Interview Q&A: Catherine Cousins, 2QT Publishing
Having produced a number of audio books, I have never really had much of an understanding about the process of book publishing or how it works. This indepth blog interview is with Catherine Cousins of 2QT Limited who kindly agreed to answer many of the key questions I had about book publishing.
What is the difference between small/independent book publishers and a major publisher (Publishing House)?
The key difference is, with major publishers (publishing houses) the Publisher takes on all of the costs of the publication – production through to marketing. The author will be paid a royalty on every book sold, and some may receive an up front fee to write the book. As a result the author may find they have less control over their book rights / production – but of course greater potential of sales due to the marketing power that some of the larger publishing houses have.
Smaller publishing companies may not offer up front fees to authors and some may offer a joint partnership where the author pays an amount and the publisher will cover the remaining costs to produce, publish and market their book for a set number of years. Again, control over how your book is produced is limited and you will need to read the contracts carefully to see what your commitments are and what the payback will be.
You should be aware that a Publishing House would have a greater say in how your book is published and when it will be published. We are aware of one author who was accepted by a Publishing House only to wait 5 years for his book to be published. You also need to be aware that although they may accept your manuscript today they may decide at a later date not to go ahead.
Other publishing companies like 2QT offer more of a self-publishing service where the author pays for what he requires, and in this I would include POD (Print on Demand) Companies. Its great to have all these options for authors – there is something in there for all levels, budgets and aspirations. As with most industries there are good and bad so do look around – their publications will tell you a lot about the quality of a publisher.
How would an Author go about finding the right publisher for their book?
Decide what your aim is in getting your book published, do you want to become the next JK Rowling and have writing as your sole income, is it a burning ambition just to get your book published or maybe you want to pursue writing part time. It’s important to set your expectations on where and how you envisage or want to achieve with your book.
Research, research, research… Have a look at publishers on the internet, in Magazines like Writing Magazine and the many books about getting your works published for example, the Writer’s Handbook 2010, find those publishing houses that publish the same or similar type or genre of book and order one of their publications. Consider the genre of your book. Some publishers specialise in certain genres so it’s worth doing some research, as you may be more successful with submitting your manuscript to a specialist publisher. If they require submissions what is their process. Some will only accept submissions via an agent.
If you think that in 2009 published titles in the UK alone rose to over 150,000 titles – that was an increase of just over 3% in 2008 – as an author competition for major Publishing houses to take on your book is extremely high. Publishers are also having to contend with a challenging market so they will only take on titles they feel confident will give them a good return on their investment. It’s quite an achievement to get your book accepted by a publishing house or small publisher. If you have a book about a specific area that is considered a niche market then you have a greater chance. Some publishing houses only look at specific genres e.g. business, climbing/ the outdoors etc.
If you are serious about approaching a Publishing House they advise getting yourself an agent – as many will not accept submissions direct from an author.
When looking at the Self publishing route consider what can you realistically afford – you may have to wait some time to see any returns on your investment so my advice is don’t overstretch. Have a look at what the self publishing, POD and the joint partnership publishers offer – make sure you are getting what you are paying for and again make sure you get independent advice when signing any contracts. Do your sums – what may appear to be a great price for publishing, may not be value in real terms when looking at return on investment over the longer term.
Having listened to authors one of the things they look for is relationship with the publisher. We focus quite a bit on relationships with our authors – for us it’s about creating an enjoyable experience alongside delivering a book they can be proud of. We know authors can be very protective with their work – and why not many hours have been invested in creating the work. We respect that and comments from our authors tell us we manage the relationship side of the service pretty well!
What is self publishing and is it worth doing?
Self publishing is where the author pays in part or full for the publishing of his/her work. There are POD – Print on Demand options at one end of the scale and joint partnership options at the other. For me it does come down to what you want out of publishing your book. My advice is to look carefully on what’s on offer and do your sums. Look again at the quality of production – remember you are going to be competing with over 150,000 other titles – and this is just for UK market – so quality is really important in my opinion.
You will need to check on what the publisher offers in terms of publishing and registering your book – for example you may need to obtain your own ISBN – others may offer this but not register it with the correct agencies. In order to sell your book commercially you will require an ISBN. Some self-publishers may not complete your copyright obligation of sending your book to the National Libraries etc – there is an expectation on the side of the author to research and to know all of this.
Here at 2QT we sit between a POD and the joint partnership – we don’t have any contracts, we offer most of the services a publishing house offers like copy editing, full ISBN registration and listings with all bookshops and online booksellers but with a range of payment options as well as a step by step process where you decide when to proceed and at what pace.
So is it worth doing? – Yes I think so and if you can find a publisher who is professional and passionate about their titles then you have a greater chance of success with your book. I also think the market reflects demand with the increase in book publications and increase in publishing services. With greater online access it offers a wider audience to promote your book to.
What is an ISBN number and is it important?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It’s a unique 13 digit number that is assigned to every edition/variation of a published book (with the exception of a reprint). It’s primarily used by commercial booksellers for identification and cataloguing. It’s important in that it helps people find your book and booksellers to catalogue your book. If you have the ISBN of a book and go into any bookseller on the high street or online you will be able to access the details of the book. Lots of books have the same title or similar! Some older titles may have a 10 digit ISBN. The 13 Digit came into being in 2007. Your book could be printed without an ISBN however it will limit its salability.
Do publishers promote and market my book?
That really depends on the type of publisher. If we stick to self-publishing then generally promotion and marketing is down to you. Joint partnership publishing will promote and market your book usually for a period of time – the average being 2 years. Even with this option the author is expected to take their share of promotion and marketing, and will be asked to provide the publisher with avenues, which they can use.
Major Publishing Houses have greater clout both financially and in terms of capacity when it comes to marketing their publications, however, again you are the author so expect to be involved in book signings and other promotions. Marketing books is a costly business and most self publishers/small publishers don’t have the level of financial influence that major publishers have.
2QT don’t offer a marketing package as such as we don’t feel the costing is transparent enough. We have had experience of publishers charging a lot of money for marketing books and not seeing where that’s gone in terms of the return. What we do is offer some promotion at the start in terms of getting the titles listed on most online booksellers and all our titles are listed in book catalogues that all booksellers use. We are always developing our avenues to market and where we have a success this is shared with all our authors. We also invite authors to share their experiences, tips and successes and are currently developing a platform on our website to capture this.
What format can my book be published in?
A book can be published in many formats and sizes – here at 2QT we produce books for our authors in Hardback, Paperback, and for our books for the younger reader, in PPC – Printed Paper case – which is where the cover is printed directly onto the board. We also publish Audio books MP3 download, e-books. With audio books we work with a producer who manages the readers and editing of the audio recording whilst we manage the publishing, duplication and packaging aspects.
Is there a good market in e-books?
I think it’s a growing market and something authors should consider. There are still some issues with Readers – the hardware designed specifically for reading e-books. However, with big companies like Sony, the Amazon Kindle and now Apple with their new iPad have invested in this type of technology, my guess is that it’s only a matter of time before we see a surge in this format.
What happens to the proceeds of my book?
It can vary from publisher to publisher. Where the publisher has invested in the publication of your book then they will need to get a return on that. In this case the author will receive a royalty (a fixed fee per book sold). A typical publishing House will offer 7-10% of the Nett value of any sale – each publisher will have their own terms.
By Nett, I mean after any discounts from booksellers (who expect 40-60% discount) and other costs. We personally know of one fairly well known author with a number of titles under her belt and who is with a major publishing house who specialize in her genre and she gets around 40 pence per book sold. Her book retails for £12.99.
With 2QT any profits from the sale of a book go to the author – we do not take any additional percentage other than our costs, which are agreed with the author. Our authors tend to receive pounds rather than pennies from the sale of their books
How would I submit my book to a publisher?
With 2QT we do not accept any book as it’s in our interest and our authors interests to retain a level of quality and integrity. So we do ask that you submit your book – usually in word/pdf double spaced in a font like Times or Arial size 12 and in A4 size. If you have not completed your novel then a chapter with a synopsis will suffice. A lot of authors ask us about copyright – here at 2QT we assure anyone who submits their work that copyright is not affected and you will retain 100% of copyright/ownership
With other publishers they will have their own criteria so check it out on their website or give them a call. And again many publishing houses will only accept submissions via agents.
What is the process of publishing my book?
The process varies from publisher to publisher. With 2QT it usually follows that: –
- You get in touch with us either by telephone or by sending us your contact details (via our website).
- We will send you a form to complete, which just gives us some initial information to provide you with a quote. You will also need to send us a copy of your book or at least an excerpt and synopsis of your book.
- If you are happy with the initial estimated quote we would need a full electronic copy of your work, if you have not already submitted it.
- We can then complete a full review of the book and make recommendations on whether it requires any additional services like a full edit. We provide you with a quotation on this. You are free to use your own editor. We do recommend that you do have your work edited. All our titles are proofread as standard practice before going to print.
- Design – we will help you decide on the format of your book – size, type of font and layout. With the cover – we will work with you to design a cover for your book. Again you may already have a designer or you can use our designers. We do have a standard of cover that we will accept as again it’s in all our interests to have a cover that looks professional.
- Once we have agreed on the format and layout, 2QT will typeset the book and cover ready for final sign off and for the printers. We also allocate an ISBN and register the title with the agencies that provide the listings titles for all publications. We try to do this in advance as booksellers like to get the information as soon as is possible.
- The books usually take around 14 days to print. 2QT retain a number of copies – for posting to the national Libraries as part of Copyright Act and for any initial orders from online booksellers, the rest we send on to you. We also enhance the listings on Amazon for you. For example, activate the ‘search inside‘. We will also talk to you about other ways we can promote your book that you can opt in to.
- We have a number of options on how to manage the sales of your book and how we can assist.
- Throughout the process you can have as much involvement as you like and we also offer a stage by stage costing to fit in with your budget.
- It can take approximately 6-8 weeks from initial contact to delivery of your published book. However you set the pace and it may take longer.
What are the costs involved?
It really depends on what route you take. If we look at self publishing then the costs can vary from £500 – £5,000 depending on the service you are looking for.
Most joint partnership publishers will charge more to cover the marketing/ promotion of your title.
We are very transparent with our costs – and provide a breakdown of each process. We have authors who have paid as little as £450 for 100 books.
Main financial costs involved with 2QT are: –
- ISBN allocation and registration
- Copy editing and proof reading
- Cover design
- Typesetting of book and cover
- Printer costs (includes a barcode)
- Postage and Packaging
Why choose 2QT?
2QT Publishing is about offering flexible and affordable publishing services to authors, writers and businesses. It also offers authors an additional route to market/selling outlet through our online shop (as well as an online resource).
Our aim is to publish and produce a quality product that matches if not exceeds that of major publishing houses. Our approach enables writers to retain control and ownership of their work throughout whilst offering them a range of publishing services that include editing, proofing, cover design, ISBN registration, copyright and printing. We continue to develop our services and now include audiobooks and eBooks offering a wider range of published mediums / services. To encourage and support writers in their development and success we also plan to offer an online platform that will promote the sharing of knowledge and experience from ourselves, writers and those involved in the publishing world. It will become a valuable resource for anyone looking to publish his or her work.
We want writers/ authors to be proud of their published work and receive value for their work. 2QT Publishing want to become known as a publisher that is transparent in its intent, professional yet personal in its approach and demonstrates integrity and passion in its delivery.
Feel free to comment and discuss below. You can contact Catherine Cousins through her website www.2qt.co.uk