Thinklings is not a normal publisher . . . in so many ways. But we do have some common restraints and complaints that the big publishers also have. Primarily regarding profit. Publishers don’t turn large profits. Never have. Anyone who wants to go into publishing to become wealthy has another thing coming.
The traditional publisher has solved this profit problem by relying on superstar authors and personalities to use their personal platforms to do much of the marketing and selling. This may seem like a win-win situation for them, but it’s not.
What the publishers often lose with their solution is quality books. Traditional publishers will still publish books that lose them money and are high quality, but they are few and far between, and you have to hunt for them. These are books the publisher feels are important for literary and cultural reasons. It seems that every year, the amount of these books diminishes. Additionally, these books are typically very literary and not often fun reads. Think Moby Dick.
We at Thinklings believe that quality isn’t just for literary books. And that publishing isn’t just for people with large celebrity platforms.
But that leaves us in a bind. If publishing is expensive and quality requires even more resources, and we’re not working only with authors who have large platforms, how are we going to survive financially? After all, we’re mere mortals and still need to feed, clothe, and house ourselves.
Thinklings Books thinks outside the box. After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And we’ve come up with three ways we’re going to survive:
I’m going to elaborate on each of these points in individual blog posts because there is so much information in each area, and I don’t want to overwhelm you. Today we’ll be covering how Thinklings is diversifying its income and how our community can help.
Diversify our income
Most of the Thinklings staff comes from a background of being, or being involved with, self-published authors. When you self-publish, you learn to diversify your income. While you are focused on being a writer and publishing books, you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In addition to publishing books, you have a blog with affiliate links, you crowdfund the printing, sell merchandise, monetize a YouTube channel, set up a Patreon website . . . you collaborate.
Typically, a traditional publisher does diversify some; they sell merchandising and movie rights. But Thinklings has gone beyond that.
We believe in the support of the community of readers and writers. We know they are passionate about reading because we’ve heard from them. We’ve heard from you! And we’re trusting that you will help support Thinklings Books and our writers.
Not only are we taking a cue from self-published writers, but also from places like NPR and PBS. Our mission can only come about with support from readers like you. If we have public radio and TV, why not publishers?
We’re trying to create a community, not an inaccessible publisher sitting in a gilded chair. We want involvement and feedback. We want to teach, be taught, and engage.
How are we accomplishing this?
First off, we’ve got a YouTube channel, a blog, and soon, I will be starting a podcast. From all this we will take in advertising revenue. So be sure to subscribe, click on affiliate links, and download whenever you can.
Second, we’re heavily relying on crowdfunding. Currently we have three platforms where you can donate. Through our Kickstarter campaign, which will begin October 1st and end October 31st, we’ll be raising funds to print the books. We’ve sourced our printing through the printers we have researched that offer us the best bang for the buck. But, even so, copies of books still add up. Each book we print costs us about $3 for just the printing. Editing, proofreading, book design, and cover costs for each book add up to around $3,000. We plan on ordering about 500 books for our first run of printing. That means each book costs an initial $4,500. Through Kickstarter we want to raise enough funds to print the first 3 books.
Patreon will allow people to support our writers and our creative endeavors on a monthly basis. Patreon might be something many of you have never heard of before, but I think it is super awesome! It’s a website that puts a modern spin on the age-old idea of patronage. Most great artists of the past, from Leonardo da Vinci to Mozart, had patrons. Most of the time, these patrons were extremely wealthy families with money to burn. However, Patreon makes patronage accessible to even the average Joe. With monthly patronage “subscriptions” as low as $1 per month, even high school students have the ability to support artists of their choice. Like patrons of old, Patreon subscribers get special bonuses from the artists beyond the reach of the general public. We’ll be reading our first chapters on video, providing exclusive artwork related to the books, and giving control of picking video critiques to our Patreon subscribers. Plus a lot more!
Finally, GoFundMe is directed at providing salaries for the three of us founders and Ali, who has evolved into our Everything Lady / Managing Editor. We’re asking for help covering the costs of our main staff for the first six months until royalties from books come in. Six months is about the average time between when a book is signed and when its first royalties come in. With a traditional publisher, this can go on for almost two years, but we’ve found ways to decrease this time, which we’ll talk about more in the post about cutting costs.
Third, to both raise funds and increase engagement, we’ll be running several contests throughout the year. Some of these contests, like the Ana Cabral Literary Contest, will also be giving back portions of the proceeds. Currently we have two contests in the works: one for younger writers of fantasy and the other for more general speculative fiction. We plan on adding a short-story competition soon too. Through the contest entry fee, we hope to raise enough to cover the printing and publishing costs associated with the winner’s book.
Swag (Or “Merchandising, merchandising ... Thinklings the flamethrower!”)
Fourth, we’re working with my niece, a.k.a. Toca the Clown, who’s an amazing young artist, to give you just about the coolest, and definitely the most unique, Thinklings Books merchandise through Redbubble. We’re still in the process of setting up the store. Art doesn’t just appear overnight, but if you support us through Patreon during our major launch this week, you’ll get a free t-shirt. And through Kickstarter, you can get mugs, buttons, stickers, or bookmarks when you donate. And because Thinklings Books loves a good pun, you can bet on most of our swag being punny.
Tomorrow I’ll cover how we are slashing our overhead in order to channel our funds into high-quality books. And then Wednesday, you can check out the unique way that we will train our writers to be their own personal marketing powerhouse without having to sacrifice hours and hours of their writing time.