Knitting Guns Press, a publishing project in the commons

Well, simply put: I’ve created a publishing company. Mind you, not a normal one. It’s myself, the author and -hopefully- the readers. That’s all. Nothing else. No infrastructure, no distributors, no nothing. Setting upt the website, by the way, hope I can update this with a URL soon enough :D.

Until recently I’ve been working with a publishing project ( that used several ways to improve the usual backward feeling in the publishing sector in Spain, such as PoD books (thus, no stock to take care of), direct sales (thus, no distributors that bleed away most of the cover price for themselves), and a supposedly great deal for the authors (that is, a higher royalties rate than usual in the Spanish market).

Sounds good, right? Well, it is a nice project in general, but I have several issues with the way things are done inside and formally, so I decided enough was enough and quit. The next day I was already planning on how to do something that I felt comfortable with. Thus was Knitting Guns Press born.

The name is not only a provocation, no matter what people think (and if they think that, and they talk about it, brilliant). I do sincerely believe that, in this day and age, words are powerful weapons, the ones that inspire minds and make creativity emerge in people. The knitting part is related to the creation process. Yes, knitting can be fun (been there), but it is a laborious process, and a minefield of frustration for someone (like me) who is basically an all-thumber. Publishing a book, by comparison, is just a highway to instant success… not. Same there. So, knitting it was.

The Knitting Guns Press project has a few basic concepts that will be applied:

  1. CC - copyleft contents

If you buy a book from Knitting Guns Press, it’s yours. Thus, the content needs to be useable by you, however you see fit. All authors know, and so far have accepted, that their content in the e-books we’ll be publishing can and will be reused, redistributed and shared. This, aside from being a 180º turn from the usual publishing take on the issue, is based on a fundamental idea: we do not take, nor will we treat, readers (please substitute for customers or consumers as needed) for crooks. Any use you can make of what we publish, short of re-selling it (project sustainability and all that jazz) will make us happy.

  1. All books will be digital. No dead trees.

This means, I won’t  publish your book on a nice, softcover edition that you can sign. Why? Well, reach for starters. My take on the publishing industry is that, when you go the atoms way, several creepy humans who happen to have so-called “logistics” appear and demand 40% of the cover price to move your books around. I’m very sorry for bookshops, but that’s an extorsion I won’t be part of. Obviously, the book will be available (from the website, from ibooks, from amazon, you name it), but no, there is no way of getting a printed book unless you DIY.

  1. All authors are those left out by the system.

Yes, no Dan Brown, no Carlos Ruiz Zafón. That doesn’t mean we won’t publish best-sellers (as if that depended on the publisher, ever), it means that if you have an idea and we like it (a fundamental element for me to be able to work on the book), we’ll publish it. We don’t care about an author’s name, we care about the text itself.

  1. No book over 5 Euro

Well, as we are doing e-book, and under CC on top of that, it would be idiotic to try and get 15 Euro per sale. Unless selling is not the idea, as those prices are usually the best way of getting a nice, round zero on yearly results. Books are meant to be read, not luxury items. Thus, yeah, dirt cheap, as much as we can.

  1. 50/50 income deal

As an author, you have put a lot of effort in your work. As an editor, so have I. If we understand the creation of a book as a partnership (and it is, or something is very wrong with the ways things are going), we’ll split the profits from each book with its author.

These are the five pillars (and no, there is no Islam connection here, it’s just that 3 is too small and more are difficult to remember in the mayhem of day-to-day life), and this is the project. I hope I’ll be able to update it with good news veeeery soon.

Distribution not solved yet

As someone who has published a book in dead tree media and is now planning an e-book release, I am sympathetic and interested. From what I read, Knitting Guns is not that different from Amazon (they give you 35% instead of 50), but unless you sell big that does not really make a difference.

I am planning my release with Amazon, because it is so easy. The e-commerce is taken care of, and it is easily the best in the world. Amazon customer service is spectacular. You can license your content whichever way you want. In fact they are not a publishing company, they are an e-commerce company, so they don’t need to protect the copyright based model. A file is a file is a file: given the interoperability with credit cards and the security, that’s really all you need as an author. Except, of course, if your publisher does some communication and marketing for you, which does not really happen for obscure books like mine.


Oh, I agree 100% on how absolutely kewl amazon is from an author’s point of view. In fact, I’d recommend every wingle author out there who is tired of being rejected by publishers to go the amazon way. At least, that way they’d get published, which is the most frustrating point in any author’s career.

I’m not an author, though. I’m an editor. And no, I never wanted to be a publisher, just had to be this time. Editing a book is a process of co-creation that usually (when it’s well done) creates a more satisfying final book for both parties involved. As an example, the first book we’ll be publishing (which is already online in a somewhat different format in was supposed to never see the light in book format at the beginning, and finally we’ve decided on audio integration, full hypertext linkage between poems and perfect kindle and iPad operability. That was reached thanks to the chats between yours truly and the author, and our separate ways the book would have come out somewhat diminished.

While I agree that amazon gives a brilliant deal, and that via the kindle app you reach almost all devices that matter, I wanted (and I think the author did as well) to profit from the particularities possible with ibooks. For that, one cannot go amazon only.

About the marketing and advertisement, indeed that’s a hard one to chew. Publishers only do that (and usually very badly) for ‘important’ authors. And that is done by publishers who actually do have a marketing budget, i.e., huge ones. Signing with a huge publisher when being unknown is a practical impossibility nowadays, and even if one gets the famous contract it’ll probably be an experience in pain.

I’m trying to be different from amazon in not looking for sheer volume, but quality, and in working with the author to take the most out of the book. If that means spending endless hours in working -fighting- with the format, so be it. Amazon, no matter how nice they can be at times, won’t offer an editor for your own work. I’m hoping that difference means enough. And the author will still be in amazon.

books & music

hey patrick,

i really liked your article. a few friends of mine set up similar sorts of structures to distribute music (as an alternative to normal record label models) a few years ago - at least a few of them are still running, and doing really well.

there’s only one area where i didn’t agree straight away - point (2), and i wondered what you thought. particularly, i wondered if you’d say the way you’re working is decided by ideology, or practical constraints (either is fine, of course!).

one of the lessons all of my friends seemed to learn was that physical media was a fantastic way to sustain revenue, for three reasons:

  1. people actually really like physical media (i know i do!)

  2. you can’t pirate a book/record

  3. physical objects make great presents, and a lot of literature/music is bought for others

small record labels in the uk have noticed that record sales have survived the collapse of music sales generally. a few of my friends release their records in really small runs, which both makes them more desirable and also allows for easier response to what their listeners want. some of them do really amazing things in terms of the actual physical form - i have a cd that came in a knitted cover, and a lot of really nice, hand-screenprinted records, original photoprints, that sort of thing.

anyway, i was wondering what you thought. does any of that sound like it applies? i figured there’s a chance it’s quite specific to the uk, or that it applies to music in a way that it wouldn’t to books, or something like that, but it’d be nice to know your thoughts. i’ve never organised an imprint myself directly, but it’s really fascinating.