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  1. #71
    Simon Says

    Re: Publish America

    David Michner

    PA emails notifications of the book. They are mass mailed - boiler plate press releases that take approximately 2 minutes to change the title, genre and author's name, and send in bulk.

    The set-up costs for POD are extremely small - which is the reason businesses choose PODs for small runs. The per unit cost is a liitle higher but they make up for that with higher retail prices.

    Offset printing set-up costs can be very high because they have to set up the plates. There are no plates for POD. I've worked in print production I know of where I speak. If you are doing a large run - you can amortorize those costs across your entire run and it will come out to mere pennies per copy. If you are doing very small runs - than those thousands of dollars of set-up costs cannot be watered down to pennies per piece - and off-set becomes cost-prohibitive. Enter POD - with no set-up costs.

    There are no materials costs for POD - other than the materials needed to print each copy of a book. The unit cost for paper, binding, manpower to get out out one average length Pod book is 5 or so bucks.

    As for editor's wages - PA is obviously not using copy editors with english lit degrees who edit for content and style. They even admit, or should I say brag that they don't do so. They are merely cleaning up grammatical errors (or in some cases, creating grammatical errors). They are most probably running the manuscripts through a grammar and spell check program. And even if they do have someone read through the entire manucsript to fix grammatical errors - it only takes a couple of hours to read through each manuscript - so at 10 or so bucks an hour - those costs too are minimal. And these people are not making more than 10 or 12 bucks an hour. Trust me, the Harvard grads and experienced editors ain't flocking to Fredricksburg so they can get a job running MS Word spellcheck.

    You are incorrect in your assumption, as I am not a PA author. I'm just someone with a brain and common sense who has a good enough grasp on the publishing industry to understand PA's business model.

    If you are happy with them - more power to you. But do not kid yourself into believing they are spending more than a couple hundred out of pocket for each book they acquire. If they were they'd have been bankrupt years ago. They're only selling an average of 75 copies per title. Which means they are GROSSING around 1,500 per title - actually much less than that - considering they sell some at an author or bookstore discount. And those figures are gross - you need to deduct the actual cost to print each book (around 5 bucks), royalties, etc. The net figure therefore would be considerably lower - maybe 5 or 600 per title. That would leave them with a 5,400 - 9,400 LOSS on each and every title they've published to date - if your figures were correct. Let's see 5,400 x 10,000 titles... that's a 54 MILLION to 94 MILLION loss.

    Anyone with even an elementary understanding of math and a good calculator can see that this is just not realistic or feasible. They are in fact spending a couple hundred per title, making a couple hundred per title and therefore grossing a few million for the company. This is the reality. This is also their business model. This is how they set-up their company from the get-go. It's actually not a bad business model - as there are obviously a lot of authors out there (10K and counting) that buy into their "first time writers gotta start somewhere" and "we pay royalties and ADVANCES"

    First-time authors do have to start somewhere. Real, legitimate agents and real legitimate publishers are a good place to start.

  2. #72
    David Middleton Edelen II

    Re: Publish America

    Hello Simon Says and David M.,
    I have been following y'all's little debate with interest. I have to side with David in that I went with PA willingly and knowing they did not do much promoting, etc.. But I wanted my book published. I had no money what so ever and did not want to wait or be turned down for some reason. So I chose them. As far as their editing things, I think they do. And about messing with an author's style; They say they don't change or mess with an author's style of writing because your style of writing is in essence you and how you put your feelings on paper, etc.. I am glad they don't mess with your style. Although they, in editing my manuscript, did change a little expression I like to use here and there thoughout the book. I asked the editor who had sent me my final electronic file or copy to go over about it and said it was a part of my style, my way of expressing myself and connecting with my readers, etc. He apologized and asked me if I wanted him to put it back like it was.

    Simon Says, not being smart or anything, if I may ask, how many books do you have out, who is the publisher, and have you made much money, etc.? Also, do any of these so called "real publishers" that some of y'all keep talking about charge you the author up front or do some of them publish for free too? If not I don't see why not. They could make their money and expenses back in the sales seems like! Just curious for future reference for my upcoming books. Because naturally sooner or later I want to go to someone who will publish my books and promote and push them on the market and have them on book store shelves.

  3. #73
    Simon Says

    Re: Publish America

    None of the real publishers we are talking about charge upfront fees or any fees. They pay their authors real advances - 4 or 5 figures. They pay their authors royalties based on the list price of the books, not the net revenue off the sales. They have a massive marketing and sales budget that goes to promoting their titles and getting them on bookstore shelves.

    These other publishers actually do spend tens of thousands out of pocket to develop and publish each title. So they have a huge incentive to put the efforts behind each title so they can sell as many copies as possible. It is a totally different business model. i.e. they're looking to make a dollar or so of profit off each sale, but they are hoping to sell tens of thousands of copies of any given title. On the other hand PA is looking to sell a hundred copies of each of their ten thousand titles. That's great for them - but not for their authors - think of the difference in royalties on 10,000 books vs. 100 and then factor in the royalty rate on that 10K is 2 or more times as much as on a PA book, because it's based on the cover price.

    It sounds to me like you haven't done much research on the publishing industry before signing with PA. You'll find a lot of helpful information on this site. But keep in mind that any publisher who is marketing and advertising TO AUTHORS is making their money FROM AUTHORS (either by charging authors for printing services up front or by selling individual copies to the authors, their family and friends.

    Real publishers - the ones whose books fill the shelves in bookstores - do not seek out authors, they seek out book buyers. They don't need to seek out writers, because authors come to them - either through agents or on their own.

    These publishers also tend to reject the majority of submissions, so persevearnce is required.

    As for me, I'm still finishing up my first novel. But I've done a lot of research so I don't get screwed. I've got a list compiled of about 90 agents I plan to approach and know exactly what to expect.

    And if it turns out that I can't get an agent and a real publisher - then I won't have it published. It's really as simple as that. I don't just want to feel published, I want to actually be published. I want my book in stores across the country. I want a 5 figure advance. And I have worked very hard and studied to learn the craft and art of novel writing - so I can write the best novel I possibly can. I have written and rewritten it and am now rewriting it again and I have familiarized myself with my genre so that I know what appeals to the audience I am targeting.

  4. #74
    Anthony Ravenscroft

    Re: Publish America

    Faith has nothing to do with it. Unless the "publisher" is criminally incompetent, a motivated author can sell any half-decent book that they truly believe in & are willing to put plenty of creative effort into. At first, an hour of struggle nets a sales; after a while, it gets down to 10 minutes or less.

    SimonSays may be guessing about his numbers, but he's more accurate than anyone else on this thread. So, I'm gonna steal a little of his thunder.

    Mr. Michener, you are entirely wrong that "the costs of publishing and distributing the book" are "somewhere between six and ten thousand dollars." I write, I work for a small publisher (not a glorified printer), & I also work for an editing company. $6,000 would get you full professional editing, a pro cover with original art, & (assuming the book's less than 250 pages & has no interior illustrations) at least 1,000 copies of the finished trade-size perfect-bound paperback book -- from an offset press, not POD/PQN.

    There IS NO "set up the press" with PA etc., okay? The guts of the book are created on a laser printer! (I've been working with some of these people since 1999; I know what I'm talkinmg about.)

    That's standard small-run publishing. Entrepreneurs like PA are banking on the thousands of deseperate &/or lazy people who won't go out & hunt actual professionals to do the work.

    I'm surprised at the occasional author I've seen here who speaks up at how great it is that PA & their ilk don't do any editing!! I'm a damned fine writer, & arrogant to boot... but I'm not stupid, & I always have at least one other person read my final draft & take liberties with a big red pen.

    Really, I think everyone on this site is thrilled for your success, & honestly glad that you've made some sales. We'd also like to see those sales continue after you've saturated your friends, family, & neighbors. So, we tell you that PA ain't gonna do jack, because we're hoping that you start expanding your personal range: get out & do lectures, radio shows, county fairs, library chats, whatever.

    In that vein, Mr. Edelen, I hope that you will keep coming here & telling us about your experiences in self-promotion!! I cannot emphasise enough how important this is to the success of a book, & thus an author's on-going career. It's something that none of us ever gets "good enough" at, so all examples are valuable.

    Getting PA to print your stuff isn't necessarily bad. I'm surprised at how easily nettled some of their "clients" are.

  5. #75
    David Middleton Edelen II

    Re: Publish America

    Hello Anthony,
    I appreciate the advice from you and everyone. I do realize that I just jumped at the first publishing company a friend of mine told me about. I do wish now I had've checked out some other outfits that would put books on shelves. But it seems, to put in one of the other posters' words, I'm stuck for a while with PA due to my contract, etc.. I am also working on Vol II of the ghost stories and strange animal encounters. When it is ready perhaps I will try someone else, maybe a publisher that specializes in the horror genre. I have begun also a collection of veterans' stories and reminisces, and believe it or not a series of short stories in the Sword & Sorcery genre, like Conan. I have even thought of writing a book about my life. I guesse I will think of something by the time I am done with them.
    Anyway, I do appreciate all the advice from everyone. It helps me get a perspective and ideas for future reference.
    Take care,

  6. #76
    Simon Says

    Re: Publish America

    David Edelen -

    I'm glad to see you are doing research and trying to get handle on the publishing industry. For your sake, I wish you had done it before signing with PA - but what's done is done.

    You may want to think about research agents as well as publishers for your next book. If you have an agent - he/she will submit for you to publishers and negotiate your deal as well. One of the benefits of going through an agent is that it keeps your MS out of the slush pile.

    You can start researching by checking out books that are similar to yours and reading the acknowledgements to see if the agent is thanked. You can also check out agentquery.com to see agents that represent your genre.

    Be aware there are many SCAM agents out there. There are websites where you can check an agent's legitimacy (all the agents listed on agentquery.com are completely legit.

    Two things to look out for when looking for an agent - agents that charge fees are scammers - legit agents make their money by getting a commission from your royalties. Also agents solicting for clients are usually not legit. So if a google ad pops up for an agency or they advertise in writing magazines stay away.

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