Scott Waxman: Living happily, if not entirely digitally, EverAfter

Scott Waxman: Living happily, if not entirely digitally, EverAfter

"I don't see the logic in going digital-only," says Diversion Books founder Scott Waxman. Less than a year after its launch as a romance-only e-bookstore app, Diversion's EverAfter is getting into print for self-published romance authors with distribution "to more than 200 retailers"; returnability and discounting for booksellers; and "a dedicated sales team." In an announcement online, the company mentions "new standards of high print quality at lower costs will now be attainable for self-published authors, including bulk discounts." EverAfter's print programme is opening with more than 100 titles from 12 authors. I've asked Waxman to fill us in on the move. "We want many different kinds of authors to be able to work with us," he says, "from traditionally published to this new author-centric publishing world of ours." — Porter Anderson

Diversion was one of the very first so-called "hybrid" publishers, offering a wide variety of authors a digital publishing experience (robust royalties, quick to publish, long-tail marketing) with a traditional approach (a curated list, editorial vision, retail merchandising relationships).

We have never deviated from this philosophy: Diversion offers alternatives to authors who want certain things that traditional publishers can offer but are difficult to get as self-publishers.

As we have become more entrenched in the romance community through our EverAfter Romance brand, we have asked authors what some of those gaps might be. The biggest example of this gap by far has been the distribution of print books to retail stores.

Traditional publishers can of course offer this but will not do so without digital rights as well, which is a non-starter for many self-pub authors. Likewise, it's very hard for self-pub authors to get proper bricks-and-mortar distribution on their own and without the backing of a publisher.

While channels and resources exist that provide part of the answer to this print question — whether a print-on-demand fulfillment service, some means of online retail distribution for print books, etc. — there is no solution for them that allows for actual physical store sell-in and ongoing title management with experts in the industry. Going alone in this landscape takes these authors away from their most valuable task—writing more books—and even with a staff of people working for them to manage print systems around distribution, printing, and marketing, the role of publisher quickly becomes a full-time job, and then some.

We set up this new service to fill this gap by bringing together some of the biggest names in romance and leveraging that market power under one umbrella, EverAfter Romance. It's a branded distribution service rather than a license, with a dedicated team and infrastructure we have built over five years, that can help with any part of the publishing process an author may want. In this endeavor we will utilize our close relationship with Ingram as our back end to ensure our ability to quickly scale what we believe will be a widely adopted service. 

This is by no means a move away from our core publishing program or anything we are doing at Diversion Books. We are bullish on ebook sales in our core categories of romance, science fiction, true crime and various non-fiction categories like sports and business. We have licensed over 1,000 titles and this year we saw bestsellers ranging from YA author Kristin Cast to dating guru Greg Behrendt.

But print is a growing business for us over the past two years. We are doing both POD and traditional offset with traditional sell-in.

Most fundamentally, we recognize people still love to read print and we don't see that changing.

But also, print is crucial to our marketing efforts as it provides means of discovery in stores, libraries and other physical spaces. So I don't see the logic in going digital-only. We want to be in every format possible to both offer readers choices and get our books in as many places and on as many devices as possible.

In that same spirit of flexibility, we want many different kinds of authors to be able to work with us, from traditionally published to self-published. We feel we have a lot to offer and can cater to individual authors in ways they expect in this new author-centric publishing world of ours.

A coda: I asked Waxman during our exchange about EverAfter's print programme, how the sell-in promised to authors will be accomplished. He replied, "This will be a joint effort with Ingram and we will both be very hands-on with sell-in of the titles." And while he expects, he says, "always to have EverAfter visible in some way on the books," the company, "will also be open to co-branding with authors." — P.A.