Things you may not know about independent publishers
I started Guts Publishing in May 2019 and we published our first book in November 2019. Since then we’ve published six books (more on the way) and I’m proud to say that recently we were endorsed by Arts Council England. We’ve also had success with media coverage and reviews, which I’m over the moon about. It’s an incredible experience to help people share their stories with the world. An experience I hope will continue for a long time.
Publishing is one of those businesses that seems to have an aura of secrecy, and the learning curve is huge when you first start. Along the way, here are some things I’ve learned.
The average traditionally published debut book sells 250-300 copies. Anthologies sell far less. Then factor in the 50% discount to bookshops and online retailers along with production cost, and if you’ve got a calculator handy, you can do the math. To be honest, it’s not financially feasible for an indie publisher to expect to make ends meet on book sales alone. Unless of course you have a book on the NY Times bestseller list. Which I believe is when you’ve sold 15,000 copies. Even then, it’s a short-lived event. Books are normally relevant (and selling) for three months before publication and three months after.
In addition to running Guts, I have other jobs. I offer a Publishing Coach service and I also do freelance editing and writing. My assistants and interns are funded by grants and college work placement programs. I’ve worked with some amazingly talented young people who have contributed substantially to the development of Guts Publishing. Some of them have even worked voluntarily (something I’m not crazy about, but it does help them get a job afterwards).
Since I started Guts I’ve never actually paid myself. I do what I do because I love it. And I've had a lot of help along the way. Small and large donations, my assistants and interns, and business development mentoring from Goldsmiths College. We have built an incredible community of readers and writers in a very short amount of time. In just over two years, we’ve published over 60 writers. Aidan Martin (author of Euphoric Recall) once told me there’s a buzz going on about Guts and that we’re getting to be known for publishing books that are bold and innovative. Books you can’t find anywhere else. Books that take risks. Books that are defiant and defy the odds. Books by debut authors. Books that are unique to an indie publisher. Books that bigger publishing houses simply won’t do.
If you’d like to support Guts, please consider making a donation. We'll be forever grateful. Even a small donation makes a difference. So we can keep going strong, and keep doing what we’re doing.
Director, Guts Publishing