Why We Are Thriving

As a boutique publisher sitting here in Dallas, far from center of the publishing world, it can get a little isolating sometimes. I find myself turning to the numerous publishing and writing blogs for a sense of community, but I’m thinking about cutting back on that. The overall tone is so negative these days that it can be a bit depressing. Even my blog has shared the gloom with a video from Bob Miller on how terrible everything is (and he’s supposed to be one of the one’s fixing it!) and a link to a presentation by the Publisher of a house I really admire, Berrett-Koehler, on (you guessed it) how terrible everything is.

All this negativity might be weirdly comforting if we were also struggling (in a misery loves company sort of way). But we aren’t struggling; we are actually having a fantastic year (is it bizarre that I feel a little bad saying this?)

So why are we doing so well when so many very good, very smart publishing houses are struggling? I don’t claim to have any answers to the enormous problems publishers are facing, and I’m well aware that a lot our success is due to good luck and even a black swan or two (https://www.benbellabooks.com/blog/?cat=6).

But we are doing a few things that might be worth noting:

  1. We have gotten very very careful. About what we acquire. About how we spend our time. About how we spend our money.
  2. At the same time, we are still experimenting. We have just launched a website that I think will very important to our business. The Beta version is up at www.smartpopbooks.com.
  3. We don’t make huge bets. We like to see a path – and not a difficult path – to making money with every book and we like to see the potential for a homerun on every book.
  4. We are looking more and more for authors who have the desire and ability to partner with us – and even take the lead – in marketing their books and we try to reward their efforts and match their efforts.
  5. We try to take care of our authors and our agents. Both are critical to our success.
  6. We are very focused on making money. Publishing often seems to have a lot of priorities that have nothing to do with making money (and I’m not talking about good priorities, like publishing great literature, I’m talking about mindless rules and bureaucracy).
  7. We are very flexible, even working within a publishing system that doesn’t like flexibility.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to our success this year!

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