Enough Money to Make the Next Thing

I don't make pictures just to make money. I make money to make more pictures.

—Walt Disney (supposedly)

I love the quote above. Whether or not Disney actually said it—I can find no source, even here—they are words to live by. I operate Clarkwoods with a similar philosophy. I don’t care about making a ton of dough; I just want to have enough cash on hand to finance the next thing.

There are ways to get more money to finance more things, but they come at a price. Each week here at HQ, we are inundated with offers for credit cards. They’re like HYDRA, in a way—tear one in half and two more shall take its place. And, beyond that, there is the constant temptation to funnel some of the family’s limited funds into the company to help boost the company. But that option, while it wouldn’t come with the crippling interest rates the credit card solution presents, comes with a far harder downside to deal with: mental baggage. Every dime diverted from my family’s bank account to Clarkwoods would feel like money stolen from my children and my wife and their dreams. And they’ve already sacrificed enough: Stephanie hardly ever gets out, Kaylee had to give up dance this year, and Melody might never get to have an artistic outlet like that at all.

So, Clarkwoods operates on a shoestring. And that’s OK. What we do—making books—doesn’t have to be expensive, not in this day and age. If it is, we’re doing it wrong.

Here’s how this came up over the weekend. We’re about to re-release Those Little Bastards, my first collection of short fiction (originally published in 2002). In order to publish a print version, we need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). To get one that’s attributed to Clarkwoods itself, we need about $100; for just under $300, we could get 10 and be set up for the foreseeable future.

Clarkwoods doesn’t have that money, not right now. Stephanie intimated, during our first conversation on the subject, that the family should front the company the cash. I thought about it. Then, everything that I’ve said above flooded through my head and I looked at the other option.

Lulu, the print-on-demand company we use to print our books, will give us an ISBN for absolutely nothing. The catch is that it will be associated with them, and that anyone wishing to look hard enough will see the book is (technically speaking) published by Lulu and not Clarkwoods.

Anyone wishing to look hard enough. Bookstores might, and someone scanning through the seven lines of Amazon product description that’s hidden way down the page. But, seriously, as a micro-publisher, we’ve got far more pressing issues to deal with. Any local bookstore we want to be carried in, we’re probably doing a consignment deal with anyway. And if someone cares about who is publishing the short fiction they read—remember: first we have to get them to read short fiction at all—it’s not going to make much of a difference if Clarkwoods publishes E. Christopher Clark or if known self-publishing assistant Lulu does.

We make due with what we’ve got in the bank, and that’s fine by me. As long as we are bringing in enough to make the next thing and to pay the people who helped us make it, I’m good.

If you’d like to support Clarkwoods and our work, become a patron today!

E. Christopher Clark