The Birthday Boar

Dear Jessica and Jacob,

Grampa and I wish the happiest of birthdays to our darling grandchildren. We hope you enjoy your fun birthday presents and your yummy birthday cake. Speaking of birthday gifts and birthday cakes, have you kids heard of Birthday Boar?  No, I don’t mean the human bore that you have to yawn in their face every time they speak. Oh no, not that bore. What I mean is the savage, snorting, two-tusked boar. Oh yes, I mean the boar that moves ferociously and attacks ferociously.

Of course, you have heard of and celebrate with Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Great Pumpkin. But, do you celebrate with Birthday Boar? I don’t think so! Although, Birthday Boar was a wild and savage and ferocious animal, he once had a splendid idea and because of that idea he needs to have his story told. So here we go.

Long, long, long before people remember, Birthday Boar decided it would be fun to honor each animal’s day of birth by giving presents to them on their day. Birthday Boar put his idea into practice the day of Lion’s Birthday. He found an old forgotten shank of meat under a bush. “Oh good,” he thought, “Lion loves the taste of meat.” So right away Birthday Boar grabbed that shank of meat between his teeth and trotted over and dropped it in front of Lion. As soon as he dropped the meat, he planned on singing a Happy Birthday tune to Lion.

But, before Boar could open his mouth to sing Lion roared,   “Ugh, what is this foul garbage? Are you crazy?” Lion jumped up and away from the shank of meat and, blew out his breath and huffed, “ Phew, whatever possessed you to drop this stinking thing right in front of my face?

“But I thought you liked the taste of meat,” said Birthday Boar.

Did you really think I’d eat this putrid mold infested rotted meat?”

“But, it’s your birthday and I…”

“Birthday, smirthday,” Lion roared louder and louder. “ Get out of my hunting ground before I am forced to damage your body in a way you will certainly regret.”

Trembling with fear, Birthday Boar whispered, “Well, I never.” as he retreated into the jungle as fast as his legs could carry him. He kept going until he out-ran the thundering roars of Lion.

Did Birthday Boar give up his splendid idea, you may ask? The answer would be, oh no not Birthday Boar. In fact, a few months later, Bear had a birthday. Learning his lesson from the rotten meat fiasco, Birthday Boar found a huckleberry patch loaded with fresh ripe juicy berries.

He took a long time carefully pulling each berry off the bush with his teeth until a huge pile of berries lay at his feet. Wrapping the berries in a large leaf, he presented them to Bear.

After he presented the berries, Birthday Boar sang, “Happy Day of Birth to you, Happy Day of Birth to you, Happy Day of Birth to you dear Bear.”

Bear ignored the singing as he asked, “what’s this mess?

“I gathered these fresh huckleberries especially for you to celebrate your day of birth.” said Boar with a happy voice.

Bear reached down and speared a few huckleberries with a big bear claw. He held the berries up to his eyes and stared at them briefly. He then sniffed them three or four times before he shook the berries from his claw with distain and growled, “these berries are covered with boar spit, and double-ugh, they smell like nauseating boar- breath. Get these disgusting berries and yourself gone from my sight before I have to use my sharp bear teeth and slimy bear spittle on your body.”

“You are a rude Bear,” Birthday Boar snorted and strode away with as much dignity as a boar can possess. But he decided against dignity when he felt the splat of ripe huckleberries smash against his backside and ran lickety-split into the forest as fast as his short legs would carry him.

Never one to give up easily, Birthday Boar tried again on Monkey’s day of birth. This time, Birthday Boar knew the perfect present. So, he busied himself. First he gathered two long branches laid them side by side about two feet apart and tied short limbs with vines between the long branches. He worked for days. He finished just in time for Monkey’s Day of Birth. Knowing he had created the perfect gift, he felt so excited he could hardly contain himself. He half carried and half dragged his prize and presented it to Monkey. “Happy, happy day of birth to Monkey, ” sang Boar.

“What the heck is a birthday, and what the hey is that crooked piece of junk you’re carrying with you.”

“This is a ladder to help you climb trees. I made it myself. See how it works,” said Boar. He then set the ladder against the tree trunk and climbed the tree. Actually, it was the first time Boar had ever climbed a tree and it was quite fun, although it was also quite scary when he looked down and thought of falling to the ground from such a high place.

“Ladder smadder,” shrilled Monkey, as she scampered up the tree with her own feet and hands. “I climb trees seven times as fast as you do without your rickety ladder. Now get out of here or I’ll push you and your crumby ladder off my tree. And believe me, it’s a long ways down and when you stop falling it will not feel good on your body.”

“If you think I’ll ever get you another birthday present, you can think again,” screamed Boar as he stomped down the ladder. He then used his tusks to gore the ground in anger and trampled and flattened the underbrush as he stampeded back into the jungle grunting and raging at the top of his voice all the way.

To make a long story short, Birthday Boar tried on and off for about a hundred years to celebrate birthdays with the animals, but to no avail. The animals never appreciated the presents and never understood the birthday concept.

But wait a minute, not all was lost, a degree of success happened when Birthday Boar tried celebrating birthdays with humans. Humans liked celebrations. Humans liked presents. Humans liked cake and berries. But then again, humans did not particularly like boars. Boars are not pretty. Boars are scary. Boars charge toward a person at a very fast pace and tend to grunt loudly as they approach. Even when Birthday Boar came loaded with presents, berries, and cakes Children ran away screaming and crying with terror. But every once in awhile after Birthday Boar ran off, the human children snuck back and enjoyed the gifts. In this way, they came to like celebrating days of birth with goodies but celebrating with Birthday Boar, not so much.

Feeling rejected and unappreciated, Birthday Boar took early retirement soon after humans began living in caves.

But, at least his idea remains. Humans, to this day celebrate birthdays with presents, berries, and cakes but Birthday Boar does not deliver the goods. Unlike Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Great Pumpkin, Birthday Boar did not survive as a holiday symbol.

So the mail-person or UPS will deliver your birthday presents again this year. We are sorry, but Birthday Boar remains in retirement.

Happy Birthday, Jessica and Jacob.

We love you, Gramma & Grampa

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Cudos for Guido Henkel

Hello all. You may not know about an eBook formatting genius named Guido Henkel. He has always been very generous about his knowledge and we here at Koho Pono have benefited from it. He is still formatting eBooks and as his experience in the field has grown, he has decided it was time to once again share his knowledge with the world. Therefore, he has just published “Zen of Ebook Formatting,” a book that takes readers deep into the mysteries of professional grade eBook formatting.

Guido’s book is currently available on Amazon and will shortly appear also on all other major eBook stores. For more information, including a look at the Table of Contents, you can also stop by his blog.  We recommend you do that anyway as it is loaded with information.

If you are a DIY (do it yourself) author and want to get your eBook out into the world, this man knows his stuff.  We recommend his book. We also recommend his services if you want someone do format your book for you. His prices are reasonable. He is quick and does a good job. We’ve used his services and were pleased.

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Jody’s Book is Launched

As you all know, we are a fairly new publishing company. Well, we just had our first ever book launch at Broadway Books here in Portland, Oregon. OMGosh! We had a blast.

First of all, one of the bookstore owners, Roberta, gave a stellar introduction. She had us laughing before Jody ever got up there. It’s amazing what a good introduction will do to set the tone of an event. Roberta also set up the displays and they looked very nice. We all felt honored by her care and professionalism. This is the glory of independent bookstores – homey, individual attention, great and easy to browse selections, and feeling important throughout the book browsing/buying experience. This is what independent bookstores excel at.

Anyway, author-Jody took the stage and then the whole audience went on a glorious ride. Whew, I have been bucked off a horse before, but I wasn’t prepared for this. My horse has taken off running for the horizon with me still on its back and we jumped logs and bounced around trails, but I’ve never had a ride quite like Jody took me on. I guffawed, I cried, I chortled and giggled and crowed and snickered and whooped (while taking a sip of bubbly water, which I sprayed on my very tolerant partner, Scott). Jody is always entertaining, but when reading her own words, my gosh, it is really something to hear.

We ate cake.  Did I tell you the cake had a cowgirl roping the cover of the book? That’s right, Roberta used the bakery across the street from her bookstore to make the cake (Mango poppy seed, in case you are wondering) and they somehow printed the book cover in frosting. Wow. There was wine and bubbly water to drink, which we needed after all that laughing.

The audience milled around the store after Jody’s reading. They picked up books and read back covers and exclaimed over favorites. Books were sold. Jody signed them. Everyone was talking and exciting. I handed out cake while Scott poured the drinks and Roberta helped customers. We chatted about books and publishing and boy-o-boy did we talk about Jody Seay.

As far as first book launches go, I’ve got to say, this was one for the records. Thank you, Roberta, for everything. Thanks, Jody, for your big heart, honest writing, and funny-funny wit. Thanks everyone who came out to participate in the exciting evening – you made it a night to remember.

P.S. If you haven’t picked up a copy, you can still buy Jody’s book, Dead in a Ditch, at Broadway Books. The address is below.
Broadway Books
Open 7 days a week!
1714 NE Broadway
Portland, OR 97232
503-284-1726
www.broadwaybooks.net
www.broadwaybooks.blogspot.com

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The Market for Print Books is Not Dying

 The print market for books is not dying. People still love to hold a story written on paper. They enjoy cracking it open, sniffing the new book aroma, feeling the heaviness of a new world in their hands, and anticipating the journey.  Just like paper books did not replace the oral tradition (helloooo, can we say audio books, theater, etc.), eBooks will not replace books on paper.

The only thing a dedication towards new media will overwhelm is the devotion to a stagnant business model.

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Writers Who Don’t Fit the Machine (Part 2)

At the heart of this series is this statement: We believe that with our innovation background Koho Pono (multimedia publishing) can find a way to help storytellers find/refine their voices and connect to their audiences AND produce a reasonable ROI for all concerned.

In Part 1 of this series, I said that we at Koho Pono are currently working with an author that doesn’t write cookie-cutter saleable stories for today’s marketplace – she doesn’t fit in today’s big publishing machine. Regardless, we here at Koho Pono want to help produce Jaki Harvell’s stories and present them to her right-sized audience because we believe that her tales are important to the human community.

In Part 2 (and final part of this series), I more deeply explore other aspects of ‘fitting in’.

From the author’s point of view (POV) the bottom line is: artists have a drive to express what is inside them. Authors have a passionate urge to give birth to an internal tale, release that creation to live its own life, and connect their creation to its proper audience. When all of this happens, a current flow through the audiences and artists and through the work; it’s a wave of connection. Every thing fits.

Although many people have one story to tell, once that one story is told, the compulsion is gone and they go on with the rest of their life. This is valuable and worthwhile. However, what sets a writer apart is

  • a writer thinks in terms of making an impact through telling stories
  • once a writer get a taste of connecting their work to a hungry audience, they want to go through the process again and again
    • After writers get this first taste of ‘connection’, they start thinking about how they can afford to do this full time
    • This ‘taste of connection’ may happen at an early age or late in life
    • This is the point a smart writer begins to address the business aspects of their passion and craft
  • a writer’s passion helps them through the creation process
  • a writer wants to constantly improve their skills and develop their craft

So it all starts with an urge, recognition that this story must be imparted. It is the author’s responsibility to carefully examine and monitor their urge because: (1). In the highest aspect, passion can create work of timeless import and catalytic effect, and (2). In the lowest aspect, the same passionate drive may result in work that is self-indulgent, unexamined, and poorly crafted, (3). In between these two extremes is a whole gradation of skill, talent, vigilance, and honesty.

People with one-story-to-tell often do not care at what end of the gradation they are working. Even if they care, sometimes they do not have the refinement to recognize where along the gradation they are working. A writer is willing to constantly improve their skill, refine their talents, apply more vigilance, and be brutally honest with themselves. 

Jaki Harvell (the writer who inspired this series) needs to write about great, gritty, girl heroes. It’s her nut, her common thread, her constant devotion. She is not the type of writer who gets satisfaction by writing only to appease popular demand. Instead, she must create the stories that are burning inside her. She has something specific to say. Rainer Maria Rilke says it beautifully:

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

 

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Of course, we all hope that her works are runaway hits, but in the end, it is our job as publishers to make sure her stories reach their right audiences and produce a reasonable ROI for all concerned. It is her job and our job to improve our skills, refine our talents, apply more vigilance, and be brutally honest with ourselves.

In our experience, some in the publishing industry have gotten so caught up in being the gatekeepers of quality, they focus their attention on defending the current processes and their guiding principles have more to do with volume than quality. Today’s publishing professionals seem to have created an oppositional relationship with other aspects of the industry including: distribution, printers, employees, new authors, customers, booksellers, etc. Optimizing profit from every interaction has become more important than building partnerships/relationships. Short term benefit is more important than long term satisfaction.  

Noted American author/professor/philosopher, Sam Keen, says

There is no easy formula for determining right and wrong livelihood, but it is essential to keep the question alive. To return the sense of dignity and honor to manhood, we have to stop pretending that we can make a living at something that is trivial or destructive and still have sense of legitimate self-worth. A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.

This quote addresses why we at Koho Pono are dedicated to telling important stories, helping authors find their voice and their audiences, and find innovative ways to make our processes economical.

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Writers Who Don’t Fit the Machine (Part 1)

I am currently working with an author that ‘doesn’t fit’ into a big publisher’s pigeonhole. Jaki doesn’t write what is ‘cookie-cutter saleable’ in today’s marketplace. And yet her stories are to-the-bone correct. They are well written and tight. They speak directly to the scared young hero within us all. Her stories are like old fairy tales. You know the kind of story I’m talking about: the hide-in-the-crook-of-Mama’s-arms-scary, an archetypal tale to resonate our deepest aspects, the Brothers Grimm kind of story.

However, the publishing industry’s cookie-cutter machine is not producing these types of stories.  “It’s not what is currently popular,” Jaki has heard; and “The numbers are just not there”; “it’s not what the marketplace is looking for, I’m sorry.” Apparently, the parental masses are not buying this sort of fiction to read to their children. The story is too dark and scary.

As for us here at Koho Pono, we think the world needs more coming of age stories for girls. Little girls need to hear stories about how ‘the buck-stops-with-me’. Too many of our youngsters are only taught to attract-what-they-need and that doesn’t give them a full toolbox full of life skills. Being a girl is rough. It takes a lot of gumption to grow from innocent babe all the way to wise old crone. G.K. Chesterton tells us why these kind of scary tales are important,

“Fairy tales do not tell children dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

We at Koho Pono agree with G.K. Chesterton. He-ay-hee-ee! We believe there are little girls out there who need to hear Jaki’s stories. And there are wrinkled old granddames, abuelas, and babitsa dragas who need to tell this kind of story to their ‘chillens. There are spicy aunts and tanten who need to explain why it is important to grow and widen and exclaim out loud. And there are mothers who need to tell these stories to themselves. It’s not only a female thing. In the hearts of some boys sits a hunger for a heroic girl companion to go on adventures with.

We think this kind of story is worthy and timeless. And we think there are people out there who agree with us, which is why we’re publishing it.

Also, are innovating a delivery system to match up the correct audience to this story. It doesn’t have to be volume sales; just the right amount of sales.

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Contractual Points for Artist-Author-Publisher Wins

If there is ever anything in a contract that you do not understand, ask a lawyer who specializes in that particular industry. Do not ever sign something because someone tells you that a contract is “a boilerplate” that it’s normal, everyone signs it, etc.

On the other hand, be very aware of how much are you willing to give up? Are any there any points in dispute that are deal-breakers for you? Know your bottom-line. You do not want to lose a deal or a great illustrator because you got subborn about something that is tangental to your main goals. Realistic expectations will help you continue to create win-win situations for everyone.

Here are some basic contractual points to consider.

Information about the Project

Who is involved: Who is the Buyer (Author and/or Publisher) and who is the Artist? What is the name of the project? What is the name of the Manuscript (working title)? 

Include a brief description of the illustration project such as: how many total illustrations, approximant sizes and shapes (square, rectangle, etc.), and intended usage (cover, full-page, two-page, etc.).

Information about Milestones and/or Deliveries

What is the final completion date and on what is that date based? This lays out the risks.

Should the work be delivered in stages or all at once? Will there be feedback and/or adjustments/ revisions/ corrections?

Who owns the original work? If the artist retains ownership, then how long can the buyer keep the art before it must be returned?

Information about Payment

How will the artist be paid (money, barter, credit, free copies, royalties, etc.)? How will the payments be split up (% up front, % upon completion, etc.)? Will the artist be reimbursed for supplies?

What are the royalties based upon?

Information about Rights

Who owns the rights? What rights can be transferred? Give illustrative examples. This is important.

Remember about electronic rights, other editions, other languages, derivative works, and merchandising. Also remember about public displays and performance rights, internet references, and marketing/promotion.

Are the rights exclusive or non-exclusive? What happens if the project is discontinued? Is there a kill fee? To whom do the rights revert?

Information about Releases

Are there any? Why and what? Who indemnifies whom?

Anyone out there with other ideas? Let me know what you think. Comments are welcome.

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Calming Rice n Mango Salad

A great dish to serve at the negotiation table. Serves 4

  • 1 cup Dark Brown Rice
  • 1 cup Black Rice
  • 4 cups Water
  • 3-4 large Mangoes, peeled, sliced, and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Toasted Coconut (or 1/4 cup coconut milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Green Onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pickled Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cilantro
  • Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette
    1. Combine brown rice, water, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to low and simmer for 45 min.
    2. Take it off the heat and pour in the maple syrup/brown rice syrup and coconut milk and fluff the rice. Cover and let sit for about 20 minutes. Serve with mangoes and a sprinkling of sesame seeds (if you so desire).ecipe for the Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing

    Ingredients 

    • 1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
    • 1/4  cup orange juice
    • 2  tablespoons (or 2 teaspoons) minced fresh ginger
    • 2  tablespoons Soy Sauce
    • 4  teaspoons Olive Oil / Canola Oil
    • 2  teaspoons sesame oil
    • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
    • 1 tablespoon Cilantro
    • 1/4  cup thinly sliced Green Onions
    • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
    • 2  tablespoons Sugar (or 1/4 cup maple syrup/brown rice syrup)
    • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper 

    Preparation

    Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in green onions and the remaining ingredients. Chill vinaigrette in an airtight container for 2 hours.

    Whisk 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon ginger, lime juice, and soy sauce in another bowl. Add rice, mango, and onions; toss well. Cover rice salad; let stand at room temperature.

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    Synergies & Contradictions with “Vendors”

    As publisher, we at Koho Pono wear many hats including vendor-to-authors and project manager. In both of these roles we are trying to develop a satisfying process for everyone. Our goal is for authors to be fulfilled by the publishing experience and for the correct audiences to receive tales that resonate powerfully with them and are delivered in a satisfying manner. So why did I throw a spanner in the works when new author, Jaki Harvell, tried to hire an artist to illustrate her book? After all, she chose well; the illustrations were synergistic with her story.

    The trouble was, Jaki was negotiating with the artist without considering how their final deal would affect the book publishing process. She was negotiating as if she was commissioning a work of art for her home rather than building an agreement for art to be used as part of a product that was going to have a life of its own. This distinction is important for all concerned.

    If the author had signed the initial contract with the artist, it would have been extremely difficult for Koho Pono to publish the book. Thank goodness we saw the contract before signatures were inked. We all got together (over a superb home cooked meal, I might add) and hammered out revisions that satisfied everyone: author, artist, and publisher. So now, the book will be amazing AND everyone’s rights and responsibilities are accounted for.

    Koho Pono wants to put out quality products AND we want to deal with honorable, talented people who we admire AND we want the process to be fulfilling for all concerned AND we want every goal to be designed for win-win-win-win = wins for the author-artist-publisher-audience. (And we also love great negotiation-food)

    In summary: it is important for the publisher be mindful of every contributor’s needs on our way to the final product – to keep the ‘customers’ happy. And within that process, we’re hoping to educate authors and artists about the importance of at least thinking a bit about some of the steps required to get their work out to an appreciative audience so they don’t accidentally agree to something that makes it impossible to present their work or that creates a win-lose scenario.

    Coming soon will be a series of blogs dealing with some of the contractual points that an artist-author-publisher might want to take into consideration if the goal is win-win-win for all. Look for the titles, Contractual Points for Artist-Author-Publisher Wins.

    Also, look for Calming Rice n Mango Salad, which is one of the home-cooked salads we devoured during our negotiation luncheon.

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    Industry Consolidation

    Clearly there are benefits to industry consolidation.

    Consolidation allows for more stable and expanded distribution, controlled excess capacity, and increased prices. It allows companies to integrate their schedules and unify operations, cut costs, and stock shelves with their titles. New customers are drawn to mega stores and networks of offerings. Profitability grows; customer traffic rises; revenue per cost point improves. The barriers to entry are higher. There is the possibility of newer, friendlier rules/regulations/ treaties. And it is easier to deal with labor disputes.

    Anytime a large company’s financial situations improve, they tend to get more aggressive about consolidations and resitrictive partnerships throughout the development, production, sales, distribution channels, and end-of-life cycle.

    However, industry consolidation is a double-edged sword. We are headed towards author consolidation and acquisitions based almost entirely on large book-buying demographics. What we all see, but don’t say is that we are becoming an industry of bean-counting-driven policies rather than customer-driven/author-driven processes and policies.

    Consolidations create industry momentum, which causes psychological inertia, which leads to greed/entitlement/a sense of lack/perversity – and this leads to decline. I’m seeing the early stages of bookstore and publishing decline embedded into today’s industry consolidation.

    Little businesses are failing. Slipping away are the sleepy little corner store (the one filled with new book smell and quiet browsing and children being introduced to new worlds). These independent stores are sacrificed to the maws of volume turnover.

    Also slipping away are the joys of discovering a hot new talent, of being a good steward to that writer, to helping produce a quality story and delivering a product that meets real audience need. These joys are being sacrificed for money, power, and control. Heck, there is nothing wrong with money, power, and control. I want some. But I don’t want it at the expense of what is best about this industry. What is best about this industry is relationships and recognizing talent and doing important work and satisfying deep human needs.

    And the truth is, it doesn’t have to be a trade-off. This is what innovators know. It does not have to be a trade-off! We can have it all money/power/control and satisfaction/fulfillment/engagement.

    As the big companies consolidate the creation and distribution of best-sellers and maximize their processes to squeeze every advantage from the system, there is a new publishing trend towards “right-sizing”

    Right-sizing-publishers are finding ways to develop processes to support large numbers of authors – many of them will only write one book in their life. I’ve spoken with a lot of writers who say they have felt underappreciated (and even ignored) for a long time. One of the biggest changes in our industry is that authors are taking back control of their work and of the process of getting that work out to their readers. This, of course, is turning our industry on its ear and making way for right-sizing-publishers to define new author engagement strategies.

    Right-sizing publishers are less interested in being industry gatekeepers and more interested in finding the correct audience for each story: right sized, right priced, right community, right delivery methods. Another way of say it is mass customizing creation and delivery.

    A person with only one great story in them is as important as a person with twenty great stories if the system is developed for them. A person with one important story can create that story at the right price and make sure it gets out into a receptive world so it is seen, heard, understood, and appreciated by the correct audience.

    Right-sizing-publishers are not tied to ‘book’ creation and distribution in the same way the big players are tied to their processes. Therefore, we can service limited niches at lower cost and with less risk. We are alive again with discovering fresh talent and matching those talents to their specific hungry audience (and make a good living doing that). This has always been a joy to publishers and when we put our fear of scarcity away and take off the blinders of entitlement, then it will be joyful again.

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