Why a publishing house is selling design work

Recently we merged the Dark Helix Press newsletter mailing list with the Artsy Raven club mailing list due to limited time capacity. Marketing people will say we are doing something wrong, but we have too much to do and need to focus on creating things!

At Dark Helix Press we are working on new books, but we have also started making designs that are suitable for t-shirts, notebooks, mousepads, etc. These items are in our Threadless shop: https://darkhelix.threadless.com/

Books take a long time to make and are not easy to sell. Designs aren’t easy to sell either but people may pick up t-shirts or other items for their friends as gifts knowing there’s a better chance that material goods will be better liked than books.

All revenue from design work goes back into books because they are expensive to make and since we are a traditional publisher, the costs are all up front.

As a small press, Dark Helix will never qualify for any grants because there are conditions of selling X and reaching revenue of Y. We are a tiny player on a large playing field and over time, the larger companies have been merging into mega-corporations with different labels. The Goliaths are getting stronger and the Davids are trying new things to avoid them!

The future of the playing field for publishing seems bleak, as the larger Goliaths still have much control over the usual aspect of the industry such as access to bookstores, superstores (Walmarts, Costco, etc), databases and libraries. There are many emerging Davids over time – the self-publishers who are publishing themselves because the Goliaths refuse to. The most successful Davids are the ones that can get published by a Goliath for one or two books because the Goliaths have more marketing dollars and staff to make a book a success. It’s all still a gamble, but if the Goliath can shield a David temporarily it’s easier than a David struggling by themselves. Then after the partnership is over, the David can earn more from selling books themselves since there is no Goliath to take a giant cut of the revenue.

There are no easy answers to publishing success if you are a David! Throw in a mix of people using AI to the party and that changes everything as well! Hope my biblical analogy makes sense and have a great day!