Blog, I feel if I have successfully anthropomorphized my blog, there’s no good reason why I can’t anthropomorphize my publishing business as well. The way Living Beyond Reality Press came to be is pretty quirky, so I’m hoping some of our readers will enjoy hearing how I came to choose self publishing and why I‘m glad I did. Rock it, Blog!
LBR: Thanks. Wow, love what you’ve done with the place.
Blog: Um, thanks! So, I’ve heard your beginnings had something to do with Sting, and something to do with Canada. Do tell!
LBR: The Sting part is easy to explain: Back in the early 90s, Diana had a bit of a Sting obsession, which led to her studying his favorite guy, Carl Jung, which lead to her writing a self-help book about Jungian psychology called Living Beyond Reality: A Jungian Primer for Enhancing Your Life.
LBR: The tantric--oh, you mean Sting and Trudy? Uh, no, not really.
Blog: Go on.
LBR: So, in 1997 Diana found a publisher for the book, an Edmonton-based company called Commonwealth Publications.
LBR: Right. And publication of that book as well as her novel The Resurrection of Captain Eternity were in the works when Diana got the news that they were going out of business.
Blog: That’s kind of “eh,” eh?
LBR: Another Canada joke? Are you going to work in poutine and beavers here somehow too?
Blog: Sorry. I should have said “that stings,” I guess. But seriously, what a bummer.
LBR: It was. But Diana determined to make lemonade out of lemons and did a short print run of both books herself. Set up the book blocks in Word and worked with a local printer, and filed the paperwork to start me up in early 1998!
Blog: How exciting!
LBR: And to promote the books, she started http://www.livingbeyondreality.com/, on that relatively new thing known as the Worldwide Web.
Blog: And the rest, as they say, is history?
LBR: Well, the next several years that was pretty much it, the two books selling occasionally off the website. Not a really big sales channel. So in 2004 Diana started submitting manuscripts to small independent publishers and that’s how she hooked up with New Age Dimensions. They released several books for her over the next year or so, both as those new things known as ebooks and as paperbacks. She became the publisher’s biggest seller and it was quite thrilling.
Blog: Success at last!
LBR: Well, yes and no. NAD also went out of business, just before a new Diana Laurence title was due to be released.
Blog: It’s enough to make an author feel like she’s the kiss of death.
Blog: Were they?
LBR: No actually, they were exhausting. She had a month (the due date set by advance publicity for her new book) to publish four ebooks and three paperbacks and get the old website set up to sell them. But it got done and there was much rejoicing!
Blog: And the rest is history!
LBR: Yes! And you know the best part?
LBR: I don’t ever have to go out of business! At least as long as Diana’s around.
Blog: That is very nice! So how had the bookselling business changed from 1998 to 2005?
LBR: Dramatically. In 2005 there was Lightning Source, Inc., a subsidiary of Ingram, which not only prints paperbacks on demand but handles their distribution to all the major book retailers. Like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, in fact any bookstore that wants to stock them or sell them online. There’s a charge for the printing of course, but the profit we make is WAY bigger than a traditional royalty payment. Like ten times bigger.
Blog: Sweet. And the books look just like what the big houses print?
LBR: You can’t tell any difference. Then there’s ebooks. Lightning Source does the distribution of ebooks for Borders, Kobo, and many online retailers like Diesel Books and eBookMall.
Blog: What about the big name ebook stores, like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s nook?
LBR: We have direct contracts with those retailers, and they pay very well.
Blog: But you still sell off the old website? How does that work?
LBR: We purchase paperbacks from Lightning Source and handle orders and fulfillment ourselves. Meanwhile, we use PalPal’s Payloadz service to host and sell our ebooks automatically through the site.
Blog: Very slick.
LBR: We also just signed up with a new program through Lightning Source called the Espresso Book Machine. It’s an awesome contraption that is installed in a bookstore and prints a perfect single book for you while you wait. All our books are available through Espresso Book Machines now too!
Blog: Holy cats! Sounds like there are lots of ways to buy your books all right. But how do people hear about them?
LBR: Well, all the fun challenges of promotion are something that could take another whole interview to discuss, Blog. But I do want to talk about an aspect of promotion in the current publishing world that is dear to my heart.
Blog: What’s that?
LBR: There’s a paradigm shift--ooh, I love working “paradigm” into conversations--from push marketing to pull marketing. Push marketing is like when a bestseller gets lots of press and advertising and product placement in stores. It’s the publishing business telling readers: “This is the book you should buy!”
Blog: It seems to work pretty well.
LBR: It sure does, for the big name authors. But small name authors have an audience too, which finds them by pull marketing. That is, they are looking for a book on a certain subject or with a certain theme or genre and simply find it via Google, or Amazon, or some other means. The mere fact that the book is around and visible finds some readers.
Blog: I get it.
LBR: Our books get found in online stores this way, and also through channels like Google Books and Ingram Digital/Summon, where they are all searchable and thus findable by readers.
Blog: So do you really think things are changing for tiny publishing houses like yourself?
LBR: I’ll put it to you this way: Back in 2005 some of the big name retailers refused to offer self-published books. Meanwhile, this month Kobo (the system used by Palm and others) invited publishers to contract with them to offer their ebooks, and they stated, “self-published titles are welcome!”
Blog: Awesome! And you save trees, right?
LBR: You like trees? Me too! Yes, ebooks and print-on-demand paper books do save trees. Did you know that thousands and thousands of Diana’s traditionally published book How to Catch and Keep a Vampire were destroyed by bookstores because they didn’t sell in the first nine months? LBR Press has never put a book into the trash.
Blog: Sting would be proud. And Canada too. Thanks for all the infos, LBR Press, and here’s to many more years of bringing books to readers everywhere! Oh, and for readers interested in all the details of self-publishing via the LBR Press model, you can get Diana’s ebook Do-It-YourSelf-Publishing (writing as Diane Lau) for a mere $2.99 from Barnes & Noble, Borders or Powells Books, or $2.54 directly from LBR Press.