New directions for me, you, us

I’ll say this for being sick—you get a good long lot of time to think. Since my post-deadline flu crash, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. About writing, publishing, the way publishing is done, writers’ communities, money, dreams and passion, doing magnificent things for the right reasons, play, joy, conquest, challenges and setbacks. And time. Depending on how sick you feel, you think a lot about time, and how you never know how much you have. I was pretty sick there for a bit, and that was weighing heavily on me.

I’m feeling almost better, don’t (to the best of my knowledge) have anything fatal (except life, of course), and I don’t want anyone to read my imminent demise into this post. Far as I know, I have another forty or fifty good years in me, going by previous family longevity and my recent return to healthy eating. Down 15 lbs now, and that doesn’t hurt either.

But. Dreams. Fun. Passion. Magnificent things.

I’ve already accomplished a lot of the things I want to do with my life. My two older kids turned into responsible, caring, dream-fueled adults, and my youngest seems to be headed in the same direction. I’ve written a lot of novels, and I’ve written a lot of words to help other writers do the job I love so much. I built a little writer’s community where doing the work, caring for each other and helping newer writers were the community’s core values, and even though it isn’t mine anymore, it’s stuck to its heritage and its people are doing even more and even better than they were when it was mine.

I’ve stuck to my promises to myself when I started writing that I would never let myself think I knew everything there was to know, that I would fight to make each book I wrote the best book I was capable of writing, and that I would always push myself to write new things and take new risks.

There are, however, a number of goals and dreams that I have not accomplished, and I still want to reach them. In Confessions of Wildass Dreams, I talked about the camp. I haven’t given up on the camp, but that’s a money pit and I know it, and I’m still at the point where I’m living on a shoestring, not at the point where I’m in dire need of a massive tax write-off.

The camp, though, isn’t my only unfulfilled dream. I’ve been studying publishing; the effects of chain stores on books, writers and careers; alternative methods for selling and publicizing books; how other businesses do things, especially other small businesses … a lot of stuff.

I want to become a publisher, to have a publishing company that puts out extraordinary books that aren’t necessarily of interest to mainstream publishing, to do wonderful projects aimed solely at a niche market, that sells outside of mainstream channels (and perhaps, eventually, through them). I love fiction, I love nonfiction, and I’ve been experimenting with my own books and those of a few friends and colleagues for the past year and a half with my little e-book store, and with the addition of bound-and-printed books through Lulu.com. I’ve delved into unconventional advertising with the affiliate program with pretty decent results, and into conventional advertising with expensive, dreary non-results. I’ve tried podcasting (I love it, but work deadlines just wreck a podcasting schedule), and I’m looking at producing a couple of writing-workshop videos to distribute for free via You-Tube.

Writing is one of my great passions. Books are another. Paying forward is a third. I think putting these things together, to create a little publishing house for books about writing and books that pay forward by helping other people reach their dreams (even if those dreams aren’t writing), and maybe even some fiction of magnificent quality would be a worthwhile endeavor. I’d want it to be a pro publishing house—paying writers advances plus royalties; having the best pro-writer contracts around; hiring qualified, passionate editors, book designers, artists, marketers. But I’d want it to be more than that. Employee-owned and operated, a closely-held small corporation where every employee owned stock in the business and thrived as it thrived. Maybe where every writer who published through the house received stock in the business so long as his or her books remained with the company. Where everyone had an investment in making every single project that went through the house something special. Something extraordinary. And where everyone who worked with the company—whether as employees, subcontractors, or customers—found it ethical, passionate, playful, dedicated, and wonderful.

I see this publishing company as a place driven by common goals and shared love, staying small and personal on purpose, pushing for excellence rather than volume, making enough money for all the people who work for it, but not trying to take over the world. There are a couple of books I’ve read just in the last few days that have proven to me that this is not just a lovely dream, but an actual, sensible, practical working philosophy that is already in effect with extraordinary businesses around the country. The first is SMALL GIANTS: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlington. The second is FISH!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen.

I’m presenting this as something I want to do, but also something I cannot do by myself.
I’d like to include you. A lot of you have been with me in one capacity or another since 1991, when I sold my first book, and some of you well before that. Some of you I know in real life, others only as pixels. But I’d like to know what you think of the idea, and more, I’d like to hear ideas on how to make it happen. How to bring together people from across the country and perhaps from around the world to do this thing, now, from where we are, with no start-up money, using such tools as we already have available—e-books and Lulu.com, the Internet, free or inexpensive software, marketing that is going to have to be guerrilla, viral, oddball and offbeat. How to make it legal, how to protect the interests of everyone who comes onboard, how to make it profitable for everyone involved, how to make it a joyous, exciting, magnificent, passion-fueled, success.

This is all about pay-it-forward. About bringing the people who have been part of your success up with you. About doing something that matters for all the right reasons—as Ben Franklin said, it’s about doing well by doing good.

Tell me what you think. Let me know if this is doable, more than just a pipe dream. Tell me how we can make it happen, and if it speaks to you, matters to you, calls to you, then tell me why.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

43 comments… add one
  • halfbakedkitty Aug 13, 2007 @ 14:23

    Holly,

    I have never commented or sent you email before, but I have read your journal for probably almost as long as it has been around. I have read the majority of your books and buy them based on the fact that you wrote them, even when you moved to genres that are not the core genres I read. I watched you struggle with yourself, your writing, and sometimes other people. And I have watched the publishing industry continue to fail the writers and the readers participating in it.

    I wish nothing more for you than to reach for your dreams and attain them. There is probably not terribly much I can do to help, but the offer is there. I will, as always, continue to recommend to my friends and spread through word of mouth and blog how much I love your work. As I said, the offer is there if you ever need the help of an anthropology major and a current pediatric ER nurse in Canada, I’ll do whatever I can. And I can always try to co-opt my programmer husband, who also loves paying forward via open source programming when time permits πŸ˜‰

    If anyone can do it, it’s you.

    Sara

  • samgodwin Aug 12, 2007 @ 21:24

    Hi Holly,

    Slightly off topic, but I thought you might be interested in this exchange, between a small book supplier and one of the biggest Australian book chains, Angus and Robertson.

    http://blogs.smh.com.au/entertainment/archives/undercover/014948.html?s_rid=smh:top5

    Cheers

    Sam

  • RogueRaven Aug 12, 2007 @ 13:15

    I am not a writer, but the husband of one. As a long time fan of your work I would be excited to participate in this project. Most of the software work that I am doing now is open source and I am willing to volunteer my services to further your journey to the goal.

    Ed

  • Mel_mirrorredstar Aug 8, 2007 @ 20:31

    Storm Constantine did pretty much the same thing when she set up Immanion Press. I don’t know a great deal about it- I know of it though some friends on livejournal who write for the non-fic branch of the publisher. It did start out as just a fiction publisher, though. Maybe you should go ask Storm for advice on setting it up.

    Immanion- http://www.immanion-press.com/

    Storm’s website: http://www.stormconstantine.com/

    I’d volunteer to help out as well, but not only am I overseas, but inexperienced in all things publishing.

  • Breece Aug 8, 2007 @ 16:16

    I’m not a particularly gabby presence, I know, but I have taken a lot about writing from you and your site here, Holly. If your desire is to become a publisher, then do it. If you fall down and go boom, I’ve no doubt there are plenty of folks to pick you up, dust you off, and set you back on course.

    If you need volunteers, all you need do is tell me how I can help. And, please don’t forget to print on recycled paper!

  • skirkeby Aug 7, 2007 @ 13:42

    I wont try to add to the number of good ideas other readers have put forth on how to do this. Rather I will try to offer a bit of advice that I have gathered through many long years of experience. You must answer the question “So What?”.

    Why would anyone care about such an endeavour? You have your loyal fans who will of course care, and a family that I am sure are solidly behind you in whatever way they can, but in this big world this will not be enough. So now, answer the question “So What?” for the rest of the world.

    What is your niche? What do you offer that others don’t/can’t/wont?

    I have been reading your web site for years now and while I would never presume to know you I have seen some strong traits. It appears that you are a good person derserving of success. It appears that you are dangerously smart, which will lead you to success. It appears you are willing to work hard, which is the currency of success. But none of this will help unless you answer “So What?”.

    Now I can’t answer that question as it would be my answer and not yours, but if I may I would like to share one observation. The inconsistent quality of Fantasy fiction (and fiction in general) is shocking. I know that I would be very loyal to a publishing house that would only put out books that were of the highest quality in terms of their stories, editing and presentation. If that were at least a part of your answer to “So What?” then you can count me in as a customer.

    I think you have the tools (though again I don’t know you). I wish you great success in this whatever your “So What?” may be.

    Shawn

  • firelight Aug 7, 2007 @ 4:04

    Hi Holly. I’m afraid I have nothing to add to the wonderful tips offered here but just want to voice my support. I think this is a great idea and you should go for it. If anyone can do it, you can! And if you ever need guinea pigs for your ideas…well, just say the word.

  • SuzyQWriter Aug 7, 2007 @ 1:07

    Hi Holly,

    Hope you’re better! I took some time off last week to think, but thankfully I wasn’t sick, just overworked.

    I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and much of my learning about the business and craft of writing has come from reading your blog and the articles on your website. So, thank you.

    I think you have a wonderful idea, and I’ll certainly try and support you in whatever way I can.

    “…publishing house for books about writing and books that pay forward by helping other people reach their dreams…”

    What a wonderful niche to focus on. All business opportunities start with a thought that we then put into action.

    There are already some great suggestions here. Does it have to follow a traditional publishing house model? I was thinking you could start by being an ebook publisher just becuase you already have access to internet and it’s a cheap way to get started? Initially you might have to forgo paying writers upfront, but the upside is you can offer higher royalties. It would be a lot easier for you to market your publishing house on the internet and it looks as though you already have a following — a very good base to start with!

    Hhhmm. I’m brimming with ideas but don’t want to clutter the comments with them. I have access to some internet marketing resources that might give you some ideas if you do choose to follow that road. I’m quite happy to share them with you Holly (as my way of paying it forward to you).

  • jwjohnson Aug 6, 2007 @ 22:18

    Great idea Holly. I fully understand your desires. From what I understand a lot of publishers started that way. You just need to surround yourself with good business people. I’m sure you know several. It’s going to be a big endeavor. Distribution logistics alone are mind boggling. Fortunately with the evolution of the web and e/publishing there is more than one way of doing it. E/advertising is in it’s infancy imo.(revenue from “free” books)

  • JoyChristine Aug 6, 2007 @ 20:28

    This sounds like a wonderful idea. I’ve had quite a few discussions with other friends who write about what a commercial nightmare the modern publishing industry has become. I don’t have much expertise to offer on the business end of things, but I’ve worked as a copy editor for the past fifteen years, both freelance for individuals and for large magazine publishers, and I also have experience doing book design and layout. (Not cover art — I am not an artist — but the nuts-and-bolts stuff that involves choosing pleasing fonts and making sure widows and orphans don’t exist in the interior layout.) It would be wonderful to be involved with something I could really believe in!

  • wiseraven Aug 6, 2007 @ 17:31

    As a devout student of economics, I fully believe in your idea, Holly. What I have seen in current trends throughout many diverse markets (not only publishing, but retail and service industries – even mutual funds) is that small, specialized companies are able to out – manuvre the large diversified corporations because they are able to change and adapt to fast-paced consumer demands quickly.
    I am a college student, and I would recommend getting involved with a local university because many companies use them as “test markets”, and alternative forms of advertising are readily accepted by students (not to mention all the budding writers attending would be interested, lol).
    I think you have seen a vision of the future, and you should follow that dream.

  • Nicole Aug 6, 2007 @ 12:20

    I am still so new to the writing world that this is quite overwhelming to me. I am tentatively in favor of the idea, but feel that I lack the experience to say more than that. But if it sound workable to you, then I say go for it!

  • Rick Aug 6, 2007 @ 12:07

    This sounds excellent. I’d love to help out in any way possible. I’m not a professional editor (I’m an undergrad who changed his focus at the last minute…); but I do have a decent amount of editing experience, if that’s any help whatsoever.

    You seem so excited about this idea, and I’m so excited for you.

    And who knows? Maybe the revenue from this new publishing company could go to the creation of the camp… πŸ™‚

  • joelysue Aug 6, 2007 @ 9:29

    Holly, this dream sounds like a natural extension of the wonderful things you did by starting Forward Motion. I’m not an active member (overwhelmed by so much already there), but it seems like a great way to continue that vision. I don’t know what help I can provide, but I’m willing! My personal dream has changed a lot in the last few years, mainly through watching you, PBW, Tambo, and other writers I greatly respect.

  • Cosmic_lightning Aug 6, 2007 @ 9:02

    wow! This sounds like a fantastic idea. Having never started a small business, I don’t know what it would take, but you definitely have a lot of people behind you who would be willing to help in whatever way possible (including me!). Like so many others here have already said, it sounds doable. Hard, but doable. πŸ™‚
    Go for it!!

    Cosmic

  • Tech Aug 6, 2007 @ 8:26

    I think it’s a thrilling idea, Holly. I don’t know if I have any skills that would be helpful, but you certainly have my support. And I think a lot of Lulu. Based on my experience, they produce a nice book. But their help on marketing … not so good. (Not that they really claim to aid in that) Your experience and expertise could truly change the way people regard POD books. As I get older, I clearly see that we have everything but time. If a publishing company is your dream, now is the time to create it.

    On the other hand, as a fan of your books, I will regret that you have less time to write.

  • Jess Aug 6, 2007 @ 7:44

    I have no tips, no know-how, but I do have enthusiasm. I agree with what’s been said – a mountain to climb, but a climable mountain. I don’t know if/what I could do to help, beyond encourage you, but I’d be willing to give it a go. I’ve only been around here for two years or so but I’ve definitely learned, and this might sound silly, but PBW’s right about you: “All that you have is your soul”. Climb that mountain, Holly. I know you can do it, if anybody can.

  • Bettye Aug 6, 2007 @ 6:57

    This may sound completely off track, but hang with me for a few minutes. Recently I watched an History Channel program on beer. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s every town had its own source of beer, brewed locally. Before refrigeration there was no way to ship beer very far and keep it drinkable. Then refrigeration developed to the point there were railcars that kept things cold and people were introduced to beer from other places. Sometimes this beer was a lot better than the local brew because of better water, recipes, more knowledge of how to brew good beer etc.
    By 1990 there were only five breweries in the entire US (sound familiar?) A lot of brands, but they all came from a very limited source.
    Then something odd began happening, people started brewing beer on a local basis again. Microbreweries sprang up here and there. Some became good sized businesses. A few have even grown to sizes to challage the big brewers for market share.
    I’m sure you see the parallel, we have a lot of imprint names, but only a few big publishers are behind them.
    Lately though I’ve noticed an interesting trend-small publishers are beginning to show up. Some are called regional, others specialize in a particular genre or type of book, but they are out there and they seem to be doing well enough to support the people who establish them as well as writers etc.
    So, Holly, I think this is an idea whose time has come. Also, I believe, you have enough clout to make a go of it. You have the organization skills and energy as well needed to start and maintain a business.

  • TinaK Aug 6, 2007 @ 6:53

    Mission statement ideas. Not necessarily part of the mission statement but something to use as a jumping off point.

    ~Publishing with integrity, quality and ingenuity.

    ~High quality books just slightly outside of the mainstream.

    ~A publishing house with heart and soul, created by a writer for writers.

    ~Where unconventional means success.

    In terms of more practical help Holly, I was the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of a very large non profit what is entirely internet based. Part of my job was building the community, making it accessible and easy to understand, building a team of quality staff and managing them and being a sounding board to the founder and CEO. I left that non profit because the founder decided to throw integrity out the window and that was not acceptable to me.

    If you like more details on what I did there and why I left please feel free to email me.

    As for the best way to set up a ‘community’. Our business model was entirely internet based on message boards. It was good to start but was not going to work long term. I believe it’s important to have a message board but you also want something with a community calendar, a place to store documents that’s accessible by everyone, a photo album for cover art and perhaps an instant messaging system.

    Just ideas off the top of my head because I’m an idea person. That was my job and it was something I loved. And then, once ideas were decided on – I made them happen.

    Good luck Holly! I think it’s an excellent idea and I really do think it will work.

  • IanT Aug 6, 2007 @ 3:01

    I think it sounds perfectly plausible, particularly with your ready made audience (as Cheryl describes).

    I think my main questions would be to do with printing and distribution – would you target the normal publishing distribution chains (you know – actually getting books into bookshops) or would this be an entirely online/print-on-demand business? I think that could make a big impact on both how the business runs (obviously) but also to what authors you can get on board.

    With regards to discussion – I find a Wiki backed with a mailing list is often a good idea for this kind of brainstorm. (I use Wikis constantly for group idea development – from event running/management through large-scale software development to joint worldbuilding).

  • DawnH Aug 5, 2007 @ 21:18

    It’s an amazing dream, and I hope you find a way of achieving it. There’s got to be a place where you can apply for grants, too. An artist friend of mine applied for a business grant in a category of “women over 40” and is getting money from the government to help her greeting card business.

    I don’t know how much help I can offer, but this would be a dream not only for you, but for many others as well. πŸ™‚ Best of luck getting it together!

  • cherylp Aug 5, 2007 @ 20:53

    You know, the more I think of this, the more I think you already have one of the largest problems in traditional publishing whipped—a ready-made audience. You have FM, which already has like-minded people active on it—-and many more that are inactive, and many that are friends of the active and inactive.

    How many advertising $ does traditional publishing spend in order to get its target audience interested in a book? How many authors are asked to give a new book a blurb? Well, here you are, a published author, and these books on your publishing site is the equivalent of a blurb–a recommendation–from you. People are going to look and, hopefully, buy just because of that.

    I think you need to hook this to FM’s star, somehow. The techie side of it is a bit beyond my skillset, but if this could be made a part of FM, say as a series of exercises or tasks, you also have a built-in workforce.

    Let FMers audition to be the ones who proofread and edit a new book—or be the first readers to determine if the new book appeals to a wider audience. Hold contests where the winner gets an opportunity to do something interesting in your new company for a month or so. Set up a board where you post what you’re looking for in the way of books, and let FMers post a synopsis or some chapters to see if they can fill that need.

    Let your ready-made audience and workforce help you push that rock up the hill, Sisyphus! (grin)

  • shay Aug 5, 2007 @ 20:37

    i think this would be a great idea! I don’t know much about starting up businseses with financess etc but I’m sure it could be attempted and I look forward to seeing what comes of it πŸ™‚

  • cherylp Aug 5, 2007 @ 20:34

    Well, I think you must start with worst-case scenario. What will it cost me to run this business exactly the way I want it? Use the traditional model of publishing to figure out the steps and the cost. Once you’ve figured that out, then figure out where you can save the money. That means starting out with a business model with actual, concrete methods and steps to produce that first book. Once you have that, you’ll have specifics on who, what, how much, how many, and people can figure out where they can help you. And, you can figure out where you need to deviate from the traditional. Already, I can see a significant expense-cut if you can cut out traditional publishing’s current method of distributing the books. That’s one of the most prohibitive expenses attached to publishing today.

    Incidentally, if you can produce a business-model, you might get investors interested in investing in the company for all the same reasons you gave for wanting to start the company.

  • ladyrane Aug 5, 2007 @ 20:26

    I’d love to be involved and to help out! A little late.

  • hollylisle Aug 5, 2007 @ 19:55

    I’m trying to figure out right now what sort of communication would work best for putting a working group together. Wiki, private intranet-type software, weblog, or something else.

    I’m thrilled that there are folks who get what I’m going for with this. I read over your posts and think, “Yes, exactly!” Some of you have asked wonderful questions, and some have offered skills, and now I’m trying to figure out how to put the start of the thing together.

    I have one editor I trust and have worked with before, and he’s cautiously enthusiastic.

    As for everything else, I’m willing to fall flat on my face—God knows I’ve done so plenty of times before. That remains a big possibility.

    Still thinking …

    Mission statement. Definitely need to get the mission statement. Ideas on what should be in it?

  • LadyQ Aug 5, 2007 @ 14:40

    That sounds like a wonderful idea, Holly, and I think you already have a number of qualifications that will help turn it into a success. You’ve been paying-it-forward for a long time, and, through FM and this blog, you have a lot of name recognition. You’ve created a community here, and, from the positive responses above, it looks like there are a lot of people willing to jump aboard!

    I have absolutely no publishing or any kind of business experience, but I’m going to throw out some of the questions that came to me after I mulled over this post for a bit. One is the question of customers: there seem to be a lot of writing books out, is the market saturated? Do you want to target other writers (hence, the writing books) or bring non-writers into your customer base? You had something about “books that pay forward by helping other people reach their dreams (even if those dreams arenÒ€ℒt writing)”–could you give an example of that? Like, would there be books about how to break into acting or run your own dairy farm, or more general motivational kind of books? How would you draw the audience for those kinds of books in?

    I guess my first inclination is to work backward–here is the product I want to put out; do I think there are enough people who will buy it, and how can I make them aware it exists?; make changes to product line as necessary; figure out how to get capital, resources, etc. to actually do this. I’ve done this sort of almost-practical daydreaming in regards to various book-related ventures that *sigh* someday I will have the time and the capital to undertake.

  • BJSteeves Aug 5, 2007 @ 14:29

    Wow!….[i]I love the idea of a publisher where integrity, quality and ingenuity are hallmarks and something to strive for over insane commercialism.[/i] Something you rarely see in today’s world.

    In today’s world, it is a crazy idea. What an opportunity to help the new writer break the ol’ “Publishers say, ‘We don’t accept any submissions except from authorized agents’……Agencies say, ‘We don’t accept any submissions unless you have been published'” cycle. Of course the submissions have to be good enough to publish, but what a concept!

    I eager to more details. Please keep us posted.

  • Jason Penney Aug 5, 2007 @ 13:28

    Wow, Holly. It all sounds pretty exciting. I’d be glad to help in any way I could. Michael A. Stackpole has made some similar rumblings lately in regards to traditional publishing, and wanting to try something new and different. It might be worth getting it touch with him.

    As far as e-books I’d recommend looking at Baen’s model of having many DRM free formats available. Perhaps polling the guys at TeleRead as to what the preferred formats of actual consumers are. Most current formats are based on the convince of the publisher, not the consumer.

    I’ve got some more, half formed, thoughts that aren’t ready to come to the surface yet, so I’ll probably comment again.

  • Jackie Aug 5, 2007 @ 10:50

    I think it’s a stupendous idea, and something I have often thought of myself over the last several years. I even had almost _exactly_ this same conversation with a friend about a year ago: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could…” So if a technical writer, web designer, idea person, turned aspiring novelist (SF & romance), excellent conisistency and reality-check editor, with a beginner’s how-to write book in the works, who lives outside Chicago, would be helpful, let me know. As I said, the same concept has been sitting in my head for years. I try my best to live by the pay-it-forward concept, and would love to participate in a publishing house like you propose. It’s gonna take _work_, but it’ll be the kind of work that pays you back as you do it, which is totally different than work-work, which only saps the life out of you. Go for it girl! πŸ™‚

  • jessiegirl21 Aug 5, 2007 @ 10:00

    I have a passion for reading, writing and good books, and a love of people who share that passion. I believe in your vision, and I’d love to help. I write for fun, which is what brings me to your blog, but my education is in graphic design. I believe in honesty so I’ll be upfront and tell you I haven’t done much book layout or jacket design before, but only because I’ve never had a reason to. I dont know what else to say, except if you ever have a need keep me in mind.

  • Keely Aug 5, 2007 @ 10:00

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    ~ Mark Twain

  • ejoy Aug 5, 2007 @ 8:45

    OK, this might sound stupid. I haven’t gotten to the publishing end of writing yet unless you count one through a subsidy publisher. I have no experience with editors, and I’ve only edited fiction for three people (hubby, co-author, and me). Here’s a crazy thought, though. What if all of your authors contribute by editing at least one book for another author on a pro bono basis? It would cut expenses, which would help the bottom line. There are some of us out here who put as much of ourselves into volunteer work as paid work.

    It seems to me that once the publishing gets off the ground and word starts to get out, funding for the camp will come next. Incidentally, I wouldn’t rent cabins just for expenses unless you build in the cost of maintenance, taxes, and an emergency buffer into the budget. You’ve said it will be a money pit, but it doesn’t have to be necessarily. I’d be willing to come not just to write but also for hiking.

  • Anthea Aug 5, 2007 @ 7:42

    The US Small Business Administration has a lot of information on starting and maintaining a small business. I don’t know if you already knew about them, but the site is http://www.sba.gov/ and they have both articles and free online training on several topics.

    There’s also http://www.score.org/ SCORE is an organization that provides advice to small businesses. I believe most of the members are retired executives, and this sounds like their method of paying forward – helping other people to start and maintain thriving businesses.

    I hope this is helpful! I think this is a glorious idea.

  • Inkblot Aug 5, 2007 @ 2:14

    Holly, I haven’t the faintest clue how to help – especially given I’m overseas.

    But I wanted to let you know that this speaks to me like nothing else, and that my heart is with you in this endeavour.

    You can do anything, if you but try.

  • Jass Aug 5, 2007 @ 2:12

    Holly,

    I’ve logged on and read this post several times. I keep thinking that I know what I want to say and then the words evaporate in my excitement.

    Dare I confess to being a sensitive soul? I am, you know. And there are so many aspects of the world I loathe, that eat at me. And I wonder what the heck happened to the joy in the world; when everything became about making a buck, and not just making a buck, but gouging and raping a pillaging other people, the world and everyone it was diminished. And maybe it’s just my altruistic vision of the past, I know it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, yet I think there was some sense of value of things other than just getting ahead.

    Politicians, blithely, toss around the word values, but truly I don’t think they know what qualities are valuable.

    So, without a doubt, I love the idea of a publisher where integrity, quality and ingenuity are hallmarks and something to strive for over insane commercialism. Not that we wouldn’t want the books published to be successful, only that success be measured by more than money/mass appeal. Heck, I knew this would happen, my words aren’t coming out right. Please tell me you know what I mean?

    I would be happy to help in anyway I could. Ideas wise. I think the first thing you’d want to do is get together your original core group, maybe eight or ten people for an online chat, a virtual boardroom if you will. Then start brainstorming. Like you do for plotting, some of the same techniques would definitely come into play. Argue with yourself. List 20 ways to accomplish something. You know this drill. Anyway, a list of tasks that must be done to accomplish the goal. The old JFK thing with going to the moon. Tell me why we can’t. Gee, how might we accomplish that…and then just pick things off one at a time. I think since this is a bootstrap endeavor you might have to delay some of the desires on your list like paying advances up front. Maybe set a goal anyway. Like, by the time we’ve pubbed 50 books, or whatever number, there will be enough money in the company coffers to pay that 51st author a $1000 advance.

    Our community is big enough that I know we could find professionals to advise on most of the topics that might come up.

    That first group needs to put together a mission statement to keep the company on its intended heading.

    I have other ideas, but my mind won’t collate the well at the moment. But that’s where I’d start.

    hth,
    Jass

  • wordpartnersink Aug 5, 2007 @ 0:27

    I’ve followed you and your work forever, Holly, and have seen the struggle an author even as well known as you has to go through. I’d love to help in any way that I can.

    In reality, you could sort of follow Lulu’s business model but also help authors get the publicity they need by selecting the right staff–people who actually care about their authors and want to see every book do as well as the next.

    Like Zink said above, you have a million connections already in the blog world. Getting the word out and getting started with this wouldn’t be as hard as you might think. πŸ™‚

    All the best, Holly. And yes, we’re definitely listening.

  • Zink Johnson Aug 4, 2007 @ 22:54

    Hm. You’ll probably want to harness the power of the blogosphere for your advertising. My blogreading is pretty limited, but you seem to be a virtual giant to all the blog authors I know. Podcasting is also probably worth your time, and YouTube is going to turn a lot of heads.

    These forms of advertising would certainly get your target market’s attention, but as for STARTING your business, I’m clueless.

    If you start a seperate site for this project, it strikes me as a good idea to have shorter projects of your authors available online in the 10k to 30k range, along with the links to their work. I’m constantly on the lookout for your books because I know your site. Having the writing sample and “Purchase” button right next to each other can only help. πŸ˜€

    Best of luck in this endeavor, Holly. If there’s anything we can do beyond ideas, we’re listening.

  • Anexa Aug 4, 2007 @ 22:16

    I also got sick not too long ago shortly after I had my daughter and began thinking about what I really wanted in life. At first I thought I wanted money but after really thinking about it I came to the same realization that you did. I just wanted to be fulfilled. I want to do something that’s not only good for me but for others. I don’t want to step on people on my way to the top, I want to bring them with me. I love your idea, I don’t know that much about business law so I don’t know how plausible it is, but I wish you the best!

  • TinaK Aug 4, 2007 @ 21:32

    I don’t think it’s a pipe dream but I think it’s going to pain in the ass hard. Frustrating and it’s going to take tears, swearing, blood and sweat. That being said it’s a WONDERFUL idea and I’d be more than happy to be involved.

  • heatherwrites Aug 4, 2007 @ 20:09

    I’m not one to know the how-to, but I totally support what you desire to accomplish because I’ve had talented, published author friends privately disclose to me how the business end of publishing is brutal and dream crushing.

  • katsenjammer Aug 4, 2007 @ 19:36

    I think this is doable. Financing? I don’t know, maybe initially take donations? This speaks to me also, as something I have wanted to do, not just for my writing, but for others. There are a lot of people out there who are just getting killed by the chain bookstores, and there has to be another way to get books to the people who want them. I want in, too.

  • Ann Aug 4, 2007 @ 17:13

    I don’t know if this is doable, or is just a pipe dream. That said, this speaks to me, to most basic fundamental dream I hold- to create. I want in.

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