custom publishing

Sneak peek of Living Artfully, by Shannon Carter

Shannon Carter knows that preserving tradition is an act of love. Whether she is collecting and displaying family heirlooms, repurposing antiques, or artfully arranging collections, she prioritizes artful living alongside excellent craftsmanship. We were honored to publish a coffee-table book celebrating her love of tradition and inspiring others to collect, preserve, and display their treasures. (Additionally, she offers a few family recipes, one of which we preview here).

Here are a few exclusive photo excerpts from her book, Living Artfully, which will be available for sale in September. 

Living Artfully will sell for $40, and all proceeds from the book will be donated to the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Partner with Book Publishing Services to Stand Out

“Think about it this way. If you had told every museum and law firm in 1995 that they needed a web page, many would have wondered “what for?” If you had told them in 2005 that they needed a Facebook presence or in 2008 that they needed a Twitter stream, they would have wondered why. We’ve reached the moment when they all need a publishing strategy, and that will be as obvious to all these entities in a year or two as web pages, Facebook pages, and Twitter streams look now.” --Mike Shatzkin, Atomization: publishing as a function rather than an industry

Book Publishing Services that Market, Brand, and Inspire

Orange Frazer Press is a publishing partner to a new industry


Wherever you turn these days, you will find another business blogger singing the praises of publishing. And this is not publishing as it once was, a gatekeeper model designed to separate the wheat from the chaff, but an evolving and fluid term applied to individuals, enterprises, nonprofits, and more, which enter the publishing arena with digital or physical books. As publishing becomes a tool accessible to many, the “atomization” of publishing is already happening. Businesses and institutions are now becoming “publishers,” disrupting an industry already in turmoil over e-book self-publishing. However, it is a disruption that Orange Frazer has been prepared for, one that allows us even greater opportunity to embrace custom book publishing partnerships with businesses, institutions, and individuals.

But from many bloggers and thought leaders, the prescribed route has been DIY. Thought leaders generally advise a self-directed approach, suggesting you hire on an editor, designer, etc., start with an e-book, and learn the business yourself. Even in recognizing the pitfalls of this approach, they generally compare DIY to traditional publishing, leaving out the wealth of options in between or generalizing these options, lumping all author services companies together with mega-companies like iUnivere and Xlibris (see our past post about the dangers of these companies and self-publishing models here). Thus, in this line of thought, it’s either go the gatekeeper model or master the details of digital files, print specs, conversions, warehousing, shipping, etc. and distribute your book like a business card.

However, we’ve been in the business long enough (twenty-six years) to see where the DIY approach breaks down, where it becomes cumbersome and upsetting, and where, unfortunately, it leaves many overwhelmed and resigned.

Why even self-publishing needs publishers

What is EPUB? What is your comfort with CSS? What is the primary e-book distribution channel for libraries? What about the proper margins for a print book? Photo resolution? Bindings and paper weights? The publishing and printing industries are fraught with insider jargon and necessary expertise. Publishers are publishers because they have every last detail perfected, the process streamlined, the creative process specialized. We employ the best photographers, writers, editors, printers, proofers, and many, many more. There are a number of seemingly invisible decisions that must be made throughout the process, and frankly, having spent over a quarter century perfecting our process, we know that we do it well. It can be incredibly time-consuming to teach yourself this process, and for many businesses and institutions, it’s just not time you have, as you are too busy being the best in your own industry.

Publishing partners: custom publishing as a solution for forward-thinking businesses

Publishing partnerships are emerging as a progressive, collaborative process that has the ability to bring the best books to market for each business. In fact, The Economist announced last week that it will be partnering with PublicAffairs to publish ten books annually, entering into the publishing world with an experienced partner.

At Orange Frazer, we took note of this industry shift about two decades ago. We were commissioned by the Iams Corporation in the ’90s to create custom materials for veterinarians all over the world. It had a hefty amount of research that needed published, and it needed a small and versatile publisher to take it on, one willing to have a personal relationship with it, that could make the creative process as iterative as possible. We became that company, entering into a world that still lacked a name or definition. Our publisher, Marcy Hawley, decided one day to call it custom publishing, because we felt that the books we were able to create for our clients were truly one-of-a-kind, as template-irreverent and perfect as possible. We knew that as custom book publishers, we could take on the needs of businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions, and others to create professional, branded, and inspiring products for a new generation of businesses.

For those forward-thinking institutions ready to take on publishing, check out our website for custom publishing options, or shoot me an email at [email protected]. And check back here for more in this series.

Books are Progressive: Self-Publish a Book to Build Your Brand

These days the word “progressive” often connotes sleek tablets, mobile apps, tech start-ups, and the like. I bet you don’t hear book and progressive in the same sentence very often. But let me tell you why you should. Why your business should custom publish a book

self-publish a book, build your brand

Books are brand-builders:

Books breathe life into your brand. They suggest permanence, professionalism, authority, and expertise. The digital world can, at times, feel fleeting. Facebook posts travel the length of your newsfeed in a matter of hours; tweets have a window of opportunity lasting mere minutes; emails are read, responded to, and disposed of. We are entering an era where content is king, and the art of discoverability rests on a business’s ability to get the right content in front of the right people, again and again. Books are trusted, established content. A book communicates time and attention to detail while it reinforces a content message that sells not just you, but your brand, your history, and most important, your legacy.

Jennie Jones, an esteemed Cleveland photographer, has completed two book projects with us, and each is an excellent example of brand-building. Her photography is featured alongside Ian Adams’s in a photographic exploration of the Cleveland Botanical Garden— A Paradise in the City. She also did a book that exclusively showcased her own photography, called Cleveland Inside Outside. It is a gorgeous, full-color coffee-table book that she can hand to potential clients, long-time friends, and community organizations to show off her skill and diversity and to build her individual brand.

Because of her success with these books, the Cleveland Museum of Art has commissioned her to photograph its newly renovated museum to be showcased in its new book.

Books are profitable:

If you’re thinking about creating a book for your business, it is important to think about its intended audience and purpose. Is this a book to give to associates, employees, and loyal partners as a show of gratitude? Is this a book to give to all of your salaried employees as a Christmas gift? Or is this a book that leverages your unique expertise and history to sell your brand?

If it is the latter, you can think about return on investment, or ROI. Focus on profitable distribution channels—speaking events, conferences, festivals, independent booksellers, online retailers, your own bricks-and-mortar establishment—and make a plan that you feel would work best for you. Understand that you will have to sell the book all the way through, particularly if you want to sell in traditional book retail locations, so it may not be easy. But, if that is where you intend to be, have a plan ready. Orange Frazer Press assists interested custom publishing clients with warehousing and distribution, making this step in the process easier and more accessible.

Books can be profitable when they are specifically written and conceptualized to meet an audience’s need, and professionally edited, designed, and printed. A custom publisher like Orange Frazer can give you the edge on your self-published and big-house-published competition, creating a book that looks like it came from New York, but costs like it came from friendly Midwesterners.

Our cookbook project with Cameron Mitchell of Cameron Mitchell restaurants is a great example. It was titled, The Art of the Meal, and it displayed in beautiful, full-color format many of his beloved recipes. The book was only sold in his own stores, and still went into four printings. It had a specific audience and a precise purpose, and it sold beyond expectations.

Books are memorable:

A book can be a wonderful way to leave an impression on those within your organization or company. Books tell stories, affirm dreams, and celebrate accomplishments. One of our clients created a book that celebrated the history and legacy of Ronald McDonald House Charities titled Entering These Doors of Compassion. It was a full-color, intricately designed coffee-table book showcasing each and every Ronald McDonald House in the world, and it was given to each and every Ronald McDonald House in the world. It isn’t sold in stores or online, making it an exclusive, valuable, and memorable item that reminds each house why it is a home.

So, should my business self-publish a book?

We have a long history of working with individuals and businesses, and we have seen tremendous success with these projects. No book is a guarantee, no profit is written in stone, and no benefit—sentimental or otherwise—can be quantified to the decimal, but, with hard work, precision, focus, and determination, you can custom publish a book that will stand out in today’s content-driven world, and succeed.

Has your business self-published a book? We would love to hear about your experience! You can comment on this article, or visit our Google+ self-publishing custom publishing community page here.

You’ve self-published a book? Congratulations, you are now a small-business owner!

stock photo by christgr stock.xchng A Hybrid Publisher in a Hybrid Author World

As one who is constantly monitoring the worlds of traditional publishing and self-publishing (from here on out referred to as custom publishing, which is more indicative of Orange Frazer’s belief in full-service customization), I’ve had a harder and harder time being patient with articles comparing these various forms. Obviously, the comparison/contrast must be done; it’s helpful to potential authors and writers, and helps a changing publishing landscape define itself. But the manner in which it’s often done seems to help no one. Each article has its own bias, its own particular underlying argument. You’ll notice that the bylines are typically writers/publishers representing one house or another; they’ve already staked out their respective sides in the fight.

This is where Orange Frazer actually has a unique, and potentially helpful, perspective: we’ve done, and continue to do, both traditional and custom publishing. In a world where the hybrid author is getting increasing recognition (authors who have had books self-published and traditionally published, at different points in their careers), the hybrid publisher is often overlooked (potentially because there are very few of us). As a hybrid publisher, we are distinctly aware of the remarkable differences between the two publishing tracks, the benefits and drawbacks of each, and the very different authors, audiences, and markets each track serves.

I was reading an internet post from a regional writers group the other day that was answering a submitted question on self-publishing, and frankly, though the writer clearly knew his stuff (the dollars and cents of publishing, that is), the answer felt misframed. He begins his response by detailing everything a self-publishing service won’t do: market your book, publicize your book, visit bookstores to get them hooked on your book, print advance review copies and send them to thousands of retail outlets, etc. As the list grows, an uninformed reader is probably thinking, man, what DO they do then? But this is exactly the problem. Why would a custom-publishing company do any of these things in the first place? Comparing traditional publishing to a custom publishing service is like comparing apples to oranges. It only misrepresents the fundamental difference between these two publishing tracks by describing one as a stripped-down version of the other. When treated this way, self-publishing loses its essential, entrepreneurial spirit, and this is the spirit that makes self-publishing such an innovative alternative to traditional publishing.

Traditional Publishing vs. Custom Publishing: Apples vs. Oranges

Both forms of publishing can be understood as investments. In traditional publishing, the publisher invests in the author and her work. Because of this investment, it is in the best interest of the publishing house to work as hard as it possibly can to sell the book to retail outlets, pitch it to reviewers, buy publicity spots and advertisements, etc. Traditional publishers shoulder the burden of cost in production and publicity because they are making money from the book: once they invest in it, they have rights to it, meaning that when it sells, they profit. In custom publishing (or in self-publishing) the investment scenario is flipped: the author/writer/client is investing in the production of her book by paying the publishing service to produce the book (and/or design, edit, copyedit, etc.). The publishing house is not earning any money on this book when it sells; it is simply producing a product for a client, and allowing that client the freedom to sell it as she so chooses. In this sense, it doesn't make sense for the publisher to shoulder the burden of publicity. The publishing house is not earning any money from that publicity, nor is it investing in the outcome of the book; it is providing professional services to a client and allowing the client to keep all of the rights of sale. It is the client's responsibility to market and publicize this book, as it is her investment that will be recouped. In a very real sense, the author has become her own independent business.

Imagine if this were a coffee shop. Perhaps the owner of the coffee shop doesn’t have the time to grow, harvest, and roast all of her own coffee beans. She may not have the skillset to do so (or the climate!), and she may have decided that it's not profitable for her to stretch herself this thin. She should do what she is best at: making fantastic coffee and selling it to caffeine-loving customers. The company that takes care of the production of these coffee beans is providing her a service, working within its skillset with its specialized resources to give her the product she needs for her business. Should the coffee bean company market her coffee shop? Send samples of her coffee to connoisseurs and food reviewers across the country? Foot the bill for coffee machines and espresso machines and cappuccino machines? No, it wouldn't really make sense. It would be inappropriate for the production and growing company to assume ownership over her product when it hasn't invested in it. It's her coffee shop, after all, her time and love and investment.

Promoting Your Book: The Business of Books

The book business has always been confusing simply because it is both a business and an art. It is a romanticized business, rightfully so in many ways (I am a lifelong book lover, buyer, and critic), but it is also a business. When books are bought by publishing companies, it is often because the editor has fallen in love—with the story, the characters, the setting—but it is also because the editor knows that there is an audience for this book, that this book could sell well in its established market, and that other people will buy, love, and recommend the book. As romantic as we make the book business, it will always be a business. When it is done right, self-publishing is no different. It is this balance of love and logic, heart and good planning, that makes the book business, any book business, sing.


Understanding Contracts When Self-Publishing Your Book: Traditional Publishing vs. Custom or Self-Publishing

SONY DSC Understanding how contracts work when  you are considering self-publishing your book is crucial. It is key to understanding the difference between traditional and custom or self-publishing, and it can be a useful tool for determining which route is best suited for your project.

At Orange Frazer, we recognize the value of the traditional publishing model. We do it on a slightly smaller scale these days, but we still do it because we love it, because there are some books that require the investment to become a reality, because some books were always meant to be sold to larger audiences. But in other cases, traditional publishing just doesn’t make sense. One of our custom authors, Bob Lanphier, published his collection of stories, The Grey Gables Tribal Council: Campfire Stories. It was illustrated by Brooke Albrecht, and we printed copies for Bob’s close friends and family members. It is a truly beautiful book: the illustrations and anecdotes bring to life an ancestry and a heritage that is crucial to preserve. Would this book be traditionally published at a big house, with a multi-thousand-dollar advance, a multi-thousand copy print run, and a pitch to chain bookstores across the country? No, that was never what the author wanted. It certainly shouldn’t determine whether or not that book is published, though. This is where custom publishing comes in. Custom publishing finds itself among an incredibly interesting, vivacious, compelling crowd of authors, filling in when and where the traditional publishing model falls short.


A Note On Comparing Traditional vs. Custom Publishing

It is important to note when comparing these two routes that traditional publishing is a course that can be pursued, but not necessarily a course that can be chosen. In the end, traditional publishing must choose you. Pitching your idea or your manuscript to a traditional house means you are making a sale, and they can certainly choose not to buy. Many authors go this route and struggle to find a traditional publishing house that is interested in their title; perhaps the title doesn’t fit with its backlist or niche market, perhaps the particular topic isn’t selling well in comparative titles, perhaps the editor just knows his/her house isn’t the right publisher for the book. Whatever the reason, traditional publishers may not choose your book. And that’s okay, because these days there are a myriad of other options out there for you, and that’s where the custom publishing route can be beneficial.

But if you have written a manuscript and you are choosing which course to pursue, or perhaps you’ve tried traditional publishing and you are interested in other options, understanding your contractual obligations and rights is incredibly important.

Advances, Royalties, Return on Investment

Contracts determine whether you are paid an advance plus royalties (an initial sum plus timed checks after the book’s release for a specified percentage of book sales), or whether you sell your book yourself and keep the profits on book sales. For certain projects, you may know right away that in order to write the book, research the book, and sell the book, you are going to need an outside investment from a traditional publishing house. If you are aware that your royalty check may be pennies on the book (it could always be more, but retailer discounts do mean a lot these days), but feel that the initial advance will recoup most of your time, then pursuing the traditional publishing model might make sense for you. In other cases, you’ve perhaps allocated this as a business expense (corporate anniversary books, cookbooks, business books, etc.), or you’ve saved up your financial resources (personal memoirs, children’s books, etc.). In this case, you are a prime candidate for custom publishing, and you stand to make a higher return on investment when that book is sold.

Rights, Rights, Rights

Contracts determine whether a publisher retains the rights to publish your book digitally, translate it into other languages, sell it to other countries, make it into a movie or TV show, circulate portions of it before the release date, or whether you retain these rights. If you want to give this control to another entity, someone experienced in these transactions, but also someone who may or may not pursue these courses, then traditional publishing is your route. If you want to retain these rights for your own potential use, then custom publishing may be your route.

Print Run

Contracts determine the investment in the print run. Do you want to pitch the book to retail outlets, or do you envision having copies for circulation among your close friends, family, and coworkers? Do you see this as a general interest book accessible to a wide range of readers and audiences, or do you see this as a more personal book, one that a particular region, business, family, or organization will primarily have interest in?

The scope of the contract, and the nature of the acquisition, differentiates traditional trade publishing from custom publishing. Both are advantageous in their own ways, and both are sustainable and effective business models. Here at Orange Frazer, we excel at both, because we know that publishing is an ever-evolving industry, and we like to make sure we are one step ahead so that we can continue to create beautiful, long-lasting books for our authors and readers.