We’ve had a couple write-ups in the media this week, on Paid Content and Shelf Awareness. It’s been wonderful to get the support of the community and of so many writers, AND a lot of questions have been coming up, too. We encourage them, and we’re growing our FAQ, so please, ask away.
In response to some questions coming through this week:
1. Are you actually offering self-publishing, or is it something else?
We consider ourselves to be a hybrid press because we are vetting our projects, and because we believe that the She Writes brand and the SWP imprint is a valuable asset to our authors. Authors are paying to publish on She Writes Press, so in that sense it is self-publishing. But we have strict editorial and aesthetic standards, and therefore authors can’t publish anything they want on the SWP imprint. Therefore, we are something in-between. We also offer advice, encouragement, and hand-holding along the way. There are a lot of aspects to publishing well, and we are committed to seeing authors through the journey, and to their experience being a positive one.
2. Self-publishing is so cheap if I do it myself. What are the benefits to publishing on SWP versus publishing on my own?
I’ve seen, time and time again, the ways in which the average self-published author makes easily-avoidable mistakes simply because they don’t know what they don’t know. There are some authors who have a strong editorial background and a great aesthetic sense, but many others who do not. Our team of industry professionals brings a seasoned eye to your work. We will ensure that the editorial quality of the work is up to industry standards, and review-worthy. We will make sure your cover competes with what traditional houses are putting out.
Two of the strongest benefits, in my opinion, are our distribution and our community. SWP’s books are distributed by Seattle Book Company, which has an established relationship with Ingram. Your books will be made available to the trade, to libraries, and to all online retail outlets. She Writes Press authors have access to our built-in platform and community, and the shared knowledge and support of She Writers will enable them to have a more satisfying publishing experience. And it's not just any online community of writers. Our members include Francine Prose, Roxana Robinson, Kathryn Harrison, Maggie Gee, Bernice McFadden, Tayari Jones, Judith Warner, Amy Sohn, and many more. As Kamy has said, “SWP is not a platform for writers who can't make it in the "real" world of publishing—it's for writers searching for a model that actually makes sense in a radically changed publishing landscape.”
3. I don’t think readers care where you publish as long as you write a good book. Do you agree?
I do agree that most readers don’t care. I don’t think the average reader pays attention to imprints or where authors are being published. I do believe that reviewers and booksellers care, however. It's very hard to get a self-published book reviewed, in libraries, and into bookstores, largely because they lack distribution, and rely on Ingram’s author services to get their books into the marketplace (and this is not always effective since Ingram has relationships with third-party distributors). While we do not have a sales team, our effective distribution channel will make it effortless for authors to get their books to their readers.
4. What will SWP be doing for its authors on the publicity and marketing front?
Our She Markets plan is detailed on the site and includes:
We’re also throwing in our DIY Marketing plan for all authors who sign on with SWP. We will be selling books (exclusively SWP books) in the SWP online bookstore.
We recognize that these are basic services, and while we aim to get our authors as much exposure as possible, authors will have to be largely responsible for their own promotion. We want authors to know this going in, and it’s a universal experience in the publishing industry that you have to market and publicize your own book, whether you’re self-publishing or publishing on a large press. We aim to give our authors the tools and understanding they need to navigate this particular area of being an author.
5. Is SWP taking a percentage of its authors’ sales?
No, and for this reason we are not paying royalties. Rather, SWP authors will get quarterly statements and/or checks that reflect their total net earnings during that period. We do, however, charge a fee for the management of the accounts, and for printed books, for distribution and/or warehousing. We take 20% for printed books (for warehousing, distribution, and management of accounts), 15% of POD, and 15% of e-book sales. This is standard for any outside person who manages on your behalf, whether you're talking about a financial adviser, an agent, or a manager. As a person who relies heavily on team, I know how much I value the people I pay to manage things on my behalf—and the amount of time and energy (and therefore money!) I save as a result.
6. Why do you think authors should choose SWP over the competition?
First and foremost, Kamy and I (and the rest of our team) are invested in being your partners in this process. We are accessible and transparent, and we’re book people! Many of the alternatives out there are mills, churning out lower-quality products to newly minted authors who don’t know any better. We will not let that happen. We are committed to the quality of every single book we publish.
We stand by value of our publishing package and feel that our authors are getting a wide variety of services, a lasting relationship, and peace of mind that their accounts are running smoothly and that their books will be available wherever and whenever they need them. It’s a lot to write and publish a book and then to manage it once it’s out in the world. Just as Deborah Siegel, cofounder of She Writes, said, “Writers don’t let writers write alone,” I believe that writers don’t let writers publish alone. There are a lot of fine details to manage, a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot. We know the industry and our connections run deep. As soon as the pilot comes to a close and our first set of books are through the publication process, our online store will be up, featuring our authors’ work. We will also be producing a biannual catalog that we will put out to the trade, to special markets, and to booksellers.