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Last Quarter of the Moon Publishing

Welcome to the beginning of a new era in publishing. Whether you are looking for a publisher to shine a new light on your novel; to help you develop your plot or elevate your prose; to aid you in developing a business and marketing plan for your new creation; or perhaps, you are in the market for custom cover art; if you should find yourself in need of help in your effort to publish the next great novel, Last Quarter of the Moon is here for you.

Distribution

The question that I am most often asked is "How do I get my book on Amazon?" The second question is "How about Barnes and Noble?" For me, the real question is "I want to write, want to write, or have written a work that I want to get into the hands of my target audience. How am I going to do that?" And that, is an excellent place to start.

Book or eBook: that is a question.

Personally, I prefer bootstrapping a business opportunity, rather than putting the venture under the risk of debt. Surely, if you pay to print 1,000 copies of your book, perfect bound, that cash outlay may be the perfect muse that you need in order to drive you effectively market and sell; however, staring at 40 cardboard boxes taking up space in your living room, hall, or garage is not going to stop the rumbling of the starving artist's tummy. Boostrapping often denies you the opportunity of volume price discounts, but it also protects you from undue risk.

For me, the best option for bootstrapper and nascent author alike is to first publish as an ebook. This allows you to address your target audience without stockpiling inventory or laying out capital. The capital required for an ebook is pennies on the dollar to that required for a print book. That is not to say that there isn't expense in generating or distributing an ebook. I am directly referring to capital expenditures. Without the initial capital outlay that is required, either through payment or draw, to print a book, the artist is able to keep more of the initial earnings - while at the same time, learn about the addressable market. This is a substantial advantage. Noone wants to sit on inventory that the market doesn't want. Once you have tested your assumptions about the market, you can make a much more educated decision as to the quantity and quality of the print version that you want to make. You will have a track record of sales to taut should you decide to explore external sources of capital. You also will have made some royalties which you may want to reinvest to cover printing or distribution costs.

Which retailer should I offer my book through: Amazon or Barnes and Noble?

Either or both. I am currently offering my ebooks exclusively through Amazon. That is a choice that I made based on the royalties and benefits that I receive from being exclusive. However, both Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer comparable programs for authors and publishers to sell and promote ebooks and printed works on their platforms and, in the case of Barnes and Noble, in their stores.

One thing to keep in mind is that the various retailers and distributors have different requirements regarding works for sale. For instance, Apple iBooks requires that the work have a registered ISBN. An individual ISBN costs $125 USD in the United States. The rub is that you have to maintain a different ISBN for each version of your work (mobi, epub, perfect bound, hardcover, etc.) If you offer your book in mobi, epub, and pdf on iBooks, those 3 formats would require 3 different ISBNs. In addition, brick and mortar retailers not only require an ISBN, but an EAN barcode for each work sold in their stores. Distributors also have requirements as to quantities that are made available in brick-and-mortar stores, sales quotas for self-space, fulfillment timeframes, and terms and conditions regarding reverse logistics.

I'm not saying any of this to scare you. Remember, plenty of writers publish their works every day. If I can do it, so can you. Rather, you are on the brink of a new venture, and I think that it is important to show you what you are in for, and provide some examples of the types of decisions that you will need to make in the distribution of your book. Sure, there is a lot that goes into planning the release of any work, but it is not rocket science and you are not alone. Climbing the beanstalk is a lot easier when you are standing on the shoulder of a giant.

What is your stance on contracts?

Contracts are absolutely necessary in any business venture you may engage. Well-written contracts protect both parties equally from each other and from outside parties that may file claim against either. Without a contract, the brightest of ventures, no matter how well-intentioned, may have no future.

What I don't like about contracts is that most people sign them without reading them. And electronic signature has made this all the more prevalent. How many times have you or a loved one clicked ‘Accept’ to a website or application's terms and conditions without any thought or with the briefest, skimming glance of a review?

If you have a Sony Playstation3, then you've likely seen the updated terms and conditions that are frequently included and must be accepted in order to upgrade to the latest operating system or utilize the Playstation network. But, how many of you really take the time to read all of the fine print - especially when the reason you turned on the Playstation3 was to take a little down time? I know I am as guilty as the next when it comes to this. Wouldn't it be better if we only had to do this once? I understand that sounds naive, but it would be nice!

Self-publishing, especially when you negotiate your own distribution, involves a lot of contracts and a blinding degree of fine print. Even being exclusive with a single distributor may require several contracts. And these aren't contracts that you have any really input to; they are bigger, so it will be on their paper&emdash;end of story. For instance, as a publisher we had to sign contracts with Amazon for each of the country-specific websites on which our works would be listed for sale. Fortunately, all of the contracts were in English&emdash;or at least, English legalese. That is a benefit of working with a publishing house like Last Quarter of the Moon: you only have one contract to review.

What about vanity publishing? I've read a lot about POD.

I am not the biggest fan of vanity publishing. Actually, that is an extreme understatement. I am wary of vanity publishing. The way I see it, if you want to print and bind 20 copies of your work for your friends and family, then there are several printers that would give you a reasonable, though expensive, deal. Vanity presses, at least the ones I've seen, market to you based on the least responsible, passionate part of your id, your vanity. A vain person will do the craziest things in order to maintain the image that they see in the mirror. I am not going so far as to say that vanity presses are leeches. If anything, they serve an important market. My complaint is that many prey upon the vanity of a fledgling author.

What author would agree to give up 50% of royalties to a vanity press in perpetuity for this and any future original or derivative work that includes the land, characters, or plot included in a book which said vanity press has agreed to publish?

Are they promising a certain level of promotion and sales? If your next work is with another publishing house, what effort does this vanity press have to take in order to earn their slice of future works? Nothing? That is not right.

Then, there are those who require the author to pay for the printing upfront. How does that help the author? And what is the vanity press' incentive to sell the book post-production? Those publishers who engage in this model typically make their money up front.

Okay. But, what about POD?

I am a fan of POD. I think Print On Demand provides authors with a way to minimize startup capital requirements in order to produce print copies of their work. My concern with POD is that in order to decrease startup costs, the printer inflates the per copy cost. This can quickly become a show stopper. If you write a 300+ page soft cover, you could be looking at $4-9 per copy. Add on top of that setup, administrative, and miscellaneous fees. What do you need to charge the customer in order to make a profit? Is it more than what the market will bear? It could be. And the shame in that is your book might have a very limited run on POD. And that wouldn't be the printer's fault. It's a hard fact to swallow; but, from a business standpoint, some books are better suited than others to be in print.

Despite the concern I raised over cost, on the other hand, deferring startup capital requirements can be very attractive. It could mean the difference between having a print version or not. And that matters. There is an astounding market of book buyers who prefer print over ebooks. It is not only a technology problem; some customers prefer the feel, look, and smell of a good book. POD can be a safe way into that market.

I say "can be." With any business venture, you have to be vigilent in planning and controlling your costs, margins, cash flow, net profit or loss. So for me, I like to make sure that there is a market, and I test that market before committing to business models that require additional cost&emdash;even POD.

Though all of this could seem daunting, it doesn't have to be. Last Quarter of the Moon is here to help you navigate the many decisions associated with distribution of your work. If you are interested in our publishing services, please fill out the publishing service request form on this page and a representative will contact you.

Contact Us

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Special thanks to Nathan Friedly for his Spam-free contact form on which this form is based.