It might surprise some of my readers to discover that my end-game for a writing career has nothing to do with writing the next great American novel, or even hitting number one on the bestseller list. I'd like those things. I love it when a new reader finds one of my books and enjoys it, but I have much bigger plans in mind, and I've begun the process of executing that plan.
Opening the Doors to a new kind of Publishing House
Gecko Print was never meant to be only a self-publishing imprint. In fact, I dreamed up what I wanted the company to be years ago, and I've been sitting on the website URL for quite a while, just to ensure that nobody else could snatch it up. I wanted to offer something new. Fewer writers, at least at first, but more books. More than a contract. I wanted serious writers, those obsessed with living off their words, to have the options that weren't granted to myself and so many others.
After two years of freelancing, mostly writing copy, I realized one morning that I could cut right through the red tape and get my products directly on the marketplace. Since I already have the publishing company established (including a business license in Missouri), all I needed to do was pivot.
The plan for the company all along has been a writer-centric vision. The big 6, and many, many other publishing houses have gone the one-off route. They take on a book, after it's passed through several rounds of vetting by agents and acquisitions, and they place a bet. The book will either be a success or a flop. That success or failure is based on only one thing, whether the book "earns out." This means it needs to sell enough copies in a limited amount of time to pay for the author advance, advertising, store placement, and of course the usual costs of running a business.
If the book fails, then it's the book's fault. Nevermind that the author wasn't helped in cultivating an audience. Nevermind that very little is usually done to help the debut author flash in the spotlight, even for a moment. Simply the same old "roll out some red carpet and launch the book" attitude which has dominated this market for well over seventy years. Books are becoming Hollywood productions. They either go blockbuster hit, or they're duds. The hits pay for the duds, and the market has modeled itself around that philosophy. The big sellers need to cover the costs of the risky projects.
As an author, this means that the odds are always stacked against you. Having your book flop is also like getting a black eye, especially if you took a large advance against sales.
Pioneering a New Way
There are some normal start-up fundraising things that need to be gotten out of the way with any business. With Gecko Print Publishing, I want that whole process to convert directly to author benefit down the road. In short, I'm drumming up my little writing mill again, but this time I'll be the one in charge of the final products and projects, writing copy for small businesses and even indie authors looking to grow their audiences. While this may not seem beneficial to authors, here's the benefit:
I don't know about every author, but I was desperate to make a living off my words only for a while, and for 2 years I struggled to find content clients that would keep me afloat and pay me a fair salary. For GPP authors, they will ALWAYS have a place to make some extra cash, writing fun and engaging short works about their various areas of expertise. Most authors tend to have a bunch of hobbies.
It will also work the other way round. If I start hiring some content creators for full-time work, and they write a novel, we'll work closely with them to cultivate their story to the point of publish-ability, and at the very worst, we'll give them pointers for their next book. The only vetting process will be the strength of the story, everything else can be fixed, and audiences can be grown.
Another back-channel strategy involves the people who purchase our marketing projects. Since these are businesses that thrive on selling content and copy, any connections made in this arena will have the benefit of large platforms that aren't accessible to other publishers.
The GPP Family Experience
We don't see readers as targets to be sold to, or wallets with no soul attached. We see them as champions for our books, and they deserve something in return.
We don't see other authors as competition, and we know there are plenty of indies out there producing good work that needs a chance to shine also. They're probably writing stuff that our readers are interested in as well.
After finding a little glitch in the way Amazon does business for freebie promotions, GPP is currently constructing an algorithm that will find the best books from indies and smaller houses. The big houses can't afford to do freebie promos, but the little guys can, and the books that make it to the top are almost always of high quality.
This will level the playing field, excluding those unwilling to sacrifice a few unit sales to build an audience for their work, and at the same time, books can only appear on most of these lists for a maximum of four weeks out of the year, which means carousel content for readers looking for new authors and new books. The readers win, and as our influence grows, we'll be helping those indies who hit our lists by directing voracious readers their way. No charge. In fact, the basic idea behind the list is for it to be as incorruptible as possible. Writers will never be able to "buy" their way onto our hit list. We may or may not provide an advertising slot or two later down the road, but these will be labeled appropriately.
The free book list is in its first iteration, and live on the GPP website right now. This is only the minimum viable product, using Amazon's API to generate free books after you click on the page. Carousel content, good books, and of course everything on the list is FREE on Kindle, at least when you see it.
Join the List
There are numerous places around the website to sign up for our email list, in which we'll be sending out some of the best books in each category every Sunday, but also posting updates about cool stuff that we're doing to change the industry, and of course once we open our doors to a few freelancers or authors to submit work for review. The email doubles as a weekly reminder that we're still here, with up to 50 free books sitting on our page at any given time, just in case you want to read something on Sunday and aren't sure where to look, or don't want to drop a lot of cash.
I'm building this mostly on my own, though I do have a few good editors and cover designers in mind once we are up and rolling. Till then, I'll keep my nose to the grindstone, and see what kind of flour comes out of the mill.
In the meantime, enjoy all the free books :)
Martin McConnell, author of Finish the Damn Book!, holds a Physics degree from SIUE, and when he isn't writing speculative fiction, he's motivating other authors, stargazing, reading, or playing Kerbal Space Program. He avidly encourages everyone he meets to seize control of their dreams by driving their own plot. You can find him on twitter @spottedgeckgo, or at his website writefarmlive.com.
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