Friday, 14 January 2011

What's the plan, Stan?

Well, my redundancy looms ever closer (31st March) and I wonder what the hell I'm going to be doing as of April 1st? Apart from avoid joy buzzers, whoopee cushions etc? One possibility is that I will get drunk for a month. Another is that I will try to set up a small (emphasis on the small) one-man publishing outfit.

My thinking, such as it is, goes as follows.

Supernatural Tales is reasonably well-known and has a fair reputation for the quality of its fiction. This means I'm a fair judge of a good story.

I could parlay my editorial experience and general knowledge of the genre to start publishing new or neglected authors. Nothing fancy, nothing wildly ambitious - just an extension of ST to include collections and perhaps short novels by individual authors.

I would run this putative publishing business as an online affair, availing myself of Lulu.com. That is, I would not be having books printed and sent to me at my 'office' (aka my flat), and then take orders from people and post the books out. This is expensive and constitutes a waste of the time I could be spending on editing etc.

So people would have to order their own books from Lulu, as a print-on-demand service. This would of course exclude people who don't have internet access. I don't feel good about this, but so far as I can see the cost of postage is a big obstacle to me actually making a living, or half a living (i.e. a 'part-time' income).

It's obviously not a get-rich-quick scheme. I think for a year or perhaps two I couldn't hope to make any money at all, and would live off my savings and (with luck) income from part-time or casual work. Or bank robberies. That sort of thing.

I have no doubt there are enough talented writers out there and enough discerning readers to buy their work. I  have enough contacts now to 'raise my game' with regard to production standards, proofreading etc. I also feel there's a small but nicely-formed niche in the market for inexpensive paperbacks containing new supernatural fiction (as opposed to new horror, which isn't quite the same thing).

I'm well aware that ST has been an amateur publication but I feel recent issues have shown a marked improvement and I think it can get better. Put another way, I'm not a total idiot and I know people don't pay good money for tat.

So, what do you think? If I'm talking out of my hairy posterior, tell me straight. If you think the idea has some merit but there are questionmarks looming like thunderheads, point 'em out. I'm steeling myself to give it a go, but I want as much feedback as I can get. Needless to say I'll also be asking ST readers for their views, too.

10 comments:

strantzas said...

It's an interesting plan. My suggestion would be to speak to some of the presses in the UK run by people you know and ask them questions about how things work and what to expect. There's always room for another great publisher, but by that same token there are a lot who start up and then fail to perform for one reason or another. I'd hate to see your initiative fall into the latter camp.

valdemar said...

Thanks Simon, that's a good idea.

Iain said...

Go for it. I think the suggestion to talk to some people who are already there a good one. I have no idea what money is to be made doing that, and you'd need to have a realistic fix on that if you were planning for this to be a long-term major source of income.

What Nicholas Royle's doing with Nightjar Press looks interesting.

Not my cup of tea, but you might want to look into making the books available as e-books too. With kindles and ipads seeming to sell in volume, perhaps that market might have potential too.

Best of luck!

valdemar said...

Thanks, Iain - I am indeed going to talk to experienced publishing people. Nobody's going to get rich doing this sort of thing, but maybe it could supplement a part-time job or casual work.

Michael Kelly said...

David,

I agree with what Iain and Simon have said. Both smart gentlemen.

I think, truly, there's a bit of a renaissance in the supernatural genre, and room for another press with a discerning editor, to be sure.

I'm not a big fan of Lulu.com. I feel they charge way too much for the quality of their product. Doesn't mean I wouldn't read something they printed. I would. Just wondering if there are other printing avenues available, where you might get more bang for your buck.

I do like what Nightjar is doing. And a similar operation (one-off chapbooks) has opened up called Spectral Press.

Having been at this game a couple years now, I know there's not much, if any, money to be made. I think, though, that you're savvy enough to develop your own niche and make a go of it.

valdemar said...

Thanks, Michael. I only used Lulu because of a last-minute emergency (my previous printer gave up the ghost). Trouble is, all UK printers seem to be very expensive. Whatever happens (and I'm still consulting wiser heads) I'll certainly try to do more with ST and that will probably me some kind of book at least once a year. I think you're right about the surge in enthusiasm for supernatural fiction.

Sam said...

It's a nice idea, that would seem to utilise both your experience and your expected spare time. I'd be a bit worried though about how much money you'd make out of it, especially using, say, Lulu, which would seem to preclude the presence of books in at least some bookshops, along with Amazon etc (and relying on publicity, web etc to get their name out there). Definitely think there's room for another small publisher, though, especially one taking a less self-limiting route than sticking to high price, high quality limited editions.

Anonymous said...

Hey,

This is a message for the webmaster/admin here at suptales.blogspot.com.

May I use part of the information from this post above if I provide a backlink back to your website?

Thanks,
Harry

valdemar said...

Sam, I was thinking of small runs of relatively inexpensive books. However, having talked to one publisher I'm not so sure. If I didn't want to make any money, cheaper paperbacks would be fine, but hardbacks are more profitable, it seems.

Harry, I have no objection in principle but please be specific - what information do you want, and what would it be for?

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