WriteLife Rides Self-Publishing Wave to Quick Success
In recent years, the world of book publishing has been turned on its ear. Internet, software and rapidly changing printing technologies have fueled the rise of book self-publishing, opening the floodgates to writers who can publish their works without the need to have their manuscripts accepted or rejected at the whims of book publishers.
Still, many writers have found self-publishing to be a financial gamble. By the time a book is written, edited and published, the cost can run into several thousand dollars with no promise of book sales.
So what if a writer could publish a book with someone else assuming all of the costs and financial risk?
“WriteLife is founded on the idea that we do best when we consider the interests of the authors and our own interests,” says Cindy Grady, the director of WriteLife since its inception in July 2008. “The success we want for ourselves, we want for all of our authors. We’re doing our part to make publishing more accessible to talented and committed writers.”
A Unique Publishing Model
WriteLife evaluates submitted manuscripts and selects the ones deemed to have the best chance for success. WriteLife pays for all costs associated with getting the book into publishable forms, designed, produced and distributed. The company recoups its initial investment from book sales, then shares 50 percent of the net profits from each book with the author. That large of a royalty amount is unheard of in the publishing industry, Grady said. The standard book royalty runs between 10 to 15 percent.
“Funding a book is an age-old problem, and we believe we’ve come up with a creative solution,” Grady said. “Both WriteLife and the author have a vested interest in working to make the book successful. It’s a big part of what sets us apart from our competitors. We want to share the book’s success with the author.”
WriteLife has published about 8 percent of all submitted manuscript with 74 titles – including fiction, nonfiction, young adult and children’s books – published under the WriteLife banner.
“We support authors because we recognize that writing is an art and a craft that is difficult to pursue,” Grady said. “That’s why we focus on working personally with our authors.”
A Quick Start
Grady said it was “an incredible stroke of luck” to receive the backing of Prairie Ventures, an Omaha-based venture capital firm focused on business startups. She said she used her background in business management, project management and public relations to build the company. A campaign of pay-per-click and display ads on writer community website, designed locally by Bozell, was a big hit, boosting traffic to WriteLife.com to more than 3 million hits.“WriteLife got off the ground very quickly,” Grady said.
The company is staying on top of the book publishing industry, which continues its rapid transformation.
“While we primarily publish paperback books, we do publish some e-books,” Grady said. “We’re always evaluating our e-book strategy and balancing that with our catalogue of paper books. We’ll be publishing more e-books, and we’re interested in rights management for our titles. Everything from foreign rights to optioning books for film – the publishing industry is evolving, and so are we.”
Advice to Startups
Grady’s experience gives her valuable insights for other startup companies.
Her chief tips? Have a timeline, set incremental goals and work every day to strengthen your brand.
“There’s a reason that major software companies have versions of their software. A startup can be released in versions, too. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect on the day you launch.”