


The company IS the writers. They're doing it all themselves and using POD which costs nothing upfront. Basically they're banding together to share information and skills (editing, formatting, proofing, etc.)
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby ggeezz » Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:14 am

So you edit a book and then someone else will edit yours? Is there a credit system or some such?

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:20 am

ggeezz wrote:So you edit a book and then someone else will edit yours? Is there a credit system or some such?


I don't know any details of how they're doing it, but you can hire out editors on a fee basis very easily these days.
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:54 pm

"The company IS the writers. They're doing it all themselves and using POD which costs nothing upfront. Basically they're banding together to share information and skills (editing, formatting, proofing, etc.)"

That sounds good, but it's senseless.

"POD cost nothing upfront". It costs nothing because you haven't printed anything. Once you print, of course you have to pay the printer/binder.

"The company IS the writers."

OK, I decide to print 7,500 copies of my latest in hardcover. You decide to publish yours only as an ebook. Are you saying that because "the company IS the authors" that you and every other e-publishing author in the company wi'll share my prnting and shipping expenses?

I think not...and that's why I think this is at best very misleading.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:24 am

Mike Resnick wrote:
"POD cost nothing upfront". It costs nothing because you haven't printed anything. Once you print, of course you have to pay the printer/binder.

-- Mike


POD means Print on Demand. When you have a sale (ie - someone purchases the book on Amazon, through a partner with Amazon, or a bookstore purchases it through the extended distribution program), the book is printed, you get your profit and the customer gets their book. So there is no upfront cost except $25 per book to get into the "Extended Distribution" program.
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:02 pm

Thimas: No bookstore -- at least none to my knowledge -- purchases a single book, on a non-returnable basis. A lot of the smaller presses in this field have been POD for years...but in order to make a living, they'll have an initial print run of a few hundred or perhaps a thousand, copies so they can get them into the hands of Larry Smith, Uncle Hugo's, Another Change of Hobbit, and the other specialty dealers who hit the conventions, where the most motivated audience for this kind of not-ver5y-commercial fiction is to be found. Yhey'll print one at a time if they get a direct order from a customer, but for all practical purposes, POD means they can print a quick ten to fifty copies when they need to get more into the hands of dealers, rather tnan minimum print runs of 5,000 or more that traditional printers demanded from traditional publishers up until about 15 or 20 years ago. And that means yes, they pay Lightning Press (or whoever) up front, and pay shipping to the specialty dealers.

If you plan never to priint a book until someone's ordered it, you'd better look into food stamps and maybe welfare payments.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby MontyApollo » Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:47 pm

One of the main POD companies now is Createspace. An Amazon company. It's getting pretty big.

An author can setup up their titles, and anytime anyone wishes to order a copy, the retailer (Amazon or whoever) and Createspace handle all the billing and order fulfillment at no out of pocket expense to the author. Anybody can have their entire list "in print" and on sale at Amazon for minimal cost. Once the title is setup with Createspace, you can have print copies available for sale at pretty much the same convenience as having e-books for sale. (Maybe you should really look into this for your backlist.)

As far as bookstores, this is from Kristine Kathryn Rusch (http://kriswrites.com/2013/05/15/the-bu ... ing-sands/):

Earlier this year, Baker & Taylor changed its policies in regard to self-published titles. Instead of segregating them to a different part of their website (as if all POD books smelled bad), B&T mixed the books into the general population. Then, B&T changed its discount policy on POD books. Now, POD books qualify for the hassle-free returns policy. Certain bookstores—those with good credit, who ordered a lot of copies through B&T—qualify for as much as a 45% discount on any POD title. These gold-plated bookstores can get another 6% discount off their bill if they pay within 30 days.

And the bookstore can return one copy for the full price if that copy doesn’t sell. Back in the day (say, just a few years ago) distributors did not allow single-copy returns. The bookseller had to return at least five of that title to get the full-price return payment.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:34 pm

If you don't care to make a substantial living, that's fine...but you still come down to the fact that POD as you define it requires people to order your book before you pay the printing and shipping, that it won't be on display ion stores or dealers' rooms, and there aren't many better ways to go broke.

But if you know it works, go right ahead and do it. We can meet in 5 years and you can tell me how it's worked out for you.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:33 pm

Mike Resnick wrote:
But if you know it works, go right ahead and do it. We can meet in 5 years and you can tell me how it's worked out for you.

Mike


Mike Resnick wrote:If you plan never to priint a book until someone's ordered it, you'd better look into food stamps and maybe welfare payments.


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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:56 pm

There's a lot of misinformation on the Forum. Would you rather I not point it out?

I was -invited- to appear here and make comments, based on 50 years experience in the field,
I'll be just as happy not to.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby MontyApollo » Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:10 pm

Your "zingers" about food stamps and such seemed a little misplaced when nobody was discussing income or careers; we were just discussing the mechanics of modern POD.

You just didn’t seem that familiar with modern POD, and we were trying to point out that modern POD can work differently than what you are familiar with.

I know little about it myself, but the few blog posts I have read by various people (who like you have many years' experience in the publishing industry) seemed to paint a more current, accurate picture of modern POD and the related issues (such as how bookstores deal with POD titles.)

Even in your last response you kept repeating that the author paid printing and shipping costs, and this is just not how the modern business model works. Fifty years of experience doesn't change the fact that a billion dollar company, the biggest bookstore on the planet, has adopted a different business model than what you remember from the old days.

Whether embracing this business model will get you off food stamps or not is another matter entirely (as is the matter of how many authors, whether traditional published or not, ever make a livable wage from their writing), but you can't really reasonably argue against this without first understanding what the business model is that you are arguing against.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:33 pm

OK, I'm willing to be enlightened. You want to use POD. There are two models. The one used by most small presses, which allows you to print in quantities smaller than the few thousand demanded by the major presses, and of course if you're going to get copies in the dealers' rooms at concentions and the specialty stores, you're going to have to pay for the print run of a couple of hundred books, plus shipping them to dealers.

The other model is the one that seems to be favored here: that you don't print a single copy until some reader decides to buy it and pay for it. His payment will include printing and shipping, and hence the writer pays nothing,

I don't have a problem comprehending the difference between the two methods, and of course most small and medium presses still use the first methods. Thing is, I also don't have any problem comprehending the profit potential of the first example, and the far-less-likelihood of a profit of the second. Not impossible, and I'm sure you have examples, but far less likely.

To support the second method is of course a matter of choice. So is e-publishing. And it is true that e-publishing can make you more money than selling a book for a $100,000 advance -- IF your name is Hocking or one of half a dozen others...but the reason everyone knows about them is that they are among the very few exceptions (and of course Hocking signed a contract as soon as a substantial one was offered). I would suggest that someone who can make a substantial living using solely the second POD method is just as rare a bird.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby gower21 » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:54 pm

I think what Mike is trying to say is that self-publishing is a very hard way to make a living and it takes a very special combination of excellent writing, business/marketing sense, finding a *good* editor who does more than just spell checking,good cover, and luck. A lot of writers find that it works better for them to go independent and some would rather stick with traditional.

There are more succeeding in self-publishing than Amanda Hocking. I've spoken with a lot of romance writers who make a couple thousand a month on *one* book. Yes, one book self-published. On the Kindle message boards there are self-published writers who are sharing their sales figures and making about the same as well. But I think it would be people who would have succeeded in traditional as well, since they have the talent, business sense, can find a good editor and cover artist...they maybe didn't have the luck on catching an editor's eye. The percent to me still seems the same as far as who succeeds traditional and who succeeds self-pub.

It will take time to see what shakes down as the preferred method. Now if you all can't play nice I'll have to go tell on you all to Brad ;)

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:25 pm

The Illustrious Tina's got it right: writing is a damned hard way to make a living. I think that traditionally the success ratio is less than 1%.

Now, I am fully aware not just of Hocking, but of the romance writers who are doing well at self-publishing, and those other writers who have gone online to share and brag about their figures, and I wish them nothing but well. But let's be honest: they're the shining examples, the poster children for success in self-publishing. So it's not reasonable to compare them to the journeyman science fiction writers that you know. Instead, see how they compare against the poster children for traditional publishing...and that means names like Stephen King and John Grisham and Tom Clancy and Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb and cetera. I submit that in terms of income and sales, there's no comparison.

The other real difference comes down in the trenches. If you go the traditional route, the odds, which haven't changed in half a century, are still more than 100-to-1 against you selling your novel for a reasonable advance, so it's difficult to say how many millions try each year and fail. Whereas with e-publishing, anyone can publish a book, which simply means that 99% fail in public rather than private.

Anyway, I am not opposed to self-publishing and e-publishing per se. I'm opposed to it as a substitute for ever trying to compete in publishing's economic marketplace, where if you have the stuff, the rewards and the audience are both greater.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Strycher » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:15 am

Mike Resnick wrote:...but you still come down to the fact that POD as you define it requires people to order your book before you pay the printing and shipping, that it won't be on display ion stores or dealers' rooms . . .


Mike Resnick wrote:The other model is the one that seems to be favored here: that you don't print a single copy until some reader decides to buy it and pay for it. His payment will include printing and shipping, and hence the writer pays nothing


I believe they are referring to Kristine Kathryn Rusch's analysis of how the changes to Baker & Taylor's policy earlier this year make POD books from indie publishers accessible to bookstores.

Earlier this year, Baker & Taylor changed its policies in regard to self-published titles. Instead of segregating them to a different part of their website (as if all POD books smelled bad), B&T mixed the books into the general population. Then, B&T changed its discount policy on POD books. Now, POD books qualify for the hassle-free returns policy. Certain bookstores—those with good credit, who ordered a lot of copies through B&T—qualify for as much as a 45% discount on any POD title. These gold-plated bookstores can get another 6% discount off their bill if they pay within 30 days.

And the bookstore can return one copy for the full price if that copy doesn’t sell. Back in the day (say, just a few years ago) distributors did not allow single-copy returns. The bookseller had to return at least five of that title to get the full-price return payment.


Getting POD books into enough bookstores by this method alone to be considered "successful" would probably not be harder/easier than finding success in traditional publishing or having an explosive indy career. Finding success in fiction writing is, as we've discussed at length, difficult.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:56 pm

"Earlier this year, Baker & Taylor changed its policies in regard to self-published titles. Instead of segregating them to a different part of their website (as if all POD books smelled bad), B&T mixed the books into the general population. Then, B&T changed its discount policy on POD books. Now, POD books qualify for the hassle-free returns policy. Certain bookstores—those with good credit, who ordered a lot of copies through B&T—qualify for as much as a 45% discount on any POD title. These gold-plated bookstores can get another 6% discount off their bill if they pay within 30 days."

Whether it's PDF or traditional printing, SOMEone has to pay the print bill before the copies get shipped to the stores.
There seems to be an assumption that POD costs no more than e-pubbing, and it just ain't so.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:18 pm

Mike Resnick wrote:Whether it's PDF or traditional printing, SOMEone has to pay the print bill before the copies get shipped to the stores.
There seems to be an assumption that POD costs no more than e-pubbing, and it just ain't so.
Mike


I *think* I'm understanding your statement, so if I'm answering the wrong statement, let me know! wotf008

So, we're talking "how do bookstores order POD and who pays for it". I've actually had this happen (not that much, but enough that I understand it). This is different than if a customer orders through Amazon (or some other outlet) which is clearly paid for by the customer who orders the book (these I've had more sales on, though never as much as I'd like!)

How does it work?
1) Bookstore decides it wants a book
2) Bookstore orders it through distribution at 50% discount rate (I think it's 50%)
3) Printed as a POD and shipped to bookstore
4) Author gets paid as "extended distribution" which is less than a direct order (~$1-2 if you set it up correctly)

In this case, the bookstore pays for the book upfront. No returns allowed, but they get a much higher discount rate and they can put just one book on the shelf (rather than having to buy a bunch) and restock when they sell that one. Unless it's a bigger seller, and they can decide more.

Now if it's just plain ol' customer order:
1) Customer orders book
2) Printed as POD and shipped to customer
3) Auther gets paid best rate ( ~$4-5 if you set it up correctly)

Customers can also order your book from a bookstore and that works just like the regular order through Amazon. I've been having that happen since I started putting books out.

So, of course, there's a cost to printing a book, but as long as the writer is not the one paying it, I'm all for it!

Now, if I've totally misunderstood what you were saying, apologies! wotf008
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby MontyApollo » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:34 pm

Mike Resnick wrote:
Whether it's PDF or traditional printing, SOMEone has to pay the print bill before the copies get shipped to the stores.
There seems to be an assumption that POD costs no more than e-pubbing, and it just ain't so.

Mike


The assumption is that for THE WRITER, the cost and convenience isn't too much different than e-pubbing.

As Tom explained, it is basically a royalty system with Createspace.

It is similar to the royalty model used by big publishers. Createspace handles the printing, distribution, shipping, and billing, and in return they keep a big chunk of the money from each sale. They then distribute to the writer the writer's cut from the sale. Like mainstream publishing, there are no direct costs to the writer.

The writer essentially just gets royalty payments.

And since Createspace is Print on Demand and doesn't need to front the costs until they have orders in hand, they can service anybody, even the writer that only sells one copy a month.

The convenience factor is similar to e-pubbing. You set your book up and then are required to do no further effort (or incur any out of pocket costs) in terms of publishing, distribution, shipping, and/or billing. Anybody, including bookstores, can order your book, and you simply collect a royalty payment.

With the recent changes mentioned in how B&T handles POD books, bookstores can handle self-published POD books just as easily as they handle mainstream published books. The top stores can do hassle-free returns.

But whether you get into bookstores or not, whether doing large print runs is better or not, you will still have a presence on Amazon (the company that killed many of the brick and mortar bookstores) and anybody in the country can order a print version of your book just as easily as they order an e-book from you or a book from the big publishers.

I am a noob at all this and maybe this isn't the optimal way to sell books, but to me there doesn't really seem to be any harm in making a print version available on Amazon and on B&T for very little out of pocket cost if one is already self-publishing e-books to begin with.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:15 pm

Let me make sure I have tris straight.

Bookstore chain A wants 150 hardcovers for its various outlets.
Conventin hucksters B, C, and D want 30 hardcovers each.
The author wants to print and mail review copies to 20 sfzines and fanzines.

That's 260 hardcovers -- an absolutely minimal sale -- that have indeed not yet been
sold. Are you saying that CreateSpace foots the printing and shipping bill for all these?

Also, I keep seeing assurances that these POD copies are 100% returnable. Have
the chains changed their policy about that? Barnes, Books-A-Million and the rest
will now gobble -- at their expense -- any copies they can't sell, and the concept
of returns is a thing of the past?

Just making sure I understand the new ground rules here.

If your answer to all the above is affirmative, my next question will concern print
runs large enough to live on.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby bobsandiego » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:33 pm

Mike Resnick wrote:Let me make sure I have tris straight.

Bookstore chain A wants 150 hardcovers for its various outlets.
Conventin hucksters B, C, and D want 30 hardcovers each.
The author wants to print and mail review copies to 20 sfzines and fanzines.

That's 260 hardcovers -- an absolutely minimal sale -- that have indeed not yet been
sold. Are you saying that CreateSpace foots the printing and shipping bill for all these?

Also, I keep seeing assurances that these POD copies are 100% returnable. Have
the chains changed their policy about that? Barnes, Books-A-Million and the rest
will now gobble -- at their expense -- any copies they can't sell, and the concept
of returns is a thing of the past?

Just making sure I understand the new ground rules here.

If your answer to all the above is affirmative, my next question will concern print
runs large enough to live on.

Mike

Mike:
My understanding is that Createspace doesn't produce Hardcovers only paperbacks. But that these titles are available by the standard catalogs as traditional publishers, and are unsold copies returnable under the standard distributor arraignment. (that's was my understanding from Ms Rusch's article.) So the chains would not gobble up the unsold but return them for credit from the distributor as with any other title.
Of course without a sales force to push the books, and only a catalog entry who know how many orders there would actually be.
I have no gladiator in the fight. I have self-pub an ebook and a createspace book as an experiment. So far the ebook is producing an average of 1 sale per month, and the paperback is only two weeks only so no data there. (It's the same title, just a physical edition.)
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby gower21 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:04 pm

My intention is not to stir the waters, but to ask for maybe some clarification on POD which I hear many things about and then when I try to verify them I find out they're not true.

But first of all, there seems to be a confusion on who pays who.

This is my understanding:

In POD the buyer pays the print company. So either the store pays for the books or the customer gets it directly from the printer. Author puts up book to be available and someone comes a long and says, "hmm, that looks really interesting I think I want to read it." They click buy and the order is sent to the printer to print one book to be sent to customer. The customer puts in their credit card and pays Amazon who then turns around and pays the print company to print up the job. When all is said and done the author (who set the price) gets a very small margin. Usually a couple dollars from the exchange. Whatever was left over after the printer took the price they said they'd do the job for. Lets say print company will print up one book for $8.00. Author sets the price at $10.00. Amazon says they'll take a certain percent of the profit (30%). Author makes a little over a dollar.

POD (print on demand) is much more expensive to do. I know this. We all know this. I know a lot of people in the print industry and they have told me to do a print run of thousands of books you can cheapen each book and therefore make more of a profit. POD takes more man hours and setting up a book for one print run. It's a special and different machine that can handle single orders (like possibly just one book that week from author A). So when you buy a POD book you have less of a margin to make money. When the print run is huge it only costs a few cents per book.

Here is my concern: I know a lot of printers and there is no way they will print up a book and allow for someone to exchange it with them. They're a service like shoe shining. You can't un-shine a shoe. Sure you might throw a stink and get your money back or whatever, but usually print shops don't let you return things. BUT in the book industry decades back this became an industry standard and it made several publishing houses go broke. Barnes and Noble can return any unbought books or books customers brought back and get a refund on those books. In e-books Amazon is making authors foot that bill. Is this correct? I've seen some articles on this recently, so the next logical step is that if someone wants to return a POD book that Amazon will insist that money come from the author. But it's not just the dollar profit you made but the whole 10$ You can say "sorry no refunds" and then just hope that nobody raises a stink. But it sounds like Amazon can very well hold you accountable for issuing refunds. What is the line on that? Is that a concern right now? I'm not asking to cause problems, I really do want to know who's responsible for what when it comes to POD and refunds.
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby gower21 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:21 pm

Mike Resnick wrote:Let me make sure I have tris straight.

Bookstore chain A wants 150 hardcovers for its various outlets.
Conventin hucksters B, C, and D want 30 hardcovers each.
The author wants to print and mail review copies to 20 sfzines and fanzines.

That's 260 hardcovers -- an absolutely minimal sale -- that have indeed not yet been
sold. Are you saying that CreateSpace foots the printing and shipping bill for all these?


In self-pub the store foots the bill. So in your example above

Bookstore chain pays the printer directly for their 150 copies
Hucksuter B, C, and D pay the printer directly for their 30 copies each
Author pays for his own straight to the printer.

No middle man.

Also in POD there is no "minimal" print run. You can literally print one book if you wanted. It's a totally different type of machine. It does not go though the bigger machines that do large scale print runs. Hence, it being more expensive per book to do.


Mike Resnick wrote:Also, I keep seeing assurances that these POD copies are 100% returnable. Have
the chains changed their policy about that? Barnes, Books-A-Million and the rest
will now gobble -- at their expense -- any copies they can't sell, and the concept
of returns is a thing of the past?


Returns are my concern right now (which I asked above). I think nobody has made a decision on this. A lot of authors have decided to say "no returns!" but Amazon has made a point in e-books to force authors to issue returns for unhappy customers. So this is a very up in the air part of the business as far as I've heard. The printer is not going to issue a return. Amazon will not pony up the money. But in every business people have to decide how they will handle returns. Nobody wants to think about it, but we live in a consumer society where this is expected.

Mike Resnick wrote:Just making sure I understand the new ground rules here.


And it's good to have this conversation every so often since things are changing so often. I like thinking about these things critically. The same way I'd analyze any business I'd consider. Everything is a risk assessment. I think all Mr. Resnick is making us do is think about the catches. Just like they exist in traditional publishing-- Indy has it's sharks as well.

Mike Resnick wrote:If your answer to all the above is affirmative, my next question will concern print
runs large enough to live on.


POD would coincide with e-publishing, so even if you only sell 12 physical books in a month, you might sell 100 e-books on one title and make a few hundred that month on one book. You don't need to worry about a print run, since you can order one copy at a time. Or zero the next month if nobody ordered a physical copy.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:41 pm

"Returns are my concern right now (which I asked above). I think nobody has made a decision on this. A lot of authors have decided to say "no returns!" but Amazon has made a point in e-books to force authors to issue returns for unhappy customers. So this is a very up in the air part of the business as far as I've heard. The printer is not going to issue a return. Amazon will not pony up the money. But in every business people have to decide how they will handle returns. Nobody wants to think about it, but we live in a consumer society where this is expected."

You might be interested in the history of returns, because this field didn't always hae them.

Back in 1948, MacMillan came up with a 6-month promotion: if the stores would prominently display their books -- dump displays, stacks of books by the cash registers, promiment displays in front windows -- they would give full credit for returns. And lo and behold, MacMillan titles took off and sold far better than usual. Only took the other publishers a month or two to figure out what was happening, and then all of them -- Random House, Doubleday, Simon & Schuster, everyone -- agreed to accept returns for full credit.

Move the clock ahead. The 6 months are up, and MacMillan announces that the promotion is over and they are back to not accepting returns. And just about every bookstore in the country says, "OK, don't send us any more of your books. Why should we be stuck with MacMillan titles that don't sell when we can return every other publisher's unsold duds for full credit?" Takes MacMillan about 30 seconds to decide they'll accept returns after all.

Since that day, no major publisher has refused to accept returns, because they know that what happened to MacMillan will happen to them. And if they all decide to do it in unison, then the shortest measurable amount of time will no longer be the interval between when the light turns green and the guy behind you honks, but rather between when the publishers announce it and the bookstores institute a lawsuit for collusion.

-- Mike
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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:00 pm

"In self-pub the store foots the bill. So in your example above

Bookstore chain pays the printer directly for their 150 copies
Hucksuter B, C, and D pay the printer directly for their 30 copies each
Author pays for his own straight to the printer.

No middle man.

Also in POD there is no "minimal" print run. You can literally print one book if you wanted. It's a totally different type of machine. It does not go though the bigger machines that do large scale print runs. Hence, it being more expensive per book to do."

Not to keep beating a dead horse, but the boookstore chain (or the huckster) doesn't pay
ANYONE up front. And SOMEone has to pay the printer, who does't extend credit in the
hope that the books will sell before he retires or dies of old age.

Look, I am not opposed to the new technology. Hell, I've got something like 40 reverted titles out there
making me a couple of thousand dollars a month for no expense and no heavy lifting...but those were titles
that had already earned money here and all over the world, and would otherwise just be gathering dust or going to
some cash-strapped small press that wanted to reprint one of my novels or collections.

There's a difference between that, and giving up a professional advance (large -or- small), and spending hours each week promoting when I should be writing; between having a publisher get copies of my books into 75% or more of the book outlets (not just book stores) in the country rather than hoping readers will find my ebooks among literally hundreds of thousands by unknown writers (and remember: I -have- an audience; most of them don't). It just seems to me that the reason traditional publishing is adjusting rather than collapsing is because there is far more money to be made from it, and far more readers to be gained, if you're even moderately successful, than from self-publishing, if you're even moderately successful.

And yes, I realize that's not a popular position in these here parts. All I can do is call 'em as I see 'em..

-- Mike
Hugo & Nebula multi-award winner
Writers of the Future Contest Judge
www.mikeresnick.com

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby MontyApollo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:36 am

I'm totally a noob at all this and would be interested in everybody's input and thoughts, but from what I gather the typical process in traditional publishing goes something like this:

Once you finished your first novel and run the gauntlet of query letters, finding agents, sitting in slush piles, negotiating contracts, waiting for your print run, etc…, if you are lucky, you are looking at several years before your novel is in print.

Typical advances for you first three novels is about $5000 each. Often only one book a year will be published.

Assuming you don't get dropped at some point, the median advance the rises to about $12,500 and tends to stay in that neighborhood unless you make it big. (http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2005/02/07 ... iter-make/).

So 10 years after completing your first novel, you would have 5-7 books under your belt (most "out of print") and be making about $12,500 per book. If your publisher only wants to publish one book per year, then you're making $12,500 per year.

And these are the lucky people who made it past the gatekeepers. To move to the next level though, you have to find a bigger audience somehow.

To me, it seems like a good way of moving to this next level is to have a lot of books out, all in print. You would have more lotto tickets in play, more opportunities in front of your potential audience.

With self-publishing, instead of having one book out per year that soon goes out of print, you could put out 3-4 books per year that stay in print. Instead of waiting 3 years to run the gauntlet and get into print (assuming the gatekeepers will even allow you) you could publish immediately and put your lotto tickets in play. Instead of having to start all over from scratch the moment your publisher decides to drop you, you can keep your momentum going every year. After 10 years, you could have 30-40 books out there, all in print, all in front of your potential audience.

It seems like that it would be a good idea to do both simultaneously, trad publish and self-publish, again just to have more lotto tickets in play.

Again, I'm a total noob and would be curious what everybody's thoughts are on this kind of thinking and especially where I'm just totally getting something wrong.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Strycher » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:15 am

ThomasKCarpenter wrote:1) Bookstore decides it wants a book


This is the hard part, as far as I can tell.

ThomasKCarpenter wrote:No returns allowed, but they get a much higher discount rate and they can put just one book on the shelf (rather than having to buy a bunch) and restock when they sell that one.


According to KKR:

And the bookstore can return one copy for the full price if that copy doesn’t sell. Back in the day (say, just a few years ago) distributors did not allow single-copy returns. The bookseller had to return at least five of that title to get the full-price return payment.


Mike,

Mike Resnick wrote:There's a difference between that, and giving up a professional advance (large -or- small), and spending hours each week promoting when I should be writing. . .

And yes, I realize that's not a popular position in these here parts. All I can do is call 'em as I see 'em..

-- Mike


Around these parts most people will agree with these sentiments because most of the epublishers and the folks pursuing diversified careers are getting their advice from Dean Westley Smith and Kristin Kathryn Rusch. Both of whom encourage a focus on craft and strongly advise against promotion when their is writing to be done.

If you haven't already and you find time, you might check out DWS and KKR's blogs. I feel like a lot of the time you spend here is in posts disagreeing indirectly with these other two established pros, by way of their students. Honestly, that seems like a shame to me. Someone with a blog should host a Q&A/debate with the three of you (Diabolical Plots, maybe?). It would surely benefit all of us aspiring types.

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Re: Third Way Publishing

Postby Mike Resnick » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:21 pm

I'd like to answer some of MontyApollo's points from a couple of messages above:

"Once you finished your first novel and run the gauntlet of query letters, finding agents, sitting in slush piles,
negotiating contracts, waiting for your print run, etc…, if you are lucky, you are looking at several years before
your novel is in print."

My experience, and that of most pros I've spoken to, is that it usually comes out in something less than a year.
Which gives the publisher/editor/art director/publcity department time to do their jobs.

"Typical advances for your first three novels is about $5000 each."

Advances vary. I won't hold Terry Goodkind's $250,000 for his first novel up as an example, because it's a rarity. But we have a science fiction writer in Cincinnati (not me) who got $20,000 for a first novel. It really isn't un-heard of.

"Often only one book a year will be published."

Now here I do have facts and figures. Mercedes Lackey, beginning in 1985, in a career spanning less than 30 years to date, has sold 123 novels and 11 collections. Barry Malzberg, from his first novel in 1967 to his last in 1985, a span of 18 years, sold 84 novels and 10 collections. Eric Flint sold his first book in 1997, and in a 16-year-career has sold more than 50 novels and collections. Terry Pratchett from 1983 to date, a 30-year-career marred by recent illness, has sold 71 novels. I myself have sold 71 science fiction and mystery novels, 25 collections, and 10 non-fiction books...and I sold more than double than amount in another field under pseudonyms from 1964 to 1975. I assure you we are far from the only ones to sell more than a book a year.

"Assuming you don't get dropped at some point, the median advance the rises to about $12,500 and
tends to stay in that neighborhood unless you make it big. (http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2005/02/07
... iter-make/)."

Back in 1992, Hugo-winning Lan's Lantern did a survey and found that something like 60 sf authors and a dozen estates were making $100,000 a year or more. If you average in all the non-sellers and poor-sellers and one-and-two-time sellers, yeah, it goes down...but consider the definition of "median": half the people make more than $12,500 per novel.

"So 10 years after completing your first novel, you would have 5-7 books under your belt (most "out of print")
and be making about $12,500 per book. If your publisher only wants to publish one book per year, then you're
making $12,500 per year."

If, 10 years after completing your first novel, you have 5-7 books under your belt, you're either writing 300,000-word
books or you're not writing full time (or you are a terrible manager of your time). If you are making $12,500 a book after 10 years, if means either you didn't sell very well, or you didn't manage your career very well. (And if he's only buying one book a year from you and you want to sell more, well, there are a lot of publishers out there. Who says you have to be confined to just one publisher? Only your option clause holds you there -- and if he doesn't exercise it, you're free to sell to another publisher as well. And if he -does- exercise it, then he'll have to buy as often as you offer.)

And you know what? At $12,500 per book, you can -still- make, not a good living, but a decent one. How? Easy. You sell 2 books a year. There's $25,000. By now foreign publishers know you're not a one-trick-pony, that you've stuck around, so they're willing to invest in you (remember: $12,500 isn't much after 10 years, but it means you sell well enough that your publisher keeps buying you and hasn't dropped you or cut you back to $5,000 or thereabouts). So you sell for lower-midlist prices to Japan (2 books at $4,000 apiece), England (2 at $5,000 apiece), Italy (2 at $1,500 apiece), Spain (2 at $1,500 apiece), and one each to the Czech Republic ($1,000), France ($2,500), Russia ($1,000) and China ($1,000). Remember, these are midlist and lower-end-of-midlist prices...and at the end of the year, never getting a US advance of over $12,500, never selling a Hollywood option or a game option, never putting your reverted backlist up as epubs, your annual gross for a not-very-triumphant career is $54,500...with no royalties, no short story sales, no collections, editing no anthologies.

-- Mike
Hugo & Nebula multi-award winner
Writers of the Future Contest Judge
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