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Publishing à la Castle September 20, 2007

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 1. How Castle Works, 2. Publishing à la Castle.
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Castle has a couple of publishing scenarios that work well and mean that books that wouldn’t have seen the light of day otherwise are given the chance to shine in the big wide world.

Castle’s point of departure

In my last post, I described a pretty tough publishing scene that makes it virtually impossible for the majority of manuscripts to be published. The reason this situation exists is that for most publishers the bottom line is making a buck or two. This is Castle’s first point of departure.

Of course it is great when sales of a book make a profit, and at Castle we always aim for that, but it isn’t our primary goal. Our primary goal, as our vision statement says, is “that people with compassion, passion and drive can impact society”. This ‘altruistic’ approach arises from the Christian beliefs of the people that run Castle. We believe in the written word and believe that there are things more important than making a big profit. When money comes our way through good business practices, we reinvest it in other publishing projects.

Castle functions because we work with authors who have the same ethic as we do. They have stories that they want to tell because they genuinely believe that their stories will help others.

Our publishing scenarios

So, let’s have a brief look at Castle’s two main scenarios for publishing.

1. Castle premier titles. We get sent lots of manuscripts, but we don’t ignore them! When someone comes to us with an idea, we like to give it a fair hearing. Out of that process we find some real gems, and we take these manuscripts on as Castle premier titles that we publish under the Castle name.

This process is a bit like traditional publishing, but we form an equal partnership with the author (or the author’s backers) to publish the book. This means that both parties share in the ‘risk’ of publishing, and neither party is treated unfairly. Castle throws its full weight behind these titles, editing and producing these books to a quality level that easily competes with international publications. We fully believe in the message and quality of these books and we do our utmost to get them into the hands of readers.

2. Publishing services. Often the best scenario for having a book published is for the author to do it him or herself. Nobody can sell a book like a proactive author can.

There is plenty of self-publishing going on around the world, but unfortunately you can often spot a self-published book a mile off. The quality just isn’t the same as commercial books produced by big publishers. Castle offers a full range of publishing services for self-publishers that give the potential for these books to match commercial publications in quality. We also have systems in place that allow self-publishers to print any quantity of their book from 1 copy to over 10,000. That means authors can minimise the risk of being left with hundreds of boxes of books sitting in their garage!

Talk to us!

So that’s publishing à la Castle in a nutshell. Stay tuned for more info about our publishing scenarios. You can contact us right now if you’d like to discuss your project – we’re always happy to answer questions (for free!) and help people through the publishing process.

The publishing scene September 5, 2007

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 1. How Castle Works, 1. The Publishing Scene.
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I’d like to start by giving a bit of an overview of the publishing scene.

Good old-fashioned publishing

Traditional publishing is a pretty tough game. In the old days, a publisher would find a manuscript that they wanted to publish in book form, and they would pay for all the capital costs of production. The author’s cut would be in the form of royalties – usually a percentage of sales. This method made book publishing highly risky, because large amounts of capital were invested in books that may or may not sell.

This publishing model was constructed in a time when the publishing market was less competitive – there were fewer new books entering the market, and books weren’t competing so much with other media. To reduce the risk of this model, publishers started to seek out authors that were already well known or produce books based on buzz topics that were more likely to yield a profit. Author royalties also shrank. Famous authors who sell millions of books make money but mid-range authors selling say 5000 make very little.

How to get a bestseller

This model still exists, but it results in a very small number of manuscripts by ‘ordinary’ people being published by publishing houses. It has been estimated that only about 1% of unsolicited manuscripts (ie manuscripts that the publishing house hasn’t directly asked the author for) are published worldwide.

This problem is made worse in a country like New Zealand where a very small market exists. We only have a population of about 4 million people. To give you an idea of what ‘good’ sales figures are in NZ, to achieve platinum level premier bestseller status you need to sell 50,000 copies if it is a fiction title, 5,000 copies if it is a poetry title, 100,000 if it is non-fiction title, and 40,000 if it is a children or teen title (source: Booksellers NZ). The list of platinum bestsellers includes Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider and the Edmonds Cookbook – if you are a New Zealander, you know how popular these titles have been. At the time of writing, the platinum list only includes 26 titles – that is the total number of NZ books that have achieved platinum sales.

Bronze level (the lowest bestseller status) is achieved by selling just 5,000 fiction units, 1,000 poetry units, 10,000 non-fiction units or 7,000 children/teen units. While these figures look modest, most publishers in NZ are very happy to reach these levels. If 5,000 novels sold is a bestseller, you can imagine how many novels don’t reach that level.

New approaches…

So, New Zealand is a small market. If you are writing a Christian book, for example, your market gets even smaller. Local titles compete with 100s of overseas titles being released each month. In reality traditional publishing is hardly feasible in New Zealand. This sounds like a pretty sad state of affairs, but the publishing scene is moving to adjust. Castle, for example, has found some ways to make it as feasible as possible. In the next installment I’ll discuss how Castle works.