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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wanted some advice- am sure many of you have been at this crossroads.

My novel Zombiestan has been up for just over 30 days- and is doing pretty well- about 250 copies sold with no promotion (my first KB banner is up on the 30th), and given the early response was seriously considering bringing out a paperback version on Createspace. Then I got a mail from a small press publisher saying they were interested. What should I do- go with them or go it alone?

As background, I'm not based in the US, and neither are they- so I won't be able to do bookstore events/signings etc to help get it into bookstores in any meaningful way. As a small press, I doubt they'd offer an advance…..so what would your advice be? Have never self-pubbed a paperback before (somehow, it's a tougher decision than putting an ebook up on KDP!) so in a dilemma on what to do.

Mainak
 

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Check out the publisher with a site like Preditors & Editors to make sure they're on the up-and-up. Get a lawyer to read over the contract for you and make sure they're offering reasonable terms. If they're only offering publication in their country, then find out whether you'd have rights to publish in the US and elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
They seem reputable enough- no negatives, and in this genre, seem quite prolific. They are offering worldwide rights. My big niggle is that if they also struggle to get the book into bookstores in a big way- which as a non-US small press may be likely, is it better to go it myself? On the other hand, they will at least have a chance of getting into stores- I have very little being outside of the US, and would that make up for the higher royalty and more control I get by going it by myself?

Mainak
 

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It looks like you have a couple of books. So signing with a small press for one book isn't going to make or break you.

I would do it, just for an experiment. (Which is why I self-published my first novel.) There is only one way to find out what the best course for your career is - try everything once.

Unless you have some huge red-flags - I'd say try it. Every single one of us are going to have to find out what works best for us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Vicki and everyone for some great advice- you've half made up my mind for me. Now am just waiting to hear back on them letting me keep ebook rights- or at least Amazon Kindle rights- and then it's a go! Will let you all know how things turn out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If I do keep ebook rights- purely on paperback, I'd have to sell 2.5-3 times the number of books to get the same royalties through the small press v/s going it myself on Createspace- just given the royalty differentials. Given bookstore distribution through a small press is likely to be limited- what would those of you with experience advise? Are there are other advantages of going with a small press v/s doing it myself beyond the purely financial aspect I mentioned? If it were a Big 6 publisher with a hefty advance, it would have been more of a no-brainer, but since it isn't, am struggling on deciding which way to go.

Thanks in advance....
 

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Mainak Dhar said:
Wanted some advice- am sure many of you have been at this crossroads.

My novel Zombiestan has been up for just over 30 days- and is doing pretty well- about 250 copies sold with no promotion (my first KB banner is up on the 30th), and given the early response was seriously considering bringing out a paperback version on Createspace. Then I got a mail from a small press publisher saying they were interested. What should I do- go with them or go it alone?

As background, I'm not based in the US, and neither are they- so I won't be able to do bookstore events/signings etc to help get it into bookstores in any meaningful way. As a small press, I doubt they'd offer an advance…..so what would your advice be? Have never self-pubbed a paperback before (somehow, it's a tougher decision than putting an ebook up on KDP!) so in a dilemma on what to do.

Mainak
Find an IP attorney to look over the contract for you. Then decide.
 

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When considering any small press I would recommend.

1 - Look at the rankings of the other books

2 - What are the price of their books

I've seen quite a few small presses that price their books too high to really be able to move any product.  You already know what your ranking is - how does it compare to their other works.  If all their books are ranked much higher than yours - I'd say go for it.  If they are all ranked much lower than yours - well you're doing better without them.
 

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Mainak Dhar said:
They seem reputable enough- no negatives, and in this genre, seem quite prolific. They are offering worldwide rights. My big niggle is that if they also struggle to get the book into bookstores in a big way- which as a non-US small press may be likely, is it better to go it myself? On the other hand, they will at least have a chance of getting into stores- I have very little being outside of the US, and would that make up for the higher royalty and more control I get by going it by myself?

Mainak
Ask them if they do POD or whether they do a print run. If they do a print run - ask who their distribution partner is. If it is someone like Atlas then they have a sales force selling into stores and you can expect some store sales. If they are doing POD...then they will get no more in-store opportunities then you would through CreateSpace which is VERY small.

Are you keeping ebook rights and only selling print?
 

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Mainak Dhar said:
Thanks Vicki and everyone for some great advice- you've half made up my mind for me. Now am just waiting to hear back on them letting me keep ebook rights- or at least Amazon Kindle rights- and then it's a go! Will let you all know how things turn out.
To be honest...I have to REALLY question the business acument of any publisher who would be willing to sign print rights without ebook rights.
 

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CraigInTwinCities said:
Find an IP attorney to look over the contract for you. Then decide.
An IP attorney can't advise him on the 'profit/loss' aspect of this. And...if there is no advance (which I suspect there isn't) then getting an IP will put him several seeral hundred dollars in the hole. Which would take him a long time to make back selling print either way.

When the potential is "big" then yeah it makes sense to invest in a lawyer. If the amount is small you're going to have to negotiate yourself as best you can.

For instance Michael's contract with a small press. They were doing a 2,000 book print run and he was making $0.75 a book so if he he sold out the print run he would have made $1500. I called a few laywers to look at the contract and the cheapest I could find was $500. That's 33% of the TOTAL IF he sold through. I just negotiated the contract on my own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone esp Robin for taking the time to give a ton of helpful advice. I acted immediately on it- and the first thing I did check was the rankings of ebooks they have published v/s what I've been able to do solo on my novel.

They have 20+ books on the Kindle store- of which 4 are ranked higher than mine. After 40 days on the store, my novel is currently hovering between 4500-5000 in ranking (it did reach a peak of 3600 but slipped). They have 3 titles clustered around 3500 rank and one which is around 2500. All their other titles are below 25000-30000 in rank. That was a real mind-opener for me. If in 40 days, with zero promotion (other than one banner ad on Kindle Boards), I can be where I am- surpassing their bestsellers does not seem too far out a possibility.

Also, you were bang on when it came to the pricing. Their paperbacks all seem to be more than $13- which seems a bit steep- and makes me suspect they're also using POD. So pricing will not be competitive- when I ran the maths- with Createspace, I can price at 9.99 and still make 80% more royalty than I would if they priced my book like their others at more than $13.

If, as is likely with a small press, I have to do a lot of the promotion myself, i may as well reap more rewards.

As I typed all this, something struck me- the rational part of my mind probably knew all this- it was seeking reassurance from you and the others. That was because this is a scary decision- it's the first time a publisher has reached out to me, and I am considering saying no. It's exciting- but also very scary.

Thanks for all the help- I apperciate it more than you will perhaps know- not having a fellow writer to talk to about this in my `offline' life makes you and your advice invaluable.

Now to send the email to the publisher and then to take the big plunge into Createspace.
 

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Mainak Dhar said:
Thanks everyone esp Robin for taking the time to give a ton of helpful advice. I acted immediately on it- and the first thing I did check was the rankings of ebooks they have published v/s what I've been able to do solo on my novel.

They have 20+ books on the Kindle store- of which 4 are ranked higher than mine. After 40 days on the store, my novel is currently hovering between 4500-5000 in ranking (it did reach a peak of 3600 but slipped). They have 3 titles clustered around 3500 rank and one which is around 2500. All their other titles are below 25000-30000 in rank. That was a real mind-opener for me. If in 40 days, with zero promotion (other than one banner ad on Kindle Boards), I can be where I am- surpassing their bestsellers does not seem too far out a possibility.

Also, you were bang on when it came to the pricing. Their paperbacks all seem to be more than $13- which seems a bit steep- and makes me suspect they're also using POD. So pricing will not be competitive- when I ran the maths- with Createspace, I can price at 9.99 and still make 80% more royalty than I would if they priced my book like their others at more than $13.

If, as is likely with a small press, I have to do a lot of the promotion myself, i may as well reap more rewards.

As I typed all this, something struck me- the rational part of my mind probably knew all this- it was seeking reassurance from you and the others. That was because this is a scary decision- it's the first time a publisher has reached out to me, and I am considering saying no. It's exciting- but also very scary.

Thanks for all the help- I apperciate it more than you will perhaps know- not having a fellow writer to talk to about this in my `offline' life makes you and your advice invaluable.

Now to send the email to the publisher and then to take the big plunge into Createspace.
You are quite welcome. Their "higher" isn't that much more than ours. If they had a ton of books in the 300 - 400 range that would make me sit up and listen. Depending pn page count $13.95 is not unreasonable for a trade paperback. If the books are "shorter" i.e. 250ish then I'd say they were overpriced in general I don't balk too much at $9.99 - $13.99 for a paperback and up to $5.99 for a really thick one. The prices I was talking about are $18.99 - $19.99. Anyway....I think you are better withouth them. BTW...Check out my blog - there is a link to a great tutorial so you can "format" for yourself the interior of the book for CreateSpace.
 

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In all likelihood, the small press company will not get your novel into any bookstores. Most of the sales will come through POD purchases, many likely from the small press's already established customer base (some are bigger than others...if yours is a Zombie book, I think I know who you might be talking about and they have a very large, loyal base...PP?). In either scenario, small press or Createspace, you'll be looking at heavily promoting your own book, which is OUR reality anyway. The small press will definitely lift your hard copy sales in a way most of us can't, due to their loyal customer base, and ebook sales will similarly see a rise (from what I've been told).

-I doubt very much they will get the book into stores. Like one person said, this takes a sales force, which is costly.

-Ebook rights are another important aspect mentioned by others, and my experience with small press...possibly the same one that contacted you, is that they are unlikely to consider a hybrid deal. I proposed one, where I kept a portion of the ebook rights commensurate with the sales base I had already established, and they couldn't afford to do it. I was told that ebook sales figure heavily into their overall profit margin.

Open a dialogue with them, and see where they stand on these issues. I balked when the ebook issue reached an impasse, but I was extremely excited about the prospect of joining forces to bring my novel to the next level in terms of hard copy sales. I was even willing to give up compromise on ebook rights, but they were not.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Steven,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I loved the Jakarta Pandemic as a reader and when I noticed that you've chosen to keep going with Createspace for the paperback, gave me more heart about sticking with going it on my own. I also think the paperback sales would go up significantly with a small press, but without bookstore distribution, not sure if it would be in the range of a 3-4x multiple that would justify the difference in royalties v/s what we can get by going it alone.

Will let you all know where I net out- maybe I'm stressing more than I should- but will sleep over it for one more night and then decide.

Mainak
 

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Thanks Mainak, I'm glad you enjoyed my book. My Createspace sales have picked up significantly over the past few months, while ebook sales have dipped, which was not something I expected. Just to give you an idea: I rarely sold more than 30-40 POD per month, since I launched the book in late October 2010, however, I sold 70 copies in June, 98 copies in July, and I'm averaging about 4 per day in August (it's early though). I have also seen some larger orders of 10 or 15 at at time, which I assume are from an e-distributor, or best case scenario, a bookstore (it's a dream). I don't count these in my final tally, and the royalties for Createspace's expanded distribution system is abysmal. The small press will definitely crush these numbers, and get you some serious exposure in the genre, which could pay dividends in many ways for your next book. Sorry to give you so much to consider.

Best,
Steve
 

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rsullivan9597 said:
For instance Michael's contract with a small press. They were doing a 2,000 book print run and he was making $0.75 a book so if he he sold out the print run he would have made $1500. I called a few laywers to look at the contract and the cheapest I could find was $500. That's 33% of the TOTAL IF he sold through. I just negotiated the contract on my own.
This. People always say "hire an attorney, hire an attorney" but you really need to think this advice through. (And yes, I'm an attorney!) For small advances, paying an attorney a one-time hourly rate might not be a good deal for you, because the attorney's fee could easily eat up the entire advance.
 
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The question is this:  are they going to do anything for you that you cannot do for yourself?  And at what cost?

I operate a micro press.  I don't openly solicit for full length work, but I have authors whom I have published in the journal and anthologies that come to me and query about me publishing their short story collections.  I am honest with them.  I don't target bookstores, but end consumers.  The chances of a title being in a bookstore are slim to none (though many of our books are in library and indie bookstore circulation).  I will, however, edit, proofread, format, handle the cover design, solicit reviews, set up the marketing infrastructure, distribute throughout multiple channels, send out press releases, promote at conventions and book fairs, and everything else involved in the process.  I have a built in customer base that is loyal, and I know what they like.  I already have the foundation in place.  For some authors, that is what they want:  someone to handle all of these mundane aspects of publishing for them because they either don't have the desire, time, or skill to do all of this themselves.

But if you are relatively self-sufficient, have the time and desire, and enjoy all of this, there is no reason to publish with me or any other micro press.  

Ultimately, whether or not to sign with any publisher boils down to how much effort do YOU want to put into the production and marketing process, and compare that to what the publisher will actually do.  If the publisher is doing all of the heavy lifting and all you want to do is write, you sign with a publisher.  If the publisher is only doing nominal work and expects you to handle the majority of the heavy lifting, you stay indie.
 
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