What you should know before choosing BioMed Publishing Group as your publisher
t is every author's dream to walk into a Barnes and Noble and see their book displayed proudly on the new release stand. And, who can blame any new author for such a dream? After all, this is what it means to be a successful author, right?
Well, sometimes. There are over 100,000 new books published each year. Yet, the typical Barnes and Noble (or chain bookstore) only stocks about 10,000 titles. The typical independent bookstore stocks even fewer titles. This means that the majority of new books never see the shelves of Barnes and Noble. What differentiates the books that get into Barnes & Noble from the books that do not, is not necessarily quality, but instead, the business plan of the publisher releasing the book.
The large New York publishers produce hundreds of new titles per year, many of which end up on the shelves of chain bookstores. Small presses such as Biomed Publishing Group produce only a few new titles per year, most of which never see the shelves of Barnes and Noble. Why the difference?
Getting your book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble is a very expensive undertaking. So expensive in fact, that many small presses cannot participate in the activity. The fact that the larger presses can afford this activity may seem appealing to you, and in some cases it may benefit your book. However, when you look behind the scenes, the truth may shock you.
Let's start with the math. In order to make a profit on books which are widely distributed in chain and independent bookstores, a publisher must release at least one bestseller per year, or more. By bestseller we mean a book that sells more than 10,000 to 20,000 copies right out of the gates. New York Times bestsellers typically sell more than 100,000 copies. Easy, you may be thinking – your book is great! Well, not so easy, actually. The average published book never sells more than 100 copies, and it is a rare title indeed that sells 1,000 copies per year steadily. Great books (which yours might be) may sell 2,000-5,000 copies per year. But still not enough to justify being stocked on the shelves of a major bookstore. Disappointing? Maybe, but its reality.
Think about how many books actually make it onto the New York Times bestseller list. Only a handful per year, in contrast to the 100,000 or so books published every year. This means that very few titles make it. In fact, the chances of your book becoming a runaway bestseller are about the same as the chances of you winning the lottery. But don’t despair! You can still be a successful author, and make money doing so, without being a New York Times best-selling author. We will get to that in a minute, but first let's return to the comparison between small presses and large presses.
Here is the reason why the ability for a large press to get your book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble may not be as appealing as you think. Large presses are always searching for that next bestseller. They know it doesn't happen very often. So they publish hordes of books each year, waiting for the magic one to hit. If your book is that magic book, you can expect wealth, fame, and a long career of lucrative authorship. If that is you, congratulations! However, the chances of that becoming you are next to none. I'm not saying your book is not a good book. Instead, I am saying, realistically, your book is probably not one in 100,000. If it is
one in 100,000, you should definitely publish with a large press.
So what happens to the other books that are good books, worthy of being published, but not the one in 100,000? This is where the difference between small presses and large presses becomes obvious and important. With a large press, these books are generally ignored, allowed to go out of print, and considered history. With a small press, these books are the bread and butter of profitability and are treated with the utmost priority. Let’s take a closer look.
Small presses vs.
Large publishers place a new book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble for a few months, and if sales do not skyrocket, the book is tossed onto what we call the “backlist,” which basically means that the book remains available for sale through standard routes of distribution, but for all intents and purposes, the large publisher basically considers the book a failed endeavor and never gives it any thought or attention again. Sure, the author may sell a few hundred copies here or there, but that's it. Game over. By the time your publishing rep reads your e-mails asking why the book is not selling better, the rep is already moving on to the next 30 “potential” bestsellers. You are history. Any other way, and the large publisher would go out of business. Their business is not that of good books which sell a modest number of copies; their business is strictly that of creating bestsellers, and any book less than this is considered collateral damage. The large presses hope that their losses on the majority of the books they publish are made up for by the jackpots they hit on that magic book which they tirelessly pursue.
The strategy that the large presses use is to basically throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. If your book sticks, you make it big. If your book does not stick, it's over for you.
Here's where we come in. Biomed publishing group is a small press. We do not have the resources or the capital to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars publishing hundreds of books and hoping one becomes a bestseller. In fact, the very nature of our publishing niche (including Lyme Disease, alternative medicine, mercury poisoning, etc) virtually guarantees that we will never produce a bestseller. Bestsellers are written about topics that appeal to the masses. Specific health-related topics almost never fit this description. Even general, alternative medicine titles rarely reach this level. For every New York Times bestselling alternative medicine book, there are hundreds or thousands that only sell a few thousand copies.
So it is not even our goal to launch a bestseller. Depressing? Well, not really. See, the way our business is set up, we do not need to produce bestsellers in order to produce successful authors and make a profit for our company and our authors. By forgoing the behemoth expenses involved in the game of throwing spaghetti at the wall, we are able to keep our profits high, failures low, and keep a steady stream of quality books coming off the press. We are also able to dedicate the time and energy necessary to educate our authors and provide them the best chances of releasing a great book. Not a New York Times Bestseller, but a great book nonetheless.
What this means for you is that we will not throw your book away if it does not sell 100,000 copies. We will continue to nurture your book along, providing it with a chance to remain in circulation, even if it only sells a few hundred or a few thousand copies. This type of business plan is what is known as “the new publishing business,” and is becoming quite common in the new millennium. This business plan is basically what allows good authors, who have good books but may not be the next Stephen King, to play the game. 100 years ago, we could never have given these authors such an opportunity. What changed to allow this new situation? Basically, the internet. Online booksellers like Amazon.com, and the ability for small presses to maintain their own internet presence, has
leveled the playing field and opened the door for thousands of new authors to have a chance. If we like your book and we think you can be successful, we can give you that chance. You will probably not become a New York Times best-selling author through BioMed Publishing Group. However, unfortunately, the same is probably true should you publish through a large press.
What we offer you is a more measured, consistent, realistic approach to publishing. Such an approach is becoming more and more common and has provided success for thousands of new authors since the debut of the internet. Bryan Rosner is one author who uses this approach, and has sold for a reasonable profit over 10,000 copies of his books.
Tail" of publishing
The "Long Tail." The green portion of the graph
represents the traditional, dying business model,
wherein publishers seek to release broad content
that appeals to the masses. The yellow portion of the
graph is the new publishing model where niche
topics are released, focusing on reaching more and
more targeted audiences.
We did not invent this new approach. This type of
publishing is becoming widely known and recognized in the days of the
internet. In fact, the editor-in-chief of Wired
Magazine, Chris Anderson, recently published a book called The
Long Tail, which centers around the theme that "the future of
business is selling less of more." In his
blog, Chris explains how this works. Think about it...the future of
business is selling less of more.
What this means is that the mainstream, untargeted,
sell-to-the-masses approach is being replaced with increasingly
targeted, specialized, specific information due to the coherency,
cost-effectiveness, and accessibility of the internet and of a near
infinite quantity of data. When you want to look something up on the
internet, you are no longer satisfied with a brief summary of your
chosen topic - you are instead looking for a detailed analysis of it,
such as what you would find on Wikipedia.
The same is becoming true in publishing. People are expecting highly
targeted, "don't-waste-my-time," niche writing that focuses
precisely on what they are interested in reading about....such as Lyme
disease, for example.
Chris Anderson's central idea, a model called
"The Long Tail," is represented by Figure 1.
In this model, publishers release targeted content, instead of widely
appealing content for the masses. The front of the curve in the graph
(green area) is comprised of the broad ideas that appeal to most
everyone, such as fad diet books, and the back of the curve (the
"long tail," yellow area) is comprised of the nearly unlimited
number of targeted, specific ideas that appeal to niche audiences, for
example, alternative treatments for Lyme disease.
BioMed Publishing Group is an example
of a "new model publisher" that follows the principles in
Chris Anderson's book. Interestingly, we discovered this business model
without having ever heard about the book or the concept; we arrived here
simply by many iterations of our own strategic analysis processes. It
was only later that we stumbled upon the best-selling book "The
Long Tail" and said to ourselves, "hmmm...that looks right,
and that is what we are doing." Do best-selling, untargeted books
still work? Yes, but it is becoming an increasingly difficult endeavor
(as if it weren't difficult enough already!) and this is evidenced by
the fact that many long-standing New York publishers are consolidating
and going out of business, while publishing companies like ours grow and
thrive in this new environment.
more about The Long Tail on Wikipedia.
Now, here's the catch. Our business model is not without its disadvantages. The primary disadvantage is that we do not endeavor to put your book on the shelves of independent or chain bookstores. The market for such shelf space is so fiercely competitive that only the mammoth publishing companies with millions of dollars in capital can play the game effectively. We cannot play the game, and if we tried, it would bankrupt us. So, if you publish with us, chances are, you will not see your book on the shelves of your local Barnes and Noble or local mom and pop independent bookstore. If you have a favorite local bookstore, you can instruct them to order copies of your book directly from us. However, it will be unlikely that you will see your book on the shelves of numerous stores across numerous cities and states.
If your sales take off, and your book begins to become a runaway success, we may choose to change our marketing strategy and play the game the large presses play. However, doing so requires us to take a major risk and we do not take such a decision lightly. Many small presses have been added to
the publisher graveyard by making mistakes in this area. You probably do not keep up with publishing news as much as we do, but if you do, you have
noted the huge number of publishers and distributors that have gone out of business over the last 10 years or so. The publishing industry is cutthroat and very difficult to survive in. We make decisions that ensure our survival and at the same time promote our authors in a sustainable fashion. The internet has largely given us the ability to achieve this as a small press. If we took a huge risk for a single title, such as your book, and if we failed and went out of business, all of our other titles would suffer and perhaps go out of print as a result of that single risk. We do not believe this is good business nor is it fair to the other titles we publish. Nonetheless, should your book take off, we may decide to pursue bookstore sales.
Harry Potter is an example of a risk that paid off big. But how many Harry Potters are there? Too few, unfortunately. We are not willing to gamble our business on the lone chance that you have written the next Harry Potter. Don’t forget that Harry Potter was written for the masses. Your book was probably written for a niche audience. And, in the event your book was written for the masses, it is still unlikely that in such a competitive environment your book will rise to the very top.
What we offer
So what does all of this mean to you? It means that, if you publish with us, we would like to tell you upfront that the majority of our publishing efforts will be targeted at online sales through our publisher website and through retailers such as Amazon.com, instead of bricks and mortar bookstores. If you cannot live with this, then Biomed Publishing Group is the wrong publisher for you.
We’ve spent a considerable amount of time telling you about the type of publishing we do not do. Now lets talk about what we actually do. The following are primary methods through which we sell books:
1. We ensure that your book is in stock and available for sale on websites such as Amazon.com and bn.com (Barnes and Noble).
2. We offer your book for sale on our world-class, highly ranked publisher website,
3. If we feel your book would appeal to our existing
customers, we will inform them of your book. Our readership includes customers who have previously purchased books from our
company, and our mailing list is approximately 8,000 customers and growing. They may or may not choose to buy your book.
4. While we leave a large portion of editing up to our
authors, we do provide your book with some degree of editing and we
can help you to connect with freelance editors. On the other hand, we
take 100% responsibility for providing your book with top-notch,
professional cover design, layout, typesetting, production, printing,
storage, logistics and shipping services.
5. We provide you, as the author, the best tools available to successfully create your own author platform through which you can sell books (or enhance your existing platform should you already have one). An “author platform” is just a fancy term for the ability for you to command a growing audience, communicate with that audience, and build sales through that audience, based on your expertise and professional position in your field. Some of the strategies we use for author platform support include:
a. We make “author copies” available for you to purchase directly from us. You can sell these author copies to your friends, clients, customers, listeners, or to whomever your audience happens to be. You can have your own website and sell books through the
internet; if you do not yet have a website, we will build one for
you. If you have a website, we will help integrate your book with
your website and help you set up e-commerce for accepting online
orders. You can make a reasonable profit on these author copies, generally around 40% of the cover price of your book. If you are a smart author, you can really capitalize on this avenue and build a business. Your 40% profit in this area far exceeds the regular 10%-20% royalty we
typically pay you for books which are sold through our website or through
b. We help you set up an online presence, including, if you are interested, a video blog, text blog, or just an author biographical website.
c. We create printed flyers for your book which you
can distribute at seminars, in your community, or through your
d. We offer free consultation to our authors by phone or e-mail to answer questions and provide direction as to how our authors can best spend their time to be profitable and create a growing readership.
6. We produce a printed catalog which we include with all of our outgoing book orders. We revise this catalog
approximately once a year, at which time your new book will be included in the
catalog (inclusion depends on whether or not your book is consistent
with our subject matter). This places your book in front of thousands of prospective buyers. In this way, we have gone against the grain of traditional Internet publishing. How many book catalogs do you get in the mail? Probably very few. Since almost everything related to publishing has gone to the Internet, we believe this printed catalog gives us a distinctive advantage in effectively reaching readers.
7. We are experts in search engine optimization. This is the key to successfully selling books online. While the Internet has leveled the playing field, it has also expanded the playing field tremendously. There are thousands of new players, and new players are entering the field every day. This means that potential readers may never find your book because of the vast number of books available online. Search engine optimization is just what it sounds like – the task of optimizing a website to ensure that browsers using search engines such as Google and Yahoo will find your book if they are looking for related content. In the Internet era, search engine optimization can literally make or break the success of a newly published
8. While your book will probably not be stocked in chain or independent
bookstores, it will be available through many (but not all) stores as a special order.
9. We will expertly market your book according to the
organic, Web 2.0 rules that govern successful internet
book promotion, including use of blogs, online discussion groups,
digital press releases, digital catalog inclusion, and book industry
10. Depending on the subject matter and intended
audience of your book, we will develop custom marketing approaches
that are tailored to your specific situation.
In conclusion, we may be the right publisher for you, or we may not be. Only you can decide. We have successfully published various books according to the above business plan, and our company is currently thriving in our chosen niche.
We hope this document has given you a solid introduction to the bookselling industry and to the services we offer. The internet has changed everything in the publishing business, and we have endeavored to stay ahead of the curve in this regard in order to remain profitable and provide our authors with the best chance of success. We choose to look at your book as a potentially great book that can stand on its own, not as a 1 in 100,000 chance of being the next New York Times bestseller.
The above introduction to our publishing business and how it operates is a summary only, and is not all-inclusive. If you have questions, or would like an expanded explanation of any of the above points, you can reach our office at (530) 541-7200. Please note that the above description of our services should not be interpreted as a contractual obligation for Biomed Publishing Group to perform. It is not a binding agreement. Instead it serves only as an informal, rough overview of our business model and our approach to publishing.
Publisher, BioMed Publishing Group
Phone: (530) 541-7200
Fax: (530) 452-1970