LiteraryArchitects

Literary Architects, LLC works with authors to combine the quality and standards of traditional publishing with the flexibility and control of self-publishing. Literary Architects' publishing professionals specialize in selecting and partnering with committed authors to produce trade-quality books, consulting with authors to plan and execute custom sales and marketing strategies, and providing authors with fulfillment and distribution of their books.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Out of Print, Out of Mind

Terry Whalin at The Writing Life has an excellent post on Out of Print books with some recommendations. One additional option he doesn't cover includes putting your own book back in print *if* -- and a very important *if* -- you have a market for your book! If your book has gone out of print and you haven't been actively out driving a large portion of your book sales, then there's no reason to believe it will do any better if you try to self-publish. However, if you are a frequent speaker, drive bulk sales, have special sales opportunities, or were in need of a thousand or more copies a year, then putting your own book back in print makes sense.

While rights reversion can be time consuming, the process of knowing what you can and can't reproduce from your current work can be even more confusing. Make sure you consult an industry professional to avoid potentially complex legal issues with reprints.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The POD "Publisher" Myth

I was poking around on some other blogs today and I noticed several references to "POD Publishers". In a few cases, authors were comparing "traditional publishers" meaning trade houses versus "POD publishers" which makes me especially crazy. There is no such thing as a POD "publisher". There are POD printers such as Lulu.com or BookSurge or Lightening Source and there are POD printers that offer authors services such as any of the above and companies like AuthorHouse. Print on Demand is merely the technology used for printing books. Even large traditional houses are using POD today -- and many many small houses are. But print on demand companies -- or any printers for that matter -- are not *publishers* per se. Publishers select your work. They read it. They care about it. They advise you. They help you brand, strategize, design. Regardless of the financial model they work from, if you're thinking about self publishing. Look for a *publisher*.

Monday, May 22, 2006

BEA: Change is Coming -- Are You Ready?

Of all the articles I read summarizing BEA and the current state of the industry, this one -- from an outside source -- summed it up best. The quote from Menaker sums up the old guard in this industry so well.

"At my age (64), I wish it was as simple as holding on to the older way of doing things," says Daniel Menaker, executive editor-in-chief at the Random House Publishing Group. "This is a convention that is haunted by questions about the future."

Not surprisingly, we spent most of our time on Friday meeting with some of the very companies they mention -- Google, Amazon, BookSurge, Lightening Source, Ingram, etc. -- strengthening existing relationships and building new ones. We're comfortable with change -- and in fact, very comfortable with new ways of publishing books while still maintaining the quality needed to be part of mainstream publishing. I doubt many execs would be surprised to find there are a lot of smart publishing professionals out here on the edge. It sure is refreshing after the stifling atmosphere of the old NY publishing traditional that aren't just stifling this business, but smothering it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

AuthorHouse Loses Libel Case

PW reported yesterday that AuthorHouse lost its libel case based on a book it published last year. It's a pretty interesting case since POD publishers (like AuthorHouse, xLibris, iUniverse, etc.) tout that they put the author in control. What they really mean is that they give the author a price list of services and authors can choose what they think they need or don't need. Authors end up with the just what they order -- their self-published book which hasn't been edited and in many cases copyedited, designed, or proofread. Either way, the book isn't read in-house by an editor. Their contracts says the publisher (AuthorHouse) assumes no legal responsibility or liability for anything the author publishers.

In what seemed only inevitable, a book came in, libeled someone (in this case, the author's ex-wife), and AuthorHouse published it -- that is, they printed it at Lightening Source and LSI pushed it to their normal distribution channels through Ingram. AuthorHouse tried to distance itself from the claim by saying that the author was in control. However, the jury essentially ruled their contract invalid saying "if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck." If you call yourself a publisher, and provide services a publisher provides, then you're a publisher.

It's been interested to us, since our publishers liability (and Errors and Omissions) insurance is one of our single biggest yearly expenses. But we also acquire, edit, and advise authors on all books we publish. Most editors know (or should know) red flags for libel, fair use, and permissions issues. Plagiarism is to some extent harder to spot.

But what happens when you call yourself a publisher but no one in house reads or vets the books you publish? Can you still call yourself a publisher without being held liable for a problem like this? Or are you responsible for everything that comes our under your name? (Let's hope so.) If an author tells you the book has been rejected by another house (any kind of house) for libel reasons, wouldn't you ask the author if they've revised the material and then check it yourself? (I guess not if you think your contract absolves you of responsibility.) It's all very interesting -- and unless the punitive damages are extremely high we probably won't hear of it again. I don't know what kind of publishing insurance they must have (without being selective about what they publish or reading it in-house) but presumably this might be covered.

Interesting either way. We'll see how this unfolds.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Prepping for BEA

All three of us (especially Bryan) have been busy prepping for BEA, this year in Washington DC running all this week. We're going in for meetings (and a couple of parties) on Friday and Saturday. I've been pleasantly surprised by how many people are going this year. It seems like last year a lot of people didn't make it, even though it was in NYC.

BEA is always a great chance to meet face-to-face with agents, publishers, vendors, and distributors, even some authors. Over the years, PMA has added their self-publishing "university" earlier in the week flooding the show floor with authors who've worked hard to produce their own books but often without any assistance. They get so frustrated trying to connect directly with publishers and distributors not understanding that a) they're never going to be able to get to the person they need to get to at this show, and b) their self-published book's life may be over before it's begun if the book doesn't conform to industry standard, necessary specs and include everything from barcodes to copyright page set-ups. But more power to them -- it's a tough crowd if you're to publish on your own though.

For us, we're spending a lot of time not only meeting with agents (in order to better identify and partner with them on authors who live in both the traditional publishing and self-publishing worlds) but also with our key vendors and distributors. We're working out the kinks in the system for all our books -- and we know what we're doing. I can't imagine trying to sort all this out with no knowledge of the system. (No matter what they tell you, no vendor or distributor does it all.)

We splurged on a new printed brochure and also spent the last month in a mad dash to get covers and tip sheets done for all our Fall titles. You can see our current list up on the site now.