As of today, I have 19 stories I'm holding for the Extinct anthology. This means they made the first cut (yay!). It doesn't mean they've made it in yet, though (boo!). As the deadline approaches (Jan 30), I expect many more submissions based on the number of people still dropping by from Duotrope and Ralan (thank you for coming!) and those who have let me know through various ways they still plan to submit (please do!). The nice thing about an electronic format is that we can go with what works. The only restrictions are my budget for advances, the possibility of a print version (not planned, but not ruling it out completely) and not outstaying our welcome with a reader.
Micro Publishing Models: A Case Study
I really want to play fair with Extinct. What I'd like to avoid is my recent experience publishing a short story with a micropress.
Now don't get me wrong. This micropress clearly spelled out its terms, so I knew exactly what I was in for when I submitted the story. It was a fun story to write, a couple of my critters were also writing and submitting stories so it was kind of a friendly competition that worked out well since all of our stories were selected, and the micropress delivered a nice pro-looking product quickly. That part was all a resounding WIN.
You knew there'd be a "but," right? The pay was 1/4 cent per word (that's the same I'm offering for Extinct) and my check came to $3.60, completely as expected, no complaints. The book is a trade paperback with a cover price of $16.99 and shipping for one book is $5.30. That's $22.29 for a single copy. Authors get a 40% discount off the cover price but no royalties (and no contributor copy, btw). The only way I as a contributing author can make any more money off this book is to buy a bunch of copies and handsell them to friends and family for more than my discounted price. The press puts out a number of anthology titles, so they have a lot of authors eager to purchase a few copies of their books to show off and to sell to their social circles, which is how the press makes the bulk of its profit, I'm sure.
Sound familiar? That's very close to a vanity press selling model. What separates this micropress from its vanity cousin -- and the ONLY reason I submitted in the first place -- is that they do not charge for setup and printing nor do they require the author to purchase any copies. The press is still taking the brunt of the gamble to publish the book. And the editor even did light editing and provided galleys for the authors to proof. It's a VERY nice "for the love" compromise. My intent isn't at all to disparage the press for the work it's doing. I'm sure it's a tough go for them using this model and they truly do have to love the work to keep after it. I respect them for that. I really do.
However, I don't feel the drive to market the book. I have no more vested interest in it. If it sold 100,000 copies, I wouldn't make any more off it than my $3.60. Where's the carrot? Plus, including shipping costs, the non-discounted price is exorbitant, IMO. You'll note I haven't even provided a link to the book from my site (or this post). That's because I don't feel right pushing folk to buy something for a price I myself wouldn't pay.
And that's why I insist on two things with Extinct. A highly competitive selling price and a royalty schedule for the authors. I want us all in this together, marketing together. Even if it doesn't mean but a couple of dollars more for each of us, I want the authors to link to the book and promote it and for readers to not think twice about dropping it in their online shopping cart.
So far, I haven't purchased any copies of the micropress's anthology. Maybe I'll get a couple and give them away on the blog. I haven't had a contest yet (what would I give away -- a free query critique?). So, any zombie fans out there?