For thousands of authors throughout the world, therefore, alternative methods of publishing have been the only way forward. The likes of Create Space, Feed-A-Read and Smashwords has revolutionised the publishing industry inasmuch as authors who wish to go it alone now have free and unlimited access to low-to-no-cost solutions to getting their work out and into the public domain. Over the past few years, self-published books have exploded onto the market with such devastating impact that it is almost impossible to find a good quality read through the mountainous piles of debris.
In reality, any author who has gone down the route of self-publishing faces a long, uphill climb to getting noticed in the midst of hundreds of thousands of books all clambering for the top spaces on Amazon’s best-sellers’ lists.
A conventional publisher will edit your book (some better than others) but many of them will barely tell the world it’s there. More and more often, publishing houses are cutting costs and staff time by asking the author – the person with the most vested interest in the work – to do much or all of the publicity themselves and to even take responsibility for the accuracy of proofs. For some of the smaller indie houses with less cash to throw at ventures, the author input is compulsory.
Marketing is an important but specialised field of commerce and one that requires time, effort and a fair amount of expense and expertise to get it right. The same can be said of editing. There are so many good books out there that have been so poorly edited (or not at all) that they are rendered, in my opinion, completely unreadable. If a book is quality enough to deserve readers, then it also deserves to have money spent on it during the editing and marketing processes and conscientious authors who have a bit of cash to spare add immeasurable value to their works by hiring the services of an editor and/or proof reader and/or graphic designer and/or publicist.
Vanity publishers require the author to part-fund the publishing and marketing process. The author pays a subsidy, grants the publisher exclusive rights, gets a few free copies for the privilege, organises the launch, puts the word out on social network sites and waits patiently for the royalties that never come. Since most vanity publishers use print on demand methods, production costs to them are low and costs for distribution, storage and foreign rights translation non-existent. The saddest fact is that there are many unscrupulous companies out there who take your money but don’t edit your book; don’t market it; and don’t distribute it either.
As the pitfalls of vanity and self publishing become more and more apparent, a new breed of business model has risen from the ashes of trial and error: the collaborative publishing company.
These companies are not vanity publishers. They don’t lavish praise on any author who will pay them a premium. They care about quality; provide good editorial, design and marketing services; and will take a book from manuscript to shelf using years of experience in the industry.
Urbane Publications is one such company. Based in Rochester, Kent, and headed-up by industry stalwart Matthew Smith, their mission statement is to ‘Find the daring, aspirational, and exciting new authors, and bring them to a whole new audience. The company is founded on collaboration: collaborating with the writer to create the best work possible, collaborating with our readership to publish the fiction they want.’
Over the next three posts, we’re going to take an in-depth look at Urbane Publications to learn how a collaborative partnership (including sharing the financial burden of production and promotion) between authors and industry professionals has worked for some authors.
Matthew has kindly agreed to be a guest on this blog and will speak about Urbane Publications and its innovative publishing platform in the following post. The next post will be a question and answer session with Matthew so any authors out there who have a question about collaborative publishing is asked to please leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll endeavour to include it.
In the last of this trio of posts, we’ll hear from an Urbane author who will be telling us of his experience.