Creating a publisher

There’s a lot of discussion out right now about indie publishing (self-publishing, e-publishing, POD, etc.). Some old hands are saying that with the current shake-outs in the publishing industry, such as Borders’ bankruptcy and closing of multiple stores, some of the big-name publishers will go bankrupt within the next few years — and these authors are starting to warn others that unless they want their manuscripts tied up in the legal process, they might be better off skipping traditional publishing completely, at the very least until things settle down. (Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s post with warnings; one of Dean Wesley Smith’s posts)

On the flip side, David Farland in his Daily Kick in the Pants warns against self-publishing and suggests only doing it if you can gain traction with samizdat publication; otherwise, he says, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and tarnishing your name for all future use. Larry Brooks, over on StoryFix, had a post recently — “A Self-Publishing Reality Check” — warning of the costs involved as well as the potential for throwing bad stuff up.

The truth is, it doesn’t have to be all one or the other. Yes, a publisher can go bankrupt — but that’s always been true. A fire could break out in their offices and take out all the paper slush that’s been sent to them as well as their computers, too. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t submit. Life is risk.

My (completely far-out-there goal) is to submit to all of the big publishers, so if one or two do go bankrupt and tie up my manuscript, I’m still in the game. I’m also pursuing small press (Moongypsy Press, for example). AND (here we get to the crux of this post) I’m going to be putting some stuff up for sale digitally.

I’ll use different pseudonyms for different series, so if you’ve liked one book or novella in a series, it’s easy for you to find more. Whenever I put a new one up, I’ll post the opening page or two here in my blog, along with purchase links, and I’ll mention it on Facebook and Twitter. That’s going to be the extent of my marketing. It’s an experiment. Both Dean Wesley Smith and Lynn Viehl say the best way of marketing a book is to write the next one. I’d like to see whether that works.

Because I’m using multiple pen names, I’m creating a sole proprietorship publisher, Hartshorn Publishing. I’ll also create a page here for that name, with recent releases and lists of series titles and descriptions.

I don’t expect to have anything up before the end of the month at the earliest, but this is your notice. . . . It’s coming.

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  1. Yay for you! I’m starting with the indie-publishing route as well. Going to try just digital for now and as I get more comfortable with it all I’ll take a look at the POD market.

  2. Best of luck – I’m curious to see what your results are. This is such a crazy time for publishers/writers/anyone who tries to string words together to make pretty pictures that no one knows which way to go because there are so many roads. I wish you well!

    • no one knows which way to go because there are so many roads.

      Which is why I think it’s worth checking out as many roads as feasible. The one thing I’m certain of is that five, ten, twenty years down the road, there will still be books written and paid for. The most common method of getting them paid for? That I don’t know.

      I wish you well!

      Thanks, Kaye!

  3. Good luck with the new venture! A friend of mine is doing a mix of small press, e-press and self-publishing – not my preferred route, but good luck to her, I say!

    The agent who has my full mentioned sending my book out to big publishers, but right now I feel more inclined to go with a mid-sized independent who has more flexibility and a more forward-looking business strategy. I don’t think the big publishers will go bankrupt, but they have been dropping imprints like hot potatoes in recent years and I don’t want to get burned by that kind of fallout…

    • Well, Borders’ bankruptcy filing will certainly have an impact on publishers’ bottom lines. They haven’t been getting paid, any invoices already at Borders are now in the limbo of bankruptcy court (which means quite possibly less than 75% of the invoice totals will be paid), and it remains to be seen whether Borders will pay invoices going forward from this point (although they say they will). As Borders is the second largest bricks-and-mortar chain in the U.S., this could definitely impact publishers across the board, not just imprints.

      That’s why I’m going with a multi-pronged approach: I don’t know what’s going to work and what’s not. And I’m not ruling out mid-size presses, such as Pyr or Subterranean, just for the record. I was more using “small press” in a sloppy way, to indicate everything that’s not part of the Big Six in some form.

      And good luck with the publisher your manuscript’s at right now, too. An acceptance there would certainly make the agent’s job simpler.

  4. I am interested to see your thoughts on how this works out. I have nothing that is ready to publish at this point, but hope to by the summer. I am finding all of the information on self vs. traditional publishing to be a tad overwhelming. I am looking forward to seeing your results. 🙂 Good luck!

  5. Having said that I have no intention of creating a publishing imprint, I changed my mind while playing around with LinkedIn and came up with Aia Publishing (aia is Basque for beech tree which is one of the possible derivations of my surname).

    We’ll see what happens with it…

  6. Erin, I do a combination of small press, ePublishing, and indie stuff and I’m actually (after about 5-6 years of working it) finally making a real, livable, taxable income as an author ($50-$80K a year). I think nowadays a writer does have to consider all her options and take every opportunity. So good for you! I’m happy you’re going for it. I also agree that looking at it as an “experiment” is a good way to approach indie publishing. I’ve made about $40K in the last 4 months by “experimenting”. 😉

    • That’s a nice, tidy sum. Congrats on making a livable, taxable income! I’ll join you there someday . . .

      Thanks for the encouragement!

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