Books will never die. But the book market's sick. Both the industry stalwarts and the publish-on-demand upstarts have structural issues. They’re ill-suited to evolve alone. They need to cross-breed!
The traditional industry’s wedded to a rigid model—first you find an agent, then the agent finds a publisher. There’s value in this system; the agent only makes money when they land a deal, so they're only going to represent books they love, and they’re going to get you the best deal possible. But it doesn’t always work well. The dark dirty secret of publishing is that, with rare exceptions (presidential memoirs, the last few Harry Potter books), no one knows what’s going to sell until it sells. So agents and publishers eventually start playing it safe, rather than taking chances on courageous fiction. And the marketplace becomes an endless parade of flash-in-the-pan sub-genres—chick-lit, addiction memoirs, Swedish detective fiction—because everyone's hoping that what sold yesterday will sell tomorrow. And since that isn’t the case, the industry’s in a crisis. The big deals are drying up.
What’s more, the old model of book retailing, with big-box bookstores selling big-name authors, isn’t the end-all, be-all it once was. The virtual marketplace has changed everything—there’s no shelf-life for books when there are no shelves. And this is a good thing for readers—you can read what you want, whether or not someone decided to keep it in print! The book is new when you discover it.
But publish-on-demand faces a tremendous perception problem—and rightly so. Anyone with a few hundred bucks and a .pdf can get their book listed on Amazon, regardless of whether or not it has any literary merit. And while the publish-on-demand companies are performing a valuable service by forcing the major players to adapt, they have no stake in long-term sales for any particular title—while they’d love to take over the marketplace, they also make a lot of their money up front for editing and listing the books they’re publishing. So it’s easier than ever to publish, but harder than ever to get noticed.
We’re offering a third way—a hybrid of these models.
We'll accept or reject you based solely on the merits of your work—quality will always sell eventually. We will be very selective in what we publish, but once you’re with us, we’ll accompany you on your road to the marketplace and beyond, working with you all the while to help you reach your goal.
We’re not trying to take your money before you make your money. Editing, feedback, prep work—we'll do these things for free, because we'll have a stake in your success—when your book goes to market, we’ll ask for a percentage of your gross revenues, so long as your book carries the Tortoise Books imprint. Should you find a better deal, you’re free to take it, provided you reimburse us for any work we’ve already done. Sounds good? Just query us using the form below!