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Bob is the founder and CEO of Mundania Press.
2/21/05 6:58:01 PM Opening "Chat Log 2/21/05"
HOST WPLC DarylR: And now, clearing off the table for W2P, it's time for Paul and Lyric's hour in here. Please remember to put your chairs back in the upright position and reset your fonts.
HOST WPLC Sushi: You are welcome to join us in Writing to Publish as we host publisher MundaniaPressCEO/Bob Sanders. Please use IM's for personal greetings. This is a Protocol session, so if you have a question or comment, please type "?" and wait until you are called. Also, turn off all colored or bolded fonts. Meanwhile, enjoy the chat!
MundaniaPressCEO: Hello everyone..thanks for asking me to chat with you tonight!!
Rose1533: Hi, Shay.
HOST WPLC Dee R: We're glad you're here, bob
HOST WPLC Lyric: Hi Bob, thank you for coming!
MundaniaPressCEO: I've prepared a few words to get the ball rolling. It has the Agenda in it. So without further ado!! Here you go!! Thanks Everyone!!
MundaniaPressCEO: Published, Publishers, Publishing
MundaniaPressCEO: Thank you everyone for inviting me to speak with you tonight (or today)
MundaniaPressCEO: My agenda is:
Publishing History (Overview - very brief)
Mundania Press History (very brief)
Mundania Press Operations (What separates MP from other publishers)
Mundania Press Future endeavors
Publishing History Or How Did We Get To Here From There?
Prior to the internet's development publishing was a hugely elaborate undertaking requiring vast sums of investments of time, and money. Anauthor submitted a manuscript to a submission editor, if the editor accepted the work advances were discussed and the author was handed a fully funded book tour to a number of large cities. The tour would spur sales, and the better known the author the more 'bankable' the author would be for the company.
Then the internet happened. What that did for publishing is it gave the publishing industry a wonderful flexible tool for advertising, but it also put the larger publishers into a box they have yet to climb out [of].
As you know the large publishers are only looking for 'formula' material. They believe that it will be successful for them. And I agree, if the definition of successful is to "keep up with the Jones'" then they are doing well. However this has given birth to a boom in the segment of publishing that are small (defined as less than 10 titles), & premium presses defined as 11 to 100 titles). Visions are different, tastes are different, and clients are different. The days of paying huge royalties are behind the industry. Unless the name itself is a draw (i.e. Bill Clinton) then a 'juicy' advance is now in the low 6-figure area, a far cry from the millions of the past. The work of promotions has been placed on the shoulders of the author. So in addition to being a talented writer, today's author must be author, sales, and promotions focused.
End of the history lesson and a great segway to;
Mundania Press History (very brief)
MP was established 08/2002 by Dan Reitz and myself to publish "Pornucopia" by Piers Anthony. "Pornucopia" was written and originally published in the late 80s early 90s. Due to how it was distributed (see www.piers-anthony.com for the full story) it was fetching a large prices ($500+ per copy) on e-bay. Piers wanted more people to read his work. So we offered to publish the work. In short we had so much fun doing it Dan & I decided to continue to publish. We have two ground rules
1) If the business ever stops being fun, it's time to quit. Dan & I have over 20 years of history and to put that above a business isn't right. So we don't.
2) Don't lose money. We are solvent, in all of our time in business we have paid all of our bills on time, and we've grown from one book in 2002 to over 75. Currently, our production schedule will bring us to close to 400 titles by the end of 2006. We are growing. Our impact on the industry as a whole is profound. In 2003 when we attended our first EPIC (www.epicauthors.com) convention there were very few successful companies publishing in softcover & hardcover editions.
After we started reviving the 'traditional publishing' method (offer any format that customers are willing to buy to pay for the investment) a number of e-book only publishers not offer softcover and hardcover editions of their works. We remain competitive in the marketplace due to our focus on quality, quality, quality.
Look another transition ? Mundania Press Operations (What separates MP from other publishers)
We accept less then 2% of submissions to us. Why is that? Well we don't want to shotgun our way to success. We only publish those titles that we want to read, our acceptance process not only tests the material to be published but we also review contacts with the author too. Is this someone we can work with? Is this someone who will do what needs to be done to promote the material? What investments will the author make to place their title above the other titles in the marketplace? I'm sure there will be many questions in this area so please feel free to ask them during the Q&A section.
My last section is: The Future
We will expand into audio markets and leverage the Mundania Press author's fans to expose them to prior published works and to the next generation of author market. We want to attract the fans of Piers Anthony, Louise Cooper, Robert Adams, etc and introduce them to authors such as Cyndia Depre, Jeff Strand, Vicki M. Taylor, and other great authors. Outside of "Tor" we are Piers' largest publisher. That's a real accomplishment considering how far we've come in a little over 2 years.
Okay now I've introduced myself, and Mundania Press. PLEASE feel free to ask any question you'd like, I'm a straight talker.
MundaniaPressCEO: Q&A time!! :)
HOST WPLC Sushi: okay folks! :-)
Cyncity 1: Good job! Interesting...
HOST WPLC Sushi: thanks, Bob
MundaniaPressCEO: Thank you for inviting me!!
MundaniaPressCEO: How many authors do we have tonight?
HOST WPLC Lyric: I heard that our own member, Cyndia Depre, has set a pretty interesting record. Can you fill us in on that Bob? ;-)
MundaniaPressCEO: Sure I'd be happy to. Cyndia author of "Amanda's Rib" has in her first week had wonderful sales second ONLY (more) to Piers Anthony's "Pornucopia" selling quite a few the week of release!!
HOST WPLC Lyric: Hooray Cyndia!!!
HOST WPLC Dee R: congrats, cyn
MundaniaPressCEO: WE're VERY proud to have an author that is not only talented BUT a hard working author to boot!!
Cyncity 1: thanks!
HOST WPLC Lyric: Remember gang, her book, Amanda's Rib is available on Amazon, B&N or from the Mundania site directly!
MundaniaPressCEO: In today's market I can't stress enough how important that is.
MundaniaPressCEO: If you want to have the best chance of getting your work published I suggest you develop a marketing plan..media kit too.
Lera al: What kind of 'investments' do expect authors to make? MundaniaPressCEO: GREAT Question Lera. Mundania Press takes all the $$$ risks. We invest in your work as the author. We wouldn't do that if we didn't believe in the But in today's market that's not enough. As the author if you can't leverage your fan base or develop your fans then as the publisher.... I don't have a prayer of doing that. I CAN provide quality publishing and world wide distribution. But as the author you need to get out there and insure your material is in the public eye. A business plan, marketing plan, media kit are all wonderful tools. But doing book signings & such are equally improtant. If there is a problem And there is always a problem ;) I'm here to work with the Corporate bookstores to push push push.
Cyncity 1: Please tell us a bit about the submission process. How long before writers can expect a response, etc.
MundaniaPressCEO: For more detailed submissions guidelines you can go to our website www.mundania.com/submissions.html. BUT if you submitted a work you can expect an answer to your submissions in under 120 days. That may seem like a long time but our schedule is set for 2005 and we're nailing down 2006. So we only pick 2% of our submissions. Once accepted you might wait 60 days to receive your contract. Then there's the matter of assigning an editor etc. It's a long process but during this time we weed out the authors that don't want to promote their works.
Rose1533: You asked how many authors were here. I think all of us are, and many have completed manuscripts, including me.
MundaniaPressCEO: I'll share a bit of a funny story if you'd like.0
HOST WPLC Sushi: Please
MundaniaPressCEO: I submitted my own material for publication under an assumed name. So NO ONE would know it was me. My book was rejected *sigh* I was able to read the editors comments and they weren't nice...but they were honest!!
So lest anyone think we get a pass on our own material think again!! We have made a name for ourselves by QUALITY!! I'd rather my material was rejected then publish weak material.
Trina Pink: LOL! You suggested we should a bz plan, marketing plan & media kit. When should we develop those? Before approaching an agent? When sending the work out to a publisher?
MundaniaPressCEO: Well if you have an agent that's great!! I recommend that. The agent should help you round out your business plans. There is a great book called "The One Page Business Plan" that I highly recommend. The agent should also help you with your marketing plans & in minor ways with your press/media kits.
Ideally you should submit your marketing plan with your manuscript. OR at least offer it to the publisher for review!! It's one way that YOU can set yourself apart from all the other GREAT authors out there!! Publishers look for that.
HOST WPLC Sushi: I have two and a half novels completed, but no agent yet, How does that affect my chances?
MundaniaPressCEO: Wow that could be a whole book unto itself. Depends where you want to get it published, and how good it is. Remember agents get a percentage so getting it placed for the right price is in the agents best intrest!!
HOST WPLC Sushi: okay . . . my chances at Mundania! :)
MundaniaPressCEO: BUT having said that....smaller presses don't pay advances so agents don't like to deal with them. MP pays no advances at the moment...not even to Piers. So if your submission is complete and follows our guidelines...we will review your work!! A rejection is not a rejection of YOU or YOUR work...it's a matter of other factors of the moment. Such as publishing schedule, time, etc. Marketing plans help us make those hard choices. Remember I'm focused on how fast I can get the money I've invested back plus a profit.
G1ft0fgabn0t: Please could you give us an example of good marketing strategies and ways a 'new' author can 'leverage a fanbase'? The terms are rather new to some of us...lol ga
MundaniaPressCEO: Another good question. "New' Authors will find this very difficult unless you can find a way to advertise where those author's fans are.
Conventions are a good place to do that. BUT that's exactly one of the reasons that MP exisits. WE can do that as a matter of course. We are already marketing to Piers' fans...so when they visit our site...to buy his material they can see your work in the same place. It's very smilar to Amazon's "If you like this...then you'll love this' kind of thing. It's been very effective. We now have well known authors seeking us out...Louise Cooper (Time Master) is one example of that. Have I answered that for you?
G1ft0fgabn0t: Thank you. :)
MundaniaPressCEO: No problem!!
Lera al: What about public speaking? I've been to book signings, reading, etc --what if the author does not want to do that specific thing? Would you work with an author for alternate avenues of fan base building?
MundaniaPressCEO: Sure. I must admit I've not always been a publisher. As a matter of fact Dan & I are IT people by trade. He's a software engineer, and I'm a Software Project Manager. So working with talented poeple who are NOT people persons comes 2nd nature. BUT I would expect that author to work with other authors to place some group ads and get the word out. Again I've not met many people who look at me and say "I can't wait for the next TOR book to come out!!!"
Nope it's usually "I can't wait for Robert Adams' next book." it's very powerful if the author does that.
SarahStNy: What are some reasons manuscripts are rejected by Mundania? [mistakes writers make] ga
MundaniaPressCEO: Not following the guidelines is THE number one reason. We currently receive over 100 submissions per week. They are all read and if they are not in the proper format then they get rejected. We have tried to work around it...but that just puts our operation behind. Some other reasons are production schedule, we're not looking for XXX type of matieral at the moment.
Or the author has a poor attitude. That's key with me. Follow up is great and announcing when you're going to follow up is wonderful...but I've had people nag me and then threaten, then pull their submission. It's a rough business...but it's a business. It's not personal.
HOST WPLC Sushi: Ouch!
Lightningbug1957: Do you prefer to receive material from agents and what percentage of your books are from agented authors?
MundaniaPressCEO: Not many we've only have a few titles that are represented by an agent. Again most agents work on a percentage of the book's profit. So they are looking for advances to turn a quick buck. ( I don't blame them) ....
However, we don't pay advances so a lot of them turn away from us. I do think it's good for an author to use us to get published by a quality firm. Hey the more you write the more you get publsihed...you can always land a deal. We're very flexable working with the authors if a "TOR" comes along with an offer for a book!! LOL
Lightningbug1957: can I ask a follow up?
HOST WPLC Sushi: quickly Bev :-)
Lightningbug1957: Is this becoming common that companies aren't offering advances?
MundaniaPressCEO: Yes it is. The OJ Simpson books did that to the industry. The large publishers paid HUGE bucks in advances all got burned and didn't make thier money back. An example is on the PMA website about prior to those books a respectable books would fetch in a high 6 figure advance. Now...1/4 that.
It's a goal that MP is working toward and we will meet that goal. But for now we don't do that.
RLMorgan51: I've written over 400 items for a community newspaper in the last 9.5 years (no $), and had an article published in newsletter of a writers' group I belong to. Otherwise, I have had nothing else published. How important is that if I send your company a manuscript? I am writing a paranormal romance.
MundaniaPressCEO: Well that's nothing to sneeze at. It's very respectful. The answer depends on what you submit. Currently we don't accept poetry or Non-Fiction. BUT if you can tell a solid story.... in an intresting way...we'd like to take a look at it. Your experience would serve you by being professional and polished. Couple that [with] your work...and it's a winner!! I'd play on that in the marketing plan ESPICALLY regionally where you're best known!!! AND you should we well connected in the local media!! That's something to work on!!
Trina Pink: My comment: we had a speaker awhile back with some great ideas for building a fan base now, including websites, e-mail signatures, mailing lists, etc. I make sure I wrote reguarly in my blog for exactly that reason. (No comment needed)
MundaniaPressCEO: LOL No problem. That is true it's all good information. Basically it's getting the word out!!
Lera al: If I walk into B&N will I see any Mundania Press books on shelves, or better, in key locations with high visibility? DOes your company have that kind of pull, or is it still in the growth phase? Is that part of the author's job?
HOST WPLC Sushi: [tuff Q's this evening.]
Lera al: this is a real opportunity...
MundaniaPressCEO: Nice question. Well to be honest...as hard as I've been trying no you more than likely won't at this time. There is a number of reasons why this is true at the moment. But I'll take some of the larger reasons here. The major chains don't like Print On Demand (POD) our prime printing method at the moment. When they see that interanlly the don't like to order it. It's because other's have used that process that (frankly) didn't know what they were doing. It's caused our industry a lot of grief. Then most major chains want to see some sales before ordering they constantly input sales figures for all books into an application that statsically returns the sales of any given book. That is a huge factor in their ordering!! However each title is available to be ordered at any book store via Ingrams, Baker & Taylor, and it's always available on Amazon.com & BN.Com.
I'm attending Book Expo America this year to address this issue with our partners.
Lera al: Hey, as long as you and the author are making sales, it's positive. Thanks for the honest answer!
HOST WPLC Sushi: typical American style, only the quickest buck counts . . .
MundaniaPressCEO: But the fact that MP is in on a level playing field is enough for now.
Adorablady: This is kind of on the same line as the other questions...How receptive are you to new unpublished authors ?
HOST WPLC Sushi: [queue is getting shorter . . . ]
MundaniaPressCEO: Unpublished does not mean we won't accept you...quite the opposite. We encourage new authors and our goal is to have 60% established authors and 40% 'new' authors. This is important to us, as the 'old guard' has got to pass the torch eventually. They are very open about sharing their knowledge, fans, etc. So we are too. It's another fact that seperates us from our competition.
Trina Pink: You mentioned we should have a marketing plan, media kit, bz plan. If we do not have an agent for help, can you give us tips what might be included in them?
MundaniaPressCEO: I can. The best place to start is "The One Page Business Plan" ISBN 1-891315-07-2
MundaniaPressCEO: It's a great tool. It will help you get the 'big picture' focused. From there work on your marketing plan.
HOST WPLC Sushi: [we can place that title on our web site's Buy Page]
Rose1533: Please do.
MundaniaPressCEO: And then your media kit. TIE your media kit to current events, and get on radio. Once you start making a name for yourself you can bet you'll get the momentum going.
MundaniaPressCEO: Cyndia can attest to that!!
Cyncity 1: Amen!
HOST WPLC Sushi: [half of you have been silent! we only have a few minutes left!)
MundaniaPressCEO: There is a number of great sites devoted to this material!!
You have to see what fits your life. But start looking at it as a business.
Cyncity 1: It should be mentioned that a plan doesn't have to be expensive...
MundaniaPressCEO: That's the biggest piece of advice I can give.
MundaniaPressCEO: Great point Cyndia!!
Cyncity 1: Legwork and time and bookmarks work wonders
Schoonerben: Are POD sent to distribution returnable or final sale? Can unsold books be returned to publisher?
MundaniaPressCEO: Sure let me take that last question. A point I've failed to mention. All MP books are returnable. That's KEY as if your publisher isn't confident in the work to take it back neither will the stores invest in it. IT's a fact of life. We take the returns in sellable condition and sell those or donate them.
Depending on the condition. Returns can kill a publisher toot sweet. So it's important it's a team effort between the publisher & author.
Schoonerben: Great. I feel that IS important
HOST WPLC Sushi: one more Q Bob?
Dhewco: yes, how many author's copies do you give?
MundaniaPressCEO: Depending on how must the book costs us to produce. :) But on AVERAGE 10 to 15 copies. We sell to the authors at a substancial discount. We also send books out to some reviewers as well as marketing efforts in house...at our expense.
HOST WPLC Sushi: okay folks, the hour has flown by
Cyncity 1: Authors and MP communicate, so we both don't send the same book to the same reviewer
HOST WPLC Sushi: THANKS Bob Sanders and Mundania Press!!!!! :-D
MundaniaPressCEO: My pleasure!! ANYTIME!!!
Rose1533: thanks, Mr. Sanders
Trina Pink: Wow, this has been a great opportunity, to pick a publisher's brain. THANK YOU, Bob! (and fascinating too)
Adorablady: Thank You Bob....
SarahStNy: very informative
Lera al: Thank you!!
Cyncity 1: Good info, Bob...
MundaniaPressCEO: If you have any questions you can e-mail me and I'll try to answer them.
Schoonerben: Great session!!! Totally I'm gonna leran words and writin an sech
MundaniaPressCEO: Give me a few business days to get back to you.
MundaniaPressCEO: I'll be online for a few minutes...if you'd like to chat please feel free. Nite!!
RLMorgan51: E-mail address please.....Thanks
HOST WPLC Dee R: Can you give us your web address once more...so everyone is sure to have it...ty
Fjm3eyes: bye Lera
Beccastrat: Goodnight everyone.
HOST WPLC Sushi: we'll send the Log out soon, perhaps tomorrow. also post this session on our Guest Speaker pages.
RLMorgan51: GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE :-)
HOST WPLC Dee R: thanks...
MundaniaPressCEO: email@example.com is my main e-mail address.
SarahStNy: Bob...I don't know if this was asked....do you publish collections of short stories?
Adorablady: Great Book... Amanda's Rib
G1ft0fgabn0t: <><><>applause<><><> Thank you for an informative session. G'nite everyone :)
HOST WPLC Dee R: excellent session!!!!
MundaniaPressCEO: Yes Sarah as a matter of fact we are up for some of awards for them. check them out on our site!!
HOST WPLC Dee R: thanks, bob
Dhewco: Thanks [for] all the comments on my article!
Lightningbug1957: You don't want the marketing plan with the query letter and first couple of chapters, do you?
MundaniaPressCEO: Yes Lightning that is ideal.
Lightningbug1957: really. I'll keep that in mind
HOST WPLC Dee R: Bob, thanks again for a good session...
2/21/05 8:03:08 PM Closing "Chat Log 2/21/05"
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