Friday, June 17, 2011

How Phenomenal One Press Got Started

The owner of my small press is my husband. He’d been in sales like – forever, even got a degree in Marketing. When I started my writing endeavor, got my first contract from a small press, he figured, we could do a better job at it. You know what – we did.

Here’s how we did it.

START YOUR OWN SMALL PRESS – Don’t just self pub

Phenomenal One Press was started with the full intention of building up a list of authors besides just moi’ (which we do, F. Raushawn who is our teen author of SPECTRUM - a free read you can find on our webpage check it out). But in order to do that correctly, we had to do research. Remember, every publishers business model is different, if you decide to go this road, sit down and think about what you want to accomplish and how.

We gained an LLC, registered our business name, put up a website, decided what amount of work we wanted to do, and what we were willing to pay someone else to do.

Created a business plan, a marketing plan and a Book marketing plan.

Set realistic goals – it usually takes any business at least 3 years to see true success and maintainability – and starting a small press is starting such a business.

Released 2 books the first year a middle grade and an upper ya book. Create media kit, marketing packet.

Started promoting books 6 to 8 months before release (that meant getting covers made prior to finalized editing).


We recruited college interns that wanted to learn the business. Built contracts with an events coordinator (and one day will get a publicist), two editors (one for full edits and another for proof-reading prior to sending to print), gained a printer, a distributor (to distributes to the big guys and requires very little work for us initially), artist and everything else we either do ourselves or contract as needed.


We joined IBPA which was a wealth of information and Mid Atlantic Book Publishers Association. Also, we started to network with other small pubs who were extremely supportive and helpful.


We decided that for us, we wanted to do a little less of the initial leg work and did a digital print run of 2K books for ARCs and market test. The goal was to sell 1,500 and give away 500 before the book actually printed (realize that large publishers print 10K or more and giveaway a larger % of their books than a small pub can afford to). It was successful most of the time by setting up blog tours, soft ads on active blogs, and word of mouth. Also, ebook release a bit early helped to get buzz started for the print. Once the initial print run is sold out – we print with multiple print on demand providers (because we own our ISBNs) that offer returns for booksellers.


When marketing your book make a budget, realize that you don’t have to do it all in one day – so pace yourself. It’s your product and you have a long time to sell it, but take the time to build the right marketing profile for the specific piece of work you are selling. Also, it’s more profitable and less stressful if you promote the same genre/age group for the first few years before branching out. Always be professional and seek ways to improve your business model. Give your business time to see its potential.


Pricing – if you can’t be competitive in your pricing, don’t even bother. Cover – compare your cover with others and see if it meets the muster (they are your first marketing tool). Editing – don’t you dare skimp on this – not one bit, try to get at least one professional editor and one proofreader. Ebooks – a must do for small pubbers since it offers a way to get book out there with as little of cost as possible. Marketing – must be consistent and takes about 3-6 months to be realized. Timing – DON’T RUSH!!!! Take your time, build your buzz, make your product shine – remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.


Dawn Brazil said...

Great info LM, not that I think I would open a small pub co. but it is good info to know about them. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

LM Preston said...

It's not easy - nor for everyone. With all this talk about self pubbing I believe people need to know that they are 2 distinct and different roles. And understand what it means to be a small press.

Jessie Harrell said...

Awesome!! Thanks for generously sharing your knowledge. You know, you could probably do a whole series of posts on the various topics in here -- marketing, printing, covers. ;) just sayin'

Catherine Stine said...

Informative tips, thanks!

CreativeKidzPlay said...

This is great information! You included a lot of great points that I am going to implement into my business. Thanks for posting!

Pk Hrezo said...

I love that you did this. I've been playing with the same idea for awhile now. I mean, really, if you plan on consistently putting out books, it's better to have a press name attached to your work than self-pubbed stigma. I'd love to learn more about this! I shall check out your site!

Malcolm "Rage" Petteway said...

I'm impressed. I too started a small press, maybe about the same time you did, 2009. But you and your husband have done wonders. I will review your words as it applies to my business. I am in the Northern VA area and have seen your accomplishments. You two are doing well. Keep up the excellent work.

Malcolm Petteway
Rage Books LLC

Bob Mayer said...

At Who Dares Wins Publishing we've found that it almost isn't worth doing print for fiction-- 99% of our fiction sales are ebook. For non-fiction it's 50-50. We're selling over 1,200 ebooks a day and sales have over doubled every month this year.
We learned a lot of hard lessons, many of the same ones you note. Covers are important and must pop in thumbnail. Editing is key.

Claire Chilton said...

Thank's for this LM, this is wonderful information for starting out in small press publishing!