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What It Takes

What It Takes

Why You Need to Know About Crowdfunding

By Callie Oettinger | Published: July 18, 2014

Want to wage a successful outreach campaign for the launch of your new book or album or film or restaurant or _________ (fill in the blank)?

Mimic successful crowdfunding campaigns.

While you might not be raising funds via Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you’ll need to employ the same steps as those driving crowdfunding campaigns on these sites. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

How We Got the Deal Done

By Shawn Coyne | Published: July 11, 2014

So Steve and I both recognize that Giora Romm’s Israeli bestseller, TULIP FOUR, is the perfect Black Irish Book. It epitomizes the WHY of our little operation. Anne Hartstein Pace did an amazing job with the Hebrew to English translation and, with some editorial work to make it more in keeping with the American market, it’s got what it takes to be a classic.

Tulip Four

The Israeli cover of Giora Romm's SOLITARY. The title in Hebrew is TZIVONI ARBA, "Tulip Four."

Now what?

Black Irish doesn’t own the rights to the book. We’ll have to somehow convince Giora to make a deal with us. While Steve and Giora are friendly, Giora would be nuts to sign with us just because Steve’s a nice guy.

Obviously, Black Irish Books is not Random House. We won’t be able to toss out our imprint name and have instant credibility. But if we’re going to publish a book like this, we damn well better act as if we are Random House. This book is in the exact same arena as the blockbuster bestseller Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand as well as Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and A Higher Call by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander. Plus a very long list of other backlist performers from decades past. That’s our goal…to give the book a backlist life…not to become Unbroken. That’s a bridge too far for us.

While there is a huge potential market for this book, in order to reach even a small slice of it we’ll need to pull out all of the traditional stops that the Big Five use just to get people to notice it. More on those later.

That doesn’t mean that Steve and I have to run to our respective mortgage brokers and double down on our personal equity to publish the book. We won’t be able to write a big check to induce Giora to publish his book with us like a major publisher could. This is the big rub for mini-publishers like Black Irish.

We have limited capital. We use what cash we have to create the books themselves…the covers, the interior designs, the eBook conversions etc. Whatever surplus we have after that, we reinvest for the next title.

Now if someone told me in 1992 that this limitation would prove to be the biggest asset for a twenty-first century publisher, I’d have laughed him out of the room. But it’s true. Having limited money today is a huge advantage.


It keeps you honest.

You can’t throw money at a project because you think it will sell or because it would be good for your ego. You can’t indulge those specious reasons if you have no green. So every project you pick must meet an incredible personal and specific set of standards. And to even get the project in the first place, you have to summon all of your creative gifts to convince the other party to work with you.

By the time you’re ready to actually publish the book, you’ve toiled relentlessly just to convince yourself and the other party that it’s not just a good idea to work together…it’s essential to do so. So by the time the book goes on sale, you have no regrets. You shipped something tremendously important to you and that is HUGE!

While we don’t have the money that Random House has, we have something far more valuable. Between us we have over a half a century’s worth of experience in book publishing on every single side of the operation (author, editor, agent, publisher, production, art, publicity and marketing). And after all of that time, we’ve both figured out that there is only one indispensible element to publish a book properly.

It’s called personal commitment. Not financial or corporate or conditional commitment. Personal commitment.

What that means is that Steve and I:

  1. Must not only be entertained by the book and
  2. Make sure that it fits in our company’s limited raison d’etre and
  3. See an opportunity to make money by publishing it…just enough to break even works for us… (more…)
Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

Horse Sense: “Lay a Little Heavy on the Business Side”

By Callie Oettinger | Published: July 4, 2014

Conductor Zubin Mehta laughs with singers Dolly Parton and William "Smokey" Robinson during a reception for the Kennedy Center honorees in the East Room Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006. Photo Credit: Eric Draper. Caption Credit: The White House.

Would you have said no to Elvis Presley?

Imagine Elvis calling you back in the day.

He loves a song you’ve written, wants to record it—and even invites you down to the recording session.

You’re excited and start telling your friends the news—and then (and this is a big AND THEN), a few days before the session, Colonel Tom Parker (a.k.a. Elvis’ manager) calls you up and says:

“Now, you do know that Elvis is recordin’ your song. And you do know that Elvis don’t record anything that he don’t publish or at least get half the publishin’ on.”

Would you give him at least half the rights? It’s Elvis after all and working with him would be a good thing, right?

If you were Dolly Parton and the song was I Will Always Love You, you would have replied:

“I can’t do that. This song’s already been a hit with me. And this is in my publishing company. And obviously this is gonna be one of my most important copyrights. And I can’t give you half the publishing, ’cause that’s stuff that I’m leavin’ for my family.”

And then decades later, you’d still be receiving payment for that song, right on through Whitney Houston’s recording of it becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.


Posted in What It Takes
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