There’s a lot to be said for publishers of any kind. The word “publishing” literally means to “make public”. We tend to think of it as something printed, but that’s not the actual definition of the word. In the ancient world, it was an oral message. In our time it can include something published online that never appears on paper. The basic job of a publisher is to get a message to the broader public and a good publisher develops a reputation with its audience over time and works to keep a good reputation. Magazines, newspapers and online outlets all have publishers.
Trade Book publishers–i.e., those that sell retail–have a lot to offer an author. First and foremost, they provide credibility. They “vet” authors and give them a stamp of approval. A known and respected publisher has selected authors and books that fit its niche, its particular audience. (And this does not just include books, but also magazines, newspaper and online versions of the same.) Besides credibility, publishers provide expertise in editing, proofing, design, printing, marketing, promotion and distribution. If you as an author are accepted by a publisher, then you have all those services at your disposal. And the finished product can be outstanding. This is what I spent years doing, and I loved it.
But what if you aren’t accepted by a publisher, what can you do? This is common and something that I experienced quite often in my career–telling an author that we were not going to work with them. There are lots of reasons why an author might be rejected, but most frequently it is because of the lack of sales potential. I used to reckon that as a trade publisher a book had to sell at least 2,500 copies to break even and that number may have been low. Many times I spoke to writers that I thought had a good idea for a book, but the sales potential just wasn’t there. My advice was for them to go looking for another publisher, or to self-publish. Many abandoned their idea altogether, but some chose the latter.
Finding a self-publishing service can be a daunting task and the cost–anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 is equally daunting. Where do you start and whom can you trust? The array of choices itself can be difficult to navigate. Even if you choose a service and lay out all that cash for a finished book, you still have to figure out how to market and promote. That’s still more daunting! What if you only want to print or sell a few hundred books? Who can show an author where to turn? Helping writers authors with those questions is behind my idea for forming The Walker Press. I wanted to fill the gap between traditional book publishing and the maze of self-publishing choices.
Similar to what is sometimes called “hybrid publishing,” the model I’m offering is a service guiding authors, explaining the process, a personal, cafeteria-style service in which authors can choose the amount of help they need and can do as much–or little–as they want. I’ll help you figure out what you need and offer as little or as much support as you need.
An additional service I offer to authors is to help them get a book into print, at minimal cost and risk. Print-on-demand technology, or POD, alongside the eBook, has made a huge difference in the ability of authors to self-publish books. I am a huge fan of the physical, printed book, so I especially want to help someone create a physical book. In the past, “vanity publishers,” as self-publishing services were called, would produce printed books for an author as the final part of their service. Authors might find themselves in possession of a few thousand books, with no idea how to sell them. They might sit in the basement until they end up being pulped. With POD, services such as Kindle Direct Publishing (used to be called Create Space, on Amazon) only print books as they are sold. Same with Ingram Spark, a POD service provided by the world’s largest book wholesaler, Ingram. With the digital files for a book in these two channels, an author can provide their book to most of the world, at a low-cost and almost no risk. This is what I did with my book.
My goal is to help budding or experienced authors put their dream in between the covers of a book, always the favorite part of my old job. Get in touch if you are interested.