Readers of The Independent Publishing Magazine will be aware that from time to time I carry out short overviews of author solutions services. Usually the overviews feature companies recently launched or those operating with a very low output of published titles. I've even featured several independent presses (non-charging), but generally I don't as a rule carry out substantial 2000-3000 thousand word reviews of companies and services not in existence for less than a year. Companies come and go in the author solutions field, and even the good quality service providers take a year or two to find their feet in a ever-changing book industry.
Thanks to Henry Baum's Self-Publishing Review and the LA Times Book section for pointing me in the direction of recently established author solutions service, Venture Press. At the outset, let me add, I don't like the name. It puts me in mind of a Wall Street stockbroker or equity/investment company, not a publisher! According to yesterday's LA Times, Venture Press launched officially on March 9th. Hogwash!! Alison Berry in Time NewsFeed beat the LA Times to Venture Press by four whole months. On December 5th, Berry listed Venture Press as one of her '11 Most Extravagant Gifts money Can Buy'. No, Venture Press were not selling precious diamonds from South Africa or rare antiques. Nope, just good old fashion self-publishing services, pitched at the higher echelon of social movers and shakers with a book in them, if you don't mind!
From the Venture Press website:
"Before making any decision, Venture Press will arrange for you to meet or talk to four different ghostwriters. Why? Because every author has a different voice, a different personality and a different need. Every writer will have knowledge and experience in your particular area of interest and their professionalism will be reflected in the books they’ve previously written: all published by a major publishing house.
Venture Press will guide you through the process. But the story will be yours. The voice will be yours. The book -- in paper or ebook format, from a single copy to large quantities -- will be yours. We can help you make it happen."
- Obtain ISBN
- Obtain copyright
- Secure Bar Code
- Printer selection
- Print and/or Ebook formatting
- Interior design/typesetting
- Front and Back Cover Design
- IndieReader.com book review
- Inclusion on the IR site with link to online sales venue(s)
- Bound proof copy of the book for verification prior to first printing
- Registration with Bowkers Books in Print and Library of Congress
- Inclusion in IndieReader Selects (our distribution program to independent bookstores)
- Distribution via Amazon, B&N and other online bookstores
...and, take note of that 'Additional'...
Additional services are available:
- In-depth marketing and publicity services, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc)
- Securing book reviews
- Creating an author website and Amazon sales page
Now, blow me down the street with a summer hose, but that all looks very familiar to me. I could be looking at any author solutions service package from AuthorHouse to Infinity, to BookLocker; choose many other services for self-published authors that comes to mind. Most of them offer services from $300-$3000. I'd hazard BookLocker might even argue they offer more for their minuscule fee, in light of the above Venture fee. I also can't see any author willing to pay these fees and settling for sales to 'independent bookstores'.
The IndieReader references on the Venture Press website caught my eye, and I instantly wondered why on earth would a community and service resource like IndieReader get involved with Venture Press. Then I clicked the 'Who Are We?' page on Venture's website...
Madeleine Morel,2MCommunications Ltd.
2MCommunications Ltd. was founded in 1982 by British born Madeleine Morel, a former literary agent. 2M works exclusively with other leading literary agents and editors at the major publishing houses whose high profile authors, celebrities and public figures require confidential associations and talented professionals to turn their spoken words into books.
2M is the only literary talent agency that solely represents professional ghostwriters, collaborators and editors and has been behind fifteen confidentially written New York Times Bestseller titles, four of which were at No. 1.
Amy Edelman,IndieReader Publishing Services
IndieReader, the essential consumer guide to self published books and the people who write them, was founded by Amy Edelman, an author and long-time PR professional. Edelman created the site with the goal of making the category of indie books both "sexy" and more legitimate. IndieReader Publishing Services (IRPS), a sister business, was launched shortly thereafter.
I had a lot of time for what IndieReader was set up to do for self-published authors as a support, platform and resource, but I'm a bit perplexed at this venture - excuse the pun. This is like trying to sell a Ferrari to someone (95%) of authors looking for a Toyota Prius. But that's not all that concerns me about the Venture Press strategy.
"Venture Press assists authors who want to retain control of their work and independently publish in the smartest, most creative and cost-effective way possible.
Venture Press's writers -- many whom have had books on The New York Times bestseller list -- have all been published by major houses including Avon, Ballantine, Chronicle, Clarkson Potter, Crown, Doubleday, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Free Press, Grand Central Publishing, HarperCollins, Penguin Putnam, Perseus, Random House, Rodale, Simon & Schuster, St. Martin’s Press, and Wiley."
I think it is important to point out that Venture above is referring to 'writers', not their authors, rather their ghostwriters who will take on rewriting a work submitted to Venture Press. According to the LA Times piece, Venture Press has not signed a client yet:
"No one knows exactly who might pay the $100,000-plus cost of a book with Venture Press. As yet, the company, launched March 9, has not signed up any clients."
Sure, five to ten clients a year would bring in upwards of a million dollars, but when you are pitching to - in the words of the LA Times - 1% of self-published authors, then you've got your work cut out to get those ten authors. In substance, there is actually little real meat in the LA Times piece, and, as usual, reference is made to author Amanda Hocking as an example of self-publishing success with ebooks, an entirely different proposition.
I'm bemused, nay, I said earlier, perplexed, where Venture Press and IndieReader really think this is going. Did someone care to put together a business plan, study a potential client list, and actually project where they might be in two years?
I just hope Edelman and Morel didn't bankroll this themselves, but truthfully, the Venture Press website looks like it was put together using a $10 monthly subscription to an ISP - bland, uninspiring, and trying to appeal to an innovative entrepreneur with a book and high profile, willing to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. Entrepreneurs, who decide to become authors, actually have an innate (by default) understanding of doing it on their own, have a business structure already in place (media platform), and I can't see why they would look to a service provided by Venture Press, albeit for ghostwriting, perhaps. It makes me believe that Venture Press is simply providing a service to it's in-house field of writers, rather than having any pretensions to being a true author solutions service.
Tomorrow, I'll give James Patterson, Katie Price, Carolyn Keene and Tom Clancy a bell to let them know Venture Press can do it all-in for a $100k, and they get to keep all the profits. Yeehaaa!!