How does the ETC Press work?

ETC Press uses two kinds of technology to publish projects.

The first is layout and design applications that allow us to easily create books in multiple formats: print and interactive PDFs, and various eBook files. These applications work through templates that separate the content of the book from the design of the book, exactly like a content management system like WordPress does when you post something to a website.

While this system reduces some of the traditional design elements you might want (for instance: we can’t do sidebars because digital books don’t really have sidebars), it enables us to quickly and easily get a book or journal into multiple formats with one design. And we can often turn around those projects in just a day or two.

The second is on-demand distribution services for both print and digital. We partner with Lulu, an on-demand publisher that gives us one-stop access to all the major online retailers and allows our book to be searchable by libraries and bookstores. We have an agreement with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to list ETC Press book publications in the ACM Digital Library and all our publications are in CMU Libraries digital repository. We also work with The Game Crafter to produce tabletop games.

How is that different than a traditional book publisher?

ETC Press can be much more flexible and has a much quicker turnaround time on the projects we publish because we aren’t tied to legacy printing systems. This means we can go from accepting your project to publishing in just a few days (once you have finished all the writing, of course).
And since we’re an open access publisher, this means that you retain ownership of your intellectual property, and we publish under a Creative Commons copyright. There will be a free version of your book available for download, along with the paid options of print and e-book.We probably aren’t right for your project if you’re interested in doing a hands-on design heavy, hardback book. Those books tend to be extremely expensive to create when done on-demand, and so they can often benefit from a more traditional publisher.

ETC Press is more focused on print and digital on-demand sales, which means we don’t have a presence in any physical bookstores (although bookstores can order our books). Our model is designed for the work to be readily available to people interested in these topics. If you’re hoping to have a print run of books distributed in stores, you will want to look for a more traditional publisher.

Finally, ETC Press doesn’t have an infrastructure designed to edit and promote your book, outside of the more traditional marketing and communication resources at Carnegie Mellon and the networks we’ve set up at the Entertainment Technology Center. If you’re hoping for a big promotional push for your work, you should definitely work with a more traditional publisher.

How do I know if this is the right place for my project?

The answer to this question comes down to the goals you have for your project. ETC Press is ideally suited to move projects from completion to distribution as fast as possible and to allow anyone who is interested in the project you’ve completed to get access to it.

This means you will have fewer hoops to jump through with your project, but it also means there will be some limitations on the design and outreach that a more traditional publisher might offer.

What does open access mean?

Open access means we don’t want cost to prohibit anyone from using the work we publish. And so each of our projects has a free download component to go along with the paid versions of the print and e-books.

Are the academic books peer reviewed?

The academic journals we publish each have its own peer review process. For books, we will work with individual author and editors to devise a peer review process for their books if they are interested pursuing that.

The Process

Why do I have to submit a proposal if you aren’t a traditional publisher?

ETC Press asks authors to submit a truncated version of book proposal for any new projects for two reasons.

The first is that our editorial board can better get a sense of your project so that we can best support you through the project together. The second is that it allows us to have a conversation with you not only about your project, but also the expectations we each have, so that we can make a more informed decision about whether to accept your book, and you can get the information you need to decide if we’re a good fit for your project.

We want to make sure your book finds the right home, and the proposal helps us all with those conversations.

Do you offer editing services?

ETC Press doesn’t offer story or line editing services. In many cases, our authors have fully fleshed out ideas for their work when they approach us. However, we do provide feedback on the book proposal during our conversations with authors and read over the submitted texts during design and layout.

What about copy editing?ETC Press doesn’t offer copy editing services. We expect our authors to have that done before they submit the final project to us. However, we are friends with many copy editors, and we’re happy to recommend them to you.

How does the design process work?

ETC Press has an author style guide, which explains how authors will turn in their manuscript. We do this to allow for an easy import from a Microsoft Word document into our design templates. (We separate content from design so we’re not using Adobe’s InDesign to design our books.)
Once we import the book’s content, our editor goes through the project, adds in the styles such as subheads or block quotes, adds the front and back matter (for example, the copyright page and About the Author).

When all the internal material has been updated, the editor will export a few different versions of the layout, which include small tweaks in style. The author will then get the opportunity to choose which layout they like. Then, the author and ETC Press editor will have a phone call to talk about any specific tweaks and changes that need to be made (or that can’t be made because of the template constraints).

Will I see galleys or proofs before the work is published?

Once the design process is finished, ETC Press editors will export the final print and digital proofs and send those along to the author.

Here is where the process gets a bit tricky. In traditional publishing, authors would read the proof, make corrections on the PDF, and send those back. However, our design templates don’t include pages. For example: If you pull up a book on a phone, a tablet, and a computer, the “page” of the book will depend upon the size of your screen.

What that means is that any changes you make will need to be in the original Microsoft Word document that you originally submitted. This digital proof is really so that you can see what the inside of the book will look like.

Once we’ve made the final changes to the proof, we upload the book to our distributor, Lulu.com. From there, we will order a single galley of the book so that we can make sure everything looks okay. Generally speaking, it takes 5-10 business days for us to receive that copy.

Finally, we will order 3 copies of the book for you.

Who owns the intellectual property of my work?

The short answer is that you retain ownership of your work. You are simply giving ETC Press permissions to publish your work.ETC Press publishes all its work under one of two Creative Commons licenses:

  • Attribution-NoDerivativeWorks-NonCommercial: This license allows for published works to remain intact, but versions can be created.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: This license allows for authors to retain editorial control of their creations while also encouraging readers to collaboratively rewrite content.

That said, if an author wants to use a copyrighted image in their text, they are responsible for trying to secure permission (and ETC Press will clearly state (in the front matter of the publication) that all images are *not* in the Creative Commons and that the respective owners’ reserve all rights.

The BusinessWhat is the budget for marketing and public relations?

ETC Press doesn’t have a budget for marketing or public relations. We will work with the author to develop promotional assets such as digital images for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, work with Carnegie Mellon University’s marketing and communication team to distribute a promotional release and work with the author to engage with ETC and ETC Press audiences.

Do you pay advances?

ETC Press isn’t able to give book advances. Instead, we have a revenue split on earned royalties with book authors and editors as follows:

  • Sole Book Author – 15%
  • Book Co-Authors – 20% split equally
  • Sole Book Editor – 10%
  • Book Co-Editors – 5% per editor, up to 20%

With our reduced pricing structure, we aren’t able to provide royalties for contributors in edited books, and we price our books and proceedings without any retail markup so there are not any royalties involved.

How much will my book retail for?

ETC Press prices our titles as inexpensively as possible because we want people to have access to them. We’re most interested in the sharing and spreading of ideas. We base our prices off of Lulu production costs plus retail markup in order for a project to be sold through other book sellers. Lulu.com offers a revenue calculator that gives authors the ability to see how much the book costs to print and how much profit is made.

Where will my project be available?

Lulu.com is a book distributor, which means it will make your book available through the websites of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple’s iBookstore. Each of those distributors takes a big cut of your revenue (roughly half). For books, ISBNs are obtained through Lulu, and LCCNs are granted by the Library of Congress.

Lulu has its own online marketplace where people can purchase your book. ETC Press only links to Lulu because the revenues on those books are substantially higher for authors. (This is how many independent and small publisher operate.)

Lulu also lists the book in the bibliographic databases of Ingram, Nielsen, Bowker and Google Books, which enables any library or bookseller to order copies as well as people to find ETC Press books through internet searches.

The free downloads are hosted in CMU Libraries digital repository, which provides publications with Document Object Identifiers.

What is the print run for my book?

Since ETC Press is an on-demand publisher, there are no print runs. We don’t have the capacity to warehouse books.

What is a realistic royalty expectation?

Most books at the ETC Press don’t sell thousands of copies, which means you probably aren’t going to get rich. However, the editors will work with authors on a bootstrap plan for marketing the book and finding new avenues such as bundles to increase potential sales.

How can I track the sales and download figures?

Since we’re a small staff, we don’t spend our time running reports and sending them out. We are working to put together an annual email, but the surest way to find out is to send us an email.

Your book

How do I get my books to conferences?

We have a partnership with Breakpoint Books. We send a handful of copies of our books to them and allow them to handle all of our on-site sales at the conferences with which they work. If you have a conference you are attending, please let us know. What we can’t do is ship books directly to the conference. We can work with authors to do royalty-free bulk orders.