An Interview with Crossroad Press CEO – David Niall Wilson

naill4Last week Reader’s Entertainment was thrilled to interview award winning, science fiction author David Niall Wilson. Today, we have him back talking about his publishing company, Crossroad Press. They are a digital / audio and print publishers specializing in out of print titles, as well as new releases.

Crossroad is working to fill the need for many of the publishers who shutter their doors without notice. Their author list includes such well known names as Clive Barker, Raymond Benson, the estate of Irving Wallace and Billy Dee Williams.

Welcome David. First, where did the idea for Crossroad Press come from?

I never intended to be a publisher. I’m an author, first, and one day I sat back and decided to see if I could combine my computer abilities with my books and convert my own backlist titles to eBooks.  This was about nine years ago. After I’d done several, a couple of friends saw what I was doing, and asked if I could help do theirs as well.

Very quickly I realized that if I did that for free, I would never write again, and would quickly come to hate it. What I did was compromise. I took on a few books from friends and created “Macabre Ink” – which is now the horror imprint of Crossroad Press. As the list started to grow, I was fortunate enough to make contact with David Dodd, who has a huge collection of old paperbacks, and serious database and computer skills of his own. We started contacting people, first those I knew, and then spreading out, and the company began growing very, very quickly.

The focus was – take as little of what is made as possible and remain not only in business but compensated for all of the time and work. It’s been a good model.

How long have you been in business?

Oops… I already answered.  This is our ninth year. We now have about 2500 or so titles, involving more than 400 authors in one way or another, and new books being published almost daily.

What is your background?

I’m an author of about 25 or so years. In the 1990s I published a magazine called The Tome that did pretty well for a few years, and I was president of the Horror Writer’s Association. In the US Navy I learned computer networking, and taught myself web design and code.

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Do you have editors and cover designers on staff?

The part of our staff you could reasonably call “full-time” consists of myself, David Dodd, and my wife, Patricia Lee Macomber, and award-winning editor.  We have a number of editors and proofreaders on staff as well.  David Dodd does most of our covers, a skill he has honed over the years we’ve worked together. The key to our business model, since we keep very small percentages on the royalties, is to have little to no over head.

Do you do eBooks, print and audio?

Yes, we do all three. We have done over 2500 eBooks, abut 600 audiobooks (so far) and a few hundred print editions. We do our print through the Amazon KDP print system.

What is the submission process for an author looking to work with you?

Our backlog, and our small staff, don’t allow us to take on submissions. We work with established authors, bringing their backlist titles to digital and back (sometimes) to print, and then, going forward, we work with those same authors on new works. We pick up a great number of authors when other publishers go under and leave them stranded. We simply don’t have the staff to read slush, or to edit as heavily as that would require.

It seems many of the titles at Crossroad are Sci-fi/Fantasy, is this the primary genre that you’re looking for?

The reason for the glut of Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy is simply my background and connections. I know a lot of authors, and most of them write genre fiction. We have no boundaries though. We’ve done mysteries, thrillers, New Age, True Crime, children’s books and even a couple of cookbooks.  We try not to limit ourselves by genre, though our personal tastes lean toward genre fiction, and that obviously slants the outcome.

If not, what would you like to see come across your editorial desk?

A bestseller (lol).  Seriously, we’d like to see more authors of Clive Barker’s caliber take a chance on our business model. We pay 80% or every penny we make on eBooks, 65% on audio and the same 80% on KDP print titles.  An author who brought us a book with an audience already waiting could definitely clean up. I believe we’ve proven that in the royalties paid to a couple of our authors over the year, but so far the really big names have shied away, for the most part.

Do you have a word count?

Nope. One of the great things about digital is there are no printing costs. On newer books, I don’t recommend going too far over 100k if you want a print edition, just because the number of pages affects the retail price.

How is Crossroad Press different?

We’ve created a business model that puts most of the money in the hands of the people who create the work. We don’t pay advances, but we pay most of the royalties out to the authors. We don’t spend big money on covers, we do them ourselves – we do our audio through Audible’s ACX system and mostly royalty share.  In other words, we are very stable. Unlike smaller publishers who try to emulate the business model of the big NYC publishers, we advertise only if we are nearly certain we’ll make more than we paid. We keep our costs as low as we can, pay monthly, and on time, and focus on steady growth.

We are very author centric. We try to communicate quickly and positively. We work with authors when we can to do promotions (like Bookbub) and we also try not to overextend. A lot of small and independent (and some not so small) publishers have fallen by the wayside in recent years. We have spent not a single moment in the red… and have developed a reputation for honesty and professionalism we are proud of.

Ours is a sort of hybrid model that has proven effective. We believe authors should write. There are a lot of folks out there telling people that they should buy more hats… be writers, marketers, cover designers, editors, etc… that is a very difficult road to success.  We have been doing this for a very long time and have learned a lot… but we still learn new things all the time.

I am not a fan of traditional publishing. For way too long the smallest portion of the money made has gone to the creators. Publishers and agents work on 5th Avenue in NYC, and authors have a hard time earning enough over a career to retire, unless they make it to the top of the heap. Marketing, agents, and editors have been deciding what is good, what will sell, etc., for decades, and I think a lot of great books were either not written, or written and not published, because what the author really wanted to write – and what they were told they should write did not match up.  We encourage successful authors to dig out the books they failed to sell, and bring them out for the readers to decide.

We also like to reach out to authors whose publishers have gone out of business, or dropped a particular line, or genre. We can get their books back out there, and work with them to continue what they’ve begun with their careers.

For more details head over to the Crossroad Press website.

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