The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 12: Unveiling A Business Model that Didn’t Exist – Until Now

I am about to take a huge and scary plunge. I’m going to reveal my secret.

During the past year I have been actively exploring the world of independent publishing. The reason is simple: while my writing itself has been praised, the setting of my American/Norwegian historical trilogy doesn’t fit into publishers’ “kilts & dukes” boxes. (See Jerry Simmons’ June 17th post here about “safe” trumping “new.”) So my choices were to:

1. bury the books, or

2. hope that the manuscripts I have – which DO fit the “boxes” sort of – sell to publishers, and generate enough interest that the publisher might take a risk on them, or

3. publish them independently and let them stand on their own.

With my agent’s blessing, I’m taking the trilogy directly to the readers. But the issue I have with 99.9% of self-published books is that they look… well… unprofessional. Cheesy. They use ugly or mismatched fonts, over-use bold lettering, or don’t have a sense for how a page should LOOK. It’s like these authors have never read a book!

But to be fair, so do some print-on-demand books from some established e-publishers! Editing there, too, is an issue. Because e-books are cheap, somehow that translates into shoddy work.

Readers deserve better.

So, I decided to find a way to give it to them: GOODNIGHT PUBLISHING.

I soon realized that I have no interest in getting in between an author and their royalties. Or an author and their rights to their books, for that matter! So Goodnight Publishing is NOT an actual publisher, per se. But it fills a need that no other company does that I know of. It begins with:

  • Manuscripts being evaluated by professional editors before they are accepted.
  • Once accepted, the author will either learn how to do all of the following tasks themselves, or take training classes through the Goodnight Publishing website ($15 per class per 30-day instructional window).

Authors are asked to:

  1. Sign up for a free account with Amazon’s Create Space – for their POD copies – procure a free ISBN through them, and determine the physical properties for their book(s).
  2. Format their manuscript per the selected properties, or have it professionally formatted (classes and/or references provided).
  3. Edit their manuscripts, or have it professionally edited (references provided).
  4. Design their own book covers, or hire a professional designer (classes and/or references provided).

Now, this is where the genius of Goodnight Publishing kicks in: when the book itself looks professional and the proof is approved, the author will be given permission to add the TRADEMARKED logo for Goodnight Publishing.

  1. The book now has Goodnight Publishing’s logo printed on the back, spine and the title page.
  2. Goodnight Publishing’s website address appears under the logo.
  3. All book covers will appear on Goodnight Publishing’s website.
  4. Readers who go to Goodnight Publishing’s website will see all the other authors “published” by Goodnight Publishing. Just like any traditional publisher’s site.
  5. For their first four books on the website, authors will pay $2 per month for one live link from their book cover, or $3 per month for two. (Their fifth book will be linked for free.)

These live links can send readers to the author’s website, Amazon or another site for purchasing, to YouTube for their book trailer (classes and/or references provided), their blog, etc. Wherever they choose. By being listed on a publisher’s site along with other authors, the author gains legitimacy in the eye of the reader. Readers don’t care where royalties go. They just want to be able to find more books.

More key points of genius:

  1. This business model exists to enable the independent author to present their works to readers in a professional manner.
  2. Authors retain all rights to their work.
  3. There are no contracts.
  4. Live links are prepaid for 12 months (renewable/non-refundable) and pulled when the payment expires. However, the cover stays on the site. That’s good for all of us.
  5. No manuscript will be refused or removed because previous ones haven’t sold well. Each book stands on its own.

Because – this process is not about selling books. It’s about authors linking arms to BUILD READERSHIP. Long term goals are realistic, overnight bestseller is not.

Goodnight Publishing will accept submissions from all genres, but I do confess an affinity for Historical Fiction and Romance.

Do you have a manuscript that you would like to take on this path? Are you willing to do the work? Then get ready:

Submissions will be accepted beginning August 1, 2010 at www.GoodnightPublishing.com

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19 Responses to “The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 12: Unveiling A Business Model that Didn’t Exist – Until Now”


  1. 1 deenaremiel 06/24/2010 at 12:18 PM

    You are brilliant to create this niche and offer it as a wonderful avenue for authors. I may be knocking on your door very soon! Best of luck to everyone, really!

  2. 3 Amber Scott 06/24/2010 at 2:45 PM

    Boldly go, Kris! Irish Moon will be there August 1st for consideration.

  3. 5 deenaremiel 06/24/2010 at 2:50 PM

    Kris! Bravo on creating this much needed arena. It’s a celebation of genius that benefits everyone! I may be knocking on your door very soon…

  4. 7 Vicki BEndau 06/25/2010 at 5:27 AM

    Kris,

    Go, Kris, go! You’re the greatest!

    Your pal,
    Vicki

  5. 9 americaneditor 06/25/2010 at 6:19 AM

    Kris, I hate to be the naysayer but I see several flaws in your plan.

    First, the viability of the plan rests on the market’s recognition that Goodnight Publishing is a purveyor of high-quality books. This just doesn’t happen and requires a significant investment in PR. Where is the PR plan to make Goodnight Publishing synonymous with quality?

    Second, you haven’t gotten around one of the fundamental problems in the current ebook world: authors doing it all themselves. Once you have vetted a book, you now turn everything back over to the author. I don’t see the value to a budding author in your system. Except for the intial vetting and the opportunity to take classes, the author’s circumstances aren’t changed from how it is today.

    Third, I’m curious about the compensation you plan to pay professional editors for the intial vetting and then to the teachers of the classes. I may be wrong, but it seems to me to be a lot of work for seemingly little pay. Classes on cover design, for example, conducted by recognized professionals (as opposed to self-declared professionals) cost hundreds of dollars, not $15. And professional editors who charge by the hour charge significantly more than $15 for that hour’s work.

    Fourth, how is the Goodnight Publishing website any different from the hundreds of thousands of other book-related websites? How is it different than, for example, Bookview Cafe (www.bookviewcafe.com)? And how will you drive traffic to it? Without traffic, the website has little value.

    It seems to me that you have the germ of a great idea but that the implementation is incomplete.

    Rich

    • 10 kristualla 06/25/2010 at 11:47 AM

      “the viability of the plan rests on the market’s recognition that Goodnight Publishing is a purveyor of high-quality books”

      This will grow over time and I’m in no hurry. The MAIN goal is to keep high-quality indie-pubbed books from LOOKING like indie-pubbed books. It’a about the perception of the public when they pick up a copy. Lack of a publisher’s name/logo/website is a red flag.

      “Except for the intial vetting and the opportunity to take classes, the author’s circumstances aren’t changed from how it is today.”

      See answer #1. PLUS – when a reader goes to the publisher’s site, they will see OTHER authors and opportunities. Their book gains credibility by proximity. Instead of going to the author’s site and only seeing their book(s), now there are other books to peruse. Someone who likes one historical on the site, might just buy mine as well. Win-win.

      “Third, I’m curious about the compensation you plan to pay professional(s)…”

      I am not paying, I’m referring. I will give the author as many good options as I can find. The authors can make use of them if they want to, and take classes if they don’t. Financial arrangements are between the author & the person they hire. But no book is given the right to use the logo & be on the site until approval of their final proof copy.

      Do you want to be linked as an editor? I’d love to have you.

      “Fourth, how is the Goodnight Publishing website any different…”

      In many ways it’s not. But the point is still credibility for the indie-pubbed author. But by using the word “publisher” in the title, it’s in a different category.

      Promotion still falls on the author. But a group of us can do more than one of us alone; we can become greater than the sum of our parts. Then you will find your needles in the ever-expanding haystack!

      And truthfully – this is a grand experiment. It could fall flat. But if I can get 10 other authors’ covers on the site, then anyone who picks up MY books will see ME differently. (And them as well.)

      Rich – I do so appreciate your comments! You will keep me honest. Make me articulate my thoughts. Bring up points others may be wondering about. THANK YOU! You’re awesome.

      Kris 🙂

  6. 11 frankierobertson 06/25/2010 at 2:49 PM

    The main benefit I see (in addition to the credibility granted by association with a “publisher”)is the gatekeeper effect. This is something lacking from most self/indie published books. No book will be allowed to join/use the logo if it doesn’t meet some standard of quality.

    Good luck to you Kris! I may be interested too, down the road.

    BTW, I,too, appreciate Rich’s comments!

  7. 12 americaneditor 06/25/2010 at 3:26 PM

    Kris,

    I appreciate the offer to be listed as an editor to whom authors can be referred, but I must decline. My specialty in editing lies elsewhere than fiction :).

    Let me beat the already dead horse yet again: It is difficult to make an indie book look like a traditionally published book without exercising signicant control over the editorial and production processes. And it is expensive. Quality cover design, for example, runs $1500 and more. There are some people who will offer to do it for a few hundred dollars and who will produce decent cover design, but it isn’t hard to run down a bookshelf and say professional designer, nonprofessional designer and know who spent high and who spent low.

    I know this isn’t my blog, so I hope you’ll forgive me, but I suggest that your authors read my article Editor, Editor, Everywhere an Editor (http://americaneditor.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/editor-editor-everywhere-an-editor/) so that they understand what an editor does. (I would also urge them to look at other articles talking about professional editing that can be found at my blog by clicking the tag Professional Editor.) One other article I would strongly urge authors to read is Truman & MacArthur & Why a Good Editor is Important (http://americaneditor.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/truman-macarthur-why-a-good-editor-is-important/).

    Although my focus is on the editor’s role, the professional designer is equally important to the success of a book.

    In any event, I hope your experiment succeeds; I would love to find my needles at your haystack. I think, unfortunately, it will require more disciplined authors and authors who are willing to dig deep into their pockets, neither of which are not the usual characteristics of the indie author.

    Rich

    • 13 kristualla 06/25/2010 at 7:23 PM

      Rich – you are supplying the voice that balances this blog. I appreciate your taking the time to post! So link away! Any cross pollination is good for us both.

  8. 14 Suzi 06/25/2010 at 5:37 PM

    Kris,
    Good one you for having a go at this,
    I truly admire anyone who is willing to test out other avenues adn I’ve been spreading the word for authors to come here and read your ideas,
    I’m not quite at that stage yet myself but I’ll be checking back often to see your progress,
    best of luck,
    Suzi

  9. 16 Laura Russell 06/27/2010 at 12:11 AM

    Hi Kris,

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to you this morning at our RWA meeting- I don’t know all the ins and outs and american editor raises some excellent points.

    In particular the point about PR and driving traffic to your site.

    But for authors starting out, what is the opportunity cost of producing a book with your imprint? Could one could also market it via amazon.com once it is produced, a smaller haystack than www?

    What would someone be giving up?

    I saw your mock-up and thought the cover looked as professional as several titles published by Kensington Brava.

    Looking forward to seeing how your experiment goes,
    Laura

    • 17 kristualla 06/27/2010 at 9:05 PM

      I know – so many people, so little time! All Create Space books ARE on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And the author can e-pub themselves for free on Kindle and Nook (starts this summer), plus iBook if you have a Mac. And Smashwords, of course.

      I’m not charging for anything except the live link from the book cover, and “how-to”classes – if the author needs them.

      Thanks for the book cover compliments! 🙂

  10. 18 Alice V 06/28/2010 at 9:05 AM

    Thank you for this article! I’ve been to the “GoodNight Publishing” website and seems great. I do like how professional editing is provided as well as classes on writing.


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