Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pay-to-Play Publishers

If you get a call from someone who says they are publishing a book (about dream homes, or gorgeous restaurants, or inspiring schools, etc.) and are interested in meeting to discuss your firms’ work as part of the book, ask a few questions first.

Is there a financial commitment for firms that are included? Many of these publications are so-called “Pay-to-Play” publications. They run small initial print runs and distribute the title in a limited area. To offset a potential shortfall, they charge the participants. Fees can range from $1,000 per-page to upwards of $15,000.

Are the firms that are committed receiving financial compensation or discounts? Sales people often get a few well-respected firms to agree to be in their publication. In exchange for heavy discounts or compensation, the sales people can now use these “anchor firms” as leverage.

What are the criteria for publication? The publishers should be able to give you an idea of what they are looking for. Project types, years since completion, style, award-winning, etc. If they say that they know when they see it, or that the firm’s quality needs to meet their own aesthetic standards, dig deeper.

Will you be required to purchase a certain number of copies? Many vanity presses will not charge initially for publication, but do require all included to purchase copies after the fact.

Other questions to consider include:

Is there a guarantee of publication? What is the publication schedule? Who will write the copy? Does the firm provide the photographs or will the publisher arrange a photo shoot? Can you have a list of firms to contact who have been published in similar titles?

Once you have a good understanding of the nature of the publication, you may decide it warrants a meeting in-person. You should see samples of other publications produced by the company, or, if this is an editor/writer compiling the book, samples of other books and/or articles in the same field.

Knowing all that is involved, then you can make a decision as to whether this is a marketing venture you want to be a part of, or if it’s one your marketing budget can do without.

For more information: Call Sidney Sweeney 510/464-3600

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