One of the "benefits" of writing a publishing blog is that I'm frequently contacted by people who want to go into business with me. Some of them have done their homework, some of them are writing on the spur of the moment. Ignoring the sillier propositions in the vein of, "Give me your money and time and we'll make a business with my unique idea", I'd estimate I get a well thought out proposition about once a month. So what's so bad about partnering up on a new business project that I haven't done it?
The majority of the serious proposals are invitations to join an individual or a group in launching a new publishing venture with print-on-demand. In these cases, the contributions requested from me in return for some equity position are expertise and marketing. I've gone more than a few steps down the path on a couple of these proposals where these business suitors have solid publishing bona-fides and express a sense of editorial direction. But they all stalled out when we get down to core business model issues and it turns out the proposed company would charge authors fees to offset risks, ie, subsidy publishing.
There are already plenty of subsidy publishers out there for authors to choose from if they've given up on getting a trade contract and don't want to start their own publishing business. It's not a business I have any interest in going into myself. I've tried to interest a couple of these potential entrepreneurs in a hybrid model, where the publisher uses POD technology but pays an advance and and largely functions like a standard trade publisher, with the exception of the marketing. The marketing efforts would largely be internet based with a view to building a solid stable of evergreen titles over time. Authors would also receive royalties on any direct website revenue from alternative monetization. In essence, it would be the self publishing model that I write about and which is being successfully used by authors all over the world, except titles would be acquired from authors of commercially viable titles who don't want to go into the self publishing business themselves.
And that's where these business partnership discussions always come to an end, because it turns out that most would be entrepreneurs are really interested in building their fortunes with other peoples money, the sure thing. I do see a new crop some small presses functioning more or less as I describe above, though many of them choose to pursue traditional marketing techniques to bypass the slow-build Internet book marketing process. I suppose one day I might gird up my loins and just undertake to do it myself, with employee help. But I lack the motivation to take on the administrative overhead and aggravation, and I have four half written books of my own I should be finishing. In summary, I just hope the next person who wants to kick the new publishing company ball around the room with me reads this post first and saves us both the time if it's the old subsidy press model. Trust me on this. You aren't gong to sneak it passed me by saving the little detail of author fees and no advance for the last minute:-)