Interview with Tannhauser Press – How to Start an Independent Book Publisher?

Recently I have been exploring the independent publishing world. In my last article, I talked with Space Squid about what is needed to start a fiction magazine. In this article, I have a discussion with Martin Wilsey, the founder of the Independent Book publisher, Tannhauser Press.

JBJ: Why was Tannhauser Press created?

MW: After self-publishing my first three novels, I learned a lot about publishing. I learned that books that used the free ISBNs were not likely to find their way into bookstores. This is combined with the fact that—to my great surprise—I had two #1 best sellers on Amazon. Soon I had an accountant, a lawyer, and an LLC taxed as an S-Corp. I started buying ISBNs 100 at a time, and all my books began to be published under the imprint Tannhauser Press with the associated ISBNs. I also began publishing ALL my books in Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and Audio editions.

JBJ: What inspired the name Tannhauser?

MW: Several things led to the name. There was a character in one of my novels named Tannhauser. It’s one of my favorite operas. And then there is the Blade Runner reference to the Tannhauser Gate. An LLC in Virginia requires a unique name as well. It was available. My Trademarked logo is a subtle nod to the opera.

JBJ: For other people who are interested in doing the same thing, what were the steps your publishing company took starting out?

MW: Pick a unique name. It will forever be associated with the ISBN of the books. Register the name so it can’t be used by others.

In Virginia, you can register names with the State Corporation Clerk’s Information System.

After registering a name, buy a pile of ISBNs under that name, then build a website.

JBJ: What are the important services you have to pay for when running an independent publisher?

MW: ISBNs if you are in the US. Get them via bowker.com
Web hosting.

JBJ: Do you mind giving me a figure for a starting budget?

MW: Setting up the LLC was $250 (My lawyer did it. $50 annually). You can do it yourself for $50. 100 ISBNs = $575. Domain name (tannhauserpress.com) varies depending on where you get it and for how long. $100 Web Hosting is $80 annually. (There are free options like wordpress.com). Accounting software for expense tracking (I use QuickBooks $250). Please note: I also use an accountant to keep the books (optional $1200 annually).

JBJ: Would you especially recommend anyone or any website for the following services: legal, production, editing?

MW: I am reluctant to make these kinds of recommendations in general because everyone’s needs and budgets are very different.

JBJ: What is Tannhauser Press’s greatest challenge?

MW: Time. As an author primarily, it distracts from my own writing. As owner/operator I could easily do the publishing side full time.

JBJ: What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?

MW: Helping other new authors. I had to figure out everything myself. I stepped on every landmine and made many mistakes that I can help new authors avoid.

JBJ: Are you able to get print books into bookstores? If so, how do you do that? Do you have other ways of selling your print books?

MW: Tannhauser press IS able to get books into bookstores. However, that is a big complicated topic, including returns, delayed payment terms, accepting purchase orders, and pricing. Tannhauser Press makes most bookstore and library sales via IngramSpark.com. Please note that bookstore sales have the LOWEST profit margin unless the order volume is huge. I sell direct to readers signed copies, in person and via the web.

JBJ: What steps would you recommend to an author who is submitting a query to you? What is the best way for a prospective author to get published at your publisher?

MW: The best way is to write a book that doesn’t suck. Include Tannhauser in the developmental phases.

JBJ: What are your plans for the future?

MW: Continue at the present pace. Ten books or less annually. Expand to other genres beyond Sci-fi and Fantasy. Expand the audio edition practice.

Check out more from Tannhauser at their website: Click Here.

Related Article: Interview With Successful Self-Published Author – Martin Wilsey

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