I don’t have my own printing press, I can’t get onto the bookshelves at Tesco or Asda, I don’t have a marketing department and I can’t take out full page ads in magazines. The entire company is just me with a few helpers now and then when it all gets too much. I am not Random House.
I only thought of becoming a publisher a year ago this month. So far there are four books in the catalogue, two more in active preparation and a backlog of submissions. I think I’m not doing too bad for a one man band. Hover over ‘Leg Iron Books’ in the menu bar and you should get a drop down list. It’s new, and developing, but it’s started.
I know there is an ongoing feud between one of my authors and another blogger. I’m not totally insular, I do read other blogs even though I don’t comment much these days. Starting a new business tends to take up a lot of time.
The feud is nothing to do with me so I won’t name either party. I really don’t have time to get involved in that. However, I don’t appreciate hints that I might be a vanity publisher. That’s a good way to kill this fledgling business before it even learns to fly. It’s also a good way to get me to use up my limited resources on legal action and I really don’t want to pay lawyers. They could clean me out in no time.
So, to clarify.
There is ‘self publishing’. I’ve done that with the short story books because it’s tough to get a publisher interested in those kinds of books. That’s where the writer does all the work but cost, these days, can be zero. If anyone fancies having a go, I’m happy to show them how.
Downsides of self publishing are that you have to do all your own editing, proofreading and cover art. The editing and proofreading of your own work is really hard because you tend to see what you think you wrote, not what you did write, and reading your own work over and over is beyond tedious. But it can be done, and it can be done with no money at all.
There is ‘vanity publishing’ where you pay someone to publish your stuff. You pay for editing and cover art and they make you a book. They sell you that book, they do no promotion, nothing, just what you’re willing to pay for. That is not what Leg Iron Books does.
The author is the originator of the product. As a publisher, the authors are the suppliers of the raw material for my business. What business charges a supplier for delivering their raw materials? Only a business that is a pure con trick.
I never charge any author anything. You will never get a bill from me for anything at all. I can spend a lot of time editing your book and currently I do that before you sign anything. I take the risk that you might take the edited manuscript and self-publish it without signing a contract. No matter what, I will never charge for editing.
If I get caught out that way I might go for a contract signed before I do any work on the book but still, it won’t cost you anything. So far, I work on the trust that after editing you’ll agree to a contract. So far, it’s worked. If I use someone else to do the editing and they want payment, it’s my problem, not yours.
If you have your own cover art, great. If not, I will find some or make some for you. Copyright on cover art belongs to the artist – if I make it myself, it costs you nothing. If I get someone else to do it, I pay them, not you.
No reputable publisher ever charges an author for anything at all. Never. Not ever. I take your stories and put the effort into getting them in print and eBooks in the hope I’ll make a profit on the deal. The profit comes from sales, not authors. Authors do not pay. Authors earn. That’s how it works – except for vanity publishers. They make money from writers, not readers. I’m doing it the right way. It might leave me broke (again!) but I’ll do it the right way anyway.
Here’s how it works. If you contribute to a short story anthology, I make a one-off payment in cash or books. All the editing and formatting and cover art is my problem. You pay nothing. I make a one-off payment because there are going to be a lot of anthologies and splitting royalties between lots of authors is a pain – especially as I price those anthologies at the bare minimum. They are a promotional tool, not an income generator. The main point is, I pay you to be in them. You do not pay me.
Copyright on shorts remains with the author at all times. You can re-sell or re-publish that story anywhere you like. It does not become ‘mine’, I’m just paying for permission to use it once in one anthology.
If you send in a novel we will have a five year contract in which we split the profit 50/50. There will be profit on every sale. It might be pennies but it will never be zero. I neither want nor need to get into the higher rate tax bracket so one day, if there are enough books making enough money, I will reduce my percentage across the board. But for now, it’s 50/50.
At the end of the contract you can sign a new one or tell me to piss off and send your book to one of the big boys or publish it yourself. Five years, fixed. After that I have no hold on you. Copyright remains with the author throughout, the contract only gives me an exclusive until it ends.
Okay, we won’t be in the bestseller lists for a while. Leg Iron Books is one year old this month and publishes unknown authors. Nobody has heard of any of us. That will change.
I will never ask any author for money for any service. I will bust a gut to get a story edited and proofread and published and you will never pay me a penny. Every book sale will get you a share. No exceptions. Even the one I buy for my own library (and I’ll get a copy of every one of them) will get you a royalty payment.
So, you decide. Is this ‘vanity publishing’?
If you think it is, you are free to go elsewhere.
Just try not to slander me, okay?