Hello Oasis Seekers! There's been a lot of buzz on the internet lately about contemporary publishing versus self-publishing. For many of us, the road of finding an agent, and then securing a contract from a large publishing house, is proving to be a daunting prospect that may or may not be worth it. But what about a middle ground? Small presses, with a new business model, that accept unagented submissions? Frankly, I'm totally fascinated by this model for a number of reasons, so it gives me great pleasure to welcome Heather Howland, managing editor, graphic artist and webmistress at Entangled Publishing, to talk about Entangled's business model.
At Entangled Publishing, we believe authors who write great books should receive a majority of the profits. We also believe authors interested in the lucrative indie publishing model shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality editing, commercial covers, or the power of a New York-style marketing machine.
That’s where we come in. Founded by industry-savvy authors and backed by a successful media corporation, Entangled Publishing utilizes a bold new business model to bridge the gap between traditional and indie publishing, giving our authors the best of both worlds. We implement the agency model across all departments at Entangled, which means everyone from the copy editor to the marketing director has a financial stake in your book.
In other words, we don’t make money unless you make money. Lots of it.
So what makes Entangled different? We’re glad you asked!
Every author we contract receives:
• Royalties that begin at 40% of digital cover price and increase with sales, which is well above the royalty rates an author can expect from a NY house or an epublisher.
• An in-house marketing machine, complete with a dedicated promo budget and publicist assigned to every book. We don’t just point you toward promotion opportunities, we create them.
• Advertising that targets readers via organized blog tours, magazine ads, review sites, and book clubs. All organized and paid for by us, of course.
• High-quality, NY-style covers. Did a fabulous author offer to blurb your book? You better believe it’s going on the cover. We’ll even help you get that great cover quote!
• Top-notch editing performed by award-winning content and line editors.
• Simultaneous electronic and print releases available everywhere books are sold online, as well as in stores on a case by case basis. Our goal is to shelve all our books.
In return, we expect:
• Great stories with fresh voices
• A professional web presence
• Participation in the blog tours, interviews, and contests we organize
I'm drooling already, Heather. This sounds too good to be true. How did you guys conceive this business model? Do you find it's something that other small presses are also working toward?
Too good to be true, but true nonetheless! All the credit goes to Liz Pelletier, founder of Savvy Authors, Savvy Readers, and now Entangled Publishing. She's the most brilliant person I know. Her motto has always been Writers Helping Writers, so I see Entangled as an extension of that.
The stronger small presses are moving in the direction of higher royalties (yay!), but we haven't seen any presses incorporate the "exclusivity" aspect of our model yet. We cater primarily to established, NY published authors looking for an alternative to self-publishing and smaller e-publishers, whereas small presses offer homes to new authors who might not have found homes elsewhere. That's a good thing—just not what we're about.
I also see a major digital push coming from other presses, as opposed to making print books available on release day for buyers reluctant to brave the electronic page. I also see marketing support dwindling. We aim to keep both a priority, while also capitalizing on the growing popularity of ebooks.
When did Entangled open its doors and when will its first novels be hitting the shelves?
We began taking submissions in early March. Our Marketing Director will have our blog live soon, and the website itself will officially launch on July 22nd. Books will be available for purchase August 22nd. Be on the lookout for pre-release parties and giveaways for a sneak peek!
Can you tell us about the folks (yourself included) who run Entangled and what the dynamic is like for all of you?
We're all extremely ambitious, forward-thinking, and dedicated to helping fellow authors find their publishing Happily Ever Afters. It takes a certain kind of person to fit into our authorcentric model, and I'm so glad we've put together the team we have. Everyone is so knowledgeable and eager to share that knowledge. The buzz surrounding Entangled has been crazy. So many people want to be a part of this, and I credit everyone involved for that excitement.
Is Entangled's business model different from that of other small presses? If so, how?
VERY different. With the exception of the management, everyone freelances. And all of us, including management, are paid a percentage of sales. Naysayers have torn this model to shreds, citing too-low pay for the team, but this is where forward thinking comes in. Will team members make a ton of money the first year? Probably not, but we know this. We also know all the percentages we accrue as we work on books add up, even for the freelancers who work part-time. Annuitization is a beautiful thing.
I know you're looking for upper YA (17-22 age range). (Submission details can be found here.) What type of work will catch an editor's eye at Entangled?
Voice is HUGE. I know you're all sick of hearing it, but fresh voices are so hard to come by. I want to see an author express themselves in unique ways, be it a twist on an old cliché that makes me giggle or a brand new description that makes me gasp.
We're also on the lookout for premises that haven't been done to death.
As for upper YA, the book has to have crossover appeal. Period. I've read some fantastic YA submissions over the last month I'd have taken in a heartbeat if we were a straight up YA press, but we're not. It's all about stakes and the universality of your protagonist's plight.
I wrote a blog about crossover appeal a couple months ago you might want to check out if you're curious whether your book has what it takes. See it here: http://www.heatherhowland.com/2011/01/ya-vs-adult-crossover-appeal/
If an author signs a contract with Entangled, can you describe the process that happens from there?
The process is pretty standard across the industry, but every author we sign has a publicist, which is a nifty little twist. Once we receive the contract in house, the author is sent a welcome packet from me which contains their editor's information, the deadline for edits, and release date. There is also a cover art questionnaire and a bio form. The Marketing Director sends her own welcome packet with the author's publicist information, a detailed promotion plan, and a slew of questions they need answered to maximize your promotion plan. The publicist and editor contact their author shortly thereafter, and the fun begins!
We have two series, both written by the incredibly talented Melanie Card, which have crossover potential in spades. I wouldn't call them YA, per se, but I think they'll appeal to teens and adults equally.
We will launch with an epic fantasy series that begins with SWORDMAIDEN, the story of a teenager who overhears a plot to kill the queen, is enspelled by a wizard, and finds herself on a quest that grows well beyond her desire to remember who she is. There are two yummy young men in this series—the love of her past and the love of her future—and I still can't decide which one I want her to end up with!
Melanie's second fantasy series begins with WARD AGAINST DEATH, which is quite possibly my favorite book ever. I'm head over heels in love with Ward, the bumbling young necromancer who wants to be a surgeon (which is illegal in his medieval-flavored world). Poor Ward gets in WAY over his head when he wakes a beautiful young woman who insists she was murdered. Oh, and she needs him to tag along to keep her alive so she can avenge her own death. Did I mention she's an assassin and his spells only last fifteen minutes?
For me, hearing that an author will have a professional-looking cover is huge! Call me shallow, but I definitely tend to judge a book by its cover. Have any of the covers been designed yet? Can you give us a sneak peak? Even if not, can you tell us about the design process.
We've just started designing our launch covers, so unfortunately, I can't sneak peak anything today. Only one author has seen their mockup, and judging by her squeals, it rocks! As I mentioned before, every author gets a cover art questionnaire. We want to know which NY covers you love, what you've always wanted on your cover, and what you DON'T want on your cover. Our style is very much Big Six traditional publishing. No collage-style ebook covers for Entangled authors!
(Judging by the Entangled logos you've got, I'd expect nothing but brilliance out of your covers!)
Let's talk brass tacks for a minute. Will an author get ARCs to distribute? How will prices be set? Does the author have any input into prices or offering discounts?
Yes. Each author will receive several ARCs to distribute themselves, and if they're agented, that number doubles. In addition, every publicist has an unlimited number of ARCs to distribute to all the review sites and contests on their marketing list.
Prices are set by the publisher and are entirely dependent on the market, the author's fan base, and how well a title is selling. Our initial price points which fit nicely between often-overpriced NY books and the lowball self-publishing prices.
Bonus Question: creative writing prompt - create a sentence using the words "oasis" and "entangled" that describes a plot you all would hypothetically publish. Double bonus points if you can do it "twitter style" in 140 characters or less. :)
Sea god Poseidon is banished to Hades' desert oasis where his life—and heart—become entangled with the beautiful Phoenix sent to kill him.
I'm sensing a whole lot of steam in this one… LOL
Thank you so much, Heather, for sharing your knowledge with us! You've really provided us with some great insights into what I hope turns out to be a fast-growing business model in publishing!