Reasonable Questions

October 4, 2009

The last two weeks have been busy and productive and not without frustration, but that is to be expected. We are talking about publishing, which has a lot in common with roller derby and rugby, albeit in a more psychological context. We are preparing to publish our first two titles, both first novels: Pod by Stephen Wallenfels, and Departure Time by Truus Matti. (By the way, in this case, Pod is not the acronym for print-on-demand, although it is an amusing coincidence.) To that end I have been talking with the book review editors of major and minor media, describing our business model and answering any questions they may have regarding our program. These are smart, experienced professionals and I thought it would be worthwhile to share a few of their questions and my answers. So, with no further ado, here goes.

Q. Are you self-publishing?
A. No. With the exception of my wife, Carolyn Coman, none of us are writers. Although I have published all of Carolyn’s books, first when I was at Farrar, Straus and Giroux (long before we married), and then at Front Street, Carolyn’s next book, The Memory Bank, which she co-created with her long-time collaborator, Rob Shepperson, will be published by Arthur A. Levine at Scholastic in the fall of 2010.

Q. Are you publishing books for a fee?
A. No. People ask us if we would publish their project for a fee and we decline. We do work with a number of authors/artists on a fee-for-services basis. If we determine at some point that a project is one we would like to publish, and the author wants to be published by namelos, we end the previous arrangement and move forward on a partnership basis.

Q. Are you an ebook publisher?
A. No. We are a publisher. ebooks are a format, just as hardcovers and paperbacks are formats. We are format independent. This means that when we publish we make the book available in whichever format the customer orders including hardcover, paperback, and ebook editions. We are pursuing a partnership that will enable us to offer our books in audio editions as well.

Q. How will you submit titles to reviewers and awards committees?
A. The same way everybody else does. We’ll send ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) to all and sundry several months prior to publication date.

Q. Will libraries be able to purchase your books?
A. Yes. Again, the same way they always purchase books. They can place an order directly with us or, more likely, they can place an order with their regular wholesaler or supplier. Our books will be available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Follett, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Q. Will bookstores be able to order your books?
A. Yes, through the same suppliers. However, our books will not be returnable and our trade discounts will be lower than booksellers are accustomed to receiving. This will impact on how we do business together but publishers and booksellers are working to sort this out and I anticipate a solution will be found in the not distant future.

My answers seemed to satisfy their concerns. In response to my question, Will you allow us to submit our books for review? the answer was, Yes. This is all a publisher can ask. Then it comes down to the quality of the books, themselves, and my confidence in the titles we are publishing knows no bounds.