In 2010 J.M. Snyder began JMS Books, and has been publishing quality LGBT books, primarily romance, ever since. Although they’re a small press, JMS Books has good distribution, connections to help authors promote their titles, and won’t make you feel as if you’re alone in the publishing process.
If you’re an author eager to see your out-of-print titles in stores again, JMS Books may be the press you’re looking for. They’re one of the few LGBT presses that will consider republishing out-of-print titles.
This month I was able to ask J.M. Snyder a few questions about the business side of publishing.
Why did you start JMS Books?
In 2010, I had a number of stories coming out of contract with previous publishers, and the small press I enjoyed working with most didn’t take reprints. So I had to find a way to get my stories back out to readers, and some of the larger ebook retail sites only accepted publishers and not self-published authors. So when a friend of mine (Drew Hunt) suggested I open my own press and publish my stories as well as those of other authors (including himself), JMS Books was born.
What was the most difficult part of starting JMS Books?
To be honest, I sought out assistance when starting the press, so I knew going into it what I needed to do (how to register an LLC, how to get a business license, how to charge state sales tax, etc). I was already familiar with creating books, in both print and electronic versions, as well as creating cover art and working with distributors, since I’d been self-publishing for ten years prior to starting my own press. And I ran several of my own websites, so setting up an e-commerce site wasn’t an issue, either. Add in that I already had readers interested in my own work, and starting JMS Books seemed the natural next step.
What do you think is the most effective way for an author to promote his/her book?
For my own titles, I use promo services that specifically target LGBT and romance blogs and review sites. Such services can be inexpensive but are definitely worth it, particularly if you don’t have much time to market online (or if you don’t know how).
Where do you get your books printed?
Currently our paperbacks are printed through CreateSpace.
Is your page layout done in-house? And if you do your own layout, which program do you use and why?
Yes, we do our own layouts using Word.
Do you hire graphic designers to do your book covers or are they done in-house?
Our covers are done in-house. Authors provide input on what they’d like to see on the covers of their books, and they are encouraged to suggest royalty-free images they feel describe their characters. And our authors approve their cover art; they aren’t just given a cover and told this is it. They have the final say over what the cover looks like before it’s appended to their title.
How are your titles distributed?
We use an aggregator to distribute our ebooks to a large number of third-party distributors, but we sell to a few sites on our own, such as Amazon, Bookstrand, and Smashwords. We also sell through our own site at http://www.jms-books.com.
How do you find authors to publish?
We’re open to submissions and accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from authors.
What are the benefits of being published by a small press, such as JMS Books, over self-publishing?
A lot of the aspects of publishing are now available to anyone, but one of the things we provide that may be unaffordable to independent authors are editing services. We have several excellent editors who are wonderful to work with, and we pay them well. Also, many authors just want to write and are willing to let a publisher take on everything else (editing, cover art, layout, distribution).
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing self-published authors today?
One of the biggest challenges to authors—self-published as well as those published by small presses—is marketing. Traditional marketing options can be costly without much of a return (particularly print ads). So how to connect with readers who enjoy your writing is tough, particularly for a new author starting out.
Do you have any advice for anybody thinking about self-publishing?
Be prepared to spend as much time formatting, distributing, and marketing your book as you do writing it—sometimes even more. It isn’t enough to just upload your book to Amazon, particularly if you haven’t yet published anything else.
I would like to thank J.M. Snyder for taking time to answer these questions, and hope you got something out of this interview. If you would like to find out more about JMS Books and what they have to offer, feel free to visit them at www.jms-books.com/
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out more from the Publishing Spotlight series. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments.