“Paine Press currently focuses on educational guides for teachers and administrators, memoir and humor collections.”
Why did you become a book publisher? Paine Press originally formed as a publishing company when its principals began the Boyne City Gazette weekly community newspaper in 2009. From there, the company branched out into lifestyle niche magazines focused on holidays, summer fun, business and humor. Then, in 2013, Paine Press published its first book, a collection of humor essays written by one of the company's principles. Company founders Benjamin J. Gohs and Christopher Faulknor began publishing Gohs' humor books after Gohs saw nearly a decade of acclaim for his work. With a shift in the publishing industry over the last few years that saw authors at even traditional houses taking on the roles of marketing, sales, and public relations, it only made sense to utilize Paine Press' institutional expertise in the aforementioned areas as well as layout and design and cut out the proverbial middleman.
What do you like best about publishing? The obvious answer is the ability to control a project from start to finish in order to maintain the artist's vision of that project. Less obvious reasons for choosing the independent publishing route have to include agility: I've worked at larger publishing companies operated by the corporate structure. Paine Press is a partnership. With a two-man operation, we have the ability to discuss a project, decide whether it is right for our company, and then move ahead with that decision. Another seemingly obvious perk is the pride that comes from taking an idea or a manuscript and turning it into a polished, tangible product. The excitement of seeing print product to fruition never dulls.
What do you publish? Paine Press currently focuses on educational guides for teachers and administrators, memoir and humor collections.
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? Paine Press has had the most success with print and radio advertising. Sales converted from social media have been paltry, though Facebook and Twitter have been helpful in garnering book reviewers. Since Paine Press is still in its infancy as far as book publishing goes, other marketing options—including a monthly newsletter, blog tours and in-bookstore events—are in the works for the near future.
How do you define a successful title? While Paine Press has several projects in the works set to launch later this Summer and Fall, it has only published one book that has not done well. Ideally, we would like to see a minimum of 3,000 to 5,000 copies sold in order to recoup costs and help fund more marketing costs. A successful title for Paine Press LLC would probably be in the neighborhood of 30,000 units.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. The humor essay collection Frickin 40: Funny Stories About Middle Age is author Benjamin Gohs' best work to date. This book of irreverent, poignant and accessible short stories about the horrors of middle age was written over the year leading up to the author's 40th birthday. We feel, with the right marketing campaign, Frickin 40 could do very well, and stand alongside any contemporary humor collection.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? Our biggest challenge has been simple: book sales. Whenever people read the humor books we have published and are about to publish (beta readers have been reviewing the new project) the response is very positive. However, getting the books in front of prospective buyers, has been a challenge for such a small operation. We have the first book in a few brick and mortar stores, Amazon.com, featured on social media and several of our websites but units either do not move or move very slowly. Our most successful sales point thus far is a local bookstore and coffee shop, but even those sales have been minimal.
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? One of the biggest concerns I have for indie publishers and self-publishers is the low quality of cover design and interior design. I have stacks and stacks of self-published books that will never be read because they don't pass the very first test: do they look professionally designed? If you don't have the skills or the software to do it right, pay the money to have it done for you. People do judge books by the cover.
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? The news and niche magazine side of Paine Press continues to grow. We anticipate likewise growth on the book side of things. We have a set of three educational guidebooks for teachers and administrators that we anticipate will do very well due to the extreme niche and lack of available resources. More textbooks are planned in the future. We are also working with a former screenwriter who wrote a famous comedy movie. Paine Press is in the middle of handling his memoir. With a lot more hard work and, if we can find the right marketing vehicles, we hope Paine Press will have dozens of titles selling well by 2020.
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? Publishing and writing eats up all my time. Luckily, I love my work. In addition to running a weekly newspaper (ad design, news writing, editing, layout, etc.), I design book covers and interiors for clients, and help self-pub authors get their books from manuscript to finished product. I also write/design and edit our niche magazines, manage our web and social media, and, in my spare time, I write my own books. The most fun I have is when writing humor pieces for my book collections.
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