Fresh Ideas. New Voices.

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So you want to start a publishing company


It was a lazy Saturday morning in March when I first thought about starting a publishing company. I'd translated a fantastic little book from Japanese to English, and approached a couple of publishers about it, but nobody showed any interest. This was a world away from the kind of responses I was used to when I worked in computer publishing, where publishers are people who help you to get good books published. I noticed a few other things that irked me about the Christian publishing world compared to what I'd be used to, and so I decided to strike out with a new venture. But how? How do you start a publishing company?

I turned to a friend of mine who'd done it already, starting Onyx Neon press, and asked for her advice. As it turns out, it's actually pretty easy.

In fact, it's so easy, I'd like lots of other people to be doing it too.

So to run a publishing company, you need three things. First, you need a contract with a printer to produce the books for you. Second, you need a way to get your books distributed and available in places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. We use a company called Lightning Source, which does both things: prints books and gets them into distribution channels, specifically the Ingram group, which is one of the largest book distribution companies. Their production model is a heck of a lot cheaper than other providers like Lulu or Createspace. (In fact, Lulu and Createspace use Lightning Source for their printing and distribution - they do very little themselves!) Aaron Shepard's book on publishing via Lightning Source is a great guide to getting set up and getting files to them.

That's the boring part, but that's why you get someone else to do it, and you can get on with the important thing: you need some titles to publish. This is the fun part - finding emerging authors, and working with them to create good books.

Once you've got a manuscript, you can then designing the interior and cover, typeset, edit, proof-read, review, (OK, maybe the process is a little involved after all...) and finally shipping the finished files off to your printer.

Then it's all about getting the word out, working your contacts and drumming up sales.

Why am I telling you this? Well, just as in the same way that we want to hear fresh ideas and new voices in our books, we'd love to see new publishing companies spring up to encourage other kinds of books and media from first-time authors and the majority world. We really believe in opportunity, and if you're providing others with the opportunity to get their ideas across, particularly in areas that we aren't working in, then you're helping us to achieve our vision.

Go out there and get publishing!