Barlow is a niche press focusing on the business and lifestyle genres. Founder Sarah Scott says her company operates according to an “entrepreneurial model,” with authors paying a negotiated cost up front before starting the editing or writing process.
Fees can range from a minimum of $15,000 to $50,000 or more for writing and publishing services. In return, authors receive a larger royalty share: 100 per cent of net revenues for print books (minus sales and printing costs) and 75 per cent of net revenues for ebooks (minus sales, distribution, and digital production costs).
“[The authors] take the risk up front, but they also get most of the benefits,” says Scott, a former newspaper journalist.
Barlow is working with sales agency Canadian Manda Group and distributor Jaguar Book Group to give authors access to retail chains such as Indigo. Ingram is responsible for online distribution, and Lighting Source is used for printing. Barlow plans to release four non-fiction titles in the business/lifestyle category in 2014.
Scott says that authors are paying for a “mind-to-market” operation.
“Sometimes people come in just with ideas, and sometimes they’ve already finished a manuscript,” she says. “We’ll take it at whatever level it’s at.”
Scott compares the “extremely personal” attention authors receive from Barlow to the collaboration between a musician and their producer. In some cases authors are assigned a more experienced writer to help with organizing their ideas.
“I don’t use the word ghostwriting for the process. It’s a collaboration,” Scott says. “Some [authors] do quite a lot of writing, some not at all.”
Scott says she reached out to editors from established publishing houses to serve as freelance editors at Barlow. Yvonne Hunter, the former vice-president of marketing at Penguin Canada, is the head of marketing.
“This is a virtual organization. We have great collaborators, and it doesn't have to be a formal hierarchal company,” Scott says.