Go Big or Stay Small

27 Jul

I’ve now been running Bundoran Press for nearly 20 months. If I were an elephant, I might have given birth by now. Some days it seems like I just took the plunge; others, it seems like forever.

In two weeks, I’ll have published my sixth book. I have four more in various stages of completion and three more under consideration. My original idea of publishing five or six books a year has taken a beating. The hard reality is: six books take too much work and too much money to produce yet is too few to generate the revenue or reputation to succeed.

If I had the capital and was prepared to hire staff and move the operation out of my home, I would try to expand quickly to 12 or 15 books a year. Buying that many might be tricky — especially with a focus on strictly science fiction — but with a modest increase in my current advances, I could probably do it. If I was younger and wasn’t determined to keep some of my limited savings for retirement travel, I would do exactly that. Risk doesn’t scare me; I’ve spent my life taking chances. But like most things, I take my risk in moderation and what you’re willing to chance at 36, you might hesitate to do at 59. I won’t do anything now I don’t have the time to recover from.

Oh, don’t get concerned. Bundoran Press isn’t going anywhere — I still have a few tricks up my sleeves. I’ve learned a lot — mostly by making costly mistakes — and certainly expect to continue to do so. I can cut some costs and I can maximize revenue. I can spend smarter now that I’ve learned how to spend stupidly. And I can use some of the things I’ve learned as a publisher and editor to make a little more cash. (One of the nicest side benefits of Bundoran Press has been that I’ve become a better writer — which hopefully will lead to a few more sales.) I may even try to shore up the finances using a subscription service or something like Patreon. And despite not succeeding at my last Indiegogo campaign, I may go that route again.

If I can’t go big, I’ll have to stay small. It’s true that I might become more visible if I were to churn out a book or two a month. The chances of finding the sweet spot of critical and commercial success might well be better if I had more tickets in the lottery. But there is more than one path to success. If six books a year is impossible, 3 (or maybe 4) is not. I probably won’t make money, I may not even break even but I should be able to keep it going for about what I spend on wine every year (those who know me will gasp: Really, that much!). And over time, if the books are interesting, if my efforts are consistent, Bundoran Press will find its audience. Maybe we’ll even have that surprise best-seller.

In the meantime, it’s still lots of fun and deeply rewarding in a way a lot of jobs aren’t. So after a summer of soul searching and weighing options, I can tell you Bundoran Press is here to stay for at least the foreseeable future. (Yeah, I know, if I could foresee the future, I could invest in the stock market and have plenty of money to lose as a publisher — but you know what I mean.)

By the way, you can buy our latest book, Javenny by Al Onia from our web-site right now, four days before it is available anywhere else.

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