The core of Ghostwoods Books is being fair to authors, which means splitting a book’s sales 50/50. That’s our strength, but it’s also a vulnerability. Most books don’t sell that many copies, and that’s true right across the publishing industry. When you’re being fair to authors, and to readers, that means not much income.
We’ve always put our own labour in to our books for free. That’s at least hundreds of hours per book, and sometimes more than a thousand. The typical work year has less than two thousand hours in it. We believe that it’s worth it to help great books find a home. But putting in that much time does mean that we don’t have much in the way of extra money to invest.
So we’ve kept going by working insane hours, doing all the freelance writing and editing we can get our hands on, and topping up the war chest with crowd-funding. But it’s been three years since we’ve done a proper crowd-fund. We started one in the summer, and then vast, tragic disasters devastated huge swathes of the world, and it was much more important that people who had a few spare bucks use them to help stop folks from dying than it was to fund our press. So we stopped it again, and honestly, the world has barely even had a chance to draw breath.
That means we have to turtle up a bit. It’s that or close down entirely. So we’re putting novels on hold for the moment. We could take unedited manuscripts and stick them out into the world unsupported, but no-one needs a publisher to do that for them. It’s trivially easy to do for yourself, and you don’t have to give up half your earnings to do so. Just throwing stuff out there might help ease our financial pain, but it’s not fair to the author, the reader, or the book. We’re going to try keeping on with an anthology or two in the mean time, partly because they tend to take a little less time than novels, partly because the time they do take is broken up into easily divisible chunks, and partly because, for us at least, they tend to sell more.
Meanwhile, we’re looking hard at funding, and we’ve got a number of plans. We’ll be back to novels when it’s sorted — and it will be sorted. Until then though, they’re on hold, because we refuse to compromise on either helping books towards excellence, or on being fair to authors and readers.
It’s disappointing for us, but when life hands you lemons, you have to flay the warty skin from them, slice by loving slice, and then crush the bitter, bitter life-blood from their torn flesh until… Uh. Well, you get the drift.
Watch this space!