Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ is internet shorthand for “Frequently Asked Questions” or more specifically, a list of frequently asked questions and their answers. For people new to the world of publishing, this provides a good source of answers to questions that have already been asked, and helps you understand same old questions that have already been asked! Needless to say not everything is answered here, so if in doubt please use the ‘contact us’ form.
If you asked ten people you’d get ten answers. One would say it’s a company that markets books. Another would say it’s a place that prints books. Still another would say that it’s an outfit that helps writers write books. None of these would be correct.
A Publisher is a person or company that acts as a project manager. The project is the creation of books. And it’s a business that has undergone radical change in recent years.
What is Fast Dog Press? Fast Dog Press is a publisher in the sense that we put our name on your work as publisher. And, we offer other services you will need in your effort to create a marketable book. These services include editing, design, printing, eBook creation and marketing support. The business model we use is one of assisting you to do these things to find the result you want.
Writers all have different expectations. Some want to write a best seller and make a fortune, others want simply to create a work on family history that would make a nice holiday present. Whatever your expectations, we work with you to find that outcome. But be forewarned – a holiday present is much easier and less expensive to create than a best seller.
Fast Dog Press was created to help potential authors avoid an expensive education process, to provide realistic advice and to help you form realistic expectations. A lot of what you’ll read here will be disheartening. No matter, if you believe in your work, you’ll keep going. So here’s the bad news:
- Your family does not know whether your book is good or not. Of the new authors I’ve spoken with the reaction of family is split about 75%/25%. Surprisingly, it’s 75% against. Most new author’s families think they can’t write. They’ll tell you you’ll fail. They’ll tell you no one will ever buy this. This is actually better advice than the other 25% hears from their families. They think your writing is great. Don’t believe them either.
- Your sister/cousin/co-worker cannot be your editor. Not unless that’s what they do for a living. And you do need an editor. An Editor takes a nearly unreadable manuscript, (these are called an ms in the business), and makes it great. Of course, by the time you are going through it for the fifth or sixth time, you’ll start to go nuts, but it’s worth it.
- Book and cover design is not something covered by reading the Word for Dummies book. Spending $2,000 to $3,000 to have someone layout your book and design the pages and covers may seem crazy, but it’s worth it. To sell your book someone will have to first pick it up. Cover design is an extremely important part of making your book a success. And interior layout is what makes a book readable. Additionally, having continuity from book to book if you are doing a series is something a designer will provide.
- Marketing is not hauling a box of books into a book store and talking to the owner. The current book selling process is as anachronistic as using a sundial to tell time. But it’s all we’ve got. Your book will need to be in the distribution chain so stores can buy it. Remember, your customers are the stores. Sure, if you can build a fan base, you’ll be able to force the issue from the other end, but until then, you have to play the game according to the rules. And those rules are archaic. You’ll put your books in a warehouse. The distributors will order them from the warehouse and sell them to the stores. The stores will have up to 90 days to pay for them, then return them if they don’t sell. In turn, the warehouse will have 90 from the time the distributor sell them to pay your publisher and the publisher will want 90 before paying you, just in case there are more returns. This means a reader could walk into a store on the first of May, order your book and you won’t get a royalty check until November.
So, after all this bad news, why should you have anything to do with Fast Dog Press? One reason is you already know that I won’t sugar coat it. I’ll tell you right up front what it’s going to cost and how long it’s going to take. And it will cost you money.
As with any other publishing method short of a contract with one of the big New York houses, no one will pay you for your ms. And, no one will cover the editing, design, printing and promotion costs. Until you are a Nelson DeMille or a John Grisham, you get to pay for these things yourself. And you’ll have a lot of work in the public appearance/promotion arena.
What Fast Dog Press will do for you….
is provide a network of support services to you. These will be contacts with experienced editors, illustrators and designers to help you finish your book. Then we will work with the right kind of printer. One that will provide you with the right kind of printing service in terms of run size, book type and cost. Finally, we’ll help you develop a marketing plan, one that will focus your efforts to get the best bang for the buck. Marketing can include release parties and signings, but also includes ideas about which book competitions to enter, what support materials like book markers, web site, sell sheets, (that’s what the book industry calls a price list). All these things are necessary for your efforts to be rewarded.
Until the early ’90s, Publishing was a monolithic industry dominated by large publishing “houses” that controlled the process from beginning to end. This was necessary because the costs of producing books required such high production runs to achieve unit costs that would make books affordable. As a result, the big houses had to be very picky about which books and authors they chose to work with. Authors would submit manuscripts to every publishing house they could afford to mail to, then sit back and wait for a reply. Nearly every reply was “Thanks, but no thanks.” These are called rejection notices.
Many now successful and renowned authors went through this process, having their early work rejected by publisher after publisher. Stephen King, Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling, to name just three, all received enough rejection slips to wallpaper a living room. Clearly there were some bad decisions made along the way. You have to wonder how you’d feel if you were the manuscript reader who turned down “Harry Potter”, how you’d sleep at night. The only consolation would be that you wouldn’t be alone.
With the advent of digital electronic printing, “On Demand” printing was developed. This solved the cost issues of low quantity print runs, but didn’t address the other publishing issues of editing, illustration and design. It also does nothing about marketing. Many so called “self-publishing” companies have sprung up and they are all anxious to help a potential author achieve their dream of a published book. Some are so sure they can help you that they’ll send you a personal letter stating they are sure your new book will be a hit before you even send it to them.
These self-help companies have product lines that are basically al carte. They have editing, design, illustration, marketing and printing services available. These services are wrapped up in various packages that range from $2,500 to $25,000.
Fast Dog Press was created to offer similar “ala carte” services, but you will deal directly with the service provider. We refer you to an editor, designer, illustrator, etc., contact them for you and set up an initial meeting. After that, whatever transpires is between you and that service provider. When you are ready to print, we offer advice on what type of printing is appropriate and put you in contact with that type of printer. Every step of the way, you are in control of your product. When you are ready, we supply the ISBN number, Library of Congress listing, bar codes and other final pre-press support. When your book comes off the printing line, or goes into the server as an eBook, it’s ready for mass consumption. Then, it’s up to you to sell it.