I blame Bonnie. And a whole lot of other people I care about.
Writing should never be a singular pursuit. Oh, sure, the actual writing part is man-to-machine, but zeitgeist of writing should, for the sanity of all, be a group endeavor. For this reason, I have founded several writing groups. A writing group is a bunch of writers encouraging and possibly critiquing one another, not everyone working on the same project.
Currently, I’m a member of the Writing Block (so named because several of the founding members lived on the same block and who doesn’t like a play on words?). We’ve been together for—ready?—15 YEARS! That’s longer than primary school.
Some members were novelist, bloggers, a poet for a while, and people with the vague notion they should be writers. Up until a few years ago, several had written books and a couple used a vanity press to publish theirs (and still have boxes of books in their garages), I published mine through my private publishing company, and none had gone the traditional publisher route.
Then Bonnie Manning Anderson finished Always Look for the Magic and began shopping it around. Let me tell you something about this book. It’s fabulous! A middle-grade book, it transported me to Depression Era America into the lives of wonderful kids battling to help one of them be a magician. Adventure abounds. She sent it out and sent it out, and no bites. Heartbreaking.
I attended a church Leadership Meeting and over lunch discussed all the books so many people were writing and found myself frustrated for their future plight. In todays publishing world, you must have a platform or a radical idea that can sell millions of books to secure a contract. There are three options: Traditional publishing (almost impossible to obtain), self-publishing (difficult but not impossible), or vanity press (expensive and not nearly as helpful as they claim to be).
We needed an alternative and I was inspired to create it. My publishing company had been private, for my ghostwriting clients only, but what if I opened it up to anyone? What were the important points?
- Keep the cost low and recoverable (as a ghostwriter, I never took clients who couldn’t make up the cost with book sales; I’d do the same thing here).
- Solution: Author only pays for the time of the provider, so book design, cover design, editing, administration, etc. I wouldn’t take a dime of royalty until all costs were recovered.
- Take only quality books to preserve the brand.
- Solution: Create an acceptance review board to determine quality.
- Avoid any appearance of profiteering.
- Solution: I won’t lock authors into using our services. If they have others who can do the work, as long as I approve, that’s good enough.
- Make it as attractive to authors as I can.
- Solution: After cost recovery, Prevail Press gets 10% of the royalty and the author gets the rest (typically 60% of retail cost). No printing minimums, only have printed what you need. Amazon makes this easy. Author owns copyright and can withdraw any time they want to.
- Ensure Integrity:
- Solution: Establish a Board of Directors who can oversee finance, advise me on operations and hold me accountable.
- What about Marketing?
- Solution: This is a tough one, but by developing a network of authors, we can help promote one another’s books. Much will still be on the author, but we can help get the word out.
Our first book was Bonnie Manning Anderson’s Always Look for the Magic, and several more after that. I hope many more to follow.
That’s your introduction to Prevail Press. The rest of the month I’ll focus on the author journey and writing tips. Your questions are welcome!
Find us at http://www.prevailpress.com.