Frequently Asked Questions
What is PBL Limited? PBL Limited is a small press started in 1994 by author Leigh Michaels and artist Michael Lemberger. We specialize in producing niche-market books by authors who are motivated to promote themselves and their work.
What kinds of books do you publish? We publish many kinds of books, including poetry, humor, Bible studies, cookbooks, photo books, family histories, local history books, novels, and childrenís books, but we specialize in niche-market non-fiction. Though we publish some fiction, we find that itís a rare novel which sells well enough in this manner to be financially rewarding for the author.
What is a niche-market book? Unlike best-sellers that appeal to readers around the world, niche-market books have a smaller but devoted audience. Local histories, family trees, memoirs, and volumes of poetry are examples of niche-market books.
What will it cost me for you to publish my book? There is no charge for us to publish your book. Some authors need assistance in putting their book into an electronic format suitable for publication (just as some authors used to hire typists to produce a final copy of their manuscripts). If you require special services such as scanning images or inputting text, our charges are comparable to the cost of having this work done elsewhere. You may choose to invest in advertising or direct mail promotions, but you are under no obligation to do so.
What do I send you? Fill out the proposal form, which you can download HERE and submit it by mail along with the first chapter (or about 25 pages) of your manuscript. Our editors will review the plans for your book. At that time we may suggest changes or revisions, or we may ask to see more materials, before deciding if the project is right for us. When we agree to publish your book, we will ask you to submit your finished book in an electronic format (such as a Word or Word Perfect document). If you have only a hard copy, you may need to pay someone to scan or retype your work so it is ready for editing. We can provide such services at a competitive cost, if you wish.
How long will it take? Once you send us the proposal, we will respond within 60 days. When your finished manuscript is submitted and accepted, publication may take from two to six months, depending on our publishing schedule.
How do you decide which books to publish? Our editorial staff looks closely at all proposals and chooses the ones which we feel have the best chance of commercial success for the author and for us. That means we publish fewer than half of the books which are proposed to us.
Who will edit my book? Your book will be edited by an experienced professional who is both a writer and an editor, and who will work directly with you on any changes or corrections.
Will you ask for revisions? Few books are so perfect that they canít be improved, so the likelihood is that if we agree to publish your book, we will ask you to make revisions.
What will my book look like? We will show you samples and consult with you about cover design and art, book size, binding, etc. But because we are a commercial publisher, we reserve the right to use our best judgment about the packaging of your book to make it most appealing to readers.
Can I design my own cover? While we will consult you about the look you visualize for your book, the cover will be designed by our graphic arts department in cooperation with your editor.
Can I add illustrations to my book? If you are the artist or photographer, or if you have the permission of the artist or photographer, you can include images in your book. You will need to have the artistís permission in writing. Some artists will agree to let you use their images if you give credit; some charge for such use. You are responsible for any costs involved. If we feel that the book lends itself to illustration but you do not have art available, we may supply illustrations. We will consult you about choosing appropriate illustrations.
What about color illustrations? Though color reproduction is expensive, we can sometimes add color illustrations to books. Our graphic arts department can assist you with more information.
How much will my book cost? Retail price will be based on the size of the book (number of pages, etc.) and the most-likely sales venues. We will consult with you before setting a retail price which we feel the highest number of readers will find attractive.
Will my book be available at Barnes & Noble and other big bookstores? We do not deal with book distributors because of the terms they require (large discounts, extended payment terms, unlimited returns, etc.) Itís possible for the author of a niche-market book to place the title with major booksellers on an individual basis, but most niche-market books are sold directly to the reader through other channels.
Will my book be reviewed? We do not automatically send books out to reviewers, but we are happy to help you place your book for review. Your personal connections with local or regional media will be most helpful in getting reviews and publicity for your book.
Do I need an ISBN? The international standard book number is most important when books will be sold through a book distributor or through major booksellers. However, we do provide ISBN numbers to each book as part of our publishing services.
Do I need to register my copyright? There is no need to register a copyright before publication. International treaty protects the authorís work as soon as it is created in a fixed form (in the case of a book, as soon as it is written). After publication, registering your copyright requires you to send two copies of the work, a completed application form, and a fee to the Library of Congress. There is no requirement to register your copyright in order to protect your rights to the work under international law.
How do I know you wonít steal my idea? While ideas canít be copyrighted, your novel, poem, photo or other creative work is protected the instant that it exists in fixed form. As authors and artists ourselves, we respect copyright law too much to violate it. Youíre the authority on your subject; our expertise is in helping you to create, promote and sell the book only you can write.
Why should I choose PBL rather than sending my book to a large publisher? Like all other commercial publishers, we do not charge an author any fees to publish the book, and we pay royalties to our author as books sell. As a small firm, we are not in a position to pay advances to authors; however, this flexibility also means that we can take on projects which arenít big enough to interest larger firms. Many good books are rejected by commercial houses because sales are not expected to be strong enough to return the investment involved in publishing thousands of copies. These are the very books we are most interested in.
Why should I use PBL rather than self-publishing my book through a printer? Self-publishing means that you contract with a printer to produce a set number of books, which you own and sell directly or through bookstores. Typically self-publishing requires you to purchase several hundred copies at a time in order to achieve a reasonable price per book. We provide production and shipping so that you need not warehouse books, and we make it possible for you to order as few as 15 copies at a time for your own use or for resale. We also handle direct sales to readers and wholesale sales to stores, if you choose, so you donít have to.
Why should I publish with you rather than with an online print-on-demand service? If youíre familiar with typography and graphic design, page layout, font selection, photographic reproduction standards, computer file manipulation, etc., thereís no reason you canít publish directly with an online, print-on-demand service. What we provide is the professional service that makes your book look like a "real" book ó things which most amateurs are not able to supply for themselves.
Do I need to promote my book? No. But niche-market books do best when the author spreads the word that the book is available. We find that the most effective sales tool is word of mouth. You can spread the news in many low-cost ways, such as:
Email Ė add your book title, release date, and order information to your signature line on all outgoing emails.
Personal mailing list ó let your friends and relatives know when you send your Christmas cards that your book is or will be available.
Notify your local newspaper of your bookís publication and availability date.
Offer to be a speaker for local groups and clubs. When you talk about the subject of your book, listeners are encouraged to buy the book.
Arrange signings with local bookstores.
Use targeted mailing lists, such as membership lists, to notify people who have an interest in your subject that your book is available.
Notify any groups or clubs you belong to, especially if they have a connection with the subject of your book.
How many books do I have to buy? None. However, we find that niche-market books often sell best to people who either know the author or share a common interest with the author. Should you choose to sell your books directly, we can provide you with copies (in quantities of 15 or more) at a significant reduction from retail price, and you can sell them as you wish. No royalties will be paid on copies purchased by the author.
How many copies will my book sell, and how much money will I make? The authorís financial return will vary from book to book, and itís impossible to predict exactly how many copies will sell. Itís important to maintain a realistic attitude about potential sales and royalties. By their nature, niche-market books have small audiences. Few of them become hot sellers, but all can be satisfying for the author. Since the author is not required to make an upfront investment (unlike self-publication or vanity press publication), he will make a profit on each copy which sells.
How do I get paid? We account sales quarterly and pay royalties 30 days after the close of each calendar quarter.
How long will my book be available? Once weíve published your book, we will keep it available as long as you and we agree that there is a market for it.
What if another publisher shows interest in my book? Since all the rights to your work remain in your name, you are free to excerpt your book in a magazine or negotiate with other publishers. You may not reprint our cover design, or scan and reproduce our publication, without our specific written permission. We require 30 days notice if you wish us to withdraw the book from our site. (And we always like being invited to the celebration party when one of our authors achieves well-deserved success.)
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