Pros Before Bros: my self-funded publishing / art experiment

July 17 2018 | arielmstallings
Pros Before Bros cover art by Stasia Burrington

At the beginning of 2018, I told y'all that I was hard at work on my second book… but in an interesting plot twist, I'm now also re-working on my first book (Seal Press wants to publish a <a href=""https://offbeatempire.com/offbeat-bride-3rd-edition/">third edition of Offbeat Bride!) …but today I want to focus on my third book. I did a little announcement video series on my Instagram Stories yesterday (which remains my favorite playground for rambling!), which I wanted to share here, too:

But wait. You want to know MORE, you say? Well, god forbid I ever let any opportunity to talk about a creative project go unexplored… here's more. So much more.

WTF is Pros Before Bros?

This is an self-publishing experiment. A proof of concept. A self-directed MFA project. A chance for me to take risks with my writing, after 12+ years of being a service writer who's made her living publishing stuff like "5 ways to bla your bla, to better bla bla your bla bla." An exercise in collaboration with other women-owned businesses. An exploration of the intimacy between readers and an author. A therapeutic exercise in worth. A business experiment. A playground for me to fiddle with concepts of tangibility, valuation, packaging, and artistic process.

It's A LOT, but pragmatically speaking it's…

  • 10k-word erotic nonfiction novelette, printed as a premium limited edition art book in a small luxe format
  • The book will be 4"x6" 116 pages, a luxe hardback with gold embossed fabric cover 
  • The book will be sold in conjunction with exclusive custom jewelry designed in collaboration with a local artisan
  • The whole thing will be exquisitely packaged
  • First print run limited to 100 copies, signed and numbered

THE COLLABORATORS:

As a business endeavor, Pros Before Bros may be a disaster. If it breaks even, I'll consider it a shocking financial success… but my priorities are focused on giving myself some room to learn some new things, try some risky stuff, explore some publishing and business concepts that interest me, increase the visibility of my collaborators, and a whole bunch of other stuff. (Seriously, my strategy document for this project is waaaay over the top.)

By focusing on these larger priorities, I'm trying to set myself up for a project where even if it's a financial failure, it's an educational success.

I have to remind myself that some people pay tens of thousands of dollars to get an MFA, where as part of the process, they are encouraged to experiment with new formats, new ideas, and new styles. I'm doing the same thing, just in the context of my own autodidact process, where the education is done directly in the marketplace. (Eep! That's a little scary.)

I've decided that it feels worth it to invest a tiny fraction of that in allowing myself a little freedom to explore some edges. After 12 years of service writing and extremely safe business decisions (nothing like a small biz to make a socially liberal person act super fiscally conservative), it feels profoundly liberating to give myself a little container where I can play and experiment and learn some stuff, instead of just desperately chasing my bottom line. What a privilege. What an opportunity.

If Pros Before Bros sounds interesting to you (either the actual product, OR the creative process of behind the product), I invite you to sign up for the Beat-Off Empire Newsletter, where I'll be sharing much more about it. The process is pretty vulnerable and honestly I'm a little fragile about the whole endeavor, so I won't to be writing that much about it publicly. But if it's just between me and your inbox… maybe that feels safe.

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Update September 2018

Holy shit has this newsletter been FUN to produce. I shared almost 7000 words about the process behind the project, and the conversations with subscribers have been phenomenal. I'm learning so much from this project, and even if I'm still deeply unsure about its profitability, it's having a profound value for me.

I'll be continuing to send out newsletters about the project this fall, so subscribe if you're interested. Sales will be announced ONLY via the newsletter, so it's definitely the place to be if you're curious.

Update November 2018

I have all the books printed, all the jewelry made, and am just finalizing packaging and distribution now. I should have this baby ready to sell in early 2019! Join the newsletter if you want to know when they go on sale.

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  1. You know why you remain one of the women I most look up to in publishing? Because of stuff like this. <3 This is bold and exciting and I've not subscribed so fast to a newsletter in a while!

    6 agree
    • Thank you so much for saying this. This whole thing is a big risk on several levels, but it feels important to push myself out of my comfort zone! Eek / Whee / Ack / Yay

      I'll be sending out the first email to the newsletter tomorrow… I've written a LOT about this project behind the scenes, and it's exciting to get to share the ideas with folks who are interested in the concept.

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