I have an idea for starting a publishing company that I wanted your opinion on. It's based on a model of a non-profit collective, rather than a for-profit corporation, and I wanted it to be structured around authorship, rather than publishing. It's pretty simple in theory, but I think that the details of setting it up may be significantly more problematic.
nutshell is that I think a lot of self-published writers need help in their
craft. I want to set up a company to help self-published writers get the help
they need to publish a professional product. I want to give authors competent
copyediting and revising. I want to set them up with artists who can give them
professional looking cover. I want to ensure that once they have their
professional product, they have a platform to advertise their work. You
know--all the things that publishing houses do.
other hand, I want to make sure that the author maintains final control over
everything. I want them to set the price point, choose what platforms they're
sold on, decide who does their editing, and choose the final artwork. I don't
want anything to be published without the author's final say so, and I want the
author to retain all the rights to their work. I also want the author to retain
the lion's share of the royalties.
think I can make this happen--but I think we can make this happen as a
community. I want to start a publishing company where the authors, editors, and
artists are the "shareholders", and the shares are the books.
Self-published authors can't afford to pay $1000 for cover art, or $2000 for
editing, or god knows how much for a product placement and advertising
campaign--but they can agree to a percentage. I want to charge 15%--what they'd
pay for an agent--to be the publisher. I want to use 5% to run advertising, web
sites, logistical shit, et cetera; use 5% to pay for peer critiquing, copy
editing, and other similar expenses; and 5% to pay for art, formatting, and the
On top of
that, the author only has to pay for services he or she uses. We, collectively,
figure out what the price of a service should be. Then we "charge"
the author that price. The royalties for that service only come out until that
"price" has been paid--and then enough comes out for them to pay for
the next guy. Not every book will succeed, but every one that does will pay it
addition, since the author retains all rights to the work, the author is under
no obligation to continue to be published under the label. If it is ever not in
their best interest, all they have to do is pay their collaborators (artist,
editor, et cetera) the remainder of what they owe them for their services. Then
they can part ways with no hard feelings--or they can pull some books but
retain others. I want the author to have control.
But I'm hoping most authors won't want to leave. I hope they'll see value for
their money. They'll become part of a community of peers, where they have the
opportunity to work with and grow with other self-published authors, where they
can be part of a professional-quality publishing house, where they have
additional ad exposure, where they have listed editors to validate how clean
their work is. In essence, the little guy can become part of a publishing house
based on one criteria--the strength of his or her work. And they get in the
door if their peers believe in that strength, rather than if a big, faceless
publishing house thinks it can become a best seller. I think that's going to
add a lot of value for most indie publishers.
There are a
lot of hurdles to overcome, and a lot of things to figure out. But I think this
model has merit, and I think it could be a good thing for a lot of people. I
think it has potential, and I'd like to know what you think.