Friday, November 16, 2012

Andrew Burt on ReAnimus Press #guest

A few words by way of introduction. Andrew Burt is the man behind the Workshop, an online writers' group that did much to help me fine-tune my writing and gain enough confidence to get my writing to the point where it was publishable. While I'm no longer an active member, this is one site that I send all aspiring F/SF/H authors if they're looking for a way to hone their craft. I've made many friends here, some of whom I've gone on to edit. 

Andrew Burt now has another project that's just as valuable as, and that is ReAnimus Press. So, without further ado, I hand over my blog to Mr Burt so he can tell us more. 

* * * *

ReAnimus Press is my new baby, which I founded to help authors get ebooks published.

I've been saying how cool ebooks are for years, since back when I was  VP of SFWA. I'd been reading on my phone for some time and loved how portable it was. Of course back then ebooks were like 0.01% of sales, mostly a few early small- and self-published books. Few folks could see them going anywhere. Things were so primitive I used to email authors I knew whose books I wanted to read and ask if I might have a copy of their manuscript so I could read it on my phone. I remember talking with Jeff Bezos of Amazon at dinner at the Nebula awards and encouraging him to look into ebooks. I doubt I had much impact on things, but lo and behold, ebooks have now become the top-selling format for books. That's caught a lot of authors and publishers unprepared.

Most authors don't exactly make truckloads of money, so the next logical step is for authors to decide how ebooks fit in to maximizing their income. The major publishers don't offer the greatest terms (not to mention that many books went out of print for a reason, i.e., slow sales). So there are millions of backlist and out of print books out there. Doing ebooks of those represents a huge opportunity for authors collectively.

The problem is that it's still not simple for authors to create ebooks of their work; especially if the only copy is in print. Even if they have a manuscript file of a book, they get edited, so authors usually don't have a digital copy of the final text.

Now, several years ago I decided I wanted to lighten up my shelf space. I had thousands upon thousands of books in the house, and a lot of them were down in the basement where it was inconvenient to look at them. So I started scanning them. I got pretty good at it.

My background is in computer science -- I was a computer science professor for a long time, as well as CEO of a tech company (and probably best known as the founder of the first Internet Service Provider, back in the day when folks couldn't get on the Internet and I thought that was a shame). So I started fooling around with improving the quality of the OCR scanning results. I scanned a huge number of my old books, just for my own edification.

You can see where this is leading. Now that ebooks are mainstream, and authors can benefit from having their work out there, I decided to start ReAnimus Press to help "reanimate" old books. As an author myself, I wanted to be author friendly, so we pay the highest royalty rate of any publisher I'm aware of, and we also offer individual ebook services at low cost for those who want to do their own ebooks, and just want help with certain hard parts of the process (scanning, or OCRing, proofreading, covers, etc.).

Since last year we now have over 60 books either already published or in the works. We work with folks like Ursula K. Le Guin, Ben Bova, Robert Silverberg, and so on, though we also work with lesser known and even as-yet-unpublished authors. While we're not a "science fiction publisher," since I know a lot of science fiction writers, we have a lot of SF/fantasy/horror in the mix; but we also have books on writing,
children's books, mysteries, romance, biographies, and so on. Any genre.

We've recently also branched out and release our first few new, never-before-published books. We have an amazing book on how to write science fiction story openings written by a member of my Critters Writers
Workshop, who analyzed 1400(!) stories, pro and non-pro, for how they constructed their openings; that revealed some really interesting patterns. We've also branched out in format, doing print books now also.

And just this month we're releasing the three books of THE SIGIL TRILOGY by Nature editor Henry Gee. I read a draft of Henry's book some years ago, and really loved it. The thing is, it's huge; it's one book at about 900 print pages. It's an incredible story, about science, humanity, love, pretty much everything that matters. I'm really pleased we get to publish it.


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