past columns I’ve touched on the state of the publishing industry
and the direction that it seems to be taking. I recently talked
to three small publishers to get their view of the state of the
business. All three of these publishers have been in operation for
less than a year and are all aggressively making their way in a
competitive and ever changing business.
represented by CEO Laurieanne Cruea
Behler Publications, www.behlerpublications.com
represented by Acquisitions Director Lynn Price
represented by CEO Kevin Grover
asked these publishers the same four questions. Here are their responses.
1. What made
you decide to establish your own publishing company?
I have always had a
very strong passion where books are concerned. Once I get onto
the topic, it's very hard to shut me up. I had already researched
the idea of self-publishing, yet at that point, all of the pricing
I'd seen was well out of what I considered to be a reasonable
range. After eighteen months with an agent and countless very
kind rejections (I have one of those rejections framed on my wall),
I traveled the road of critique groups. I saw so much talent in
the chapters I would review, and these people had the same huge
pile of rejections. Yet, going into the local bookstore, I couldn't
find anything I was interested in buying.
a little more research, I started putting numbers on paper regarding
print costs, recording costs, program costs, etc. After a while,
I just couldn't get the figures out of my head. I think I missed
two nights of sleep because I was so excited about what I was
putting down on paper. I knew that if I didn't write it all down
before I closed my eyes, I would
forget what I had in my head. During all of this, I kept talking
aloud to my husband. Everything I kept repeating to him kept making
more and more sense.
I have always been told that your job is less of a job if you
enjoy and have passion for your career. Books have always been
my passion, and I wanted them to be my career. Thus, the birth
of Authors Ink Books, the web presence being
It’s the typical ‘fill
the void where one sees a need.’ My first novel was with
another publisher and I realized how much more could be done to
aid new authors in marketing their books to the general reading
public. There is so much amazing talent out there, my husband
and I decided we wanted to give them a voice.
Well, I was given a break
once and wanted to pass that on. However, through talking with
a lot of people, I learned a lot of things that made small publishers
undesireable. Along with the fact that I wanted my next novel
to be handled in - what I felt to be - the "right" way,
I felt that the best way to do it would be to start my own publishing
company and, in the process...help others achieve their dreams
2. How long
did it take you to go from inspiration to reality?
It didn't take very long to
get the business "established". Within a few days after
my husband told me, "So, are you going to do this or not?"
Getting into the nitty gritty of everything took longer. After
all, with only one person, and going one step at a time, and still
maintaining my 'day job'
in another sector of the publishing industry, it takes time. I
didn't expect miracles to happen overnight, and as such, I am
still maintaining my 'day job' to make sure that my family has
immediate needs provided. I hope to narrow down to just AIB within
My husband brought up the
idea of looking into the publishing world in November of 2003.
He researched non-stop and in mid-January 2004 we signed our first
Actually, I thought about
it for a year and discussed it with a very close and important
friend of mine who was instrumental in convincing me that it would
work and that I could do it. We worked out a lot of the details,
but I shelved it for a while. Once I made the decision to go forth,
it really didn't take more than a couple of months.
3. Were there
any surprises along the way?
There are always surprises.
Anything from authors backing out before a contract has been signed
to delays, delays, delays. The biggest surprise I've had along
this road so far was having an entire print run sent back to the
printer's office. I had pages missing, pages reversed, the covers
peeling. It was not what I expected. The printer took responsibility
and the problems are being corrected. Of course, surprises are
part of the business; you just have to roll with the punches.
This whole business had been
one fabulous surprise after another. But the main surprises we’ve
experienced is whenever we needed someone of expertise and vast
experience, whether it was with editing, marketing, or printers,
they magically dropped out of the sky and into our laps. We have
consistently met the exact right people at the exact right time.
Yes. I was surprised by the
number of submissions we received in our first few months. We
received over 100 submissions the first month, and averaged 40-50
per month until we closed submissions in May so that we could
concentrate on the titles we have and could hack our way through
all of the submissions.
4. Do you envision bright promise for small publishers or
do you see it as a continuing struggle with a clouded future?
There is always bright promise
for small businesses, whether they are publishers or some other
such industry. With smaller companies, you get a little more time
to develop ideas. There just isn't the high pressure dealings
of these larger locations. The biggest obstacle a smaller company
faces: finding that diamond in the rough. If you are the company
who finds the 'next big thing' you have to make sure you have
the ability, both financial and labor-wise, to keep up with demand.
The easiest way to crash and burn is to have your supply not keep
up with your demand. It's fundamental business practice.
the publishing industry, there is more of a stigma attached to
smaller companies, but I wouldn't call it a struggle. It's not
in the eyes of the buyer. The stigma is in the eyes of the writers
and what they envision they should receive. With a larger company,
the writer usually has to be available for whatever appearance
is requested. With a smaller company, the writer usually has to
help with their own marketing--set up some of their own signings,
create a portion of their promotional material themselves, and
generally work at getting their name out there. While this is
common among new name authors at nearly all companies, it is more
so with smaller companies.
Unfortunately, with new ideas
comes the inevitable companies who take advantage of the unsuspecting
author, and this can give the whole small publishing industry
a bad name. But, as with everything else, those companies are
eventually weeded out and exposed for what they are. With all
the changes going on in the industry, authors need to be far more
knowledgeable and savvy about their rights and what they’re
Having said that, however,
I envision an extremely bright future for the honest, hardworking
small publisher. The entire publishing world is in a state of
flux as authors from small houses begin to see their books reach
best-seller lists. Old paradigms are being challenged with new
technology and authors are presented with options they’ve
never had never before. The small publisher represents a sense
of optimism to authors with their more personalized service, editing,
cover input, and more individualized marketing strategies. As
we sign talented authors our voices will become stronger and more
widely recognized. The tagline for our company is ‘Building
dreams one book at a time’, and I believe that holds true
for the small publisher as well. We’re all building dreams.
I think it depends on the
publisher. As long as one doesn't try to take on too much, it
will be a bright promise. In fact, we have been working with Amazon.com
in formulating a system by which they will begin to incorporate
a "Top 100 Small Press Best Sellers" list. This will
be just like their current Top 100 list, but it will only be those
titles released by a small press in order to give more attention
to these hidden gems. Of course, it's just a seed of an idea,
but it's a start. Not to mention that a number of people are looking
more at small presses than the larger ones for publication. Most
(if not all) of the larger houses require a high-powered agent
to get in the door. In order to get the high-powered agent, you
have to be published by a major house. I think that, in time,
the small presses will take over as the top sellers. Primarily
because of sheer volume, but also because there are a LOT of terrific
stories out there. Then, too, with the political climate, a lot
of large presses won't touch political memoirs (and similar types
of books) unless they can generate controversy. The small press
doesn't look at things politically, thus is more open to take
a bigger risk.
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