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Tips on Running an E-Publishing Startup


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- Laura Fraser and Rachel Greenfeld, Co-Founder, SheBooks

Originally presented at the event, "Women Media Entrepreneurs - Making New Ideas Happen," on Sept. 12 at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

Published in: Business, News & Politics
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Tips on Running an E-Publishing Startup

  1. 1. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 2 Short e-books for women… Because every woman has a story. Shebooks publishes the stories women want to read — and write. At a length that respects their time. In a format that fits their busy lives. 2
  2. 2. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 3 • The new media landscape is giving readers many more ways to find stories that speak to them — in more formats and on more devices. • New distribution methods are giving writers new publishing options, including self-published e-books and e-singles. • New business models have emerged, but not in the enormous women’s market — until now. 3
  3. 3. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 4 • Top women’s magazines reach 56 million women who pay for their copies – dedicated men’s titles have far less reach - 18 of the top 25 US magazines have a majority of female readers • Women buy the vast majority of books: 80 percent fiction, 64 percent overall • Women bought close to 200 million e-books in 2012 (71 percent) • E-singles are already a proven market: Amazon sold 2 million e-singles in 14 months • E-singles are uniquely appealing for women who love to read but are starved for time 44
  4. 4. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 5 • Top-shelf women authors and journalists are seeking new outlets for their work—especially long-form work that speaks to women’s experiences - MFA programs in writing are dominated by women, as are paid writing workshops - Literary and “general interest” magazines favor men’s writing (70/30 split in bylines) - Women’s magazines rarely publish long-form work - Hundreds of popular women writers are looking to break out of low- or no-pay formats - E-singles bridge the gap between blogs/women’s magazines and conventional books 5
  5. 5. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 66 17 76 47 176 Female Male Source:, 156 393 52 230
  6. 6. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 7 • Stories by women, that women want to read – memoir, fiction, and journalism from best-selling writers and compelling new authors • At a length that respects women’s time • E-singles and subscription offers on every device: iPad, Nook, Kindle, smartphones • Vibrant community with book clubs, author chats, writer coaching and conferences 7
  7. 7. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 8 Seed grant in spring 2013 from New Media Women’s Entrepreneurial Fund, administered by American University’s Journalism Lab — one of 4 awardees from 2,000 applicants this year 8
  8. 8. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 9 • Rosemary Ellis Editor-in-Chief, Good Housekeeping • Liza Dawson Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency • Jeanne Marie Laskas Dean of Creative Writing, University of Pittsburgh; GQ contributing editor; author of six nonfiction books • Deirdre English Journalist and author; director of the Felker Magazine course, University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism • Stacy Morrison Editor-in-Chief, Blogher • Jennifer Boylan Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing, Colby College; Board of Directors, GLAAD, Inc.; author of 12 books 9 • Rachel Lehmann-Haupt Author In Her Own Sweet Time; launch editor, TED Books • Dawn Raffel Digital Editor, Center for American Fiction; best- selling author, Secret Life of Objects; former deputy editor, O, The Oprah Magazine • Susan West WestGold Editorial Consulting; Executive Editor, Food and Environment Reporting Network; former Editor-in-Chief, Afar; former senior editor, Smithsonian, Health; former director, Stanford Professional Publishing Courses • Silvia Paull Is a consultant who connects high-tech startups and nonprofits with money, media, and management. She host several events about technology and culture and writes about the tech industry, media, and cycling.
  9. 9. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 10 Peggy Northrop, President, has 25+ years of experience in print and digital publishing. Now Editor-in-Chief of Sunset Publishing in Palo Alto, she is a former VP, Global Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest, where she led the flagship 8-million circulation magazine to its first National Magazine Award for General Excellence. Previously, she was Editor-in-Chief of More and held senior editorial positions at Real Simple, Glamour, Vogue, and Health. As a consultant, she developed the content and launch plans for for BermanBraun and WorkReimagined for AARP. A former VP of the American Society of Magazine Editors board, she is an active fourth- generation shareholder and former board member in her hyper-local family newspaper publishing business. 10
  10. 10. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 11 Laura Fraser, Editorial Director, is the NYT-bestselling author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map, as well as Losing It, an exposé of the diet industry. A long-time magazine journalist and award-winning essayist, she has written for The New York Times, Marie Claire, Gourmet, Vogue,, and O the Oprah Magazine, and has been a contributing editor at Health, Good Housekeeping, and More. Her essays have been widely anthologized, including in Best Women’s Travel Writing, Best Food Writing, Best Buddhist Writing, and in numerous college textbooks. She has taught writing at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Stanford’s Continuing Education, San Francisco State University, with individual clients, and at several writing workshops, including her own in Italy and Mexico. She is a member of the steering committee of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, a freelance community where she has worked for 15 years. 11
  11. 11. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 1212 Rachel Greenfield, Chief Operating Officer, has had a thirty-year career in the top management of several leading publishing companies, including as EVP in charge of the Publishing Division of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Time Inc. and, currently as SVP of Dial-A-Book Inc., which is the book industry's foremost supplier of first chapter excerpts to e-tailers and book databases throught the U.S. In addtion to her work in DAB, Rachel runs a consulting company (RGA, LLC) which, for the past 15 years, has advised large and small digital and print publushers on consumer marketing, branding, financial and strategic issues. While at MSLO, Rachel was responsible for all the financial operations and administration of the company when it transitioned from a subsidary of Time Inc. to an independent corporation. She has been a magazine circulation direction at Time Inc. and consults on the growth of online traffic and tactics for marketing digital magazines and newsletters. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School.
  12. 12. CONFIDENTIAL AUGUST 2013 13 • Go to • Write us at