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A Fiction Publisher Who's All "E"

November 15, 2012 By Lynn Rosen
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Caleb Mason thinks he’s got something different. His company, Publerati, founded in June of this year, publishes exclusively original literary fiction, exclusively in ebook format.

With five books already published and five more slated to come out in the next few months, Mason is currently crowing about an author he’s just signed: “I’m really excited that Ellen Cooney wants to come with us. She’s the first author I’ve signed who’s been published by a big publisher. The book she submitted is so wonderful, I can’t understand why anyone would pass it up!” Cooney, who has been represented by Sterling Lord Literistic and published by Random House and others, has signed on with Publerati for her next novel titled Thanksgiving.

Mason’s company is based not on a traditional book publisher’s financial model but is instead structured like an agency. “I'm representing authors with a traditional literary agency contract. With ebooks, when I publish, I’m only taking 10% of proceeds.” Mason keeps the book prices low ($2.99 for most), but “even with a $5 book they make the same amount of money they make with a traditional print contract.” Then, like a literary agency, he will seek to sell other rights to other publishers, for example, for the print edition.

In addition to this original set-up, he has added a component that he feels is essential not only to doing things differently, but to staying true to his vision.  “I wanted the brand to be more than just a book publisher.” When he learned about literacy organization Worldreader, he knew he had found the right match. The organization provides free ereaders to children and teachers across Sub-saharan Africa, and Publerati donates a portion of their proceeds to the group. Mason hopes to one day write Worldreader “a really big check.”

In the 80s, Mason held several traditional publishing jobs at Little Brown and then at Salem House Publishers, helping to build this start-up publisher. When it  was acquired by Murdoch and folded into HarperCollins, Mason was “mergered out of a job.” At that point, he decided to leave the industry behind. “With a young family, I decided to do something different, so I crossed over into technology, which I’m glad I did. I caught the heyday of software publishing in the 90s. It’s similar to book publishing, but different.”

 

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