Several of you know that when I self-published my novel "Pulchritude", I did so under the label of a publishing company that I started at the same time: Acacia Moon Publishing. I've got a lawyer and everything, and she's filed the appropriate papers with state and national authorities, and we've trademarked the logo and it's all very exciting. But it still basically boils down to self-publishing, and it's about as loosely governed a "business" as, say, selling homemade crafts on Etsy or something equal self-starting. And that's precisely what I wanted: something loose and agile and simple.
The reason I spent money on lawyers and registrations and trademarks when none of this is even remotely necessary for self-publishing, is that I have hopes that other indie authors might like to self-publish under the Acacia Moon label besides just myself. I have at least one other indie author on board, and she's helped me tremendously through the process of writing my own novel, but I'd love to have more: a dozen more, ideally. I'd love to take on authors who are already self-published so that they can add to the Knowledge Pool, but authors who are brand new and just starting out in the wild world of self-publishing are equally welcome and are likely to gain the most from this experience.
The goal I have for this "business" isn't really a goal to make money, although that would be nice. But, honestly, I write because I love the idea of being read and I love the idea of being part of an indie community of writers. I have a number of talented friends -- both online and in face-space -- who want to step into the self-publishing waters but aren't quite sure where to start, and that's where I want to come in: I want to help people into self-publishing and work together with them as the helper I wish I'd had when I went through all this last year.
So what does it mean to self-publish under the Acacia Moon Publishing label? The simplest answer is that it's exactly the same as regular self-publishing, except that you use one of the ISBNs purchased under the Acacia Moon account instead of buying your own or going without one. That ISBN notifies book-sellers who the book publisher is.
And that's it. Acacia Moon Publishing doesn't cost anything. It doesn't take in a portion of your book sales. It doesn't stand between you and the book-sellers and dole out your money every month. It's just like self-publishing in every way except for the free-for-you ISBN, the free-for-you website page, and the free-for-you community help. You still set your own prices, determine which book-sellers to use, and have absolute freedom to do whatever you want with your intellectual property. For some people -- people who want to be part of a community and who don't want to have to craft and maintain their own promotional author pages -- this will be a great deal. For others, it won't be. And that's okay.
You might reasonably question just how charitable I am to provide all this help and the not-free-for-me ISBNs to indie authors who want to publish under the Acacia Moon label, and I'll admit that I absolutely am profiting for every author who joins, and here's why: if we collect enough books under the Acacia Moon label, we can negotiate with the book-outlets who refuse to deal with individual indie authors. My immediate goal is to be able to offer my books (as well as anyone else in AMP who wants to opt-in) for free to reviewers on NetGalley, but I can't get in the catalog without 5 titles published under my company's label. (For comparison, indie authors can offer a single title to reviewers as part of a limited run through BookRooster for $67. So... yeah.) My ultimate dream is to be able to offer my books for sale to libraries through Overdrive, but I believe we need 15 titles or so before we can get in. (I say "believe" because they won't commit to a specific number. But Joe Konrath got in on his own and he has about 15-or-so titles. So I think we could too at that point, based on the emails I passed back and forth with the Overdrive personnel.)
So by recruiting indie authors into one company instead of a dozen individual ones, we're gaining more revenue and readers through reviews and library purchases, for anyone who wants to opt-in to those outlets. That's the real goal behind the entire formation of the company: to reach outlets that couldn't otherwise be reached. Because I really want to see my book on the online shelves of my local library.
In addition to recruiting indie authors willing to publish their works under the Acacia Moon label, we're also planning some anthology collections. The idea behind these anthology collections is simple:
- Grow the Acacia Moon catalog.
- Give new authors the psychological boost of being published.
- Give new authors exposure to the self-publishing process.
- Grow audiences with the inclusion of an "author bio" after each story.
Acacia Moon Publishing does not intend to profit monetarily from these anthologies; they will be "sold" for free since customers expect anthologies to be "hit-or-miss" and since profits can't be easily split across 15+ different authors. If a store prohibits free sales (Amazon has been toying with this for awhile and there used to be a work-around, but I'm not sure if it still works), the anthology will be sold at the lowest possible store price and "profits" will go into a fund for editing, cover art, and ISBNs for later anthologies.
I know from my experience with indie authors that a lot of new authors have a lot of questions and are a little worried and overwhelmed about jumping off the deep end into the self-publishing process. By participating in the anthology process, they can observe the process without being expected to do everything themselves. I also know what a boost it can be to actually see your writings finally "in print" and how incredible that can be in terms of motivation for the next work-in-progess. And most new indie authors struggle with growing an audience, and having a short story with an "author biography" page for where to get more by the same author -- even if it only points to a personal blog or to your Acacia Moon author page -- can be a great publicity boost.
We currently have these ideas in mind for anthologies but more ideas are welcome (especially as we complete the ones currently on the plate):
- And Then Jayne Was A Zombie: Zombie stories; downer endings welcome but not required.
- Sorcerers & Secretaries: Tabletop RPG-esque stories with political and/or bureaucratic themes.
- Ghost Lights: Ghost stories of all flavors and inflections.
- Happiness Is Mandatory: Dystopias with futuristic flavor; oppressive governments optional.
- Once Upon A Thyme: Fairy tales; new or re-told or deconstructed.
- Under the Sea: Exploration beneath watery depths. Mermaids and Cthulhus both welcome.
Ideally, each anthology will have at least 15 authors contribute (which should result in 15-or-more stories). And here's where it gets tricky, because everyone is going to be afraid to volunteer because "what if I don't get it done in time". There is no set time limit for when these are going to be done. If an author contributes early, that means they have more editing and polish time. Once we get the target number of stories, we'll announce a "do-or-die" limit -- i.e., Ya'll, we have the bare minimum. Everyone has eight weeks to get any last submissions in. Hurry! -- and then we're off to the presses. So please don't be afraid to volunteer. And, hey look, there are forums here. We can discuss anthologies in individual threads, offer each other help, etc.
So now, the fine print:
- Each author retains full copyright on hir piece, including the right to sell/publish the story in other anthologies, magazines, collections, T-shirts, etc.
- Once the anthology goes to print -- and there will be a final announcement for this -- a story cannot be removed from the anthology. (Some of the stores are notoriously difficult to upload new versions to, so yeah.)
- The anthologies will be sold at the lowest store price available. If that price is not "for free", then any profits will go towards editing, cover art, and ISBN costs for future anthologies.
So here's where I'm hoping you're all really excited about this. So how can you help? One-or-more of the following would be awesome.
- Forward this post to your writing group / indie author friends. Recruitment is vital.
- Volunteer to contribute a story and hop into the forums for discussion.
- Consider making this part of a NaNoWriMo-style project if you like.
- Do not stress out about this. This is supposed to be fun and helpful for you. Not stressful.
I think that's all I can think to say on the topic for now. Comments / Questions / Concerns / etc. are welcome and appreciated.