A New Option: Commercial Production Services
It is a given that Print-On-Demand (POD) and digital technology has revolutionized the publishing industry. These days, anyone can upload a manuscript to one of several POD printing services and practically overnight see a new book available for sale online.
Likewise, a singer or a band can record any song or music video and upload it to YouTube, Facebook, Reverb Nation, Soundcloud, and many other sites for free, and make it available to the public.
Writers can create blogs or submit to countless Article sites or post their musings and insights to their Facebook pages and have their words published for all the world to see.
Aspiring movie makers can upload their creations to YouTube, Instagram, or other video sharing and distribution sites. It's very simple to do.
Yes, in the 21st Century, making CONTENT publicly available is now the easy part of publishing. No more are there legions of insurmountable "gatekeepers" (editors and agents) out there who only let the well-connected, or already successful monopolize a finite quantity of media opportunities. Oh, no. Now anyone can throw their material out there, most of the time for free, in a matter of seconds.
That's the good news. The bad news is that "retail availability" of Content isn't the only step in the process of turning an artist's inspiration into a commercially viable reality. It's one of the last steps - i.e. before all the marketing kicks in.
Today's reality is that you can find lots of self-published books that are poorly written, not edited, badly designed, and ultimately terribly published. Similarly, there are many terrible singers on YouTube, and lots of amateur videos that are beyond cringe-worthy to watch. If you've ever watched a single season of American Idol or America's Got Talent, then you already know that there are far more people out there who believe they are supremely talented than those who truly are.
The facts are plain: book editors, graphic designers, music producers, recording engineers, movie directors, cinematographers, and scores of other production professionals and skill sets are needed to take the raw clay of some artist's imagination and put it into the kiln of professional-grade development in any hopes of producing a finished product that will be accepted as credible and of high enough quality to thrive in the commercial marketplace.
This is why authors bother to submit their manuscripts to traditional publishers, in fervent hope of them being accepted, whereupon the publisher's team of production professionals take the raw material and turn it into something amazing. It's why the screenwriter submits his screenplays to producers and directors, in hopes that one of them will see value in investing in the project and turning it into a releasable production. Singers and bands pray that A&R agents somehow notice their demos or hear them play in some public venue and sign them to a contract; for if so, then that means they get professional production of their music.
Now, it's certainly possible to "self-produce" an artistic project, whether that be a book, a song, or a movie, a stage play or whatever. It just means that the artist is electing to be his own General Contractor. But unless he possesses all the skills and tools needed to perform all of the production tasks required to produce the highest-quality finished product, then he has little choice but to "subcontract" those other tasks to others who are qualified to perform them.
An author of a novel can certainly shop for an hire an editor. Freelance editor's aren't hard to find. Google it. The same is true for graphic designers, book designers, indexers, etc. It's just when you add it all up, on a one-off basis, you could very well be talking thousands of dollars worth of professional services work.
This one hard truth is the biggest reason why so many publishers will only choose to work with established authors; or why music producers pick bands or artists who already have a large and faithful fan base; or movie producers make films of beloved comic book heroes or old television shows, or even remakes of older movies. In all these cases you're talking about leveraging a built-in audience that mitigates risk for the producer or publisher. If it's reasonably probable that the investment required to professionally produce a project will at least break-even and perhaps turn a profit, that's a much safer financial bet than on some unknown talent no one has ever heard of.
Thus, for the aspiring, undiscovered artist, your chances of making it big in the commercial market are very slim no matter what you do. But if you put out a shabby product into the marketplace, then you are virtually guaranteeing failure. At a minimum, you need to do as much as you can to make your "art" (product) as commercially viable and competitive as possible. Then you at least get a chance to compete on a more level playing field. And that's a good thing.
Okay, so you decide that you need professional help before going to market. Unfortunately, the next dilemma you run into is having to know each and every function you need to seek out and hire. It can take multiple players to make the whole team work.
If you've written a book, and your manuscript is fairly clean, you may not need a Content Editor, maybe only a Copy editor to fix all the typos and grammar errors. Book design and layout can either be simple or complex. Cover Art is a broad continuum of effort from minimalist text on a plain background to stunning works of art in and of themselves (and graphic designers' prices scale accordingly).
The point here is not to confuse or overwhelm you, but to make plain the idea that all of this work, most likely, isn't what you want to worry about, nor even coordinate it all.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a turn-key professional service where you could hire a firm to take your manuscript and turn it into that amazing finished product, ready to offer the world and start selling copies?
Better yet, what if that service was available to you in the near-term, meaning guaranteed to get done in a matter of weeks or a couple of months, not years of waiting to find out if maybe yes or maybe no? Instead, how about getting the first class job done now and start selling books?
It was this idea that served as the impetus of ArcheBooks Publishing's decision to create our own Commercial Production Services Division. Of course, we still do Traditional Trade Publishing as we always have for over a decade. But now we've created a new option to serve a segment of authors that they didn't have available to them before.
Furthermore, we've crafted our Commercial Production Program to make perfect business sense for both the Author and for the Publisher. First of all, since as a publisher we already have professionals on our staff and all the tools we need at our disposal, we have an economy of scale to take on many projects at a time in volume; whereas, a single Author on his own might have to obtain individual services piecemeal at top prices.
Literally, ArcheBooks' rates for its Commercial Production services are comparable to what a single Editor might charge to professionally edit a novel-length manuscript, yet our service includes all the other book production services, too: Content Editing, Copy Editing, Author Collaborated Revisions, Interior Book Design, Cover Art Design, ISBN issuance, as well as full Distribution Services (which is still the easy part).
What's more, since the Publisher isn't having to invest a lot up-front in all these production services "betting on the come" that the book will sell enough copies to breakeven, and hopefully make a profit, the Author deserves to enjoy a bigger cut of the spoils. Specifically, Commercial Production service Royalty rates are twice that of our Traditional Publishing model.
Here's an actual example of the math:
1. Author writes a 60,000 word book.
2. Commercial Production Services at $0.02 per word would be $1,200 charge.
3. The retail price of the book is set at $14.95 per copy.
4. A 20% royalty rate would net the Author $3.00 a copy.
5. That puts the breakeven point of the $1,200 investment at only 400 copies.
Thus, the business decision logic for the Author becomes very simple: As an Author how confident are you that your book will sell at least 400 copies? If you aren't confident that your book will sell at least 400 copies, then you have freely admitted that you don't have a commercially viable project. you'd lose money on it. Therefore, you shouldn't be wasting your time or money on it, and no publisher in their right mind should either.
As a Publisher, we're happy to invest in the projects we believe can sell in the thousands of copies. Even two-thousand copies sold can be a worthwhile project. Obviously, selling more is better.
But for a Commercial Production Services client, consider what would happen if your book sold just 2,000 copies. As noted, for the first 400 copies, you'd make it to breakeven. Then, on the next 1,600 copies, you'd earn $3.00 each. That comes to $4,800. And then for every 2,000 copies sold after that you'd earn another $6,000. If you managed to sell 6,000 copies, you'd make $16,800. You can do the math from there.
Are Commercial Production Services a worthwhile investment to make? Only you can decide. But just realize, that's the same math concepts every publisher is making when evaluating every submission that comes his way.
Obviously, electing to use such a Commercial Production service to make your book the best that it can be and get it distributed faster is 100% voluntary on each Author's part. As far as ArcheBooks is concerned, it's neither required, nor necessarily recommended if undesired. It's just another option out there to consider.
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