What is wrong with publishing?

[00:00:00] TG: Hello and welcome to the Story Grid Podcast. This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better writer. I’m your host, Tim Grahl, and I am a struggling writer trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. Joining me shortly is Shawn Coyne. He is the creator of Story Grid, the author of the book Story Grid, and an editor with over 25 years’ experience.

In this episode, we take a hard look at publishing through the lens of my book, The Threshing. So The Threshing, back when we realized it was going to become a real book, we had to start talking about what we’re going to do to publish it. So in this episode, Shawn and I start walking through that decision process, and it leads us to a really interesting conclusion about the future of Story Grid. So let’s jump in and get started.


[00:00:52] TG: As my book, The Threshing, is coming to an end, it’s now in copyediting, which means I think it’s actually going to happen. As we were talking about what to do with the threshing, this has now been a while ago, it kept coming back to this idea of how are we going to publish it, and there’s basically the two options. We have traditional publishing, which you’ve been an agent before. Maybe you could represent the book and take it to New York and try to get somebody to publish it. Or I could just take the book and go self-publish it and kind of see what I can do with it.

With those two kind of options, I just want to get your take, because you’ve been on both sides of that table. You’ve been also in publishing. You’ve agent it. You’ve owned a publishing house. You’ve been involved in self-publishing projects. So looking at where we are in 2019 with publishing, I would just love to hear from you kind of how you see things from your really unique point of view. I don’t know if I know anybody who’s worked in so many different angles in the publishing world.

[00:02:06] SC:I think the state of the publishing world is remarkably fascinating. I think there’s so much potential in publishing. If you just look at publishing globally and say to yourself, “Well, what does it do,” well, publishing is the process by which we present stories to people who would be interested in reading them. It’s simply that. That is the general idea of what publishing is. Because there are so many different options of entertainment today and we’re all striving to get more and more entertainment every day of our lives, it’s become more and more difficult to get people’s attention to read a specific book. So book publishers find themselves, and they often say this, we’re competing with Netflix and we’re competing with Amazon and all these places that are bringing in original content that are more film or television-driven.

So how does a publisher decide which books that they should spend their time in, trying to get people’s attention? Now, traditionally, you have the major book publishers which are they’re corporations, and there’s nothing wrong with corporations. Corporations are about generating revenue and profits. That’s part of capitalism, and we all have to sort of live in that. It’s like the least bad option right now. So corporations, they’re looking for the bottom line. So they want to publish those stories that are easiest to stimulate a market of people to buy them. So that’s what they’re looking for. The major publishers are looking for the minimum viable story that they can present into the world with the minimum viable effort and get a return.

So it’s kind like arbitrage. They’re arbitraging values of stories, trying to purchase the rights to those stories at the lowest possible cost, and then take it into the market with the belief that they are arbitrage, that they’re buying low and they’re going to sell high. So that’s really capitalism in a nutshell. So it’s result-oriented. They’re trying to get a result of profit. Nothing wrong with that. Writers, the writer has a difficult time of it, because they spend years and years and years learning their craft. Then they can spend years and years writing a specific book. So they’re always process-driven for decades.

So, for example, with The Threshing, you and I have been sort of nose to the grindstone, process-driven for the past four years. We never considered the question, “Oh! Well, how are we going to market this? Is this the right market?” Now, we just sort of globally said, “Do people like stories about labyrinth action stories?” The answer to that is yeah. It’s an evergreen story that people will enjoy, and that’s all we went with. We didn’t say, “Well, let’s try and quantify how many.” Now, that’s not what we were about ,because we are in the process of writing a story that works and we used a methodology in order to make that happen.

So now that we were faced with, “Well, jeez! Tim and Shawn have spent four years and hundreds of hours working on this thing. They’re pretty proud of it. They think that a lot of people will enjoy this story.” So you and I were faced with a question. Our question is, How should we publish this? Should we turn over something that we worked on with such deliberation for four years over to a corporation, in the hope that they say, “Oh! We can arbitrage Tim and Shawn’s work and we can make a profit based upon the work that they’ve already done.”?

So just from the get-go, the publisher is in a position where they want to buy the rights to a story at the lowest possible cost. There’s nothing wrong with that. So what an agent does, this is why you have an agent. So what an agent does is leverage the desire for profit amongst a whole core group of major publishers. So if I was going to agent The Threshing, I wouldn’t send it to just one publisher in the hope that they say, “Yeah, this is good enough. We’ll give you $5,000 for it.” No, I wouldn’t do that. I would take the book and I would share it with multiple publishers at the same time and I would hope that multiple publishers would say, “You know, there’s really something here. This thing can work. We know this market. We know there’s a young adult market for labyrinth action thrillers. This lives in the arena of The Hunger Games. This lives in the arena of a whole slew of books that have been extraordinarily successful over the last decade, so this is a good bet.”

So if you get multiple corporations saying this is a good bet, then you would sort of put them against one another and have them bid against each other. So that’s how traditional publishing works in the world of the writer. So the writer, they’re process-driven the entire time they’re creating the work. Once the work is completed, then they go out and they have to find an agent. An agent is doing the same arbitrage deal as the publishers. So the agent is going to say, “Oh! I can sell this thing for at least $100,000, which would mean I would make $15,000 on just selling this one title.” Now, when I was an agent, I didn’t even take on anything. Meaning I wouldn’t represent a book unless in my gut I thought I could sell it for $250,000, because I didn’t want to be hocking a ton of stuff. So I only wanted the big books. I only wanted the books that I thought I could convince at least one of these major corporations to shell out $250,000.

[00:08:26] TG: You are looking for something you could sell for that much. What kind of things were you considering? Because you had to have kind of a checklist in your head of like, “It’s got to be 8 out of 10 criteria for me to think I could sell it for 250.”

[00:08:38] SC: That’s right. Being the guy who came up with the Story Grid, I would be sort of scanning the New York Times bestseller list and say, “What is working now? What books on the New York Times bestsellers are working now?” Then, for example, today it’s probably, say, the paranoid thriller, which is an unreliable narrator, telling some sort of thriller story where the big revelation is that they are somehow intricately linked to the MacGuffin of the story, something generic like that. Then when manuscripts would come to me, I would say, “Is this in that arena that has that stories like Gone Girl, where Gone Girl was sort of like the first iteration of the unreliable narrator that had a great turn into it that became a major successful story, became a big movie, etc. Then there’s like The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train. I’m probably messing up all the titles but I think people can know what I’m talking about when I say that kind of story.

So if I were practicing agent right now, that’s what I’d be looking for. I would be looking for something that I could position to the major publishers as, “Here is the next example of a genre that is working right now.” They would say yay or nay. Well, the fact that I have experience in thrillers, my ethos, my gravitas in the industry, at least I would get the editors to read it. They would go, “Coyne’s kind of good in this arena. He’s recommending it. He’s sold books for millions of dollars in this arena before. I better take a look at it quickly because other people are going to be looking at it too.” Because I had the reputation of sharing works across multiple corporations at the same time. So that’s how I worked as an agent. I won’t get into nonfiction, but that was my specialty, the big thriller.

So did I have the gravitas representing a love story in the same way that I did as a thriller? No. So usually what I do if I fell in love with a love story is I would find another agent to work with me on that project, and he or she would represent that work. So anyway, I’m getting into the details of how agents think but I think it’s an important thing for writers to understand how agents think, because that’s the first hurdle that the writer has to jump over. It’s a very, very high hurt, because more and more agents are like I was when I was an agent. They don’t want to represent 50 projects a year because they don’t want to be making 12 calls a day every day for an entire year. They want to read constantly, pick out like 10 projects, even five projects.

I never represented more than four or five books a year, and that was an advantage for me and a disadvantage. But, for me, I looked at it as an advantage, because when I would call publisher, they would say, “Oh! This guy only bugs me four times a year. Usually when he bugs me, the thing works. I know it’s going to work, because Coyne’s representing it. Whether or not I think it’s going to be worth $250,000 would be another question.” But I would get their attention based upon my reputation as an agent. So writers obviously want to go out and find an agent that has that kind of reputation. You can make a few phone calls, and they can get an answer quickly. That’s really a great thing is when you’re agent can get an answer quickly from decision-makers at the top of the pyramid at the publishers.

So let’s just take a step back and say, “Well, what does all this mean in terms of The Threshing?” Well, you and I have – We see eye to eye on this and we know what the problems are in that process. The problems are I could take this out to the major publishers, and the best case scenario is that, let’s say, we sell it for $250,000. You and I get very excited because, let’s say, a division of Random House decides to publish The Threshing. They’ve agreed to a deal for $250,000 for the novel, and it sounds amazing. So if I were your agent at that point, I would get 15% of that $250,000, and then you would get the remainder of that. That sounds great, but then you divide it by four years. Then it’s, “Oh! Well, it’s still great. It’s still amazing. What about royalties?” Royalties are going to be great, because once they start coming in, “Oh! Wait a minute. You’re not going to get it.”

[00:13:29] TG: Wait. Why do you divide it by four years?

[00:13:32] SC: Well, it took you four years to write the book, right?

[00:13:34] TG: Oh! Okay. How does the advance get paid to you? Do you just get like a big old check?

[00:13:39] SC: No, no, no. You get it in quarters. So you don’t even get the $250,000 upfront. You get a spread of payments. So the first payment would be on the signing of the agreement. Now, what’s in the agreement is generally this. The publisher owns the rights to sell the book exclusively for your lifetime. So as long as you’re alive, that publisher owns the rights to sell the book exclusively. So you’re basically signing away something that it took you four years to create that was not easy to create. In addition to that, after you die, the publisher still has the right to exclusively publish that book for another 75 years. So you’re signing away about – You’re a young guy, so it’s probably 120 years’ worth of revenue based upon that book over to the publisher. They get to pull in all the revenue from that book and then divvy it up in a way that’s also outlined in the contract.

But the key event here is that you lose complete control over the marketing of the book, what the cover looks like, what the interior design looks like, whether or not you can give away free copies to your local library or to the Boys and Girls Club down the road. All of that stuff is no longer in your hands. So the $250,000 would be paid. You don’t get 250 on signing. You get probably, what is that, $66,250, a quarter of 250 on the signing of the contract. Then you have to do edits based upon the publisher’s comments. So the editor who acquires the book is probably going to have some issues with the book and want you to fix them. So they may say things like, “I don’t like this sentence. Fix it.” Usually, they’re not too difficult, but sometimes the editor is like, “You’ve got to change the ending.” You might be like, “Well, I really like my ending.” Well, sorry. You’ve got to change it or there’s no deal. So then you change the ending according to the editor. Then they accept the manuscript. It’s called delivery and acceptance. Then you get another check for 66,000 whatever, 250 bucks. Then you have to wait 10 to 12 months before they even publish it.

So in-between the delivery and acceptance is a very long window that is based upon a process of publishing from the 1900s, basically. That was the exact process that I was under when I started in 1991, all the way up until probably 2007 when the Kindle came online. So book publishing can be divided into two sections, pre-2007 and post-2007. 2007, again, is when the Kindle came online and electronic books became a viable and really powerful commercial thing. So people started reading on devices as opposed to the physical book. That actually made it so that you can get to the public immediately as opposed to having to wait for 10 to 12 months to sell the thing into bookstores, to print books, to ship the books, to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So the third payment would be on first publication of the book, and then you would get the last check between 3 to 12 months after. So you’re looking at two and a half years before you get the $250,000. So you add the four years that it took to write, plus the two and half years until you get the final payment. You’re looking at 6 1/2 years and, say, your net after you pay your agent is 200,000. That’s not that much. That’s $32,000 a year, something like that. No one can live really, and you’ve got a wife and two kids. You can’t live on $32,000 a year. But some would say, “But what about all the great things that come with the major publishers?” You get third-party validation. When you say Random House published my book, people immediately know what they’re talking about. That is really powerful and it’s really great but it really doesn’t last all that long.

What has always happened to me, I’ve been published by the major publishers, and people will say, “Well, who published that?” I would say, “Well, it was a division of Penguin Random House.” They go, “Oh, wow!” Then I see them a week later at another cocktail party, and they go, “You’re a writer, right? Who published your book?” They don’t even remember. How can they remember? They can even remember where their socks are. So there’s not really all that much, and people would say, “Oh! That’s really cool.” But they don’t go to Amazon and buy the book either.

So if you look at it really rationally and you say yourself, “Well, what are the benefits of the major publishers,” well, you say you get third-party validation, and your book will always be available, because they’ll never let it go out of print. Because if they do, then they lose the 125 years of ownership of your book. What would happen if they gave you back the rights to your book, and then three years after that you got Netflix to do a television series based upon your book? Then they don’t get any revenue from that. So they hold on. It’s basically a holding company that holds onto intellectual property. That’s the business model. We are going to collect. We are going to vacuum up as much intellectual property that we believe we can arbitrage over 128 years, such that the title will bring more money into our coffers than the money it costs to distribute it. That is the corporate game for corporate publishing. That is the bottom line. Anybody who tells you differently than that either does not know how corporations work or they’re trying to tell you some sort of lie in order to get you to do what they want.

So I worked in corporate book publishing. It does not mean that editors and publishers re these nasty people who have abacuses who are trying to arbitrage work. No, it doesn’t mean that all, because the corporation, they hire people who love books. They hire people who have read a lot. The reason why they do that and they don’t just give the job of editor to any Tom, Dick or Harry, or Helene, is that if they just hired people who don’t read, they’re not going to be able to tell what makes a story work. We all have this sort of intuitive power that’s in our genetics, that’s in our human humanness is that we are able to pick up on patterns of phenomena that repeat themselves. More and more, we’re exposed to a particular pattern. The better we get at predicting whether or not that pattern will reoccur. It’s called intuitive learning.

So it’s sort of when you learn how to ride a bike. Once you get that feeling of knowing how to ride a bike, you can repeat the behavior because you’ve learned the patterns of how to balance yourself on the bike. It’s very similar for really great book editors. These are people who have read thousands and thousands and thousands of books. They’ve read – They have exposed themselves to so many stories that they intuitively can feel as they’re reading, whether or not the story works. So it’s not like they’re guessing they are going off of a very, very intuitive process that they’ve learned through experience. So the publishers, the corporations are smart. They go, “Let’s get a lot of those people who have been exposed to a lot of books to pick the books and arbitrage for us.” They’re called editors, and editors arbitrage themselves. Editors bring in values quite a bit larger than what they’re being paid.

So the rule of thumb that I always had in my mind when I was working at a corporation is I better bring in 10 times as much revenue as what I’m costing the corporation. Because if I can maintain that level of contribution to the bottom line, I will be a valuable employee, even if I have a couple of bombs. They’re going to be like, “Yeah. The guy had a couple of bombs, but overall he’s bringing in X number of dollars over what he’s costing us.” So you can see as I’m talking here what big publishing is all about, and what’s a little bit frustrating about it is that it all results-driven.

[00:22:34] TG: I was just thinking as you’re talking. I’m like, “We have not talked except at the very beginning when you said you would look at what genres are hitting right now.” We haven’t talked a bit about the stories that are being told in these books that we’re talking about.

[00:22:49] SC: No, of course not. It doesn’t mean that the editors aren’t thinking of that. So the editors, they’re about the quality of the story. So they’re thinking, “Is this story as good as X? Is this as good as The Hunger Games?” Well, maybe not. But it’s about 90%. I mean, they are arbitraging in their mind, but they’re not using language of math. They’re saying, “Well, I would definitely give this to my friend who loved The Hunger Games, and they would really like it.” Good to know. So it’s sort of that qualitative arbitrage as opposed to quantitative arbitrage that is being done in the accounting office at the corporation.

So the editors think that they live in a qualitative world, but actually the people in control are the quantitative people who are analyzing the efficacy of the editors themselves. So a lot of editors are under the illusion that they’re there to find things that are really great that might not become the bestseller. But to a degree, they are as long as those things are profitable. But the problem with publishing is – What happens is that you get mostly genre copycatting. Remember when I was talking about as an agent, I’m going to appeal to the desire for the editor or publisher to have a bestseller. Why would I do that? Well, they’re going to pay more money to acquire a bestseller than they will pay for book number 13 in a mystery series about quilting.

[00:24:33] TG: Well, how I’m talking about The Threshing is it’s like a mix of The Hunger Games and The Matrix.

[00:24:38] SC: Yeah.

[00:24:38] TG: So I’m trying to attach it to something that will get people interested. So it’s the same idea, except much more driven by these are the books that are currently selling, and this book is like those books.

[00:24:49] SC: That’s exactly right. So it’s all about the result. Just to be frank, how many idiots can we get to buy this thing? Can we just put a really cool cover on it that says, “Matrix Meets The Hunger Games,” and we’ll sell 20,000? There are plenty of books like that that come out. Usually, they come out right after a tipping point in a specific genre shift. So after Harry Potter, we see all these books that are Harry Potter-like cloney things. Not that they’re not great or original or interesting, but they’re in the arena of the Harry Potter universe. Those things, the ones that came out immediately after Harry Potter, went through the roof like Rick Riordan series. Now, it’s a great series, but it is in the arena of Harry Potter. It came out after Harry Potter, and the people who published Rick Riordan knew specifically, “Let’s just get ourselves our own Harry Potter,” and it worked.

So there’s nothing nasty or horrible about that event. A smart person, a smart business person would say, “Let me follow what’s working now. Let me think about a way to position this book in such a way that the major publishers will believe in the event that I’m trying to sell them. Then if we’re lucky, we can get a big advance.” But the price you pay for that is the agents constantly churning new projects. So when I was an agent, I didn’t just have Tim Grahl as a client. I had 20 other people. So I always knew if Tim Grahl’s book doesn’t sell, well, I got backups. But if you’re Tim Grahl, you only have Tim Grahl. What would happen if Tim Grahl worked very, very hard with me to create this book and then it got rejected by all the major publishers? Oh, no! What are we going to do now? Oh, jeez! How are we going to get this thing out there?

Then now, we transition into this amazingly wonderful new thing that’s very chaotic though. If major corporate publishing is the order of the system now, if book publishing is one big system, there’s an orderly part of it. That orderly part of it is the traditional big five publishing process. You get an agent. The agent sells into a big publisher. You get an advance. The publisher brings it out a year later. The book does okay. You might get another contract to write another book such that you might be able to make more than $32,000 a year on your next book. That’s the traditional orderly process. Now, the process is evolved. I mean, there was always been sort of vanity sort of self-publishing. But it was always really looked down upon, until 2007 when Amazon came online, and they offered Kindle self-publishing. Over the years, a lot of really terrific stuff is coming out of that, because the major publishers just didn’t get the pitch. Or that writer just never was able even to get an agent.

So self-publishing is this great platform where anyone can offer their story to anyone, but it’s very chaotic and it’s getting more and more – The players who own that space, there’s only one now, and it’s CreateSpace, which is owned by Amazon. Amazon owns about 92% of the self-publishing world. There are other avenues to offer your book, but the truth is, is Amazon basically owns that space. They’re in the game of let’s let anybody try because of the things that are thrown into the chaotic universe. Maybe a few of them will stick and then we’ll own 60% of the revenue or more of that title for the rest of its life. There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing, and I’m not here to say it’s bad. But the problem is, is that if it’s difficult to get people to pay attention when Random House publishes a book, it’s an exponential factor, more difficult for people in the self-publishing realm.

So what you find is that people in the self-publishing realm really go genre-specific. So they’re looking for these little holes in the marketplace where specific genres are evolving or shifting. So that’s why Amazon really plugs into that, and they keep creating more and more genres so that people will specifically try and feed into that genre, satisfy a particular market, and that particular market will buy all of those products from Amazon. So Amazon has no problem. The infinite shelf space allows them to create all kinds of new genres every single day. So you can gain the system in such a way that you can become a number one Amazon bestseller by founding a new genre in some way. Then the other thing that Amazon does is they lower the price. So it devalues some of the work that people do, which forces them to write faster and to write more and more and more and more to gain, just to stay in place.

[00:30:26] TG: Well, and I know from working with so many different self-published authors over the years that they’re also like – It’s hard because on one hand the authors that are getting a 5 or $10,000 advance from their publisher, it’s not getting them a lot of input. The editor is not putting a ton of time and that the marketing department is not putting a ton of time into it. But at the same time, you do still have an editor that’s helping you make the book better. You still have a professional cover designer, professional copyediting, like all of these things that a lot of times in the self-publish world just don’t happen, because, one, the author doesn’t realize that they need it, two, they don’t really have the money to invest in it. Then like you say, there’s this big push to keep putting out as much work as possible. So it doesn’t go through any kind of real process to make the book what it possibly could be.

So I’ve read a lot of self-published books. There are so many times where I’m like. “It’s just not as good as the –” It’s like the book is better than the current version I’m reading, if that makes sense. So I feel like one of the things that’s lacking in the self-publishing world and as somebody who has self-published books is that kind of quality process. One thing publishing has done for a very long time is publish books. So there’s a whole process to it that, for better or worse, does tend to make the books better.

[00:31:59] SC: Just the design elements that I take for granted. They’re just not there in most self-publishing stuff. Again, it becomes a process of results. So self-publishing becomes the exact same thing as the major publishing in that the writer – It’s almost even a little bit more painful, because the writer has spent a lot of time. Let’s say it’s their first novel, and they’ve been working on this novel for quite some time. They finally get to the place where they want to release it into the world. They self-publish it because they just don’t get any traction in the majors, and then nothing happens. So they feel like the whole process was stupid, that the results didn’t come. Therefore, all of that process that I went through to write this thing was a waste of time. That’s a tragedy because that’s not true.

The problem is just that a lot of these writers, they don’t want to be business people. They want to be writers. They want to focus on the process. They want to level up. They want to get better with each thing that they write. They want to – Again, they want to write a lot stories. They want to write a lot of books. But what happens is after they finished the book, then they have to put on their Machiavelli and businessman or businesswoman hat and start learning all these things that you will teach them, Tim, as a book marketing guy. Then they have to take a seven-month vacation to educate themselves to get the skill sets that frankly are never going to be good as yours, because you spent over 10 years book marketing without writing anything. You are just helping writers sell more books.

So, yes, of course, you can teach them the skill set and a lot of the benefit extraordinarily from them, but it’s – You just said this to me a while ago, and I thought it was really and I don’t agree with all of it. But what you said to me is like, “Once you’ve spent all this time writing the book, then you have to learn how to market it, and it’s kind of like eating a shit sandwich.” It’s like, “I don’t really want to eat that sandwich but I will if I have to.” Then what’s even more difficult is that you’re not connected to anyone but yourself. So you’re all alone in this empty universe, and you’re surrounded by other lonely people who have published their books into this big black hole of self-publishing, and you’re not connected to any sort of Uber concept. You’re not part of Random House. You’re not part of Penguin. You’re not part of anything other than Shawn Coyne LLC, which is something that I put into to CreateSpace or Amazon or Google or whatever.

That’s not to say that self-publishing was extraordinarily revolutionary book publishing. I really don’t want to denigrate it, because what it is is it really took down all of the barriers, all of those ridiculous barriers. But some of them not ridiculous because they were really about quality of the major publishers. But the major publishers screw up too. There’s books that are written about how many great books that they rejected over and over and over again. Great Gatsby, etc. I don’t think The Great Gatsby was rejected, but there’s a whole slew of them. So they’re not infallible. When you have people who start to believe that they’re magicians capable of casting a spell over a book, because they thought it was pretty good and if they thought it was good, it’s definitely a bestseller, then people get their heads very large. They think that they’re big keepers who believe that they know better than the hoi polloi. They kind of looked their – Down at their noses at people who are hard-working genre workers.

So we have these two different things. This very strictly ordered system of the big five publishing and then you have this chaotic system where you just kind of throw it out there and hope for the best. So those were our two choices when we finally got to the point where I said, “Well, Tim. I think you’re done here, and we send it to copyediting.” So unfortunately or fortunately, I think it’ll probably be fortunate in the long run. We had to figure out how to do something different. How could Story Grid figure out a way to publish The Threshing and actually to perhaps help other writers stuck in your position where you’ve just sort of gone through this very grueling Navy seal-like training to learn how to write a story? You finally get graduation day, and you’re faced with having to go into the darkness and try to get a big five publisher to publish your book or go into self-publishing. Is there a third way?

That’s kind of where we are right now. We’re figuring out, is there a better third way, where quality rains, where the process rains, and the results – We care about the results, but that’s not the point. The point is to make Tim Grahl – His next novel even better than this one. We want to be able to present this story to the world and position it just like a major publisher does in such a way that people will enjoy it. We’re going to do everything we can to spread the word to at least 10,000 people who would like this kind of book. Then we’re going to say, “Well, now. It has to live its own life, and, Tim, you got to write another novel.”

So we want to create third way that’s process-driven, not results-driven. Because if we really care about the process, if we really work our fingers to the bone to try and make everything that we do a little bit better tomorrow than it is today, then the results should be able to take care of themselves, as long as we’re also pretty good business people. We don’t want to get in the position where we’re overextending. We want to be able to create a publishing house, a new paradigm that is self-sustaining and all about the process. Not about the New York Times bestseller list because you’ve written so many things about how you can gain that system that, to me, and I know it personally, it doesn’t have any value to me any longer. It’s sort of like this empty pat on the head at the end of a very painful process that really doesn’t have the value that people place on it.

So we’re not in the business and we don’t want to think about our publishing house as the process by which we have New York Times bestsellers. We want our publishing house to be something where we get a little bit better every day. Together, the people who work within this house help each other. We’re all feel like we’ve got each other’s back. It sounds kind of cheesy, but that’s kind of like generically what we’re trying to do, what you and I have been talking about for quite some time. It’s not an easy thing to think of, but I think if we had to boil it down into one major difference, our new thing is going to be process- driven, not results-driven. Because I think if we can make it process-driven, the results will take care of themselves.


[00:39:39] TG: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Story Grid Podcast. For everything Story Grid related, check out storygrid.com. Make sure you pick up a copy of the book and sign up for the newsletter, so you don’t miss anything happening in the Story Grid universe.

If you like to check out the show notes for this episode or any past episodes, all of that can be found at storygrid.com/podcast. If you like to reach out to us, you can find us on Twitter @StoryGrid. Lastly, if you would like to support the show, you can do that by telling another author about the show and by visiting us on Apple podcasts and leaving a rating and review. Thanks for subscribing and being a part of our work here at Story Grid. We will see you next week.



The Book

Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.

First Time Writer

Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.


Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.