February 16, 2020 (other posts on this topic will be added below)
Why start a publishing company?
After I retired from teaching in 2001 and began full-time writing, I discovered a huge gap in the publishing world: On one side sat the Big 8 (which is now, I believe, the Big 5); on the other perched self-publishing and vanity presses.
A drawer filled with rejection-form-letters mocked me. To get to the BIG publishing houses, one has to go through an agent. As a non-famous author, my submissions didn't make the slush piles much less land on anyone's desk. After many tries and much research, I discovered a regional company that wanted my manuscript enough they sent a contract. Surprise, surprise! The company wanted my concept in order for one of its editors to change the story completely, making the characters one dimensional and the plot cheesy and full of cliches. I didn't sign the contract.
I shared the experience with an acquaintance from an online writing site. Let's call her Wanda Cracker.
She said, "Let's start our own publishing company."
I said, "That takes money and more than two of us."
She said, "I'll provide the money, and you know Jane Jones and Sally Sums (names changed to protect the innocent and to protect me from having to hire an attorney). They would go in with us to provide editors and designers."
"Let me think about it."
After thinking about it and praying about it and talking to Jane and Sally and talking more with Wanda, I, who never gambles, took the biggest gamble of my life: I agreed.
I obligated myself to authors. I put a computer on my credit card for a family member who was going to work with us (Wanda was going to pay the balance). Jane and Sally came to Oklahoma to meet with the family member and me. We had papers drawn up. We registered our LLC.
Wanda started pressing us to get books out, to make money, to charge authors to edit, design, etc. I balked. Jane and Sally balked. Wanda keep pressuring us but never came up with any funding needed. I wanted a traditional publishing company. She wanted a company that made money off authors. Jane and Sally pulled out when Wanda didn't follow through with paying for Sally's computer. I was ready to tell Wanda the whole thing was hers when she emailed her withdrawal from the project.
I could have legally told the three authors under contract that we wouldn't be publishing their books, but ethically, I couldn't. I had a computer for which to pay that wasn't mine. I could have told the relative that I couldn't finish paying for the computer.
So, what did I do? I took a deep breath and jumped into the deep, shark-filled waters of publishing.
Next, I will share how 4RV Publishing got its name.
February 22, 2020
What's in a Name
When the time came to register the new company, I needed a name. The paperwork progressed faster than I expected, and I had to have a name yesterday. My husband and I had a kennel some years in the past, and we named it 4RV to include all our family. I made an impromptu decision to carry the name on to the publishing company. 4RV Publishing became a reality. Many people ask me, "What does 4RV mean?" Some ask, "Do you have books and magazines about RVs?" First of all, no, we do not have anything to do with recreational vehicles. In my immediate family, five members created a close nucleus, at one time: Robert (my husband), Rene (our daughter), Robert Jr (our first son), Randy (our youngest living child), and me (the V after the four Rs). The name reminds me of a time when the five of us stood together as a family, a happier time in many ways than now. Therefore, the name 4RV honors the Zabel family, and I didn't (and won't) change it even though people told me I should. Hopefully, 4RV Publishing will always mean quality books from quality authors. Next weekend, I will discuss some beginning growth pains and some plain ole pains of starting a business.