“We realise that today the author has a wide choice of companies and routes to publication, and therefore we are pleased to compete effectively on all levels, providing superior quality and more value for money we believe than standard offers on the market – making us heads above the rest!”
“when all you need are a few books for family and friends.”
“3 weeks after your approval to print, you will be sent 10 copies of your book. We require a further 10 for deposit and registration, 30 will be held for retail sales.”
“We ask for 10 copies from you for legal deposits and to submit to all six National libraries in the UK.”
“It is six copies to the libraries – one legal deposit to the British Library, and five which go to the various libraries at Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, Scotland and Wales. We hold 10 for this service because the Legal Deposit library has a habit of making a double request at times. If we deposit 6, get no repeat requests and are left with 4, then the author can have them or instruct us to offer them for sale. Often, authors ask us to send a copy out for review, or to a marketing agency – having the 4 additional copies gives us the ability to do this. However, our agreement with the author makes it clear that all books under this service belong to the author.”
Pen Press says they will hold the other 30 copies to fulfil sales orders. This is the gist and bare bones of a good idea by Pen Press in theory, holding a physical inventory, but… is it?
“Wholesale distribution via Gardners, Bertrams and Nielson Bookdata for availability throughout the UK-Your book will be available for distribution via these companies for maximum UK coverage, allowing bookshops nationwide to order.”
“At just 50% of the agreed retail price, allowing you to make a clear 50% profit on all of your own sales. Once the initial 50 copies are depleted, you can also order stock in batches of 25 for us to hold for trade sales on your behalf.”
“We will hold the stock you wish us to and handle trade sales on your behalf. Trade discounts start at 35%, so on a £8.99 book your return on a 35% discounted sale is £5.85 which we will collect and pass to you twice yearly.”
“The final quote will depend on several factors, i.e. the size of the original manuscript, the amount of editing (and/or typing) required, whether it is supplied digitally or not, if there are illustrations or photographs inside the book, the print & production spec of the book and the size of first print run that the author chooses.
To assess this, we offer a Reader’s Report service which is designed to provide authors with an independent critique of their work as well as guide us on quoting you accurately.”
“Production, printing, sales, marketing and distribution AND WE PAY FOR REPRINTS”
“TV, Film and Dramatisation Rights
Pen Press offers these associates a first-look option on materials published under our imprint for exploitation within the industry. This includes radio broadcasting, television (free and pay-for), theatre, personal appearances and motion picture.”
“If you wish to proceed, we will prepare a contract which you should read thoroughly. This is a standard industry contract, but is open to negotiation.”
UPDATE: March, 2011
Pen Press has introduced a Gold Partnership Publishing package (which includes a reading fee/editor’s assessment report). This package provides the following and as an example (depending on book size, requirements etc) suggests a fee of £1950:
Royalties of an initial 45% of sales return to the author
Paperback book B format (198mm x 129mm)
Up to 80 page novella or children’s story
Standard copy-editing, typesetting and proofing services
Cover design in 4-colour (CMYK)
Jacket text (blurb)
Print and bind first run bar-coded ready for retail sale*
ISBN and all legal registrations and deposits including copies to the British Library, and national libraries of Scotland, Wales and university libraries of Cambridge, Oxford and Dublin
Stock to wholesalers including Gardners, Britain’s leading book wholesaler
Listed with and available for sale via leading booksellers ie. Amazon.co.uk, Tesco.com, Waterstones, WHSmiths.
Invitation to one-day marketing and sales seminar
Creation and distribution of press release, with either covers or review copies
Follow-up on press releases and review copies issued, as well as any local media coverage
Approaching local bookshops to stock
Approaching local venues for signing sessions
Ongoing support, sales, invoicing, accounting, royalty calculation
Reprints and storage
A further Platinum upgrade is available (+£900) and described as:
“For a top-notch, fast-track service: one-to-one meetings at every stage of editing, design, production and marketing: a personal publishing contact to answer questions at each step and keep you abreast of developments throughout the process; plus immediate US printing and publication, with availability via Barnes & Nobel, Amazon.com etc.”
This ‘upgrade’ doesn’t cut much ice with me, and considering the previous ‘Gold Partnership‘ example is £1950 for an ’80 page novella or children’s story’ – hardly qualifying most submissions – authors with a typical 200+ page novel should expect to pay more than the £1950. Pen Press qualify this by saying:
“A sharp rise is not necessarily the case. Naturally, the fee does rise with additional page extent as editors and typesetters charge more the longer a book imanuscript is, but many of the services remain constant – cover design, ISBN, print runs, marketing support, distribution. These days, our average Gold package fee is £2,400 and considering the author doesn’t have to pay for reprints as they do on print on demand, and gets 45%/35% of the sales revenue return, then for quality submissions that have had good traditional publisher feedback, this option really can represent the best value package.”
Pen Press UK has also expanded their program of traditional contracts for established and new authors with Indepenpress, an imprint offering conventional contracts to authors where the publisher bears all costs. In addition, another new imprint is Pulp Press, described by the publisher as:
“…dedicated to providing entertainment and escapism in the form of dime novels, penny dreadfuls and spicy stories that will be accessible to everybody. Whether you’re stuck in a dead-end job, fussing with your schooling or an out-of-work burlesque dancer you will not feel intimidated by the easy-going pulp fiction format of these racy numbers. I personally guarantee that you will find any given Pulp Press title to be free from intellectual snobbery and the vacuous scribblings of so-called celebrities and their degenerate ghost writers, unlike so many of today’s books.”
Submissions to Pulp Press should be in novella format and length (23,000 words) and authors should make themselves familiar with current Pulp Press titles. Since this article was written, Pulp Press now operate independently of Indepenpress, and the self-publishing imprint, Pink Press has also been added for Gay and Lesbian fiction.
Significantly, Indepenpress is attempting to carve out a reputation as a quality traditional publisher of quality and varied titles while still offering self-publishing services.
“In times where some mainstream publishers have abolished their advances to new authors in favour of slightly higher royalties, and others are also now offering a self-publishing option as a route to publication, we are moving in the opposite upward direction of publishing at no cost to the author. These limited contracts are essentially for the crème de la crème of submissions, or for authors who have done well with self-published titles with us, as our Indepenpress imprint comes to be recognised as an independent publisher of quality titles.
We want a fair deal for the hard working writer of original content; an author that can work with us to promote their title deserves a good return on the books that are sold. The royalty amount is negotiable on the books we traditionally publish and our current contracts go up to 45% of the return. Our accounts department produces royalty statements twice yearly for all our books.
In order to assess your manuscript for conventional publishing we will have a reading done of the whole book with a report produced, please download and print this SUBMISSION FORM and send it with an electronic copy of your manuscript. This reading service is the same as those applying for the gold package and is paid for by those customers so in order to be fair to paying customers new authors applying for conventional publishing will come at the bottom of the queue. Due to the volume of submissions we receive this can take some months and authors may prefer to use our paid for reading service for more immediate feedback.”
I don’t inherently have a problem with the reading fee, just as long as the publisher keeps that reading fee as an option, rather than a requirement of submission.
There is a lot to commend Indepenpress about. I’m unconvinced the Gold and Platinum packages are the best value at £2000 – £3000, even with editing and a 300 unit print run. Yes, unlike many author solutions services, Indepenpress has a distribution network, but the emphasis in these packages remains through online availability and ‘approaching local’ shops and venues. Many established small publishers and presses will tell you that is the way the publishing business is going – that the little guys, no matter how committed they are to producing quality books, are getting pushed out to the fringes and rely on a great deal of input and marketing push from their authors to make a title even a moderate success.
This is hybrid publishing – evolving and open to embracing change. Since I first reviewed Pen Press UK as a self-publishing service, the company has expanded and maintained a commitment to selling books ahead of just selling author services. This is to be commended. The author royalty rates are exceptionally good – a reflection that Indepenpress cannot survive without authors and good books – something many established and conventional publishers could learn a lot from.
UPDATE: Summer 2012
Indepenpress has launched an ebook-only package for authors. More details can be found on the Pen Press website.
“This NEW eBook-only package includes a professional cover design, typesetting into book format, conversion of files and ISBN. Enjoy all the production processes of our BRONZE package for a fraction of the price. Your book will be available on Amazon kindle stores worldwide.
This is as an add-on package for authors who can provide a print-ready book, and is also on offer to previous authors for £99. For authors whose manuscripts are not typeset, Pen Press offer the service for £299, and it works in the same way as the bonze publishing package without the print cost.
Already have a typeset book and cover files? Then let us know! We will be happy to reduce the price of this package to as little as £99 (depending on length of the book).”
During 2012, Indepenpress also began visiting writing workshops and libraries throughout the UK to offer impartial advice to authors confused about the whole area of self-publishing.