You’ve probably heard of indie publishers, but have you heard of micro-publishers? Author Shirin Bridges, owner of Goosebottom Books, calls her company a micro-publisher: a professional publishing organization that brings together a flexible workforce to produce a small number of highly targeted books.
Because of the nature of micro-publishers as small, custom organizations, no two are alike. This in-depth look at Goosebottom’s structure and goals can offer insights into the benefits of this new highly flexible option for energetic authors and entrepreneurs looking to reach niche audiences.
Run Like a Co-op
The organizational structure of any micro-publisher is unique to its mission. Goosebottom was created with the goal of producing books for children about females who have found a way to effect change in their communities.
“We run Goosebottom like a co-op,” said Bridges.
The organization does not employ full-time staff members. Instead, trusted professional members come together on an as-needed basis. Bridges noted that she doesn’t pay herself, but the other members of the team receive standard compensation. Authors get advances and royalties, illustrators get either a flat fee or a royalty, and all copy editors and designers get a flat fee.
Though the organization is virtual, the team spirit is real.
“We come in and out as needed,” said Bridges. “But we all trust each other. We all know the rhythm. We call each other ‘geese.’”
A Narrowly Defined Brand
Like any publisher large or small, marketing is a challenge for a micro-publisher. That’s why Goosebottom works hard to develop its brand as a publisher of books for children about independent, spirited females.
“Micro-publishers can’t compete in the realm of general fiction.” said Bridges. “They have to know their narrow niche.”
Bridges defines the brand as the thinking girls’ series that boys are interested in, too.
The stories produced at Goosebottom Books span various times in history, and the stories come from all over the globe. For example, one series is about real-world princesses, including Hatshesput of Egypt and Sorghaghtani of Mongolia. Another series, called “Dastardly Dames,” includes biographies of iconic women such as Cleopatra and Njinga, “The Warrior Queen.”
The team at Goosebottom creates one series of about a half-dozen books every year. Recently, it has added a fiction imprint called Gosling in addition to its non-fiction series.
Targeted Marketing, Wide Recognition
For marketing activities, Goosebottom focuses on librarians, teachers and educational bookselling conferences. Bridges also trusts the reps who work for her book distribution company to identify sales opportunities based on the trends they see in the market.
Keeping a narrowly focused brand has paid off.
“There’s recognition out there,” said Bridges. “People see me at conferences and say they recognize the logo.”
Goosebottom Books, like publishers of any size, is inundated with queries.
“We get two to three manuscripts a day,” said Bridges. “Though they’d be hard-pressed to know how to find us.”
Unlike traditional publishers, however, Goosebottom doesn’t buy manuscripts. Instead, they read the submissions and consider them to be writing samples. If the micro-publisher finds an author whose style and sensibility seem to be good fits, they’ll invite them to contribute a book to the series.
For Those Who Like Change and Challenge
Though Goosebottom Books puts out about a half-dozen titles per year, which is a feat for a micro-publisher, Bridges has other jobs, as well. She teaches self-publishing workshops and works part-time as a writer for a large utility company. And she takes time to do her own creative writing, too.
She’s currently working on a book for adults based on her family’s history in the Pacific Northwest at a time when Chinese immigrants, Native Americans and pioneers forged their lives together on the shores of Puget Sound.
Authors today have a range of opportunities for creating and distributing their books. Some authors work with traditional publishers; others prefer independent publishers. And others choose to be self–publishers. Shirin Bridges falls into an additional, new category: the micro-publisher. It’s a role that works for this energetic, multi-talented writer.
“I like the change,” said Bridges. “I like the challenge. I like wearing lots of different hats.”