Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wanted: authors for my 'virtual publishing' business

My wife Carol and I are starting a virtual publishing business. We are seeking a few authors to work with.

Carol is a world class editor and I am going to help authors with book content planning, technical editing, and marketing. We are aiming for the niche book market. I have noticed that the large book chains now have very little shelf space devoted to computer books. With fewer books sold through the major book store chains, instant on demand printing is looking more attractive since print on demand books can still be purchased from Amazon and directly from the printer. Additionally, traditional publishers must consider the size of market for any proposed book project to offset their high overhead per book while the cost is relatively constant for instant printing.

We are planning on flipping the royalty split differently than traditional publishers: authors will get most of the profit from each book sold. The profit from on demand printed books will probably be around $10 to $15 per book. Compare this to a few dollars per book that publishers usually pay in royalties.

I believe that both authors and my wife and I can make sufficient profit from niche market books to make this profitable. I am about 1/3 done with my first book that we will publish ("Practical Artificial Intelligence Programming in Java, third edition") and I have done some work on writing example programs for a work in progress ("Practical Semantic Web Programming in Java").

My advice to people wanting to write a book: if the topic is more "mass market", then I would recommend going with a traditional publisher. I have had 14 books published and with only one exception, every publisher that I have worked with has been great. However, many of us have a real passion for specific subjects that are more niche or small market: here I believe it is better to write what you have real passion for, and hope that the higher profit per book sold makes print on demand work financially.

8 comments:

patrickdlogan said...

I'm not an author, but I am a happy customer of an earlier edition of your book. I'll happily buy your two, so you're off on the right foot as far as I am concerned. Great! Good luck.

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

Thanks Patrick!

AnjanBacchuDev said...

hi mark,

"Practical Artificial Intelligence Programming in Java, third edition"

I'll be interested in this book. When is it expected ? Will it be focussed on Drools/RETE ? How different will it be than the JESS book from manning ?

Thank you,

BR,
~A

Emilian Bold said...

So you are offering something like http://www.lulu.com/ but with a dedicated editor ?

Demetrios said...

Very good idea :).
You need to find out a very good name for the enterprise and maybe a site and software platform like the o'reilly one (docbook) to simplify the process (I heard many editors still use Word :) ).

Regarding the authors, I believe you would get/find most of them on a book fair. I think the biggest one in the world will be soon in Frankfurt:
http://www.book-fair.com/en/fbf/

Demetrios.

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

Hello BR: because of the change in Jess licensing, I will be using Drools.

Hello Emilian: we are tentatively planning on using Lulu.com. Yes, for a small cut of the profits, my wife and I are basically going to help with book planning, editing and production.

Hello Demetrios: I am using Latex myself, but authors should be able to use any system with decent layout support for books (I have written 2 books using OpenOffice.org and it was OK). I am thinking of reusing my knowledgebooks.com domain. re: authors: I only want to handle subjects that I now a lot about - otherwise I can't be of much help to authors and they might as well directly use a service like Lulu.com.

Thanks for all of the comments,
Mark

bluehut said...

Mark

Have you considered offering an ebook option as well as print? Probably gives a better profit margin than print.

regards
Nigel

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

Hello Nigel,

I am always going to have free HTML/CSS versions online with embedded advertisements. I am not sure how to handle PDFs: I can either sell them or make them free also. I will probably end up selling the PDF versions for about 40% of the cost of print books. I think that authors should make this decision for their books.

Best regards,
Mark