So you want to be a publisher
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
- Jack London
I love alternative publishing. Zines, weblogs, independent magazines - anything that steers away from the traditional, mainstream, commercial, corporate publishing route. I remember the first time I read a zine. Summer gave me Doris. I loved how this girl poured her heart onto the pages, but I also was impressed with her attention to detail in putting it together. There are so many great zines out there, all so unique. (I love zines, so please let me know if you publish one so I can order).
Starting this weblog was a real experience for me. To be able to put my thoughts out there for the world to read without someone standing over my back censoring me, well, it rocks. I love publishing on the web and I equally enjoy reading good weblogs.
With that said, I still favor tangible reading materials Ė a magazine to take to the bubble bath, a good book to read on the beach. Every time a new magazine comes out, I skim through the ads to see the kind of bucks behind it. Then I turn to the first pages to see whoís publishing it. If it looks expensive and glossy and has a lot of major advertisers, itís published by a major company. As I explained in a previous post, those days are over for me.
So what if you want to start a magazine. Can you possibly succeed? You can if you're catering to a niche audience and you opt to go it on your own. This means that you set up your own distribution channels. Itís a lot of hard work, but youíd be surprised how easy it is to get a niche magazine to your audience. A good example is Car Kulture Deluxe. They tried the mainstream route with the big publisher and failed. Actually, rumor has it that their publisher bailed on them. After leaving their publisher, they went it alone. They distribute to their target audience which is comprised of counter culture hot rodders, rockabilly rodders, and your average beer drinking car nut. These guys wait with bated breath for the next issue to arrive at car shows, car events, accessory shops, etc., or they subscribe.
The only catch with doing it this way is your printing costs, but if youíve got enough advertisers, you might break even. Forget about a salary for a long time, but who cares, you're doing this because it's your passion, right? Magazine sales equals the profits. Itís a tough business, but itís the most fun youíll ever have.
I think the most exciting new way to publish is self-publishing. Print on demand (POD) technology makes it easy and cheap to create books that look totally pro. Hereís how it works: You send your text in a word processing program to an online POD company and they in turn will design your book (if you want them to) and print as many copies as you want, as often as you want. Getting set up can cost as little as $199 to start, with each copy costing around $5 to $12. For a few more bucks, you can publish a full-color picture book or comic book.
The best part: If you want to sell your book through companies like Barnes & Noble and Amazon, several POD companies are set up with various book sellers and can list your books on those websites. Hereís a few POD companies to try: xlibris, iuniverse, booklocker, enovel, ebookstand.
Nothing I love more than staying away from "the man." Being a writer and a publicist, I can print my own book or magazine, PR the shit out of it and fill my own pockets with the profits. More money for meeeeeeeeee!
Posted at April 10, 2003 8:02 PM