Most of our friends know that last year Sarah and I decided to add a micropress to the Limited Liability Company we formed to protect our creative work. Since we already had the business structure, the first job was to draw up a business plan for publishing.
I won't delve into all the details in a blog post, but drawing up a business plan takes as much research as writing a historical novel. The big difference is the type of research, printing costs, postcard, bookmark, book cover, prices, distribution channels, review sites, etc. Once we knew what it would cost us to put out the first book, we had to decide what kind of books we wanted to publish, how many we had time to work on, and divide up the labor.
Notice I did not at any time say anything about making money. Neither of us had any expectation of financial gain in the first few years of the enterprise. Our financial goal was to keep the press from being a money pit. Believe me, small businesses can suck up investment dollars. We had no guarantee that anyone would submit stories to a press that offered such a small return. The big question when we sent out a call for submissions was "would we get anything of the quality we were willing to print?"
Notice I said small return, not no return, to the writers. We are writers. We know how much work goes into writing a book. Most of all, we believe money should flow to the writer. Without the authors, there is no publishing business. If anyone liked our books, money would eventually flow back to the press, but that takes time. This is why we set up a royalty structure with an advance. It gives every author something and promises a share in our success to authors who's stories earn money for us.
Our first book, Strangely Funny, came out in July. Sarah loves this book. I think it has some of the best and funniest short stories I have ever read. Individual stories in the book were well received. There the praise kind of peters out. I don't know if the book will ever earn out the advance. The reviews were few and mixed. Sales were lower than the lowest numbers I had projected. In short, the book and the press were off to a rocky start.
All Hallows' Evil sold better. It also got better reviews. It didn't quite earn out the advance in its first quarter, but will in the next. I may even have to send the writers more money. I am sure that will make them and me smile.
Our last two books, Undead of Winter and Ha-Ha! Horror, were both released near the end of November. A few copies sold before the November 30 cut off time for this reporting period, but it is too soon to know how well either will perform.
Our first checks for sales arrived at the end of December. No, those checks did not cover what we put into the company this year. We didn't expect that. We did expect and get the satisfaction of completing the books we planned to publish. The press was getting a core group of good authors who contributed to more than one anthology. Sarah and I got some much needed help from group of friends who worked to get word out about our press and sent us stories that they could have made more money from elsewhere.
Will Mystery and Horror, LLC survive its rocky start? I think we will not only survive but grow in the coming year. Despite Strangely Funny failing to capture the hearts of the reviewers, there will be a sequel. Sarah loves quirky little stories. Perhaps Strangely Funny II will be better received. Perhaps not. Either way the odd, quirky, funny, paranormal stories have a place at our strange little press.