• Brooke Warner
  • Answering Some of Your Questions about She Writes Press
This blog was featured on 08/30/2016
Answering Some of Your Questions about She Writes Press
Contributor

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:

  • Highlighting your book in a biannual She Writes Press catalog that will be mailed out to booksellers, reviewers, and media.
  • Working with you to write and/or edit your book synopsis (50- and 100-word versions) and your author biography (100 words) to make sure you are including key words and positioning your work to attract readers’ attention.
  • Updating your bibliographic data in the ISBN database.
  • Editing a marketing one-sheet and press release for your book. We provide templates and suggestions for creating these materials.
  • Complimentary download of Innovative Publicity Now, with Lauren Cerand.
  • Setting up your book for Amazon’s Search Inside the Book, Google’s Book Search, and Barnes & Noble’s See Inside.

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.

 

Please read more about How It Works and our FAQs, and please don’t hesitate to add your own questions to the discussion here in the comments area.

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Comments
  • @Joanne, you can certainly do this, and we're devising a lower price package for those authors who already have covers and interiors and who have already published either POD or in e-book format, so do email me directly at brooke [at] shewritespress [dot] com and let's see if what we have to offer seems amenable to you. There's no question your book would have a much wider readership if it were available as either a POD version, or doing a print run if you feel you can sell enough copies to merit one. Let's connect!

  • Joanne Barney

    Hello, Brooke.  Is it possible/advisable to submit to SWP a novel that has been self-published as an ebook?  Sales have been very slow, I've been advised to do a POD in order to get it into distribution (now on Amazon, B&N, iBooks)  in a different, more effective way.  I've done what I personally can do to get the word out without professional help.

    What do you think?

  • Karma

    Nonsense, @Brooke, you didn't merely try---you succeeded! Anyhow, I will email you. =)

  • @Tracey and Elizabeth, thanks so much for weighing in with your valuable insights! @Karma, I tried to add you as a friend to message you about getting involved. Feel free to email me at brooke [at] shewritespress [dot] com.



  • Karma

    As a social media consultant and book publicist, I'm still curious how you choose your list of recommended professionals.

  • Elizabeth Yon

    This is an exciting venture.  I love the idea of a hybrid press; it offers the benefits of self-publishing with the added cache of vetting.  I published my first book through CreateSpace, and it was an easy and mostly satisfactory process.  The one enormous strike against it, and against all purely self-publishing ventures, is that anyone can publish anything no matter how un-ready the work is for publication.  If SWP is successful in establishing a stellar reputation with its book list, that reputation will be worth its weight in gold to every author who publishes there.  It will confer on the authors the respect and confidence in the quality of their work that most self-publishing companies cannot offer.  The personal interest SWP proposes to take in its authors is another huge attraction.  I wish this venture all the good fortune in the world!

  • I continue to be enthused about what SWP is offering. While my manuscript is pure right brain creativity, reading about your innovative publishing model gets my left brain humming! It jumps right into the discussion with an observation that goes something like this: "Ha - here is a group of smart women who are savvy enough to know how to position themselves in a changing market." This is the kind of intelligence and insight I value. I'm happily awaiting your next move! 

  • @Shakira, thanks for the response.

    @Bella, awesome! You're totally becoming a publishing expert. I love that. I feel so proud. :)

    @Lisa, if you're book is longer than 120,000 you will need to cut it. We are not going to publish anything over 120,000 words. Industry standard, generally is 80,000, and most agents won't accept books that are over 100K, so you want to be looking for places to cut. Our editors can help you with that if you need some support.

  • Shakira Gantt

    Thank you so much for explaining this! I had read the details about SWP when it was first announced, but the way you break down the benefits of SWP as compared to self-publishing is very useful. I have written a manuscript and was thinking of self publishing, but this has given me another (and seemingly better) option!  I am very excited and  hope to use SWP to publish my manuscript.

  • Hi Brooke, I'm back from Scripps College Camp, where I taught a creative writing workshop and sat on a book publishing panel. After a few older authors shared about their challenges with conventional publishers I talked about the importance of platform building and the many publishing options available today, including self and hybrid presses. Thanks to the work we've done this past year, I felt knowledgeable, informed, and optimistic! Of course I mentioned SWP--Scripps is a woman's college--which I know is going to publilsh wonderful books! Keep up the awesome work!

  • Lisa Threadgill

    What about books that are longer than 120,000 words?

  • @Suzanne, yes, this is a problem for sure. The shipping costs will continue to be high because all we can do is approve UK retail outlets to sell the American version of the book. We do not have any kind of formal international distribution, so in your case, if most of your sales are going to be international, the best option would be to do a print run and then have cases of books sent to you in the UK to fulfill yourself. This is hardly ideal, but this would mean you'd get a break on shipping because of quantity, and then your customers could order directly from your site and they'd then only be subject to national postage rates. I don't see a way for you to make this economical for your readers if you do it POD, unfortunately.

  • Hi @Roberta. If you submit to SWP and it's decided that you need an editor, we will assign you a SWP editor. So it's not premature to submit even if you know you need to be edited. The benefit to this would be that our editors are working to make the books publish-ready, and if you work with one of our editors, you don't need to resubmit. They will let us know the status of your book and when you're ready for publication.

    Thanks for asking.

  • Roberta Dolan

    I am very intrigued with the idea of a hybrid press vs. self-publishing and impressed with everything I've read about SWP. I'm close to completing my book and will begin researching a professional editor for non-fiction. Is that still necessary if I decide to go with SWP, and am accepted? 

  • Suzanne Williams

    I still have a question about distribution. As a UK based writer I have found that self-publishing through American based publishers makes the postage costs for customers in the UK prohibitive. Have you any idea how much this will cost if I use your POD service?

  • Thanks for this, Clene!