11: Non-Fiction Writing and the Indy Publisher Relationship with Joshua Ginsberg

11: Non-Fiction Writing and the Indy Publisher Relationship with Joshua Ginsberg

Posted by Nicholas Ribera on

Joshua and I discuss the process of turning a hobby into a profession and developing a working relationship with your publisher.

You can listen to the episode here (or wherever you listen to podcasts) or read the transcript below:

Ad Read: Women’sWheel.co

HT: Hi, I'm Ellie Vates for the Heart Temple. 

CA: And I'm Nick Ribera with Chain Assembly. 

HT: And together we've designed a project called Women's Wheel. 

CA: It's based on the philosophy of women evolving with the seasons. And new modern archetypes that exist within those seasons. 

HT: This new way of thinking is presented in a core set with many items and activities designed to further understanding between you and the women around you. 

CA: Much more than self-help, these tools are for one or more participants in a community growing setting.

HT: Learn more about the Women's Wheel Core Set and its development at www.womenswheel.co.

A Conversation with Joshua Ginsberg

Chain Assembly: I'm lucky enough to have Joshua Ginsburg with me today. Joshua is a writer who I've met locally because you're in the same St. Petersburg area as I am. We've ran into each other at a couple of events. But Joshua is a writer who's got three books published so far and a fourth one that's gonna be coming out soon. And they're mostly, I believe they're all nonfiction so far. So Joshua, thank you so much for the time to talk to me. 

Joshua Ginsberg: Thank you so much for having me. It was also great seeing you and chain assembly at the Tabernacle of Oddities the other week. But it's great to be here. 

CA: Thank you. Yeah, that was my first time doing that event and it was really good. I've probably talked about this before and some of the other people I've spoken to in the podcast about finding events that fit your specific niche for your audience. And that was absolutely the kind of event for my audience. So it worked out very well for me. Did you have a fun time shopping at it? 

JG: I did. And you know, I do a lot of events. I have sort of a standing monthly appearance over at Tiger Dust, who is partnered with Dysfunctional Grace, who was the host. And so like yourself, you know, I found these are very much my kind of weirdos. 

CA: So I was at that specific event, the Tabernacle Voddy, and he's alone, so I wasn't able to walk around or shop around. Were there other authors at the event? 

JG: There was another author, and I forget the gentleman's name, but he does all of the, or I should say a lot of the abandoned Florida books. And I've read some of those, which, you know, is kind of more specifically urbex. You know, if you were to create a Venn diagram of kind of urban exploration or what they call urbex and the sort of things I write about, there would be a lot of shared territory. So you know, it was great to meet him and certainly see a lot of the other vendors.

CA: Have you done, so you said you've done a couple events, I've done events with you. Why would you say you didn't do this one specifically? 

JG: You know, I actually didn't apply to it. And my feeling is, you know, I do a lot with TigerDust. I wasn't sure that I had enough variety yet in terms of my offerings. I will very much look into it for next year. I have a fourth book coming out and I'm actually lucky enough to be able to say I have a fifth and sixth book coming out in the next couple years. So I have a bit of a pipeline. So as that grows, I think participating in some of these larger events and also cons. I haven't done any cons like Spookala or... Sunshine City Scare, which I am going to be doing next year. So I'm just kind of gradually learning my way through a lot of these. 

CA: Okay. Well, I think that's kind of a good teaser about what it is you do, right? So can you describe the three books you have and how you kind of got interested in those subjects? 

JG: Yeah, absolutely. So my first book is called Secret Tampa Bay. a guide to the weird, wonderful, and obscure. And this one came out in 2020, and it was a very weird and circuitous route that led me to it. So it's essentially kind of offbeat travel. If you've been to websites like Atlas Obscura or Roadside America or Weird Florida, if you like to, you know, stop it. weird monuments or see strange unique tombstones or pink painted dinosaurs by various roadsides or abandoned amusement parks or just very strangely specific museums. That's all sort of stuff that I love and am very passionate about. So that was my first book. I had to follow up the following year. which kind of gamified this sort of quirky offbeat travel. And that was called Tampa Bay Scavenger. And so it was 361 rhyming riddles that led people to different places throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota County. So kind of like, you know, taking what I was writing about and trying to turn it into a game, and a scavenger hunt. And then my third book, which came out last year, was Oldest Tampa Bay, which was a bit more historical. You know, the oldest cemetery, the oldest church and synagogue and garden club and nudist colony and all sorts of things, which is a lot of fun to write. And now this fourth book coming out will be Secret Orlando, a guide to the weird, wonderful and obscure. And I should mention. I've co-written that with an award-winning journalist out in the Orlando area. And then I'm also hard at work writing a fifth book. That will be my first one for the history press. And that one is called Haunted Orlando. So that brings me a bit more into a creepy, weird kind of haunted vibe. 

CA: Very cool. Well, there's a lot to dive into. So let's start with the first one. What was the process from? It's probably kind of a vague, broad question, but it might bring up some more specific follow ups. What was the process from concept to publication? 

JG: Sure. And for me, and maybe this is a little bit unique, I was writing the book before I realized I was writing a book. And so I probably need to back up to almost seven years ago when I was still living in Chicago with my wife. We had yet to move to Tampa We had decided after a close friend of mine had passed away that You know, we didn't that was kind of a catalyst for change for me he and I had grown up writing together and working on literary zines and always kind of pushing and encouraging one another to write and to pursue creative passions. And when he passed, we decided that we wanted to live somewhere else. And we fell in love with Tampa, and we spent our last six months in the city of Chicago. I decided I wanted to spend my last days there. trying to discover the city, trying to see the city in a way that I had never seen it. Maybe in a way that people who've lived there, you know, 40 or 50 or 60 years or their whole lives have never seen it. So I became a fan of that website, Atlas Obscura. And it, you know, I went to all these strange places. weird monuments and hidden fountains and secret tunnels and little known places. And I realized I absolutely love this. And I continued to do it when we moved here, at which point I started not just using that website but also contributing to it. And as time went on, they ended up publishing some 30 or 40 of my submissions. And I was in, I think I was in an airport at one point and I was flipping through a book called Secret Philadelphia. And it was part of this series that was put out by a publisher in St. Louis called Reedy Press. And I kind of scratched my head and I said, you know, I bet maybe I could write something like that. And then I thought, oh my God, I think I actually have written this. And my next... his step was to go online and take a look at their list of books. And I saw that they didn't have a book called Secret Tampa or Secret Tampa Bay. And I thought, well, you know, maybe they would want one. So I just called the publisher. I'm pretty sure that's the way they tell you never to do this. But, you know, I went ahead and I asked and I called and I said, look, you know, I'm a writer. I write about strange places. You know, I've had several of my submissions published on this Atlas obscure site and elsewhere Are you folks looking for a book covering the Tampa Bay area? And They said yes, and I said, well, thank you. I understand and then I realized wait a minute. They said yes So I was fully expecting them to turn me down but I'd spoken to a woman named Barbara there, and she said, let me give you the number of our owner who handles all the acquisitions. And so I reached out to him thinking again, I'm probably going into some voicemail round file here, but he actually called me back, I think, just a few hours later. And he asked if I would send him some writing samples, which I did. And he asked if I would put together a marketing plan, which I did. And I should also mention, in doing the research, so I picked up a few of these books, like Secret Atlanta and Secret Philadelphia, and I realized they all had kind of a similar format, right? They all had like 90 chapters. So I created my own mock table of contents to show them, you know, hey, I understand sort of how your books are laid out and this is the content that maybe I would include. So I did some due diligence on that upfront. And I sent that to him. And then by the time he asked for a marketing plan, I was 100% dying to close this. So I said, you know, whatever he asked me for, I'm going to... give 200%. So the marketing plan they wanted really just consisted of like, you know, 25 media contacts. So I went out and found 50, you know, 20 or 30 places where I would be willing to host me for an event. So again, I doubled that and came up with 60. And then I think they wanted 15 or 20 independent stores that might stock it. And I did the same thing. Whatever he asked for, I gave twice as much. And at the end of that, really in just a matter of a few months, I was looking at my first publishing contract. 

CA: So what marketing did they do on their side in addition to what you put together? 

JG: So they have a marketing team. It's a small team. But I. work with them in the lead up to the release of a book. They actually have some incentives too. They give all their authors a small marketing stipend. I think it's something like $100. It's not huge, but it helps. You have to lock down, I think, six or 10 events before that is released. 

CA: That hundred dollars is used to, I guess, pay for your attendance at events like a date, like a book at a book fair or something like that. 

JG: Right. I mean, really, it's in my discretion how I use it. I always put it into the marketing somehow, whether that's printing flyers or printing materials or, you know, buying a table or paying registration fees at different events. I mean, it. $100 goes pretty quick, but it is definitely helpful. They have someone who is dedicated to media and PR, and so he will generate the press releases, put together a press kit, and send that to the different radio and TV and newspaper contacts in the area. And they have someone that kind of assists really kind of aerial cover, you know, if I need slicks, kind of sales slicks printed, they put together some sales slicks and some other things that they send me. 

CA: Sorry, I'm not familiar with that term sales slicks. Can you explain what that is? 

JG: Yeah, it's just sort of like a one pager, you know, kind of like, like a one page, you know, about the book. I am on my own for a lot of my marketing, but I coordinate with them. Some authors do and some authors don't, but I've found they're very receptive and very supportive of my ideas. Really honestly, I'm looking down the pike at what will be my fifth book with them, and they have been really fantastic to work with. 

CA: Do they like bundle your marketing in with other books they have coming out to or other authors they're working with? Or were you kind of just like as your own entity when being promoted by them? 

JG: I guess a bit of both. You know, they do some marketing that is specific to me and my book. But in this area, they also do, for example, a series of books called 100 things to do before you die. So here. in the Tampa Bay area, author Kristen Hare, who is now I think on the third edition of that book. She had her third edition coming out I think around the same time that I had oldest Tampa Bay coming out. So I think there was a lot of cross marketing and we did some events together, which was really a lot of fun. 

CA: Okay. Cool. So I also want to ask you. bit more about the organization of the document. So you mentioned the table of contents. I always do the same thing. I start off with that because it helps take a nebulous idea and makes it more of a checklist I can fill out section by section. When you do your writing, what type of software are you using for your writing? 

JG: I'm just using good old fashioned Microsoft Word. And the first one, I think in a lot of ways, was probably the easiest to write because I was starting with so much content that I had kind of already created. Not necessarily things that I'd published, but you know, I'd been traveling around, I'd already done a lot of the photos as well. I do all of my photography when I can. For historical photos, of course, I use things like... Florida Memory Project or Hillsboro Memory or there's a ton of great archives. But they had a kind of a specific format, right, which they sent me and it sort of explained like 90 chapters, each maybe 300 to 400 words. And then there's a title. There's a... question as a subtitle, you know, there's a photo, a photo caption, and then a little section that's sort of like additional information. So I mean, they really kind of gave me a pretty clear layout to follow. And, you know, it was it was up to me in terms of what things I was going to choose for that. 

CA: So within the photos that you take, when you're delivering these items to the publisher, How do you label the photos? 

JG: Yeah, I usually label it the same name as the chapter. And I mean, we just use Dropbox for the photos. And of course, they go through rounds of edits too. So they'll send me kind of a typeset version. And I can just make sure everything looks good. They're usually very, very good about that. But every once in a while, a photo that's supposed to be for one chapter might end up with another. So, I go through and typically get a chance to do a few rounds of edits and changes. But I really try, I really endeavor to deliver to them something that is very, very clean. Okay. 

CA: So they do all the book layout themselves then? 

JG: Correct. They do the cover design. They do the layout. So, you know, I mean, they're a small press. I think they put out about 400 or 500 titles now. So, you know, maybe larger than a lot of independents, but, you know, overall, I think they still qualify as kind of small press, you know, edging toward, you know, small mid-sized. 

CA: So how do you go about doing the research for your... again focusing on just this one book specifically, you already said you had 30 to 40 articles ready to go. Imagine you have to kind of tweak those to fit within the parameters. But what is the editing process for finding things to put in the book or take out of the book to get it to that 90 chapter count? 

JG: Yeah, whatever 90 chapters I think I'm going to be writing about, it always changes. And that's, you know, that's just kind of a matter of, I think, trusting that. that the direction that has taken me this far will sort of continue to do so. And a lot of times, I mean, I begin with research online or I keep running lists of strange things that people have told me that I really need to go see. And so I go see those things. And of course, while I'm there, I end up talking to the proprietors or other people and they say, oh, you know, if you like this giant castle made out of aluminum siding. you would really like this other thing that, you know, my friend created in this backyard that's like a giant working volcano. So it's sort of like one thing leads to another. And what I found is that a lot of these people, I mean, yes, what they're doing is sort of secret, but there's secrets that they want people to kind of know about.

CA: Sure. Were there a lot of items they ended up having to edit out of the book or is it like once you hit 90 you're like, thank goodness I got it, we're good to go? 

JG: I think every single book I've written I have overwritten somewhere in the order of 10 to 15 chapters. And you know, that's actually part of my process because then I'll go back through and I'll have some friends and beta readers look at it and I'll say, you know. which chapter, which two chapters did you like least? And so I'll kind of carve those off. But I try to cannibalize and sort of reuse everything. So a lot of chapters that maybe don't make it into my books will end up as kind of bonus content that I post from time to time on my blog, which is Terra Incognita Americanus. And that's just a fancy pants Latin way of saying unknown American lands. 

CA: Nice. So what is the production process once the final manuscript is signed off on? You're OK with it. They're OK with it. Was that first round of books being printed in the United States or being printed overseas? And how long did it take before you got to get it in your hands? 

JG: So that's a great question. I believe it has changed somewhat. over the last few years as a result of supply chain distribution, you know, kind of hiccups. So originally, I think they were doing a lot of their printing overseas. You know, my book came out in at the beginning of 2020, which was kind of a weird time to be putting out a travel book, because, you know, a few months into that year, like all of a sudden, nobody could travel. I mean, thankfully everybody could still sit around and apparently read about all the places they couldn't travel to. But so, so the past few years, apparently I know for reading and my understanding is for a lot of small and mid and even large presses, there's been a lot more sort of unreliability. So typically they give me a date. So with reading, for example. They put out titles twice a year, you know, in the fall, typically in September, and then in the spring. So for my past three, and I guess this will be the fourth now, for my first four books with them, these books have come out in the fall. So I sent my final approval to them, I think a month and a half ago, two months ago. and they let me know that their printer, who I think these might now be printed in the US. I'm not 100% sure. But I know that we're on track. The official publication date is September 15th. Now out of an abundance of caution, again, because sometimes things show up to their warehouse and there's damage or there's some sort of problem or there's delays. So I typically don't schedule my first launch event until a full month after the official publication date. So, you know, I've got a really heavy load of kind of appearances and events, October, November, December, but relatively little, if anything, in September, those first couple down to me and to some of the bookstores here in Florida. So COVID has taught me to be very flexible with my strategies, and to give things maybe a little more time than you think they really need. 

CA: Well, I'm particularly glad to hear you describe that publication date as more or less nebulous. Because when I'm filling out the details on like Boker for my ISBNs and the things I'm putting together, like for example, I'm going to be filling out that information well before the book gets published because I need to get that ISBN number to build the barcode to put on the cover design. And so I'm always like, I don't know exactly what date to put for the publication date. I'm like, well, I guess the Kickstarter is probably going to end at this day. And maybe a few weeks after that, I'll actually have the PDF ready to give people. So maybe that'll be my publication date. But it's good to know that it doesn't have to be so super finite and that you're doing your launch party a month after it comes out or after it's listed as having come out. 

JG: Yeah. And you know. when Tampa Bay Scavenger came out, it was actually a little bit delayed. So I had this event with another local author, Craig Pittman, and this was at Oxford Exchange, and the books weren't there yet. So, you know, it was a minor hiccup and people, you know, placed orders for them and it was fine. But, you know, it's just a... It's just a reminder that certainty, I think, whether you're an author or an entrepreneur or really just a living human being at this time and place, like we deal with a lot of uncertainty right now. 

CA: So with the connections you made with local independent booksellers that wanted to carry your product, in that... type of situation are they saying yes sign me up for 25 copies or something like that and then you pass that information on to the publisher and then they ship them those copies? Do they ship it all to you and you bring it to them personally? What does that look like? 

JG: Yeah, it's a bit of a mix. I generally I try to stay away from consignment for the most part. Although saying that there are two places where I have a consignment relationship that has been really productive. is South Tampa Trading Company and the other is Tiger Dust. I feel like virtually every month I'm kind of replenishing their stock. When you're dealing with kind of consigned basis, I provide to them out of my stock of books. For the most part, most independent booksellers either buy them directly from the publisher Or my book is also carried by Ingram. So Ingram is one of the large book distributors. And I'm really thankful that they carry my books. But that's how it gets into a lot of the independent stores. 

CA: So the initial publication I'm presuming, or the initial printing I'm presuming, was hardcover? 

JG: Actually, all of the printing so far have been strictly paperback. And then I think there are, you know, like Kindle and digital versions.

CA: So let's talk about, I guess, the monetary reward for each individual copy sold. Is that how it's structured? Did they give you like payment up front for the book? I don't know. How was that organized? 

JG: I think what you're talking about is what they often refer to as an advance. 

CA: They know that's the technical term. 

JG: Yeah. Most. Most authors and certainly most small and mid-sized booksellers, so far as I'm aware, do not give you an advance. When you're Stephen King or John Gresham or choose your famous writer here, yes, you may have the kind of relationship where they will offer you an advance on what they know they're going to sell. pretty rare. So I did not receive upfront payment. I receive royalties twice a year. So every six months from each book, I receive, I think it's something like 10% of what they have sold. But then, which, you know, they're based in St. Louis. They're selling to some of the independent stores and some of the distributors, but really the bulk of my sales are still really driven through me. I mean, Amazon does sell a lot, but when I sell books directly, so what I do is I'm given the opportunity to purchase books at a 50% discount and then resell them. at cover price. And so that's really, you know, my own sales and marketing through my website and at events is how I've generated most of the money from my books. 

CA: So with the royalties, is it a percentage of all the ones that you're not involved in the sale of, I guess, like a smaller percent? Okay. Is that percentage different if it is, say, through through some other method or is it always the same percentage? 

JG: It is it is mostly the same where it differs, I think, is with like electronic purchases, which if somebody buys, you know, an ebook version, I think I come away with like a whopping 25 cents or something like that. 

CA: OK, sure. And so the royalties that you're getting paid twice a year, is that a check? that you get in the mail or what's the payment method? 

JG: That's correct. 

CA: OK. Yeah. 

JG: So I receive a check twice a year. And again, I've been really lucky. I feel like Secret Tampa Bay has been kind of a sleeper, but it's been pretty steady. I mean, I'm not receiving tens of thousands of dollars twice a year. But it's... it's been a steady amount. And a lot of times what happens with titles is, you know, the first one is really good, the first royalty payments really good, and the second one is pretty good. And then the third one's kind of okay. And they sort of taper off. But I think I've had a few things working in my favor, one of which is that every year I've been putting out a book. And when one refreshes and rejuvenates some of the other titles. CA:Sure. 

JG: And then, you know, just with the massive quantity of people who keep moving here. I feel like the subject of kind of strange, curious local travel really is kind of evergreen. 

CA: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it also makes a great so my wife's a real estate agent. And typically whenever a real estate agent helps someone buy a house, they always try to give them some type of like welcoming gift or thank you gift. And books on Florida are always great, great situations for that. 

JG: Oh, yeah. And, you know, there's so many great local authors who really have been very friendly and very welcoming. So I mean, it's not only a lot of great locally talented authors, but but I feel like a great writing community. 

CA: So when you do get that, I forgot the word already, they're, I don't know, let's call it a reneumeration check.

JG: The royalty check, 

CA: Yeah. Does it break down where they came up with that number? Does it give you details on all the sales? 

JG: It does, it does. And they also provide, they provide me with monthly sales numbers. I'm probably a little bit more I'm wonky about that. I do a lot of my own tracking and typically, especially in the months leading up to and the months following the release of the book, not uncommon for me to coordinate with their sales and marketing people and talk to them even weekly just to kind of have a pulse on what's happening. If for example, I've seen some great new independent books. bookstores spring up like Bookends in Ybor City or the Gilded Page in Tarpon Springs. And when these new folks enter the scene, I let Reedy know and oftentimes I'll go out and try to kind of check out the store and learn what their preferred method and level of interest is in having my books there. They want to go through Ingram or sometimes they want to go through the publisher. But I'll typically coordinate and let the sales folks at reading know, sort of, hey, this is what I did last week. This is where I think maybe you could follow up with so and so who wanted some books. So it's very much a symbiosis. 

CA: As far as the authors that have been working under Reedy, would you say you're more involved than most, about the average, less? 

JG: I, you know, hard for me to say because we're all, I mean, we're like, we're all over the place. I try to be, I would think I'm definitely kind of more active. And you know, there was someone there that I really had a great relationship with. And I know she worked really ceaselessly, not only getting my books, but a lot of people's books into different stores. A great lady, her name was Michelle Lehe, and she passed away just a couple months ago. And, you know, it was really a loss. But I know the folks there have been taken over effectively. And I just wanted to give her kind of a posthumous shout out, because she really was a big reason that you can walk into so many of these different stores and see my book there. 

CA:So with your relationship with Ingram, was that initiated by you or by Reedy Press? 

JG: Yeah, yeah. So Reedy Press, that's a relationship that they've had for some time. So I mean, I really have no direct interaction. with Ingram. Now, Ingram offers booksellers apparently certain discounts. And sometimes, you know, if one of my books kind of falls off that discount list or, you know, recently someone tried to get some books through Ingram and they were on back order. So, you know, whenever there's I run into or learn about those sort of hiccups, I'll pass them along to Reedy. and they'll kind of resolve that through their channel and those relationships. 

CA: Awesome. I'm learning a lot about this. 

JG: Yes. Yeah, yeah. 

CA:Thanks for answering all my very specific questions. 

JG: You and me both. 

CA: Okay. I mean, it's funny, like, you never realize you're an expert in something until you have answers to somebody else's questions, so thank you. 

JG:Yeah. Oh, hey, no problem. And I should let you know, I mean, it's kind of funny for me too, because... When somebody says, oh, you know, you're sort of an expert on this. I think well, no, I'm not I've done it like three or four or five times and people like yeah, you should probably know what you're doing by now But let me reassure you I don't.

CA: Alright, so now let's try and transition this into your next book. So you also said that the The Secret Tampa Bay has been your most profitable book so far. Do you think that's just because it's been out the longest or? Off the bat, it had better sales than any of the others right after release. 

JG: Yeah, I well, I would say both. I mean, certainly longevity matters. We actually just, you know, over the past several months, they do print runs, I think, of typically like 2000 books. And we actually went into a second printing, which means that we sold all 2000 from that first print run. which was really exciting for me. I mean, you know, look, I know there's authors out there that are like, yeah, I do that much every week. But for me, even if it took a couple of years, selling through that whole print run was, was really kind of cool. And it meant that I got to make a second printing and it's not like a full second edition, but I did get to replace a couple of things that had sort of aged out and closed. and put in some newer things. And then, you know, every five years or so, I think thereabouts, typically, you know, I'll have a chance to kind of create a new edition of some of these books where I can really go back and do sort of a deep dive. Because I mean, Tampa Bay Scavenger, for example, I mean, with like 361 different things, like I would say as many as like 60 or 70 of those. have probably already aged out because the area is changing so quickly. 

CA: Have all three of your books been published by Reedy Press

JG: All three so far and the fourth one as well. However, I am working on my first book, which will be for a different publisher. So it is due to them in November. And at this point, I'm maybe just shy of being about a third of the way through the writing. But I am working on Haunted Orlando for the history press. 

CA: Okay. And why did you decide to move with a different press? Was Reedy Press not interested, not their topic or different reason? 

JG: Yeah. You know, I gave them sort of the right of first refusal. And I should mention the way this all started was I was contracted by the Jolly Trolley in Clearwater to write. They heard about my books and they read them and they asked if I would write a trolley tour for them. So I wrote a ghost tour called hauntedclearwater.com, which is still running on the Jolly Trolley. And that brought me back to writing ghost stories. And I've always kind of had a soft spot for scary stories. And it was so much fun to write that I reached out to Reedy Press and I said, would you guys ever want to do a book of kind of local ghost stories? And they said, well, you know, it's not really our thing. And so I said, would you mind, would it be okay if I, you know, took that book to somebody else who might be interested? And they said, yeah, I mean, and it should be noted. I'm not under any sort of contractual obligation with any of these publishers. So I just wanted to make sure that I was being respectful of them because like I said, they've been really good to me and having a good publisher makes you want to be a good author for them as well. So they said, yeah, go ahead and talk to whoever you like. And I knew that... The history press had this series called Haunted America. Once again, I did what I had done before where I looked at their list of books and I saw that they did not have a book called Haunted Orlando. Just through their website, I pitched the idea and very quickly their acquisitions folks got back to me. I went through a very, very similar process to what I did with reading where you sort creating a table of contents and essentially creating, so you're kind of pitching the book and coming up with different places and venues for events and independent booksellers and media contacts. By this time, I was sort of like, okay, this process feels familiar to me. Again, very, very shortly thereafter, I was just thrilled to learn that they'd give me the green light.

CA: Did your, you mentioned you're not contractually obligated to be with 3D Press, but I guess contract would probably still be the best word. Did your contract for those first three books with them change over time or was it always pretty much the exact same numbers, exact same situation?

JG: I'm trying to remember if there were any significant changes. I don't think they were. I think those first three books, the contract was very similar. Now the fourth book, it is a bit different because I have a co-author. So I think we're both receiving a little bit less of a percentage in royalties, but the expectation is that we will jointly sell more. So I was entirely comfortable with that.

CA: Okay. Now regarding that. Jolly trolley, what are some other things you've done as a writer that are maybe tangential to publishing a book, but are opportunities for making profit that have been opened up to you since you started doing this? 

JG: Yeah, I mean, it has been really kind of amazing. Tour writing, that was something that was really, really fun. And something that I would like to do more of, something that I was hoping to do more with the Jolly Trolley and might still. But I know they've had kind of some organizational changes there that have put on hold, I think, some additional tours. But I would love to write more tours, whether it's walking tours or boating tours or bicycling tours. I think that's a really fun way to write local stories. And I believe that there's, depending on how you do it, that can be a very lucrative thing as well. 

CA: Yeah, OK. Because I know just generally from my experiences as a working artist, you can't just make money through one avenue. You have to really open yourself to everything that is even remotely similar to that. 

JG: So. Yeah, multiple streams of revenue. That was always kind of my thing. And long ago when I lived in Chicago, I actually ran a business renting fine art. And it was the same idea. You know, it was something that was a very different way for artists to generate revenue. It was called Chicago Art Leasing. And I've just kind of recently... past the reins and ownership onto someone else who lives there. 

CA: Oh, awesome.

JG: That really instilled in me this idea, as a content producer, there's a lot of different ways to monetize that. I mean, we're coming up on October and spooky season as they call it, but a lot of those haunted attractions need to be scripted. So there's opportunities to write You know, write scripts for those sort of amusements or to license content or to, you know, I've actually been getting more recently getting into fiction writing. And this will probably sound crazy, but in the last few months, I've produced nearly 300 pages of short fiction. starting to see where that can go. Starting to see some of my work get published, mostly in smaller magazines. And it's a lot of sci-fi and fantasy and horror, but it's, you know, with enough of it, I'm thinking maybe I could create a collection and then, you know, that opens up whole new vistas. You know, I think if you're doing fiction, the place... where you can generate the biggest numbers as far as revenue is if you're able to get it optioned by studios. But that's an entire realm that I know nothing about as of today.

CA: Yeah. Well, that gives me another gold category and expert to bring onto the podcast. 

JG: Oh, for sure. I would love to hear. And in fact, you know who has had success with that is another local writer. A woman named Sarah Penner. Her first couple books have been, you know, New York Times bestsellers. I read her first one and thought it was really very good. And she has kind of locked in on that formula that I think really works. So she is just killing it. And I am so happy for her. 

CA: I do have someone else in the film industry that I'm going to be bringing in for an episode, but not on the writing side. Anyways, so bringing it back to the topic at hand, this is a question that I wanna start asking my guests more regularly. Is there another person that you could say you've been trying to model your business after or who is inspiring the business side of your writing? 

JG: Yeah, so I think of myself as, in fact, I have this on my card, entrepreneur. I like weird niche businesses. And also, in terms of personal branding, I think Curiosity Seeker is probably the most accurate brand. Well, to my way of thinking, the guy who maybe best defined that as a brand, as a very successful brand, was Robert Ripley. I mean, he built an empire on this. weird sort of things that I love to go out to see. And in fact, Ripley's is headquartered in Orlando. And in my upcoming book, there's a chapter about the Ripley's warehouse, where they keep a lot of things that are not and probably cannot ever be shown in public. But I think as a model, you know, from a business perspective, Ripley is somebody who, you know, found this formula that worked as a cartoonist and was able to transform that into this incredible and very diverse enterprise. And it's all kind of very squarely in that curiosity seeker brand. 

CA: Oh, okay. That is a fun inspiration to use. 

JG: Absolutely.

CA: Could you let me know, is your writing all done as like a or I guess your business organized as LLC, sole proprietorship, just no business structure behind it? What did you put together and why did you decide to do that? 

JG: So at the moment, I am once again sort of a individual sole proprietor or essentially just a DBA. I had, you know, when I was running my art business, I had that set up as an LLC. But as I mentioned, I've kind of transitioned the ownership. It is my plan to create a fresh LLC to cover my creative endeavors. The reason that I think it's useful, and there's actually a lot of different reasons. But the biggest one is it just gives you as a creator, it gives you a little bit of protection. Um, and, and it gives you kind of one centralized structure under which to sort of run whatever portfolio of creative ventures, um, you want to pursue. 

CA: Right. Yeah. I imagine it's really, as far as industries go, writing is one of the ones where it's probably least necessary, but I imagine you could always give out someone's secret in a secret Tampa Bay issue and then. and then they decide they want to sue. So it would help to have that. 

JG: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I really, really try to make sure, as I mentioned, the secrets I'm sharing are secrets that people want to be shared. But you never know. I mean, look, it is an uncertain and also a very litigious world. So it's not a bad thing even as an author. And again, if you're going to be exploring multiple streams, you know. If you're going to be writing tours and then writing fiction and you know, maybe writing haunted house scripts or whatever else to have sort of one place to centralize those activities kind of makes sense, I think. 

CA: It's kind of funny thinking about where writing would be as far as categorizing a trademark. Thinking about my stuff specifically, when I went to trademark chain assembly, of all the different categories, I think I ended up falling on printing because printing allows for tons of different sub things like graphic novels, coloring books, art prints to hang. All of that are different categories that all fit under the overall printing category. When it comes to writing and like things you're going to be doing similar to that, what do you think? I don't know if you even if you're probably maybe not that close to getting a trademark set up, but have you thought about that? I guess what you would categorize your overall business when that is one that is put on the books. 

JG: Yeah. And you know, it's a great question. I'm not sure that as a writer, I mean, I read a lot of these series. that, you know, the secret sort of series that serial idea belongs, you know, rightfully to reading. My individual book is kind of a part of that series. So it's, I mean, I guess what some would, what other industries would look for a trademark in as an author you know, you think more about copyright. 

CA: Okay, so if that was something along the lines of intellectual property or copyright, is that ultimately owned by you or by Reedy Press? 

JG: You know, with the books I produced for Reedy, I believe the content I produced is technically theirs. So I would have to... I've got to remember, I actually haven't looked at that in a while, which is fine. I have no intention of taking that elsewhere or using that in a way that would be competitive or in any way sort of disadvantageous to them. Like I said, I feel like I have a very good and open relationship with them where if I had a question about, hey. Can I legally do this? Do I have the right to take a chapter as an excerpt and put it in this anthology of weird local travel? I would ask them and they would let me know. 

CA: Okay. All right. Well, let's move in a bit to the new book you have coming out soon, The Secret Orlando. Is there anything specific that really caught your attention as a reason to put together this book? 

JG: I just had so much fun doing a secret Tampa Bay that I had been kind of looking for. Every once in a while, I try to touch base with the folks at Reedy pretty regularly. I think at one point I had asked them, have you guys thought about doing a secret Orlando? At the time, I think they said, yeah, we've got somebody who is looking at doing that. And then I feel like maybe that fell through and you know, I happened to ask at the right time. But they've been great because they will, you know, as we kind of work through what's in the pipeline, they know that I'm hungry. They know that I will produce and deliver for them. And so they seem to keep sending opportunities my way. And I just am like over the moon about it. 

CA: I guess if you did have your writing business as an LLC, every trip to Orlando could be written off as a business expense. So that would be a benefit. 

JG: Yeah, absolutely. Because I expect with the next two books being on the Orlando area, I explained to my wife that she and I are basically kind of living the next couple years of our life in Tamp Lando. And then... I'm not sure how she feels about this, but the sixth book, which is due to read in 2024, is Amazing Florida. So that will be the whole state. 

CA: Okay. That's cool. 

JG: Yeah, the whole big weird state. 

CA: Are you going to be able to use excerpts from, say, other authors, Secret Miami, Secret Jacksonville, whatever? I don't know if those exist, but... 

JG: Yeah, they do. There's Secret Jacksonville. I try to reach out to those authors, and if there's either something that is their favorite that they think everyone who visits Florida absolutely needs to hit, or if there were things that were just a little too far outside of their geographic area to cover. Because these books, by their nature, they sort of focus on major metropolitan areas. But I got to tell you, some of the weirdest stuff in Florida is nowhere near a big city. So I think, you know, I wouldn't want to do a lot of repeat chapters that have been published elsewhere. I'm really big on trying to pioneer content and really find and write about things that I have not seen written about elsewhere. I think on that note, it's going to be a great book that I'm excited to see. 

CA: My wife and I go to Orlando all the time and there's just so many great things that we just don't have the time to visit. So I'm definitely looking forward to Secret Orlando. And so our listeners can follow you at secrettampabay.com, facebook.com/secretTampaBay. And for you specifically as your author page, that's instagram.com/authorJoshuaGinsburg g-i-n-s-b-e-r-g. I'm gonna link all of those on the show notes Aside from those and the secret Orlando book that you said is coming out September 5th. Was it I? 

JG: I think the official date September 15th, but if people if people go to that secret or Secret Tampa Bay calm they can pre-order copies there 

CA: Great Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, Joshua. I have learned a lot from this conversation and I hope our listeners did too. 

JG: Well, thank you, Nick. It is always a pleasure and a privilege to speak with you. And I look forward to doing it again soon. 

CA: Great. Thank you. 


Chain Assembly: Art for profit sake is recorded through Riverside FM, distributed through Spotify for podcasters, and edited on Adobe Audition. The music is provided by Old Romans. If you learned anything useful or found this podcast helpful, please rate and review us five stars. If you want to learn more about me or my art, head over to ChainAssembly.com.

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Art for Profit's Sake Podcast

41: Recreations of Perfection with Watercolorist Kara Voorhees

41: Recreations of Perfection with Watercolorist Kara Voorhees

Kara Voorhees shares her journey as a watercolorist and the challenges and joys of working with watercolors. She discusses her background in art, her experiences...

Read more
40: A Sticker-Focused Approach with Illustrator Eric Z Goodnight

40: A Sticker-Focused Approach with Illustrator Eric Z Goodnight

In this conversation, Eric and Chain Assembly discuss various topics related to the art industry. They talk about leaving Florida and moving to Atlanta, exploring...

Read more