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Ask HN: How can I get into publishing?
2 points by jwwest 1494 days ago | hide | past | web | 3 comments | favorite
I have an idea that I'm researching, however I have very little context to go on, so I thought I'd reach out to see if anyone had any insights.

With the number of self-published eBooks out there, I think there might be a market for a digital publishing company that handles editing, distribution and publicity. I look at awesome companies like the Pragmatic Bookshelf and No Starch Press and wonder if there's room in the market.

There seems to be very little information out there on running a publishing company, and even less so on one that doesn't do physical media. What problems might I face? Is there an MVP for this type of thing? Perhaps I need to self publish my own work and build a process around that?

You have correctly identified that editing, distribution, publicity are problems for self published authors mostly because they don't have the money or will to pay for these services. All of these currently are fixed/upfront costs invested into a book before you know the level of sucess it will have. If your company pays for these work they have to get paid back, which is going to have to come out of the sales stream from the book which creates a selection bias problem.

If you can crack the problems around the cost for providing services or how to pre-sift through books for a population more likely than average to have above average sales that would give you a way to engage in what you've described.

There are lots of Books about running a publishing company but no websites. I'm working on a publishing focused startup and have been in the industry for the previous five years.

If there are not relevant discussions at:


I suspect you could start one.

These people are in the space:


I used their Drumlin to DRM some study guides I wrote few years ago. The Drumlin product is here:


I will say that they appear to have their roots in publishing and are using technology to further their domain expertise rather than trying to work the problem the other way. A lack of publishing domain expertise is, in my opinion, likely to be a major hurdle for certain types of work. For something like Scribd, not so much.

Awesome resources, thank you.

I haven't given thought to DRM. Books that I buy typically aren't DRM'd, and honestly the only ones I've seen are usually textbooks.

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