New publishers on a shoestring budget need software for accounting, royalties, title information and editorial project management to manage their operations. With these tools in place they can focus on acquiring titles, publishing titles, marketing and sales.
For tracking revenue and expenses we tend to recommend software such as QuickBooks Desktop Pro (or QuickBooks Premier if you have inventory) or Quick Books Online Essentials (or Online Plus if you have inventory). QuickBooks is the most popular accounting software solution for startups in the United States with an 85% to 90% market share.
Better financed startups tend to favor integrated ERP solutions; such as ACUMEN Book , with publishing functionality (accounting, royalties and title information management) or more powerful standalone financial solutions such as QuickBooks Enterprise, Microsoft Dynamics GP or Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
Royalty software imports sales, calculates royalties and generates royalty statements based on the royalty rules associated with the royalty contract. These rules can be simple or complex. A royalty contract may have royalty advances, royalties based on net receipts, royalties based on list price, royalties that escalate based on quantity sold and rates that vary according to format, customer type or territory.
For startup publishers Easy Royalties offers an affordable and powerful solution with prices starting at $500 for a desktop solution with a 50 title license. Their clients range from startups with just a few titles to established publishers with over 1,000 titles.
Well financed start-ups that want to offer authors a portal for accessing their royalty statements should look at SaaS royalty solutions such as Klopotek, Metacomet, or Virtusales.
Title Information Software
ONIX is the international standard for communicating title information; such as title, author, description, prices, subjects, reviews and more, to publishing business partners such as Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Ingram and Kobo. This information helps potential customers to discover your title and it allows retailers to properly describe your product.
Title information software stores this information in a database and transmits it to your business partners.
For startup publishers we tend to recommend solutions from ONIX Edit as their standalone ($99 to $475) and hosted (starting at $10.95/month for 25 titles) solutions are more affordable than solutions available from Firebrand Technologies or NetRead.
Well financed start-ups will find that solutions from Acumen, Klopotek and Virtusales includes integrated ONIX 3.1 title information management statements.
Editorial Project Management
Many small publishers rely on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for project management. Startups with staff working from remote locations may use online services such as Zoho Project Management or Basecamp to manage projects and share documents. Computer savy small publishers may use a FileMaker database to track the status of their projects.
Backing your accounting, royalty and title information data is critical. For this we recommend that new publishers use an online backup service such as Backblaze, Carbonite, Mozy or SOS Online Backup to continuously backup files to a remote location.
If finances permit, we recommend supplementing the online backup with a backup to an external USB 3.0 hard drive and/or a second online backup service.
At our company we use 2 online backup services, a storage device with RAID 1 functionality for primary storage and 2 external drives for backups.
A desktop scanner is essential for a paperless office. With a scanner you can convert copies of invoices, royalty agreements and business documents into PDFs for digital storage. For PDF software we recommend; Adobe Acrobat or Power PDF from Nuance. For a startup, the lower cost Power PDF is a better choice.
Once a startup publisher’s sales exceed a few million dollars they often upgrade to more powerful publishing specific solutions such as: ACUMEN Book, Firebrand Technologies, Klopotek, or Virtusales that cost $30,000 USD or more. Why? These solutions can increase the productivity of your staff.
At my former company we purchased a $50,000 solution and managed to double sales while reducing our customer service staff by 50% (by not replacing employees as they left). The $35,000 purchase and $7,000 annual software maintenance contract saved us over $250,000 per year and provided management the tools that helped it to double revenue.