Posts Tagged ‘Thom Hartmann’


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…)


Friday, December 20th, 2013

Year-end holidays are a time for reflection. Where have we been? Where are we going?url

We can take this time to reflect on personal achievements and goals or to reflect on universal achievements and goals. I choose to reflect upon both.

2013 has been a very good year for me personally. My book, The Power of Twelve, was published with good reviews. Our literary agency enjoyed many successes, ranging from Soul Healing Miracles by Dr. Sha to What God Said by Neale Donald Walsch, to The Crash of 2016 by Thom Hartmann, and countless other well-received best sellers. Our online course representation grew dramatically, and even our fledging Waterfront Digital Press enjoyed a number of notable successes. My family is intact and healthy. My son’s first year of marriage has created an even greater bond between him and his wife Natasha. My daughter is now engaged to her long term boyfriend, Oia.  And my relationship with Gayle is stronger than ever. Yes, it has been a very good year for me personally. (more…)

Trick or Treat

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Last Thursday was Halloween. For my treat I took half the day off and drove up to Bel Aire country club to play a round of SONY DSCgolf with my good friends Adam Hall and Michael Palmer. The course was practically empty. We never saw any other golfers in front or behind us the entire afternoon. The day was as close to perfect as it could be, pure sunshine, mid seventies, gentle breezes. Bel aire is one of the best groomed golf courses in the world. The membership includes many A list celebrities and high level athletes not just from the world of golf but other sports such as the tennis great Pete Sampras. It is always a treat to play this course and hard not to feel a little bit special when you do. The course requires all players to walk and use caddies so the experience is much closer to old school golf and of course no cell phones or electronic devices allowed. Really forces you to be in nature and amazingly though the course is in Bel Aire with views of Los Angeles from the clubhouse when you are actually on the course you see only a few homes and the beautiful trees and flowers with no indication whatsoever that you are in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world. Yes, Bel Aire, a real treat.

So what was the trick? In part the trick was getting there. Fortunately Gayle decided she would visit with her son and decided to make the trip with me. This allowed us to use the diamond lane which is restricted to cars with two or more occupants. Good thing. Without Gayle joining me the trip would have taken more than two hours and I might have missed our starting time for golf. But the real trick was on my return to San Diego around nine pm when I stopped at the home of my son Cyrus. Cyrus is a very creative young man. He is in charge of conversion of 2D films to 3D and loves to tinker. When I arrived at his home he had rigged up ghosts and goblins in the tree in front of his house. When ringing the doorbell the goblins descended and even knowing they were there beforehand gave Gayle and I quite a trick.

Another part of the trick was having two hundred emails waiting for me when I returned that evening. I am getting ready for appearances at multiple conferences throughout the world in the next two weeks and with radio shows to promote The Power of Twelve and the release of several major titles through our agency ranging this month from Thom Hartmann’s The Crash of 2016 to Master and Dr. Sha’s Soul Healing Miracles, to Neale Donald Walsch’s What God Said and Greg Reid and the Napoleon Hill Foundation’s Stickability I am busier than ever. The trick when taking a day off is to balance the missed connections with clients and other obligations in such a way that I am not overwhelmed from my ‘day off.”

This coming Wednesday I am speaking at a conference in South Carolina for six hundred librarians on how regional libraries can become publishing centers for their communities. The technology is available now and this is a logical progression for libraries to ensure that they remain important cultural hubs for their communities. The conference organizer is a friend of mine who created what is now the Amazon owned company CreateSpace. I am not sure why but Mitch thought I should be the keynote speaker. I am looking forward to speaking but it will require some tricks up my sleeve to ensure I put on a show that is relevant for this audience of librarians which is slightly outside my comfort zone of authors and publishers.

From South Carolina I will be flying via new York to Berlin, Germany where I will be speaking on opportunities for German authors to become global authors. Along with conference organizer Michael Goerden Waterfront Digital Press has just launched the first ever german language ebook company based in the United States. The first novel to be translated to German to test the concept? You guessed it, the german translation of The Power of Twelve. Quite a treat.

What God Said

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Neale Donald Walsch speaks directly to God.  His phenomenal bestselling trilogy, Conversations with God, has been 9781101630983.225x225-75translated into more than forty languages and sold more than ten million copies worldwide. His newest book, just released a few  weeks ago, is What God Said: The  25 Core Messages With God That Will Change Your Life And The World.  In What God Said Neale returns to what he feels were the twenty-five most important topics addressed in the original trilogy and revisits those topics in light of what has occurred on our planet in the twenty years since Neale wrote the original dialogues with God. Neale’s goal is to draw attention to the ways in which each of us can improve not just our own lives but the lives of everyone on planet earth.

I have been Neale’s literary agent for the last five years or so, but I was not the agent for the original Conversations with God trilogy.  Like so many others, I was handed a copy of the original book by a friend and told, “This is the most important book I have ever read.  You need to read this book.”  In my case I was on the beautiful island of Kauai and the friend was Ikika Pratt, a Hawaiian Kahuna and close friend. It was interesting that Ikika was so moved by Conversations With God.  As a Kahuna, Ikika is an expert on his native Hawaiian traditions and a healer focused on the healing qualities of plants and using his direct relationship with nature to heal. Thus my surprise at his interest in Neale’s book. Rarely do I read books I do not represent. I am just too busy. But I was on vacation and I had plenty of time for beach reading, and I value Ikika’s opinion, so I read the original Conversations With God – slowly and with pleasure. While I did not agree with everything Neale said, I did agree with more than ninety five percent of what I read. That’s a lot for me as I have my own opinions about practically every topic Neale addressed. (more…)

Follow the Money

Monday, October 14th, 2013

It’s been said that money makes the world go round.  There is no doubt that to a great degree this is true.  We live in a day 61938659_9468d076c0_oand age where money rules our lives. It occurs to me that money has been ruling the world for quite some time. But today is different. Let me explain.

An Associated Press article just reported that 110 individuals control thirty-five percent of the entire Russian economy.  Each one of these individuals is likely a multi-billionaire. The skewed distribution of wealth in other developing countries, especially Mexico and much of South America and Africa, is likely similar.  And although the distribution of wealth and control in Europe, Asia, and the United States is less skewed, the reality is that a very small percentage of human beings are controlling the majority of wealth in the world.

I exaggerate the situation in my novel, The Power of Twelve, suggesting that 319 families control ninety percent of the wealth on Earth 769. Though as a novelist I exaggerate the situation for dramatic impact, the reality here on our earth in 2013 is not much better. Several estimates suggest that at most 30,000 families control at least fifty percent of the economic resources on our planet. Why does this matter? (more…)

What Would Jefferson Do?

Monday, July 8th, 2013

My good friend and client, radio host Thom Hartmann, wrote a book entitled What Would Jefferson Do? For Thom 484px-Thomas_Jefferson_by_Mather_Brownand for me Thomas Jefferson embodies the true genius of American Democracy.  President John F. Kennedy was reputed to have remarked to a collection of noble laureates dining with him at the White House that the last time there was so much brainpower eating in that room was when Jefferson dined alone.

Jefferson was of course much more than just a politician. He founded the first public University, the University of Virginia; he planted the first vineyards in the United States; and his book collection, which he donated to the federal government, was the most important initial donation for what was to become our national library.  Jefferson was not without his faults, but his brilliance and visionary wisdom cannot be overstated. And yet there is no doubt that Jefferson could not possibly be elected to any public office in today’s pedestrian, petty, self-serving political environment.

I haven’t been overtly political in neither my blog nor in my life. To some extent I have given up on politics and politicians altogether. Not necessarily a trait of which I am proud or want to share with others but it does work for me on many levels. Fundamentally I believe in massive political change, which will rise from small groups of people with shared values protesting, when necessary, outrageous practices of our government and institutions. But those in power seem to have lost their center and their reason. Business as usual goes on and no one seems to notice that business as usual is approaching unsustainability if not insanity. (more…)