Although paper books will never vanish, eBooks are rapidly becoming the most important sector of publishing. Traditional publishers have been treating authors with disdain — and giving them tiny cuts of the profit — for years. As editors, publishers and writers ourselves, we know the score only too well.
It’s time to do something about it. We drink a lot of coffee (surprise, huh?) and have been impressed with the Fair Trade initiative, given how badly screwed coffee growers tend to be. Growing coffee takes years. So can writing and publishing a book.
So Ghostwoods Books is a brand new deal — a Fair Trade initiative for writers. The principle is simple. Readers get damn fine books to read at a great price; writers get a friendly publisher who’s on their side, and is prepared to hand over a full 50% of the profits. That’s what partnerships are all about.
If you like reading, Ghostwoods Books are fully professional, top-quality books at least as good as any you’d buy in a store. Better, hopefully, because it’s not a committee of marketing and PR types selecting lowest-common-denominator content, but a small team of dedicated, passionate editors with decades of experience in all areas of publishing.
If you like writing, Ghostwoods Books offers a friendly, supportive route to publication. We started out publishing only in eBook format, but have moved to publishing all book-length manuscripts in both eBook and paperback formats. We published our first two audio books last year, and look forward to publishing more hardcover books in the near future.
New info graphic: How does Ghostwoods Books stand up to SFWA recommendations for a small press? (As of 18 January 2014)
The chart below is based on this article on the SFWA website, using the elements under ‘Evaluating a Small Press.’
|Is there a fee, or do you have to buy something?||No||A||–|
|Did the press solicit or spam you?||No||A||We do advertize calls for submissions.|
|Are there any complaints about the press or its staff?||None that we know of||A||We would work to resolve any complaints|
|How long has the press been in business?||Since August 2010||B+||Not brand new, but still relatively new|
|What are the staff’s credentials?||Our staff have either experience or education.||A-||We’d like to have a larger staff. Currently 2.5 editors|
|What’s the website like?||We’ve had many compliments on our website.||A||–|
|What about the backlist?||All books visible on site||B||We’re working to grow our catalogue.|
|If the press does print editions, what kind of printing technology does it use?||Combo print runs and POD.||B+||We just started print editions in the past nine months.|
|If the press does print editions, does it accept returns?||No.||C||Not yet able to accept returns.**|
|Are the books professionally produced and edited?||Yes||A||We’re professional editors with many years experience.|
|Is the pricing reasonable?||Yes||A-||We’ve done our best to hold print prices down. EBook prices are competitive.|
|What distribution is in place?||EBooks: Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks. Print:*||B||See notes below.|
|What kind of marketing does the press do?||Blog tours, submission to trade reviewers,promotions, giveaways||B-||We’re working to increase the amount and variety of marketing we do.|
|What about the contract?||Great contracts||A||We pride ourselves on the fairness of our contracts.|
|Is the press forthcoming?||Yes||A||Ask us anything.|
Grades above reflect how we grade ourselves on these issues.
** Accepting returns is one of our long term goals, however, the most common way a small press goes out of business is by accepting returns. A small press must withhold royalties for a longer time, and maintain a large surplus of money to deal with returns. Right now we feel it would be irresponsbile for us to accept returns. With some more growth, we can develop and begin to implement a return policy that doesn’t put us and our authors at risk. We recognize the importance of a return policy, but we also recognize our responsibility to everyone involved with our company.
*We released our first print book, ‘Red Phone Box,’ in November 2013. We did small paperback and hardcover print runs and we used POD (Lightning Source and Create Space) to expand our reach. We found the POD system somewhat less than ideal. We see it as a short term solution that we’ll continue to use only as long as we need to. Our long term goal is to do print runs and use a distributor and wholesalers, beginning in the UK, and expanding to the US (possibly in partnership with an American publisher.) When this will happen depends on growth and funding.
We’re working to grow Ghostwoods Books in order to increase the benefits to our authors. These are the things we’d like to accomplish in the next two years, not necessarily in the listed order:
- Pay advances to authors (We started this with anthologies.)
- Pay professional level advances (5 cents a word or more, or about $4000 for an 80K novel. We did this for the first time with Haunted Futures.)
- Sell books through a distributor
- Accept returns from bookstores
- Become a qualified publisher with professional writing organizations such as SFWA
- Audiobook creation and promotion (We released our first audiobook this year. And our second.)
- Grow our professional reputation
- Create an emergency fund to which our authors may apply for loans or grants in times of crisis
- Increase our marketing budget to enable the following: