So below is the video that Suzanne linked to me. It is WELL worth watching - so get a cup of coffee and enjoy it before reading on.
Wasn't that inspirational? That's just a single sampling of TED there's lots more just like where this came from.
Simon's talk and John Locke's book both solidified for me things that I was doing at a subconscious level. They have provided me with "ah-ha" moments and I wanted to take a moment today to share them with you.
It's not bragging, simply stating a fact, that both Michael's writing and Ridan Publishing are doing phenomenally well. While taking the dog for a walk yesterday I was remarking to Michael that I finally got some movement going on Leslie Ann Moore's Griffin's Daughter series (which she truly deserves it as she is a gifted writer). This makes me four for four as Nathan Lowell (Recently #2 Science Fiction Best Seller and poised to cross 10,000 books this month), Marshall Thomas (who sold 17,000 books last month and may crack 20,000 this month), and Michael (who has eclipsed my six-figure salary and made it so I can work on Ridan full time) are making more money than most traditionally published authors.
Recently I've been approached by podcasters and bloggers wanting to interview me and by writing conventions that have asked me to be a guest speaker at their events . Next week I'm going to be interviewed for an article in the Huffington Post. I just signed, Joe Haldeman, a science fiction grand master to bring his classic The Forever War to ebooks and have a number of high profile authors coming to me (one is a thriller writer who received over half a million dollars for a 3-book deal overseas) to publish their books.
Why is all this happening? It's because Ridan is truly doing something revolutionary and to understand what that is I have to tell you a bit about my company. When I wrote the Ridan contract Michael and I sat down and looked at all the things he hated about the AMI contract (his original small press publisher) and threw them out the window. Here are some key points of the Ridan contract.
- The Author gets 70% Ridan keeps 30%. After all the author spent months or years writing the book - our contributions of editing, layout, cover design, and marketing are not worth 75% - 92% which is what traditional publishers take.
- We only take rights for what we use - that means ebook and print books. The author maintains all foreign language, movie, graphic novels, merchandising, on and on. Most contracts pay the publisher a percentage of subsidiary rights because they had the brains to see the value in an author's work first and now want a "piece of the action".
- We don't have an option clause - If you don't know what an option clause it is basically the right to get an exclusive "first crack" at any other books written by the author. While on the surface of things this doesn't hurt to be in a contract, it is also not necessary and puts a limitation on the author that should exist. If the author likes what I'm doing he's going to present me with his next book anyway...why do I need to "contractually require" him to?
- The author has a voice in marketing decisions such as price, cover design, title, distribution channels, etc. If we can't agree on these things, and Ridan feels that they can't be successful with the book under the conditions the author desires, we simply end the contract and the rights revert to the author.
- An author is not "required" to perform marketing as a term of the contract. Do we hope that the author will? Sure. Will we do marketing regardless of whether they do? Absolutely. Does this seem strange that I even bring this up? No - most contracts have language that put the publisher in control of the author in this regard. - A topic for another post someday.
- The authors sole responsibility is to deliver a manuscript and approve the work that is produced. All other aspects of production: editing, cover design, layout, ebook formatting is the responsibility of Ridan and paid for out of our cut.
- Money flows to the author. Again this should be obvious but there are a lot of "creative" publishing arrangements running around these days that require "investment" by both "interested parties". The authors investment is the time to create the work - period.
- The contract is for the work we are acquiring only. The author is free to write as many books, in whatever time frame they desire, and put them on the market any way they wish without asking our permission to do so. -- You might think this is a given in any contract but then you've probably not seen some of the standard language - again a topic for another day.
- Our contracts end. Most publishing contracts have terms of "the life of the copyright which means until 70 years after the author dies". Now most don't last that long as authors go out of print, but with ebooks and POD a publisher can keep an author "in print" indefinitely. All Ridan contracts have a term of three years, although that term is really moot because of the next point.
- A Ridan author can leave anytime they want. If New York comes knocking, or they think they would be better off self-publishing, or they want to switch to another press. All they have to do is tell me, and I'll take their books off the market and send them a nullification agreement proving the rights are theirs again. (So far no Ridan author has ever asked to make use of this clause).
- Authors deserve to make a living wage doing what they love
- An authors contribution to the project is far more valuable then that of the publishers
- Ridan is more interested in the authors success then their own. They can continue to pursue their dream of "big-six publishing" and if they get called up to the majors we rejoice with them and are glad that we played a part.
- The publisher should take what they eat and eat what they take (i.e. don't gobble up all the rights just so someone else can't have them)
- The publisher should be confident in their ability to make a project successful such that they shouldn't be concerned about competition from my author. In fact, if my author puts out other works it will be a win-win as more books = more ambassadors and readers will likely buy both.
- If the author is dissatisfied with the job the publisher is doing on their behalf, they should have the right to fire them.
Our "how" is through ebooks and print on demand which keeps our costs low and enables us to be profitable almost from day one and produce a product that is competitively priced. We aggressively market our authors, keep abreast of developments in the industry, and adjust in order to maximize author's earning potential within the confines of ensuring that the readers (who make it all possible) receive value.
Our "what" is hours of enjoyment at a fair price by providing engaging books by talented storytellers. We are neither the cheapest nor the most expensive. But select a price that is fair to both the reader and the writer. We'll never put out an inferior product because we value the loyalty of the readers who have come to trust the quality of the talent handpicked by Ridan.
There you have it. My why, how and what. I encourage you to start thinking inside out and what yours are combined with Locke's loyalty marketing its a winning combination.