Monday, December 1, 2008

GumboWriters Interview with Publisher, Jeremy Townsend from PublishingWorks

What is Publishing Works exactly?
We call ourselves an independent publisher because we work very closely with each author independently. In some cases we develop an idea for a book or series with an author. Also we handle every aspect of publishing, including the distribution and sales. That's very unusual for a small press.

When did you begin and where do you see the company going?

I've been in book publishing since 1981, and started PublishingWorks in 2003 originally as a subsidy press for local authors. We rapidly grew and changed our model to include standard contracts and rights sales. We incorporated in 2007 and bought out our sister company, Revolution Booksellers, to bring the marketing, publicity and sales in house. We also added a digital color printer and now have a digital black & white printer, a perfect binder, and full design staff to handle ARCs and small runs of poetry or memoirs.

We are working to expand our sales efforts by adding traveling sales representation next year. We want to be able to service independent booksellers more readily and with fewer hassles and returns.

What makes Publishing Works different than any other publishing company?

We approach each author and project individually, and specialize in bringing out debut authors. And we don't abandon our authors after the first book. Instead, we strive to build a long-term relationship with each author.

How are you modifying your business decisions based on the rapid changes in the publishing industry?

We feel we are somewhat ahead of the game because our business model is different from most other small and medium presses, so we are not modifying as much as continuing with what is working. We are moving (slowly) into eBooks, but do not see that growing too much in the coming year.

What do you see most of the publishing industry doing wrong and what are you doing to rectify the situation?

I've always been amazed at the amount of money book publishers will throw towards "established" authors in terms of advances and advertising budgets, while neglecting the unknown but potentially good selling authors. We work with our authors to find the best way to get a book out and into the marketplace, and rely on our authors to do a great deal of marketing and sales work. We also develop our contracts to be mutually beneficial. The standard contract most publishers use is outdated and not at all motivating to the author or publisher.

Is Publishing Works a POD publisher or a vanity press in any way?

We do have the facilities to do very short runs for poetry or memoirs (that are not for retail). We have not done POD books, however, because we are really too small for that type of production, and there are plenty of outfits out there who can offer services like that for very little money.

We are not in any way a vanity press; however, we do different types of contract arrangements depending on the author's experience, the type of book, and what rights the author wants to retain.

What type of books are you looking for at Publishing Works and what type of authors?

We are open to almost everything! We are looking for more mysteries, middle reader series (especially those aimed at boys, African Americans, or other "neglected" groups of readers), as well as quality nonfiction. As I mentioned above, we need authors who are go-getters and willing to put themselves out there to push their books. They can't be shy!

How do writers contact you if they're interested in submitting?
E-mail or phone is best: or 603-778-9883. We will first want to know about the writer, then see some samples or a synopsis of the proposed project. We also need to find out what the writer's goals are and how he/she plans to meet those goals, and where a publisher would fit in.