Which is to say, there are many models out there on how to be a publisher, and more and more models are emerging as the technology, demographics, and economy changes.
Asking authors to donate $250 to have their books published is one model and has brought much negative attention to BlazeVox books. Personally, Iʻve admired many books BlazeVox has published over the years. Iʻve never been able to follow their catalog as much as Iʻd like simply because I canʻt afford to. I have no problem with their donate-to-publish model (authors can simply decline the offer), but I do think itʻs wrong that they didnʻt disclose this on their website.
One aspect that I want to highlight about this debate is the idea that you canʻt make money publishing books of experimental poetry–or any kind of poetry. Plus, I want to dispel the myth that it costs $2,000 to publish a book.
If you use the Print-on-Demand technology, such as LULU or CREATESPACE, it costs absolutely nothing to “publish” a book. All you have to do is format the book and cover and upload onto their website. Zero dollars. I know this because Iʻve used both LULU and CREATESPACE. It takes labor, sure, but not a single dollar.
Iʻve said on my facebook it costs $50…I said $50 because I usually have to order proof copies and there are sometimes mistakes, so I usually order a few proof copies, which can cost around $50. But one can also avoid this cost if one is an expert.
So how can you make $40,000 a year publishing experimental poetry? Like this:
1) Create a free acct at CreateSpace (or LULU)
2) Design covers, format, and upload onto Createspace
3) The book is automatically listed on Amazon and distributed by Amazon (zero distribution/storage costs, no post office runs)
4) For a 100-page book, the cost of production will be about $3-4 per book
5) Charge $16 for each book
6) Amazon takes the production cost and a cut out of the $16 a reader pays
7) You make about $6-8 profit per book
8 ) Most sales of a book occur during the first year…at the very least, even a bad experimental book of poems will sell about 100-200 copies (to friends, relatives, etc)
9) Each book will bring in about $600-$1600 that year
10) Publish/Upload 30 books. profit: 18,000-42,000 a year
11) Make a website, but direct all sales to Amazon from your website
12) Publish more and more books each year
13) in terms of labor, how long would it take to design, format, and upload 30 books? for me, it takes about 5-10 hrs per book. So about 150-300 hours. so if you do this full-time, you can have a yearʻs worth of books in about a month to two months.
Of course, this assumes that the publisher is not sending the author any royalties, free copies, or sending out any review copies, award copies, desk copies, etc.
Obviously, this is an awful model. And it isnʻt BlazeVoxʻs model. But i just wanted to show itʻs possible.