Publisher Wolfgang Bader gives insights on how novum publishing is helping new authors in getting their books out and about and why neither publishing houses run on printing subsidies, nor debut works belong into prejudiced boxes.
Mister Bader, you have been working independently in the publishing industry since 1997. How did you wind up in the book scene?
Wolfgang Bader: Actually, I came across the publishing industry via its technical aspect. I had always been mesmerized by everything about layout and graphics in books: the process, which starts with the printing of the very first letter and ends with the finished book, has held a fascination unlike any other for me. My first practical steps and experiences were made working in layout for a renowned publishing house. Their portfolio included biographies of great Austrian names such as Karl Moik or Niki Lauda. My profession granted me unlimited access to gripping literature, the devouring of which I never grew tired of. Every now and then, though, I stumbled manuscripts and drafts of lesser known writers that had been declined by the publishing house for nothing but economic reasons. Saddened by having to witness such an amount of potential being shamefully neglected and how so many stories worth telling were withheld from the deserving eyes of the world, I made a bold decision. In 1997, I took the leap and became an independent service provider for authors and publishers.
How did you come up with the name “novum publishing”?
Wolfgang Bader: The ancient latin word novum describes something unique, something that has never been there before, something unprecedented – in short: something completely and utterly new. To me, the name novum is synonymous for several things at once: it describes, for one thing, our engagement to support new authors and writers-to-be in publishing their first book. On the other hand, this name embodies something wondrous, something that is part of every new beginning: the chance of something great and wonderful to become of it. It truly stands for the credo that „everything is possible“!
Indeed even our innovative philosophy matches the name to perfection. Our authors merely pay for services such as editing, layout, marketing and sales. The costs for the actual printing of the books, however, are fully taken on by us. That clearly sets us apart from other publishing houses relying on printing cost subsidies.
Still, many publishing houses running on printing subsidies see themselves faced with harsh criticism over and over again– especially at the hands of – not seldomly very renowned – authors. Can you summon any understanding for the doubts and concerns of those writers?
Wolfgang Bader: Well, I can certainly understand the frustration ensuing the refusal of several publishers and thus the predicament of being forced to become active on your own as a new author; you have put in lots of work and effort in your book, after all, and created something deserving and worthy of attention and praise. What I cannot understand, however, is how one can reject a printing subsidy-run publishing house out of pricked pride – or, even worse, to actively denigrate it. We are service providers, first and foremost, and like any other publishing house, we are service oriented and see it as our heartfelt duty and aim to support the author in all of his endeavors. The main difference is that with us, writers are free to pick their preferred services, in whichever combination suits their needs best – it is all based on sort of a modular system. We only charge for the services chosen and rendered in consequence, and those of course need to be paid by the authors themselves. That is not an exploitation of the writers in any way, as a prejudice which is often held against us would proclaim, but merely an economical means of covering all of the production costs – and thus ensuring our survival as a business in the long run.
We have no hidden agenda – we definitely do not speculate with hidden costs or any such thing. Furthermore it always is easy to point fingers when one is in a privileged position. At the end of the day it is an eligible, yet very small circle of published authors and their advocates or lobbyists who are being supported and financed by the state. If you are bearing a small, in the business yet relatively unknown name, the receiving of similar benefits is, sadly but truly, quite simply unheard of. The publishing houses themselves should not be exempt from laying their cards openly on the table, as well – I can tell you for a fact that a few select works, too, have been bought by big names in the business. Contrary to us, alas, classic publishing houses do not communicate those facts openly to the public.
How do you counter authors who approach you and the offers of novum publishing with skepticism?
Wolfgang Bader: It is a simple rule in life, really: instead of allowing to be misled by prejudices, you should always opt to make up your own mind, build your own opinion. I can only so much as encourage new authors to direct their questions to us personally – always and especially when in doubt. Most insecurities or misconceptions can be stifled in the bud in a first face to face meeting. Such a first appointment is absolutely unbinding – if you find yourself unconvinced, after all, you are of course still free to abstain from publishing with us. This approach, in my opinion at least, is still much preferable to not trying at all; to leaving it to fate and to, quite possibly, be leaving your life’s work to the dust of your bottom drawer.
“Instead of being influenced –and misled- by prejudices, you should always opt to make up your own mind. That is always preferable to not trying and possibly leaving your life’s work to the dust of the bottom drawer”, such is the advice of publisher Wolfgang Bader for authors in doubt.
Would you, in such a case, give authors who find themselves in doubt the advice of turning to self-publishing-alternatives as book-on-demand and the like?
Wolfgang Bader: Why, of course it sounds more sensible and appealing at first to only print books on demand and thus save costs. I am a firm believer, however, of looking more closely and seeing if self-publishing isn’t worth it in the end. On should not forget, after all, that in times of an utter and total information overload even the best book won’t make the cut completely without the help of sensitive marketing strategies. In addition to printing fees, there are also the costs for distribution or long durations of delivery to be calculated – and those are often not sufficiently and thoroughly thought of at the beginning. In the end, self-publishing are oftentimes confronted with an amount of money that more than exceeds the sum charged by publishing houses relying on printing subsidies. Those publications are not seldomly met with mediocre success at best. Moreover, I firmly believe that the publishing industry, like any other field, is demanding of expertise and experience. Without the specific know-how you have to climb higher fences than would be necessary with professional help and support.
In the ranks of authors and writers, printing cost subsidy-run publishing houses are always a hot topic surrounded by controversy. In some cases, even accusations and rumors of lacking quality can be heard. Can you find truth in some of those concerns and preconceptions?
Wolfgang Bader: Unfortunately the past has shown there to be black sheep in the publishing world – as they are inevitably to be found in any other field. Mistakes and misconduct in contending companies is unmistakably leading to losses in image and results in a certain wariness with which the writers would approach us. This certain caution is, as a result, more than understandable. Nevertheless, I cannot stress enough the importance of making up your own mind in this area. We at novum publishing are adamant in our policies of open and honest communication with our customers. That includes, of course, that we are also willing to accept and stand by our own faults. We are a company run by humans, and by all means, we are not without fault! The thing is – if we happen to make them, as is inevitable in over more than 20 years of existence, we choose to regard them as chances and opportunities to grow and ameliorate our services. I will gladly explain: 10 years ago, for example, our services sported a bargain offer for our financially less privileged customers: by omission of the editing process, authors were able to take on a cheaper option for publishing their works. Afterwards, it was exactly those authors who were clamoring that we had published their works and left them wanting for quality. This happened despite our clear communication beforehand, in which we had explained exactly how the low price could be attained – and had explicitly uttered a warning of the risk thus linked to it. This incident taught us an important lesson, to be sure! Obviously we do not offer this low-price option anymore. Many of the authors felt affronted by this decision, but our experience has definitely taught us one thing: publishing at any cost is something that we can and will not offer with a good conscience – so we don’t.
In 2012, the novum award for literature was brought to life. Which intention stands behind your innovation?
Wolfgang Bader: We invented the novum award for literature in honor of the world book day 2012. It is awarded twice per year and marks novum publishing’s best novelty of spring as well as the best novelty of autumn. The main intention behind this award was definitely mainly my personal goal of giving new authors the possibility to reach a broad audience as well as to honor their creative work. The award is endowed with EUR 1.000;- and presents additional opportunity for us to aid our resident authors.
And now something personal to conclude our interview – would you tell us the name of your favorite book?
Wolfgang Bader (laughs): With all those unbelievably gifted authors and talents, whom I find myself surrounded with each and every day, I honestly could never make one single choice! I will gladly let you in on my favorite subject, however – I do harbor a special fondness for biographies. The stories of other people’s lives never cease to fascinate me. When, as a publisher, I get the privilege to become a part of that, it’s always an honor and a very dear gift to me.
Thank you so very much for the interview Mister Bader!
For more information about novum publishing and owner Wolfgang Bader, follow this link.