For the past year or so, I’ve written about different aspects of the “new publishing paradigm” on this blog. I’ve opined about the evolution of traditional publishing into something else — and also mused about the impact of the transformation on late-blooming novelists.
In fact, the chief reason why I felt confident talking the talk — commenting on eBooks and Print on Demand technology — was that Janet and I were also walking the walk. We launched an eBook-centric publishing company early in 2011. Most of my pontifications were based on our hard-won experience and the lessons (some painful) we’d learned about publishing in the second decade of the 21st century.
We intended Greenbrier Book Company, LLC, to be a “micropublisher” that would re-publish out-of-print novels written by well-established, multi-published authors. Our publishing strategy focused on quality:
- We would acquire only high-quality novels.
- We would produce high-quality eBooks (at least as good as the best produced by large publishing houses), with easy-to-read interiors and compelling covers.
- We would, when appropriate produce high-quality paper — print-on-demand (POD) — versions of a few titles.
- We would, like major publishers, issue different ISBNs for different eBook versions.
Much to our surprise, Greenbrier rapidly outgrew its “micropublisher” label: Because we’ll have nearly 40 titles “in print” by the end of 2011, we now classify as a “small publisher.”
Three of those titles are “debut novels,” from first-time novelists, that we’ll simultaneously publish as paper books and eBooks (we even produced paper Advance Reader Copies — ARCs — to provide to major reviewers, three months ahead of the publication date).
Visit the Greenbrier Books website and check out the list of titles: www.greenbrierbooks.com
Speaking of paper… Greenbrier has published more paper books that we initially thought we would. We’ll probably produce a third of our novels in both eBook and paper formats.
Another surprise was that three well-respected literary agents brought their clients’ out-of-print work to us. It seems that Greenbrier provides an interesting alternative to authors who prefer not to re-publish their own out-of-print novels.
We reached the same conclusion about our own novels. We didn’t intend to re-publish them through Greenbrier, but changed our mind after we began to receive positive comments about the eBooks we produced.
The only way we’ve been able to afford to publish so many eBooks and POD books this year was to do most of the work ourselves. Therein lies the chief reason why Janet has rarely participated in this blog. During most of 2011, she’s been Greenbrier’s industrial-strength acquisitions editor, copyeditor, proofreader, and author-relations manager. She works seven days a week getting books ready to produce.
That’s when I take over. I use InDesign desktop-publishing software to “hand-craft” our eBooks and POD volumes. Many publishers — even some traditional houses — use “conversion software” (the programs used by self-publishers) to create eBooks from Word docs or PDF files. I prefer to build our titles a chapter-by-chapter. It’s time consuming work, but I’m convinced that the professional look and feel of our published books — both eBook and paper — justifies the additional effort.
I also wear Greenbrier’s financial management hat; it’s one of my jobs to create the royalty statements we send to our authors. This is not especially easy in the age of eBooks. You’ve probably seen posts on blogs and loops decrying the failure of some major publishers to send accurate accountings of eBook sales to their authors. Frankly, I’ve begun to sympathize with the major houses. Sales reports issued by different eBook vendors are in different formats — and involve different discount rates — making it a heavy-duty struggle to figure out combined sales for each title.
Our work at Greenbrier Books has kept us too busy to do other things — and has delayed our writing of two more cozy mysteries. Consequently, the time has come when we have to switch gears.
In truth, we’ve probably written about as much as can be said on the topic of late-blooming novelists. That’s why we won’t add any new posts to Fiction After 50. But, our “marketing blogging” will go on:
The Benrey Blog (a brand-new blog) will present musings about mystery fiction — from us and other novelists — and occasional posts about publishing. It’s intended for both readers and writers. The URL is: blog.benrey.com
The Greenbrier Patch (the new Greenbrier blog) will present reflections about storytelling written by Greenbrier Book’s different storytellers. It’s also meant for both readers and writers. The URL is: greenbrierpatch.com
We want to thank the many novelists who read Fiction After 50 and added comments; we hope you’ll read our new blogs.
For those of you who have novels in progress, we wish you great success with your late-blooming fiction!
Ron and Janet Benrey