Craft beers, artisanal cheeses, small-batch bourbons – these and many other niche businesses thrive today by providing quality products for audiences seeking value and exceptional experiences.

So why not “small-batch publishing”?

Caleb Mason runs Publerati, his independent publishing enterprise, from his home on Vinalhaven, a coastal Maine island reached by a 75-minute ferry ride. There, he happily publishes books like the novel Mother Tongue by Joyce Kornblatt, a once-bestselling author whose later work was turned down again and again.

On Vinalhaven, Caleb Mason has situated his business among the lobster boats and the summer cottages by relying not only on good writing but also technology. The key to success, he says, is a focus on scale – the same approach as at your favorite microbrewery.

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Small Batch Publishing

“That scale is made possible by technological advancements,” he tells CCC.

“All my books are print-on-demand available— there has to be an order in hand for the book to be printed and to ship to whoever it’s going to go to. And by going that route and not having the inventory overheads, that made sense for the kind of novels I’m publishing.

“The challenge really is, ‘how do I make this effort viable?’ And the only way to do that was to keep costs incredibly low. I do most of the work myself other than graphic design. I do the acquisitions. I pay authors higher royalty rates than they get from traditional publishers, but I don’t pay advances.”

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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