You Can Publish Your Friend's, Neighbor's, and Strangers' Books From Your SOHO Publishing Business...
...with no more than the tools you already use to publish your own books.
It's long been said that there is more money selling picks and shovels to gold miners than there is in mining gold itself.
The same is true for the publishing industry - which is what made vanity publishing such a hit.
I was reminded of this from a critic of John Locke who pointed out she was making more money with non-fiction courses than she was from trying to follow Locke's model for her fiction books.
The recent DBW Survey pointed this out. While authors weren't ecstatic to not make any money after they published their book, it at least made them happy that they got a copy in their hands, and some to hand out to their friends and family.
Not everyone wants to become a publisher. And I have been approached many times about publishing a book for someone else - but didn't want to go through the whole scene about setting them up with a Lulu account, and so on.
Once you've worked out how to get books published - especially through public domain re-publishing - the actions become a bit second-nature.
The trick is how to send them their royalites.
While I haven't tried this yet (disclaimer) - I know it to be possible.
It's called Sharing Creator Revenue on Lulu.
You, as a publisher, can retain a percentage of their sales, while giving them the bulk of what they made as an author. They don't have to do the work of publishing the book, and can opt to simply pay you a percentage of the royalties in lieu of (or in addition to) paying your publishing costs.
How to Share Revenue With Authors:
(This is from their page linked above.)
You may choose to share your earnings with co-authors, contributors, illustrators, or editors.
To create a Payment Contact record:
Log into your Lulu account.
Go to My Projects > My Revenues > Payment Contacts.
Click Add New Payee.
Complete the Payee record.
Repeat steps 3-5 until all contributors with whom you wish to share your revenue are entered.
To set up a project with split royalties:
Log into your Lulu account.
Go to My Projects > Project List.
Click the Revise link next to the project for which split revenues are to be set.
On the Project Details page, click the Edit button in the Creator Revenues Split field.
The Revise Creator Revenues Split section displays a list of authors in your Payment Contacts list. Enter the percentages you wish to distribute to the listed contributors.
Creator Revenue will be allocated based on these percentages for all future sales of this content.
Once Creator Revenues percentages are set on a project, the revenue earned by each creator can be viewed from the My Projects > My Revenue page.
To view Creator Revenue Splits:
Log into your Lulu account.
Go to My Projects > My Revenue.
Click Switch to Payment Information to view upcoming payments.
Select the name or organization to view from the drop-down list.
Click Apply to display revenue information for the selected payee.
Creator Revenues from all distribution channels (Lulu, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, etc.) are displayed on the My Revenue page. The displayed revenues are estimates based on retail sales and the creator revenues associated with each work. However, since all works are offered in all country stores, the exact amount paid to the author may vary slightly from the displayed, estimated revenue total. This is due to daily fluctuations in international currency conversion rates.
The payment creators receive is calculated based on the officially posted currency conversion rates on your "payday" – not the day on which the title sold.
Now you can hang out a shingle to help people publish their books!
Of course, you'll likely make more income selling publishing training course, and then offering a "special discount" for anyone who started the course to have you publish your book for them.
The point is that you can help people get their work published, while setting up for extra income for yourself.
Note: this is just a work out for Lulu. I see Amazon won't do splits (and I don't recommend CreateSpace as independed bookstores discriminate against Amazon, sometimes.) Google also has nothing along this line.
Since you are going to be publishing original works, you simply have Lulu do the distributing, and so you're set.
Legal notes - beware the sharks...
I found this great write-up on how a couple of authors would get a book printed. Even between friends, this means having contracts. Read what is recommended here. You may want to set up a separate Lulu account just for your publishing other people's stuff - it would help keep everything perfectly straight.
As a matter of fact, I'd recommend that completely - set up a real business scene and keep everything completely separate. If there were ever any difficulty - or you ever wanted to sell the business - then you'd be able to turn it over quickly.
I can turn a PD book into a publish-able work in an afternoon. Cover, description, everything. So figure that's around 5-6 hour's specialist work, I could easily charge $1,000 plus a percent of any sales from there on out. They could make changes if they wanted, but would have to pay for any proofs, etc. If I had five clients every week, then I'd make $5G's a week. Plus maybe 10% of their royalties. (Never do it for free, but that would increase the royalty split to 50%.)
That has no marketing in the mix. But I'd cover the how-to's for authors in the course I'd be running - so they'd know what they needed to do if they wanted to really make the book take off.
Essentially, you're running a vanity book publishing service, but not really. You might have the next "50 Shades" author on your hands - but he didn't use any traditional means to get found.
You are charging way less than Bookbaby or that lot. If you're a local publishing firm, you can have local authors find you - which is great for Google Local promotion. (And that takes me down a completely different line of thought - it's very possible, and for Missouri - very poorly represented. No one is doing this, and anyone could.)
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Frankly, I'm better off simply having a contract only with myself. The authors I represent never complain.
It could be done, if you want to start your own business. The above gives you the backbone of it.
Luck to us all...