The American Dream does not reflect gold in your rearview mirror as you drive down the street; it does not offer hand outs, or make excuses for failed business adventures. Growing from the gift of freedom in speech and opinion, the ‘American dream in principle’ is built on the backs of those ingenious enough to take a chance with a fresh idea; and those with an independent initiative in the midst of a willingness to work hard and take pride in a quality product. Within this dream, the literary world holds a special place. Imagine if every home, in every class structure, every economic base could hang Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night in their living room. They could build their own dreams alongside the artist, express their own opinions against the greatest art critiques. Through print and press, Publishers have been giving us exactly that.
The literary community is going through a change; painful and expansive, the big houses are being bullied by mass market retail tycoons, the smaller publishers and Indies are pinned by feuding printing prices and greedy digital marketplaces, while the ease of self publishing is turning the product into the embarrassing aunt, who no one wants to claim.
I’ll let you in on a secret; this is not a problem with the publishers, editors, publicists, or authors … but the industry. An industry where only a few mass market retailers hold enough influence to bankrupt the larger publishing houses, close down Ma and Pa brick and mortar bookstores, and flood the market with enough second rate merchandise to throw readers off entirely. Promoting a substandard product with the promise of cold hard cash is not only letting down the progressively weary buyer, but the strapped creator, which is simply not a viable option for publishers, large or small. Don’t let merchandisers fool you; this art cannot be outsourced to the lowest bidder. Keep in mind, when you read that New York Times Bestseller, the book’s cover may reflect the author’s name; but it took a community to make it a masterpiece of marketing prowess. To support that community, to buy into a reputation, to use large publishing house investment capital to build a sellable product, the authors simply don’t make very much in return.
The tradition of using a team to create a tour de force is not a new one; beyond Carnegie’s business savvy investments, and entrepreneurship, stood the merge worthy smaller businesses and great advisors who he chose to in include in his endeavors. The ‘American dream in practice’ is not solely created in one man’s mind, but supported by the drive of many. Independent publishers build their business plan on the premise of: most profits flow back to the author, while at the same time, will not function as ‘an imprint’ or a branch of one of the large houses with huge teams of editors, merchandisers, and publicists. The Indie scale is small by comparison; and when one considers the amount of capital it takes to move a book to print (with hard copy material prices, or digital merchandizing retail percentages) the outcome for everyone involved is barely breaking even. Ultimately, what we need in the literary publishing industry is a fresh idea, an ‘American dream in action’ … something to provide the community, the quality, support for the artist, and a practical business plan that inspires trust.
One such company opened their doors in March of 2011: Entangled Publishing, located in Denver/Fort Collins, Colorado, has a present day accumulation of authors, editors, merchandisers, foreign rights specialists, cover artists, and publicists from around the country. Here is where the ‘American dream in action’ comes in to play: the community is established with the common goal of providing a quality product amid receiving percentages of each representative’s individual published book’s profits. It’s an established method used by agents; they don’t make money unless the client does. Much like an independent publisher, the larger percentage goes back to the author. Then how can they afford the community? The team agrees universally that producing high quantity/high quality merchandise puts gains in everyone’s pocket. Cooperation, unity, and trust (with equal benefit legal binding to assure fair play) are the names of the game.
How can they attract acclaimed team players and authors if huge Wall Street-esque advances and bonuses aren’t laid out on the table? America through thick and thin, beyond robber barons and times of war, is a country of good hard working people. Outside the tycoons, the merchandising moguls, the economists, and financial institutions, the fresh ideas building the real American dream are coming from a class of individuals with a sound work ethic, and a goal to ultimately be proud of their creation. That is to say, the average citizen isn’t greedy; they are more than happy to work for what they earn. Those involved with Entangled’s beautifully constructed simple business plan know that the merit of the work they put out — will come back to them in return for the effort, in the forms of significant earnings and job stability.
Liz Pelletier is the co-founder and managing partner of Savvy Media Services, which owns Savvy Authors, Savvy Readers, and Entangled Publishing. In interviewing, Ms. Pelletier, about this company’s practical and reassuring mentality, I found that it cannot be better described than when she explained, after being asked about the business’ projected longevity within present markets, “There is a vast difference between keeping your doors open, and gold plating them.”
Entangled is coining the new outlook, Boutique publishing: everything from acquisitions, to marketing is built after New York models: with the ambition to publish quality in order to rebuild the quality reputation of publishing; all the while providing unique support for authors and a productive work environment to take pride in. With, thus far, at least thirty-four authors and more coming weekly, eight new foreign rights deals, award-winning content and line editors, a marketing department that creates individualized promotional opportunities, and an ever growing list of distributors such as Barnes and Noble, Entangled Publishing is not only embracing the American dream of fair play in the marketplace, they’re redefining it.