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Publishers selling and finding writers online

2 September 2013

The American publisher Sourcebooks has just acquired Simple Truths, a largely unknown publisher - unknown even to Sourcebooks' CEO, Dominique Raccah, although their offices happened to be just a few blocks away from Sourcebooks' own offices in Naperville, Illinois.
What's interesting about the acquisition is the reason for it, which is that Simple Truths have built a nearly $10m business as a publisher almost entirely through direct selling, mainly online and through corporate sales. They publish motivational books about attitude, teamwork, leadership and making a difference, and they reach 1.2 million direct sales customers and newsletter subscribers. Like Sourcebooks, they have established an audience for their books and are now selling direct online to a particular audience.

Is this a new model for publishers, which will enable them to sell directly to special interest groups, which is what Sourcebooks has become adept at doing? It means cutting out trade sales and going direct to the consumer, who is engaged with the books through newsletters, the website and specific special interest offers, competitions, information or whatever. It implies building communities of readers, who will share an interest and may be good targets to sell a range of other related goods to.

Publishers are trying to get more in touch with readers and book-buyers directly but for these kinds of publishers that is how they work. In the UK the History Press is in touch with readers and they also reach out to writers, so if you write history, crime or local history (British), it's worth having a look at their submission guidelines. Since most fiction publishers won't even look at your work if your submission is unsolicited, it's refreshing to see that if you want to write and publish local history, military history, general history, biography or transport history, you can submit your idea directly to the History Press. And if you don't write in any of these areas, it's still worth exploring whether what you're writing might be of interest to a publisher with an online submission process.