News: The imprint's second book, MBA Coffee Chats, has just hit #1 new release 🎉
Huge congrats to authors Adam Putterman and Bob Manfreda on this well-deserved milestone.
About to start an MBA? Grab a copy.
The most author-friendly deal in publishing
We publish useful nonfiction written by authors who are following the process and iterating toward an effective, recommendable, long-lasting book via a rigorous mix of reader conversations, beta reading, and writing in public.
We don't accept inbound proposals from authors or agents.
Instead, we extend deals to authors within our nonfiction authors' community who are demonstrating the data-driven, reader-centric, iterative mindset that we believe in.
Caveat: This imprint is new. We've currently launched only two books: Write Useful Books (our own) and MBA Coffee Chats (by Adam and Bob). "New" is exciting but also means rough edges. Still, we believe the destination to be worth the journey, because...
Our publishing deal is insane
We're doing things differently.
- We take bets on first-time, unproven, unplatformed authors
- We pay 4x higher royalties (~50% of retail price compared to an industry average of 12.5%)
- Compared to the royalties from self-publishing, you keep 80% and we get 20% (i.e., if we can boost your sales by 25%, then the deal has turned a profit for you)
- Authors pay us nothing, and we cover all production costs, including editing, proofreading, interior layout, and cover design (worth ~5k)
- There's no cash advance, but there's also no payout delay — we believe that authors should care about their book's long-term instead of the upfront payment, and we want to align around that
Why are we building this? Because back when I was writing my first book, the big publishers offered me a "deal" that made my blood boil. Eight years later, I'm delighted to announce the publisher I've always wanted to work with, reinvented from tip to tail to be fundamentally author-friendly.
How? Because we're dropping the legacy costs and thinking that have been deadweight to big publishers for decades.
We publish progress, not pitches
Here's what you need to know about working with us:
- We get involved later than most publishers, so you need to start making progress on your own
- We don't care about book proposals — they're a pure, unmitigated waste of everyone's time
- We do care about how your beta readers are engaging with the early versions of your manuscript and whether that manuscript is getting better with each iteration
- As such, we extend offers during the second half of beta reading, once we're collectively able to make a data-informed decision (this massively de-risks your book and is the main reason we're able to offer such author-friendly terms — by the time we extend an offer, we already know that your book is going to crush it, and we're simply proposing to help you get there more easily and optimally)
- Given the late stage at which we get involved, we can then move quickly to support you with editors, proofreaders, and everything else you need to take your book from solid manuscript to brilliant #1 new release
- As mentioned, we don't accept inbound requests. We want to watch what you do, not hear what you say. There are two ways to show us what you're doing:
- Join our nonfiction authors' community — it costs $19 per month to ensure that everyone in the group is serious about their book (currently ~150 authors and more than a dozen books launched)
- Use our beta reading software (currently invite only, and we invite from the community, so that's the place to start)
- (Please don't join only to chase a publishing deal — we are picky with who we publish and there's no guarantee that we'll pick you, so that would be a waste of twenty bucks a month. But if you'd also benefit from the support, accountability, and tools, then we'd love to have you in the group.)
Other stuff you should know about publishing with us
- We understand modern marketing. We've built significant consumer businesses and know how it works. We're not going to do all of your marketing for you, but we do take responsibility for several high-value pieces including Amazon PPC ads, a high-conversion website, the beginnings of a podcast book tour, and a month's worth of content marketing for you to use at launch. Beyond that, we'll give you a time-efficient playbook in combination with the right reminders and nudges.
- We won't get you into physical bookstores. This is partly because selling useful nonfiction depends on recommendations and search — not impulse purchases — and partly because physical bookstore distribution is disproportionally expensive. And since it doesn't matter anyway (at least, not for this particular slice of nonfiction), we'd rather save that money and pass it back to you as extra royalties.
- We're focused on the long-term. We don't care about your book's performance during the twelve-week launch window, and we put zero effort into gaming the bestseller lists. We do care about whether your book will remain relevant, recommendable, and able to grow on word of mouth for the next ten-to-twenty years. If you want the vanity metrics of a big launch, then we probably aren't for you. If you want your book to become an impactful, enduring, royalty-generating asset, then we may be the right fit.
- We're transparent. You'll receive your sales reports and royalty payments each month. If we screw up or something's not working, we'll tell you about it. As we collect data across a growing portfolio of authors, we'll anonymize and share it so you can benchmark yourself against relevant peers.
- We're relaxed. Useful Books is run by Rob Fitzpatrick and Devin Hunt. We're writing books, building businesses, and trying to make useful stuff, just like you. We're casual and human. In most cases, that's going to be a benefit. But if you're looking for fancy publishers, then we're probably not your crowd.
If you have questions, ping email@example.com. But again, we won't publish anyone from a proposal. It's your book and you need to build it. We can't make you succeed, but we'd be honored to be a part of your success.