Simon & Schuster Offers Expanded Author Services in New Multimedia Imprint

Simon Schuster authors self-publishingSimon & Schuster rolls out a new imprint designed to “offer authors an expanded suite of profile-building, ancillary services that extend beyond the boundaries of traditional publishing,” according to a statement released today.

The imprint, called North Star Way, will focus on wellness and self-improvement nonfiction, delivered in a variety of multimedia formats in addition to print and ebooks, from apps and podcasts to online video.

Headed up by VP and Publisher Michele Martin, North Star Way will initially launch with four titles. Adam Rothberg, SVP of Corporate Communications at Simon & Schuster, explains that “the focus is to do a lot of things with a smaller group of authors and titles,” as opposed to publishing in high volumes.

The move shows Simon & Schuster doubling down on forms of multimedia that books now compete with in an increasingly mobile-driven landscape. Earlier this month, Simon & Schuster announced a series of paid online video courses called SimonSays, featuring tutorials led by some of the publisher’s best-known authors. The new imprint appears to take that approach one step further, positioning such multimedia as a regular part of authors’ content offerings, not just marketing material surrounding their books.

By launching North Star Way (of which the SimonSays program Rothberg confirms is “a major element”) Simon & Schuster also seems intent on sweetening the deal for authors confronted by a growing array of services available outside the traditional publishing model. The publisher characterizes its new imprint as offering a more “client-centric approach.”

For the past two years, author and social scientist Dana Beth Weinberg has argued that authors’ growing ability to develop an audience and publish their work independently poses a material threat to publishers, particularly when it comes to retaining well-established, business savvy authors who excel at building their own platforms.

In both the 2014 and 2015 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Surveys, many authors expressed dissatisfaction with the traditional publishing model, and in the aftermath of the Amazon-Hachette dispute last year, publishers still find themselves challenged to define their value in the publishing ecosystem to many authors and readers who don’t readily perceive it.

To help understand why, Weinberg proposed a new framework for looking at the economics of those relationships in the report based on this year’s findings.

Rothberg confirms that contracts for North Star Way authors will account for the “new services and activities being offered, along with the traditional book publishing language about advances, royalties, rights, territories, etc.” but declined to offer specifics.

As CEO Carolyn Reidy put it in today’s statement, “North Star Way is a new business model for publishing that consolidates and expands upon many of the services and capabilities that Simon & Schuster has been developing over the last few years.”

[Press Release]

INTRODUCING NORTH STAR WAY: A NEW PLATFORM-BASED, CLIENT-CENTRIC APPROACH TO PUBLISHING FROM SIMON & SCHUSTER

 NEW YORK, January 29—Simon & Schuster is pleased to announce North Star Way, a new publishing unit that will offer authors an expanded suite of profile-building, ancillary services that extend beyond the boundaries of traditional publishing.

North Star Way will partner with its authors to develop strategies that amplify and increase their reach, providing a singular source for creating and managing the many diverse elements that will grow their careers and maximize their sales in multiple mediums. In addition to book publishing, the many different services offered by North Star Way will include:

  • Online courses and subscriptions
  • Seminars, workshops and panel discussions
  • Mobile applications
  • Original videos and audio books
  • Sponsorships and business partnerships
  • Podcasts

North Star Way, which will be led by Vice President and Publisher Michele Martin, will have an editorial focus on nonfiction in the fields of self-improvement and inspiration, mind-body-spirit, motivation, wellness and business inspiration and leadership. “With North Star Way, we are looking for client-authors—entrepreneurs, experts, inspirational figures, sometimes even well before they have written a book—with whom we can partner to build an audience and generate revenue, whether it be from publishing or other sources,” said Martin.  “Our name reflects our mission for both readers and authors: to publish books that will help readers find the path to a better life, and to be a guide for our authors, not only through the publication of their books but also in the many other activities that can help their message find the widest possible audience.

“For authors today a successful career can often mean full-time engagement in extra-to-publishing activities, and with North Star we aim to help our authors identify outlets for their message, to continually grow their profile and their overall business,”  said Carolyn Reidy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster.  “North Star Way is a new business model for publishing that consolidates and expands upon many of the services and capabilities that Simon & Schuster has been developing over the last few years.”

Titles already acquired by North Star Way include On Fire by John O’Leary, an inspirational work by the survivor of a near fatal childhood accident in which  he was burned over  98% of his body and his long journey to recovery (Spring 2016), and two books by teenage entrepreneur and motivational speaker Maya Penn (Summer 2016).

Simon & Schuster, a part of CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic and audio formats. Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital and international companies in Australia, Canada, India and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit our website at www.simonandschuster.com

8 thoughts on “Simon & Schuster Offers Expanded Author Services in New Multimedia Imprint

  1. Robert Gottlieb

    There are a number of problems traditional publishers have when trying to work in this space.

    They offer low royalties (25% of net). They want all rights to the works which include foreign and audio with unfavorable splits for authors. They want to have the rights to the work in perpetuity. That means the author will never be able to get their publishing rights back if they feel the publisher is not doing a good job.

    Publishers who are trying to work in this new space unfortunately keep one foot is the old world while trying to work in the new ebook landscape.

    True Innovation requires publishers to redesign their business matrix with author.

    Robert Gottlieb
    Chairman
    Trident Media Group, LLC
    http://www.tridentmediagroup.com
    Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

    Reply
  2. Robert Gottlieb

    Corrected Text.

    There are a number of problems traditional publishers have when trying to work in this space.

    They offer low royalties (25% of net). They want all rights to the works which include foreign and audio with unfavorable splits for authors. They want to have the rights to the work in perpetuity. That means the author will never be able to get their publishing rights back if they feel the publisher is not doing a good job.

    Publishers who are trying to work in this new space unfortunately keep one foot is the old world while trying to work in the new ebook landscape.

    True Innovation requires publishers to redesign their business matrix with authors.

    Robert Gottlieb
    Chairman
    Trident Media Group, LLC
    http://www.tridentmediagroup.com
    Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

    Reply
  3. Sam Friedman

    Robert your comments are very interesting. What I wonder about with this new imprint is how much in terms of advertising and platform building they will help with for any authors whom they sign to a contract. In my case I may have a solid media platform with public speaking appearances, and access to mainstream and alternative media in the Mid-Atlantic region, but if I can’t reach other regions effectively then my book becomes a regional commodity, not a national one able to generate sales. This is where working with authors Signing away rights for life is a very scary proposal to many people, especially if they are not able to become a breakout star on their first book.

    Reply
  4. Janette Shipston Chan

    With North Star Way, writers can use the services offered as they choose — as in, they may just learn, apply and self-publish using the skills they learned online.

    And as far as royalty splits go, they get whatever they agree to in the contract — no 20% cut for the agents (at least that’s what it is in Canada). Maybe Mr. Gottlieb takes less.

    Rights in perpetuity? You have to read the contract carefully – and never agree to anything you don’t like. Remember the old music contracts that took fledgling bands to the cleaners: all over-turned based on disproportionate bargaining power / unconscionability.

    Read your contracts, understand everything before you sign & publish only with people you feel certain you can trust.

    Reply
    1. Robe

      Ms. Chan,

      If you don’t agree to publisher’s terms they won’t publish you. Simply. Terms matter a great deal. When an author does a deal on their own they are at the mercy of the publishing house. Another fact.

      The terms of royalty will be what the house gets for all it’s ebook operations. To think otherwise is naive. Most ebooks sell under 300 copies a year. There are over two million books up on Amazon. No publisher is going to give an ebook author better terms than they give there most successful authors.

      When you give up the 70% Amazon gives authors for 25% of net with or without an agent you lose.

      That the math.

      Robert Gottlieb
      Chairman
      Trident Media Group, LLC
      http://www.tridentmediagroup.com
      Like us on Facebook and follow us onTwitter.

      Reply
  5. Robert Gottlieb

    J.S. Chan,

    If you think a publisher is going to change their business terms in this publishing scenario you don’t understand mainstream publishers.

    I love how people like to reinvent the real world.

    Here is the math.

    When an author publishes with Amazon they receive on average a 70% position in royalties. This new venture will give an author 25% of net. If you would prefer paying 25% of net without an agent so be it.

    This model does not differ much from what other publishers are doing in this space. The terms include all rights as part of their business model. Otherwise it doesn’t really make sense for them. They are not going to change that for an original ebook author. It is not a matter of a negotiation as you suggest. It is naive to believe otherwise. The vast majority of original ebooks sell around 300 a year. Amazon has over two million books up on their website.

    No publisher is going to give original ebook authors better terms than they offer in their other operations to authors who they publish in all the other formats. It opens the pandora box.

    Robert Gottlieb
    Chairman
    Trident Media Group, LLC
    http://www.tridentmediagroup.com
    Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

    Reply
  6. Thomas DePrima

    @ Robert Gottlieb

    May I be permitted to make a comment regarding the royalties you quoted? The 65%-70% of sales paid to Indies by the major resellers (NookPress, Amazon, Kobo, and Apple) are based on the List Price of the book. The 25% from the Publishers is based on Net, so that means the author receives less than 18% of List Price. When you factor in an agent’s share, the share is less than 15%. That drops further when you consider book club sales and overseas distribution.

    Granted that sales will undoubtedly be greater through a traditional publisher, the question has to be– will the sales be significant enough for an author to give up control of their book for even three to five years? I believe that the failure of the traditional publishers to share the rewards with the creator of the work will ultimately be their undoing. When I was offered a contract from one of the Big 6 (there were still 6 at that time) I had only published as an Independent. I told the publisher I would agree to most of the terms of the contract, if they raised the ebook share to 50% of net. That would have given me as much as 35% of List Price initially, less the 15% for my agent’s fee. So my share would have been less than 30% of LP. I didn’t feel that as the creator of the work, I should receive less than what I was requesting. The collapse of those contract talks and others over this sticking point has meant I remain an Indie to this day, and retain all rights to my work. In my case, the number you quoted in your response to J.S. Chan (300 ebook copies a year) is broken in the first week after I release a new title. If the publishers with whom I’ve negotiated weren’t so intractable in the position that they retain 75% of net on ebooks, they would have benefited greatly by distributing my work. An ever increasing number of young authors are beginning to understand that the dream of being traditionally published may not be a dream at all. Perhaps it’s really a nightmare.

    Reply

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