Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: A Team Approach to Digital Publishing

Last week’s PIFS’s NetGalley post earned top billing in blog hits for a single article. There’s a world of authors searching for digital publishing and promotion information. Today, let’s look at the growing popularity of using a Team Approach to releasing books independently. It’s exciting to see groups of authors who would otherwise self publish on their own are working together to share knowledge and skill sets and experience.

Dorchester’s PR team will be back soon (I should have a schedule of their PIFs visits to share next week), discussing specifics about the amazing things they have planned for Secret Legacy and other direct-to-digital titles they’re spotlighting this spring. But that’s a hybrid NY publishing model.  What about the solitary author with a backlist he/she wants to re-release or a new work of fiction he/she wants to digitally distribute, when the traditional publishing route isn’t a viable option?


Jenni Holbrook-Talty is with us today (in her non-How We Write capacity) to talk about her journey into the independent digital publishing arena with business partner Bob Mayer. Last year, he asked her to put her business and IT experience to work to help him re-release his best-selling backlist on the digital stage. The result was Who Dares Wins Publishing (WDWPub). Their learning curve was steep. There was progress, mistakes, work and rework, and the frustration of dealing with a kaleidoscope vendors and formats and packaging requirements. Until they finally began producing quality product that fans are now snatching up daily through outlets like Amazon, Sony, and iBooks.

I asked Jenni why she thought their partnership worked, and why she’d recommend something similar to other authors thinking of digitally publishing independently.

She said,The team approach allows each member to utilize their talents to their fullest capacity. We used Bob’s years of training in the world of Traditional Publishing to begin the process of publishing his backlist. I had been published by a reputable ePublisher and understood some of the things about digital publishing that Bob’s background didn’t. He knows the business better than most, but he didn’t have the technology base that I had, so by merging the two together we were able to put his books, my books, and other authors’ books out there for our readers to enjoy. The team approach also frees up our time so we can both do the one thing we love the most: write. Right now, I know Bob is going through some edits of his next release due out 12-April while I’m taking care of some necessary business obligations by finalizing the copy edits for Devil’s Sea and put the book back into production.”

Jenni wrote a great article on Bob’s Write It Forward  blog: Can any writer self-publish? Should any writer self-publish? She takes you through their initial experiences with the business and some of the many vendor and production hoops you’ll have to go through if you try to do this on your own.

Explore WIF when you get the chance.  These two have learned tons on their journey and aren’t shy about sharing their experiences. Bob did a great blog series with best-selling author and fellow digital publishing expert Randy Ingermanson, here, here and here. I’d also recommend looking at these WIF discussions, if you don’t have time for the rest:

Once they’d pioneered their way through the process for Bob (and several of Jenni’s backlist titles, too), once WDWPub was off the ground, he and Jenni began seeing the value of their teamwork approach for other authors. They currently have three additional authors whose backlists and first-run novels are being offered as digital and print-on-demand titles under the WDWPub imprint (in exchange for a percentage of the royalties from the books’ sales).

I asked Jenni about their business model, and she mentioned they were first and foremost offering options, so an author doesn’t have to confront the self-publishing, digital model alone.The author still has a responsibility to market and promote his/her own books (beyond what WDWPub offers on their site and social media networks). But he/she doesn’t have to take on the learning curve of mastering the mechanics of digital publishing. They don’t have to reinvent a process that Jenni and Bob are working hard to master.

“We do the cover art, the eBook conversions, the print-on-demand (POD) book…we help promote our authors…our authors offer their personal expertise to the group,” she said. “I think we are going to see more and more authors going indie and more and more authors banding together to form similar TEAM publishing models. For Bob and I it was a matter of I could do what he couldn’t do on his own, and I am now in a position to utilize my background to help other authors achieve their desired goals.”

So, what does discussing the benefits of a team approach to indie publishing mean for you?

I began recording my Dorchester move from the mass market publishing model to direct-to-digital/trade, because I saw early on that this experience isn’t mine alone. An exciting new publishing frontier is unfolding for all of us. In the midst of rapid change and increasing risk, authors have more control than ever over how their work is published, and how much of the profit from their work they retain. 

But with this increased opportunity comes a slew of complex choices that must be made. Publishing isn’t for sissies, and we are (the authors) in this together. We can learn from each other and help each other, regardless of whether we team up or chose to strike out independently. That’s what this blog series and many other blogs out there (including Write it Forward) are about.

Exploring non-traditional, digital publishing options for your books involves a tremendous amount of work for the self-pubbed author, beyond getting the next book written, and written well. Remember that the author’s job is to always, ALWAYS, put the book and the writing first. An independent team approach like WDWPUb is just one of the many hybrid publishing forms emerging that might help you maintain the kind of balance and focus you’ll need.

I asked Jenni for some final advice for an author considering solo self-publishing alone vs. a team approach–

“The only advice I can give is do your homework. Read blogs like The Newbie Guide to Publishing, LJ Sellers blog, our the Write It Forward and Publishing Isn’t for Sissies. Talk to people who are doing it and find out what worked for them and what didn’t and then form your business plan. Remember, this is your business and you will be constantly making adjustments. Join places like Kindleboards. Use social media and watch what others are doing. Independent publishing isn’t a quick fix or easy money. If you are to be successful you will be required to not only write a better book, but go out there and find your readers. The best thing about going indie is that there is nothing standing in between you and your readers.”

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4 Responses to “Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: A Team Approach to Digital Publishing”

  1. Pam Asberry says:

    Thanks Anna and Jenni for all your wisdom and insights. This is a steep learning curve but I am determined to hang in there!

    • Anna says:

      Pam, hopefully what you’re seeing in HoWW is two writers who are still learning. Because we all are. We wanted to share our critique experience, to show that we get the depth and complexity and effort it takes to write and rewrite a novel. No writer is ever on the other side of that learning curve. We’re all in the muck trying to figure this creative thing out. So you’re in good company ;o) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Bob Mayer says:

    The bottom line is self-publishing is no easier than traditional publishing. In fact, the numbers flocking to self, might make the field less crowded in the agent’s in-box.

  3. It is a steep learning curve, but authors are a generous group. Bob and I built a team, but we also seek advice from others, follow the industry and help other authors.

    The last two years have been the most fascinating, enjoyable, scary and exciting time of my career. And I only see it getting better.

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