Dollarbird publishes paperbacks and ebooks with Asian themes. Please visit the Monsoon bookstore to see the kinds of books we produce.
The majority of our paperbacks are B-format (129mm wide by 198mm tall), typically used for more upmarket or literary paperbacks. For academic works, with a higher retail price, we will consider a C-format paperback (152 wide by 227mm tall).
Dollarbird is an imprint of established Southeast Asia specialist Monsoon Books. We are one of the leading trade publishers in this field and we know the market well.
We sell books in the UK and Europe, North America, Australia and Southeast Asia. We have third-party sales reps in each of these territories, whose job it is to sell books into bookstores. We also sell directly to retailer chains in some Asian countries. We have a good track record of selling books in all major bookstore chains in Southeast Asia. In the UK, USA and Australia, our reps work with all the major retail accounts as well as select indies and the books are listed with the trade so are available for order from all bookstores.
We sell ebooks with all the leading ebook retailers globally, currently over 75 retailers.
We also sell paperbacks and ebooks direct to readers from our own bookstore at Monsoon Books but this is not our primary focus and the bulk of our sales is through bookstores.
You can of course suggest any changes you want to the author contract. In terms of restricting the territories that Dollarbird can sell into, we would need as a minimum Asia and the UK as this represents our home markets. We are open to discussing authors retaining North American and Australian markets if they wish to approach other publishers there.
The main financial role of a publisher is to manage risk.
In traditional publishing, the publisher takes all the financial risk. The publisher will undertake and pay for manuscript evaluation, structural editing, proofreading, layout, cover design, ebook production, printing and marketing and the publisher will organise warehousing and distribution in the territories it sells into, and employ its own or third-party sales reps to introduce books to retailers and wholesalers. Money flows from publisher to author in the form of royalties if the book sells (sometimes with an advance against royalties). Traditional publishing is gatekeeper driven and the model relies on a small number of retained authors with a proven track record of generating commercially successful work.
In self-publishing, the author becomes publisher and takes all the financial risk. At the simpler end of self-publishing, the author saves money by designing their own cover, doing without editing, asking friends and family for advice and publishing online with Amazon. At the other end of the scale, an author can assume all the responsibilities of a publisher and professionally produce, warehouse and distribute their books to retailers globally. And in between these two extremes are countless other options of going it alone or using self-publishing services companies.
In hybrid publishing, author and publisher share the risk and rewards. The publisher selects manuscripts based on their merit and assumes all the roles of a traditional publisher, professionally producing a book and making it available for leading trade accounts worldwide, but the financial risk of the publisher is mitigated through a subsidy by the author and in return the author earns much higher-than-industry-standard royalties. Read more about hybrid publishing here.
The decision to publish one’s manuscript with a traditional publisher or a hybrid publisher or whether to go it alone and self-publish is a difficult one. In recent years, many authors aimed for a traditional publisher first then, if they were unable to secure a contract, chose the self-publishing route. Other authors jumped straight into self-publishing and many struggled to produce or sell their books. With the advent of hybrid publishing, some authors are making this model their first choice due to the high royalties while others are arriving here having tried other routes. There are success stories from all forms of publishing and there are plenty of resources online to guide authors.
Choose your publisher for its specialism, its track record and its business model.
Whether you are choosing a traditional publisher or a hybrid publisher, it is vital to look at the kinds of books the publisher produces. Dollarbird is an imprint of Monsoon Books, a publisher of books on Asia, particularly Southeast Asia. We know this area well and we are one of the leading publishers of trade books on this part of the world. We are looking for books set in Southeast Asia or wider Asia or written by authors based in Asia. We will not accept books that are not relevant to our list simply because the author is sharing the financial risk as it will benefit neither party – we know what we can sell and what our reps can sell.
Our parent company, Monsoon Books, is a publisher with a strong track record of publishing bestsellers in Asia and of selling translation rights and TV and film rights. We know our market and will only accept manuscripts we think we can work with in our market.
The hybrid model represents a new dawn in independent publishing. If you like the thought of earning paperback and ebook royalties of 50% of the publisher’s net receipts and are in a position to subsidise the production costs then this is the model for you.
Please visit our Submissions page.
If you have previously submitted a manuscript to Monsoon Books and would like us to evaluate it under the Dollarbird imprint, please resubmit it and let us know it in your covering letter that it was previously submitted.
It doesn’t really make sense to submit to both imprints as you should know whether you want to be published under a traditional imprint or a hybrid imprint. If the former then it is advisable to submit to Monsoon and to other relevant traditional publishers. If the latter then submit your manuscript to Dollarbird and other relevant hybrid publishers. Dollarbird is not an imprint for manuscripts failing to make the grade for Monsoon. Monsoon increasingly only publishes books by its existing authors or from agented authors, with fewer chances for new authors to be picked up. Dollarbird enables the publisher to take more of a chance on niche manuscripts, manuscripts in less commercial genres and manuscripts written by first-time and/or unagented authors. We expect some healthy rivalry between Dollarbird and Monsoon authors.
Dollarbird calculates the final subsidy costs based on word count, illustrations and paperback trim size and will let an author know the price when offered a contract, but a ballpark figure is £4k.
How this price stacks up against other services.
- Do get comparison quotes from other service providers.
- Do get quotes from professional cover designers, editors, publicists and printers if you think it will be cheaper going it alone. And don’t overlook the sales channels – how will you sell into the trade in different countries?
- Do remember we don’t simply offer books printed on demand for online orders, we print full runs to supply bricks and mortar bookstores around the world as well as online stores.
Authors receive royalties (no advances) on sales of the paperback and ebook. If authors licence subsidiary rights to Dollarbird, such as translation or TV rights, and these are sold then they will earn royalties on these sub rights as well. Dollarbird pays authors paperback and ebook royalties of 50% of our net receipts, which is what we receive after the bookstore and distributor have deducted their percentages.
This is a good problem to have! If your book is a runaway success and Dollarbird is approached by a larger publisher for rights in your book then we will advise you on the offer and the best course of action. When an author becomes successful, it is often in the best interest of both author and smaller press to move the rights over to a firm with more money and a wider distribution network. It has long been the case that the large publishers reduce their risk by only signing up authors who have already made a name for themselves. Good luck!
If you are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, publishing a book (whether traditional, hybrid or self-published) is never the way to go. That said, due to the much higher-than-industry-standard royalties earned in the hybrid model, we do not need to sell an unrealistic number of paperbacks and ebooks for authors to recoup their initial subsidy investment and turn a profit. Dollarbird’s net receipts vary by title, format, distributor, retailer and territory, but feel free to request a very rough payment illustration. We foresee this model of publishing becoming increasingly popular as authors demand higher royalties, a traditional approach to the curation, production and distribution of their book and are willing to subsidise the initial production costs.
It is up to an author what subsidiary rights they license to the publisher. Sub rights might include translation rights, TV adaptation rights, audiobook rights, etc. If Dollarbird has these rights it will try its best to sell the rights. If an author prefers to keep certain rights that is also fine.
An author always owns the rights to their work and only ever licenses certain rights in that work for a specified duration to a publisher.
Authors are entitled to a certain number of books and these may be resold in markets that don’t conflict with Dollarbird’s retail. For example, authors may not sell their books on Amazon or into bookstores, as we already have reps covering those markets, but authors may sell their books at private events such as fairs and talks or into local non-bookstores in their neighbourhood.
We are frequently asked this question by authors who start out on the self-publishing route and publish on Amazon then realise the enormity of the task of getting books into actual bookstores both in the UK and overseas. You may submit your manuscript but please let us know in the covering letter it is already on Amazon and be prepared to remove it from Amazon if we publish a Dollarbird edition.
No. We critically evaluate all manuscripts and we are only able to accept those manuscripts that fit the Dollarbird list and which we think have a chance of selling in our markets. This is in the best interest of all parties. Dollarbird is not self-publishing service that will publish anyone and everyone.
With the exception of a few literary prizes that are only open to books published under a traditional imprint, most literary prizes welcome submissions from hybrid imprints and we do submit titles to relevant prizes.
If your manuscript is accepted for publication, you will be contacted by our publicist who will work with you to determine the most relevant media to contact in those territories we are selling into. We have a good track record of securing reviews and interviews in newspapers and online. Reps in each territory will inform us of opportunities to run promotions with selected stores.
No, authors licence their work to publishers for a fixed term, which is specified in the author contract. At the end of the term, it is up to both parties to decide whether to continue the relationship or to part ways.
No, we do not offer self-publishing services where authors choose what level of support they get from the publisher (such as editing only, or editing and a jacket design). At Dollarbird we select manuscripts for publication based on quality and we give the manuscripts the same attention they would receive at a traditional publishing house.
The only additional expense an author will be encouraged to make is direct to a recommended publicist, not to us, who will continue to build upon the publicity offered by Dollarbird (and this is also how Monsoon Books and other traditional publishers work).
No, we do not use print-on-demand services. Dollarbird prints full runs with Clays in the UK and Times in Singapore and supplies books to its distributors’ warehouses in UK, USA, Australia and Asia as well as to the Monsoon Books warehouse for direct supply to some retailers in Asia. Because we print full runs of books it is in our interest to market and sell these books through all channels to deplete and hopefully replenish the stock.
If you want to earn a much higher royalty than the industry standard then hybrid publishing might be for you. Unlike in the traditional publishing model where the publisher bears all the financial risk, in the hybrid model the author shares the risk by paying an upfront fee in the expectation of earning higher royalties when the book sells. Obviously if a book sells well, the hybrid author will benefit tremendously and the hybrid publisher will earn less than in the traditional model (but the hybrid publisher is happy to accept this as its risk is significantly reduced). If a book is slower to sell through then it will take a longer time for the hybrid author to recoup the initial investment and turn a profit. For authors confident of success or with a track record of selling books, then the high royalties will be an obvious draw.
We welcome our existing Monsoon authors to publish their new books under the Dollarbird imprint. Only if your book is part of a series must it remain under the original imprint.
Dollarbird is happy to work with agents if they feel the hybrid model is the most suitable for their author. Agents may contact us through the normal channels and we would be happy to schedule a meeting at London or Frankfurt fairs.