Partnership Publishing: Asking the Right Questions
By Danielle Lieneman
Authors looking to publish their book can easily find themselves confused or overwhelmed, especially as the publishing industry is constantly in flux. As technology continues to change and grow, the publishing industry has had to adapt right along with it, creating what many authors and industry professionals are terming “hybrid” or “partnership” publishing models.
With so much information out there, many authors have a hard time differentiating between the legitimate businesses — those publishing companies who rely on book sales to keep their company afloat and want a truly equal partnership — and those who want to sell authors countless pricy services with no expectation of a return on investment for the author.
Ask yourself the following questions as you make your decisions about which companies are worth considering and whose emails should be deleted.
Does the company have a standard vetting process or will they take any manuscript?
It’s important that the publishing company you choose extensively researches and vets all the material they decide to accept for publication. A reputable publisher will have submission requirements and a team that reviews incoming manuscripts. This is a good indication that the company relies on selling books, not author services, to stay in business.
Who does editorial and design work?
One of the perks of choosing to work with a partnership publisher instead of going the self-publishing route is that you don’t have to worry about finding someone to edit and design your book — the publisher will handle that for you! While all publishers claim to offer editorial services, many disreputable companies will offer editing services, often for exorbitant rates, only to outsource all the editorial work to the cheapest bidder. Ensure that you will be able to speak to the editorial staff and that the company has an established relationship with the editor and designer before agreeing to work with a publisher.
Does the company warehouse their inventory or do they rely solely on print-on-demand technology for distribution?
One of the biggest changes happening within the publishing industry is the creation, and subsequent increase, of print-on-demand services. It used to be the norm for publishers to print thousands of copies of every title in their catalog in order for printing to not be cost-prohibitive. With print-on-demand technology, however, sources like Amazon and Ingram can print a single book for mere dollars (depending on the length, size, etc.).
While there is certainly a time and place to use print-on-demand technology, it’s imperative that your publishing company will physically stock inventory of your book, or the sales of your book will be negatively affected. Most bookstores and libraries require that a title be marked ‘returnable’ — meaning that if the book does not sell, the bookstore can return it at no extra cost — and be offered at a steep 55-60 percent discount. Print-on-demand titles cannot be marked as returnable and the printing cost prevents the ability to mark the title down 55-60 percent, disqualifying any print-on-demand titles from traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
If the publisher has a physical warehouse and will keep a steady stock of your title, it is another good sign that the publisher is credible.
Does the company have a relationship with traditional distribution channels?
The answer to this question stems directly from the answer to question #3: if a publisher relies on print-on-demand technology for their print runs, they will be unable to offer you or your book traditional distribution.
Anyone can set up an account on Amazon or Ingram Spark at little-to-no cost, but with those limited services, your book will only reach a handful of readers who happen to be specifically looking for your book. The value of working with an established publisher lies with their ability to get your book sold — and not only online through sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Ask any potential publisher who distributes their titles and whether they have relationships with Ingram and Baker & Taylor, both of which are necessary for any library and bookstore sales; these are the distributors that will get your books into the hands of readers everywhere.
What kind of marketing does the company utilize, if any?
Many publishing companies claim to have marketing packages available but will charge for every item, refusing to publicize titles if the author doesn’t pay the often up-charged price. While an author’s marketing efforts are vital to the success of any book, the publisher should be willing to publicize the book as well. Ask a potential publisher if they utilize any online advertising, have a catalog, showcase new releases, have a relationship with book promotion services, etc. Find out any and all prices for different marketing packages options and the publisher’s expectations early on, preferably prior to signing a contract.
Does the company offer a competitive royalty rate?
As with any investment, it’s important to know exactly how you will make money. Many publishing companies offer royalties that sound too good to be true — and that’s because they are.
While a company might offer 100 percent of the net profit, every company calculates the net profit differently. In very general terms, the net profit is how much money is made after expenses. In the publishing industry, expenses typically include printing cost, shipping, distribution discounts, editorial costs, administrative fees, and warehousing fees, just to name a few. All of these rates vary, and many unscrupulous companies will even mark up the aforementioned rates in an effort to keep more of your hard-earned money. So while you might truly get 100 percent of the net profit, that profit, after the publisher has marked up expenses, might come in at mere pennies.
Before signing a contract, make sure you know just how much money you will receive and how your royalties will be calculated instead of just a vague promise of a percentage of the net profit.
Atlantic Publishing Group: The Partnership for You
Atlantic Publishing Group is open about the many pitfalls of the publishing industry and is willing to help guide authors through the confusing process.
At Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc., every manuscript is thoroughly reviewed by our editorial team. Editors read through manuscripts, making note of the author’s writing style, grasp of content, and the level of editing necessary for the work to be ready for publication. Our editors even conduct market research to determine the viability of every title to help the sales team, the publisher, and the author with all of their considerations!
From the day you sign your contract, you will have a project manager who will see your book through publication and beyond into marketing. They coordinate the editing and production of your title. All of our editors and designers have established relationships with Atlantic Publishing and are dedicated to pleasing our authors. If you ever have questions about who is working on your book, your project manager is there to help.
Once your book is finished and ready for distribution, we house all inventory at our on-site warehouse. While print-on-demand technology is valuable, we don’t rely on it to fulfill orders. Because of this, we have longstanding relationships with Baker & Taylor and Ingram, allowing us to place your book in stores across the country.
Unlike many self-publishers out there, who just want to sell authors “marketing packages” with no promise of a return on investment, Atlantic Publishing markets your book extensively — and at no extra cost to you. We pursue various avenues on your behalf, including, but not limited to, Amazon Advertising, e-mail marketing campaigns, and press release distribution. We also send all information about your book through ONIX, an online information distributor that has standardized how retailers and distributers receive and process key details about each book. Ask your publishing consultant about our different marketing options, and you’ll see for yourself how much we want your book to succeed!
As for royalties, we will be the first to admit that our method of calculating royalties is unconventional — but we think that’s what makes us stand out. It’s often hard to get publishing companies to nail down exactly how much you will make per book sold — and there’s a reason for this. Many publishing companies will claim “warehousing” and “administrative fees” that can be as high as 30-50 percent of the net profit or up-charge printing fees, turning a $3.50 per book charge into $6 or $7.
At Atlantic Publishing, we want you to know exactly how much money you will receive per book from the very beginning, which is why we calculate royalties as 10 percent of the retail price, meaning that on a $19.95 book, you would make $2 for every book sold. Because we calculate royalties based on a set retail price, confusing and uncertain variables like print costs and distribution fees never factor into your profit. You’ll be able to safely plan and strategize how to best get your return on investment.
At Atlantic Publishing, when our authors succeed, we succeed!