Crossroad Press was formed in 2009 as Macabre Ink Digital. The original intent was simply to bring my own out of print books to Kindle and other eBook platforms, and to try and get a few of them done as audiobooks. My background, besides being an author, is in IT. I’m IT Manager for a very successful company, and have extensive background in web development, networking, and computers. All of this made learning the basic tools of the trade a short and simple task.
When I started getting my titles digitized, a few friends noticed what I was doing. eBooks had just begun to take off. Everyone was afraid of being left behind. Some publishers were moving into digital, but seemed bent on making as much money as they could while, as usual, excluding the authors. Those friends asked if I’d help them with their books. They offered to pay me. I declined. Instead, I asked for a small percentage.
That is the backbone of Crossroad Press. We are now a growing, widely distributed digital publishing company. Our books are on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. We also sell direct to several library consortiums. We have published over 3000 titles and expect growth to continue exponentially. We are approached by new agents, publishers, and authors almost daily.
The beginning was simple. We set out to find out of print books that had been forgotten, the horror and sci-fi and mystery books we enjoyed that could not be easily found, and that had missed the switch to digital completely. We found a lot of authors with boxes of books in their garage that no one was ever going to read. I developed a quick and simple way of scanning these, and between myself and my associate editor and partner, David Dodd, a database, and programming whiz, we figured out how to reconstruct those OCR scans into word documents. We have a small army of folks working for us proofing and copy-editing. We don’t pay a lot for this, but we do pay, a little bit more as things grow, and we give Christmas bonuses. Really.
We keep our bottom line as low as possible. Most cover art is handled in house. We are committed to never changing the original model. Eighty percent of all net sales of eBooks go to the author. A clean copy of any scanned book goes to the author. We handle everything, and the author gets 80 percent, mostly on works that are just not available. Having expanded into audio and print, we pay 65% of everything we make on audio and 50-80 percent of paperback and hardcover sales, depending on which platform is used to publish them. If you are an author with a back-list, and your agent, or friends, or anyone, really, is urging you to publish digitally through someone who charges fees for the “service” of publishing they aren’t a publisher, they are a service.
We keep the prices of the eBooks reasonable. Most old, novel length paperbacks can be had in print from Amazon for .99 plus shipping. We sell reprint genre books for $2.99 – $3.99 to hit the minimum price Amazon will pay out 70 percent on. Scarcer or larger books we scale upward. The most expensive eBook we’ve sold is $6.99. I remember when I used to read incessantly, and I remember that around $5 a book is where it was no longer an impulse buy for me, and I had to think a lot harder before buying something new.
Along the way we’ve picked up authors like Clive Barker, Michael DiMercurio, P. F. Kluge, James Dalessandro, Joe Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, Chet Williamson, the estates of Hugh B. Cave and Irving Wallace, International best-selling authors Thomas Sullivan and William Bayer, most of the estate of Charlie Grant, works by John Farris and Neil Barrett Jr. For a while we did the eBooks for the Stargate Series novels and have since picked up the old White Wolf Vampire the Masquerade books. We did the first and only audiobook of The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. We have developed some original series works and are pursuing those aggressively with some good results.
To date, we have more than 900 audiobook titles produced. That would never have happened without the help and expertise of world-class narrator and producer Jeffrey Kafer. Jeff and I met when I posted on my personal site that I’d love to have my books in audio. I paid him to do the novella, “Roll Them Bones,” and the next thing I knew, he and I had a company, Perfect Voices, where developed a royalty share program and production company. We started out doing our own books and distributing widely but found that almost all sales of digital downloadable audio are through Amazon, iTunes, and Amazon. When Audible started up their ACX program, we jumped on board. We have done great things through this program, and have worked with world class narrators like Simon Vance, Joshua Saxon, Matt Godfrey, Dick Hill, John Lee, Jeffrey Kafer, Gigi Shane, Karen White, and Nick Sullivan, to name just a few. Jeffrey runs his own production company now, teaches, YouTubes and TikToks and has produced a very large number of excellent audiobooks. I owe him a lot.
We have a POD hardcover and trade paperback program as well, though print books are a harder sell. At first, we didn’t have the expertise to make this happen, but along the way we partnered up with my buddy Aaron Rosenberg, who is a book design wizard, and was doing that same job professionally at the time. Aaron did all of our earlier print interiors and covers, and, over time taught me how to use the software. He is still the man for any difficult or truly important design work, and is also co-creator of two of our original series projects, The Scattered Eart, and the O.C.L.T.
The print program now has to prioritize new titles original to Crossroad Press. We have added KDP paperbacks through Amazon to the editions we publish for some of the backlist books. I’m foremost an author, and I’m sick to death of authors getting the shaft on their work. There may have been a time when expensive 5th Avenue offices for publishers were necessary; that day has passed. You can publish from a garage in Hoboken and have a wonderful presence on the web, and that’s the home of digital.
So, our dedication is to our authors, and to keeping the prices down for our readers. I believe that this is the future of publishing. I don’t think the bigger publishers are “getting” it fast enough. They still own rights to people like King, Koontz, Patterson, etc., and until those cash-cows begin to fade, they will continue to charge too much for electronic editions, gobbling up rights to old titles they never push, and trying to shore up the walls of a crumbling, changing business. Witness our growing relationship with horror great Clive Barker.
In the end, I’m sure they will figure it out, and they’ll continue, but in the meantime, I’m thinking it’s time for a new breed of publisher to step forward and help pave the way. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’m fair, prompt, and pretty darned good at all this. We are are always testing and probing new marketing opportunities and doing what we can to promote the works we’ve already published. We have started getting some good reviews at Publisher’s Weekly.
If you are an established author with books no longer in print, we would love to work with you on the backlists (and whatever property you have available) at Crossroad Press. Thanks for your time.
I hope you’ll take time to explore our titles and our authors and see what we have to offer. Welcome to the cutting edge of digital publishing. And, if all of this seems positive to you, remember this guy is an author. My books are almost all available through Crossroad Press.
David Niall Wilson