How My Strategy Changed - and What That Has To Do With You

The last few months have been productive ones for Clarendon House Publications.

Starting in December 2017, I have published a series of anthologies which have grown both in size and reputation. The first, Condor, was an experiment to see if the ‘anthology model’ would work out technically as well as commercially. Technically, it was a success, though, like all the other anthologies since, it has yet to show a profit commercially. What it made me realise, more importantly, was that my own understanding of the marketplace was incomplete.

You see, when I first decided to become an independent publisher, my idea was to generate an income mainly from helping people using my own books. I imagined that there were thousands of writers out there who had run into brick walls in both writing a good story and then in getting it published. There would be no shortage of writers, I thought, who would recognise that they had a problem and who would be desperately searching for solutions. My books and courses about the craft of writing, I theorised, would fill that gap by outlining the most revolutionary (and simplest) methodology for writing stories that (as far as I know) had ever been devised and making it as easy as possible to get recognition and commercial success from fiction writing. The result? I would continue to publish more and more materials, I thought, and earn my living from the ‘passive income’ that they produced, while knowing that I was helping others to achieve their dreams.

However, over a year of trying to use conventional marketing techniques with my core book How Stories Really Work and its associated courses achieved very little, even though the book itself consistently gained rave, five-star reviews all across the globe. Slowly it became evident to me that my picture of the marketplace was wrong, as well as my ideas of ‘successful marketing’.

Hence Condor. The inaugural anthology was a move in a different direction: instead of putting out more and more materials of my own, I would ask for others’ work and publish that. Condor was greeted warmly, but didn’t produce its target income. I could easily have stopped the experiment then, but for the crucial thing that it told me about the marketplace: there were plenty of writers out there, as I had thought - but there was also plenty of talent.