Posts Tagged ‘Into The Wind’


Friday, January 10th, 2014

Many years ago when my literary agency, Waterside Productions Inc., was thriving as the epicenter for all books related tospinnaker_sailing_yachts the computer revolution, I was asked by my clients and  the publishers  to whom I was licensing  books from top-selling computer book  authors and experts why I had not created my own publishing company.  Although I  was generating millions of dollars in agency fees as a literary agent it seemed obvious that I could generate tens of millions of dollars of additional profits by becoming a book publisher and not just an agent. After all, we represented more than 25 percent of all the bestselling computer books over a period of close to ten years and many of the individual titles were selling millions of copies annually. Didn’t we realize how much money we were leaving on the table?

I did realize how much money I was leaving on the table, but I had learned about book publishing from my father who has started ARCO Publishing in 1936. ARCO was successful but never as large as it could have been. My father loved book publishing and especially making deals and finding new ways to market books. However, I saw firsthand the complications of having many employees, dealing with printers and warehouses, and having to accept returns from bookstores.  My father could have had a much bigger company but he turned down opportunities to purchase Kaplan when it was a small company and other companies that would have added revenue but reduced his ability to take time off from work and  focus on the casual atmosphere he had created, a lifestyle which included two hour lunches and the ability to leave the office in the middle of the day if he choose to go to a baseball game or other event.

Like him I have never put money as the only priority in running a business. I believe money was his primary priority, but acquiring it was not out of balance with other goals. In my case making money has always been an important priority but not my primary focus. My primary focus has been on working with people and ideas that excite me and allow me to express my own creativity. I found that being an agent rather than publisher allowed me greater diversity and fulfilled my desire to end each day without myriad details needing my attention on each book agented.  As a publisher you must constantly monitor the production and marketing of each book you publish. As agent it is really just about negotiating the right deal with the right publisher for each author with relatively little follow-up required once the deal is struck. Really an ideal scenario for someone with my desire and ability to balance fifty or more negotiations at one time but little capacity for or interest in the details of marketing each book once published.

But then along came the ebook revolution, and what is an agent to do? Except for our major proven authors, it is increasingly difficult to negotiate or even land book deals with the major New York houses. Everyone wants proven, low-risk publishing opportunities and no major publisher can afford the luxury of developing new authors. Authors whose books I could place easily five or ten years ago now are passed on by the major houses. Rather than force these authors self-publish I decided two years ago to create Waterfront Digital Press. My concept was to publish ebooks only and see which books created enough buzz  so that we might, at a future time, be able to approach large traditional publishers to take over both print and ebook publication.  We might not make much money with our ebooks, but we would allow authors to market themselves in a professional manner by introducing them to top PR and marketing services which they, rather than Waterside as publisher, would have to fund. In exchange, we would  pay out 70 percent or more of all ebook-generated  revenue to our authors. This is the reverse of a standard publishing agreement, but we felt we were really co-publishing with our authors and that they and not us were doing the heavy lifting. The other advantage with ebook publishing is that we would have no inventory and no returns. (more…)

Miracles are Normal

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Miracles are normal is the signature line that Waterside author- client Jake Ducey uses with all his emails. I have represented Jake for about a year. Jack is only twenty-two. He dropped out of school, walked away from a basketball scholarship, and decided he had to travel the world and learn who he really is and why he is on planet earth at this time. He wrote his memoir and perhaps naively thought he would find a publisher right away. I explained that the major publishers are not really looking for memoirs from nineteen year old authors without any local let alone national or international visibility. He had titled his memoir Into the Wind, and because three different Waterside clients in completely unrelated ways asked me to meet with Jake in the same week, I decided that even though I was not looking to take on   any more clients that I would at least meet with him. blog

I am not sure what it was, but there was something about Jake that made me willing to take  him on as a client. He was full of enthusiasm and was explaining how he was going to sell at least one billion copies of Into the Wind. I explained that no one, not even J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, had sold one billion copies of a collection of books let alone a single title. Jake was undeterred. He would leave me handwritten notes telling me that he was so happy that we had just sold one billion books. I explained that although I applauded his enthusiasm and belief in positive thinking, goal setting and creative visualization, that his level of expectation was so unrealistic that  it was likely hurting and not  assisting him in manifesting his dreams.

After the predictable turn downs from major publishers, I explained to Jake how we could publish his book as an e-book with a limited print run so that he could sell copies at speaking events and door to door through our subsidiary Waterfront Digital Press. Waterfront Digital Press was created to help authors who have good books but small author platforms prove the validity of their book concept through self-marketing. Waterfront Digital Press does not pay advances and requires authors to finance the initial editing and printing of their books. Jake was up to the task and found a family friend willing to gift him the funds to afford to be published by Waterfront Digital Press.

At that first meeting with Jake which Gayle Newhouse attended, Gayle observed that Jake was in need of a mentor and the ideal mentor for Jake would be Jack Canfield, the prolific  bestselling author  of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and  other bestsellers. Jack and  I wrote a book together,The Golden  Motorcycle Gang, so  when I mentioned this to Jake his  eyes lit up and he agreed that it would be his dream to meet Jack and learn to  be  an  inspirational speaker, trainer, and author under Jack’s direction. I explained that until his book was published it would not be appropriate for me to introduce him to Jack and although disappointed, Jake understood and focused on completing the editing of his book.  (more…)