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Fantastic Books and Warren Lapine and Pennterra, Oh My! 
9th-Apr-2009 06:49 am
At Vicki's
You've probably read about Warren Lapine's return to publishing (if not, check it out at http://sfscope.com/2009/01/warren-lapine-returns-to-sf-wi.html). One of his projects (he's got several) is . . .
well, I'll let Marty Halpern, who is (inter alia) a freelance acquisitions editor for Lapine's new genre imprint, Fantastic Books, tell about it. This is from Marty's blog, More Red Ink http://martyhalpern.blogspot.com/2009/02/warren-lapine-and-fantastic-books.html:

. . . So what does this mean for you, the author? I am currently acquiring out-of-print backlist titles -- sf, fantasy, horror, slipstream, etc. If you have an oop book that you would like to make available to today's readers, so that they don't have to search the used bookstores for a copy (the purchase of which doesn't make you, the author, any money), then please do contact me. My email addy is marty dot halpern at gmail dot com.

While I think the world of Marty, I was initially skeptical about what he's proposing here. The reprints will all be POD, and I know all too well (some of) what that means, after spending a year self-publishing The Bird Shaman. On the other hand, Lapine isn't asking authors to pay a cent, which certainly makes a refreshing change. He's even scanning titles that aren't already in electronic form, cleaning up the scans, and providing the author with a copy of the file. The royalty is 10% of cover price. Unless you think somebody is about to beat down your door with a better offer, this is a way of getting your OP titles back in print, and as such it might well be worth considering.

I decided to test the waters by allowing Marty to acquire my 1987 novel Pennterra for Fantastic Books. Pennterra is my "Quaker novel" and the only one of my novels set offworld. It's been out of print for a long time, though copies are available from online bookstores and sometimes even in physical used book ones, I'm told (thank you, mmaresca!), and also from my attic if anybody wants to know.

This is by way of being a trial balloon, but if I like the result, and in the highly probable event that no better offer turns up, I expect to let Marty acquire my trilogy too. And I'm sure he would love to acquire yours, and to provide more info if you want more.

No doubt we would all prefer new hardcover edition from commercial presses, but so far I've been happy enough with what I've seen. I'll let you know how it turns out.
9th-Apr-2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
What would you consider a goal point to consider the POD venture with your book a success?
9th-Apr-2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
If it's a quality product--good enough paper, nice cover design--and if Lapine advertizes it enthusiastically in Realms of Fantasy, which he now owns, and if it literally costs me nothing but brings in a little income, I guess that would do it for me. The contract states that you can get out with 30 days' notice, so it shouldn't prevent anybody from accepting a better offer. But I have nothing to lose from this, as long as the product's not shoddy. I can see why people more advantageously placed, shall we say, might have other issues. What would success amount to for you?
11th-Apr-2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
I guess I would probably say it was pretty sucessful if the reprint saw 500 copies sold in the first year. But if you have a book that has been out of print for quite a while I imagine a goal might be set for less then that since you wouldn't have been seeing any profit on it in a while, so something is better than nothing.

Thats why I wondered what your particular goal points might be.

A good cover and a good advertising is different a good goal to set for the publishing company. But I don't know if I'd feel too bad if I didn't like the cover, but the book sold a lot. Just as long as the actual content is still something that matched my expectations.

11th-Apr-2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
In the case of Pennterra, I haven't seen any profits (other than copies I've sold myself, out of my attic) since it went OP around 1989! That's why my goals are so modest--anything at all looks good after 20 years of zero. But that's also why I say someone positioned differently would have a different standard.

I agree that brisk sales obviate a lot of other considerations. If the book sold well I probably wouldn't care if they put Godzilla on the cover! But a REALLY bad cover can hurt sales too.
9th-Apr-2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
Will you let us know what the quality's like, when you see an actual copy?
9th-Apr-2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
9th-Apr-2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you...!

*has backlist*
9th-Apr-2009 04:57 pm (UTC) - Pennterra & Fantastic Books
Hi, Judy,
Thanks for the nice plug of my acquisition, and even of my blog. Keep in mind, everyone, that this is a new venture (or should I say "adventure"?) for me as well. I'm just as anxious to see the quality of the layout, the cover, etc. Since this is POD, we know up front that the book cover isn't going to be an original piece of art by Eggleton or Picacio or J.K. Potter; it's probably going to be something that's public domain, but there really is some great stuff out there. So we shall see. Warren has just informed me that he's received the scanned file of the book, so hopefully we should see some layout pages shortly. I'll make sure we get a preview of the cover as well.
- marty
9th-Apr-2009 05:30 pm (UTC) - Re: Pennterra & Fantastic Books
Hey, you're welcome, and thanks for the update!
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