The problem is that all of these shiny new alternatives have screens, and screens bring on problems that you just don’t experience with good old bound-paper books, which:
• Don't temporarily go blank when the batteries run down.
• Don't permanently go blank as soon as some little doodad inside them fails.
• Never need new operating systems.
• Don’t need to be connected to an electronic network.
• Can be read in just about any kind of light.
• Don’t break when you drop them, even from a considerable height.
Nothing against electronic information delivery: you can’t beat it for speed, especially when it comes to getting timely weather reports, finding out the status of the latest catastrophe (unless it's the network that happens to be down), or breaking news of the never-ending celebrity tragedies/travesties. But for written words that are meant to last, and be read over and over by many people over many years, paper books are still a much better choice.
If you look over in the right column, you will notice that I have published quite a few bound paper books—fifteen to be exact. Of these, only three were published by an actual publisher; the rest were self-published. Along the way, I have tried many different things.
As I mentioned, I have tried putting books out through a publisher a total of 3 times. It takes a long time (a year at least) to get a book out this way. The royalties are a paltry 10%. Usually you have to relinquish the copyright, including foreign translation rights. Sometimes the publisher does a good job with cover design, editing/proofreading, and marketing the book; sometimes not. The only two things publishing houses seem to do reliably is set type (which is dead easy anyway) and keep most of the revenue for themselves.
The other dozen books were self-published. I have tried working directly with a printer, ordering a print run of books and having them shipped to me for distribution. With both self-published and non-self-published books, I have tried selling them directly, buying copies in bulk and manually shipping them out. This can work well for small runs (500 copies) of slim books that weigh less than 13 oz., qualifying them for first class mail using regular postage. Larger books, and larger print runs, can be distributed using printed postage. But if the book is heavier, or if the audience is international (as mine is), the direct shipping model turns into a money-losing boondoggle.
But more recently I have shifted to a print-on-demand publishing model for my self-published books, utilizing an Amazon subsidiary. It involves filling out some online forms, uploading a couple of specially-crafted PDF files, going through a soft proofing process, and clicking the button that says “publish.” The title then appears on Amazon.com and its foreign affiliates, ready for ordering. Royalties are in the neighborhood of 70% of gross. Amazon takes care of pretty much everything: printing, ordering, shipping, handling returns, and paying royalties.
And so, based on my excellent experience with this new publishing method, I have decided to start offering a service to other authors, which will provide a way for them to see their words become books, get a better return on their labor than if they went through a publisher (if they could even find one), and avoid the long, steep, and expensive learning curve that I went through. (Why expensive? Because I essentially gave away most of the proceeds from my first two books; as with three-card Monte, it takes a chump a while to figure out that no winning strategy exists.)
Having gone through this process many times, I have refined my techniques and choice of technology, and have established happy working relationships with designers, editors and proofreaders. My streamlined process allows me to offer a split royalty model: I and my associates receive 20% of the royalties for all books sold through Amazon and its affiliates; the author receives the rest, which is around 50% of gross sales (not including income and self-employment taxes)—a bit more or a bit less depending on how the book is priced and how high the sales taxes are where it gets sold.
There are no other payments or fees of any kind; except for royalty sharing, the service—which includes manuscript review, consulting, cover design, editing, proofreading and typesetting—is completely free. In addition, the author retains the copyright, foreign translation rights, and the ability to order any number of copies of the book at cost, which tends to be around $4 per copy, and sell them directly for quite a bit more, depending on what the market will bear. The only two stipulations are that the author commits to going through with the review/editing/proofreading process, and agrees not to publish the book through any other venue for as long as it remains available through Amazon and the money keeps flowing. The reasons for the latter should be obvious; as for the former, it’s in my interests—and yours—that your ideas find their way to the printed page as clearly, concisely and unassailably as possible.
The most difficult part of publishing a book turns out to be publicizing it. You see, the books I have self-published, and the books I want to publish, circumvent not only much of the world of conventional book publishers, but also much of the worldview their offerings attempt to present. This worldview, aggressively pushed by all of the corporate media, states unequivocally that all is well with the world, except for a few singular problems, of which you should of course stay somewhat informed by reading a few books.
I, on the other hand, have published books, according to which:
1. what we face are not problems but predicaments, which are problems with no solutions;
2. that these predicaments require adaptations in the form of massive lifestyle changes; and
3. that these adaptations are impossible to make without personal experimentation.
These, then, are the authors I want to help: those who understand what the problems are, who understand that they cannot be solved but that one can adapt to their inevitable unfolding, and who have gone beyond theory, have actually tried to adapt, and have meaningful, empirical results to report.
Since such a perspective is at odds with the official narratives embraced by all mainstream book publishers, I will offer ClubOrlov, which gets around half a million visits a month, as the venue for announcing these books to the world. The first Club Orlov Press imprint will be available shortly, and will be announced right here.
Please submit your book proposal or manuscript by emailing it to dmitry dot orlov at gmail dot com.