We focus exclusively on “courageous thought leadership content.” This requires that we exercise unusual restraint in agreeing to take on an author. Larger publishers will typically focus on quantity rather than quality–dropping 100 lines in the water hoping that one of the hooks will attract passing lemming buyers after enough early sales/reviews generate sufficient critical mass to enter the “me too” ranks. But there’s a very small chronological window in which this formula can work and it requires lots of wasted marketing dollars. In addition, the other 99 lines hook nothing but the authors who may actually deserve a hearing…but don’t get one because they didn’t scratch off the right number on the “Guess the Trends” lottery ticket.If it’s not courageous thought leadership content, we don’t want to publish your manuscript. If we do publish it, you should take some comfort in being chosen as a RockBench author. If you are chosen as one of our authors and your book sells just a few copies, we’ll lose a fair bit of money and you’ll make none. If it sells an average number, we’ll recoup our investment and you’ll make none. If it sells well, we’ll both be making a lot of money.
For a RockBench title to sell well, two things will have to be true. First, we’ll have vetted you as an author with appropriate care. Second, we’ll each do our part in spreading the word.
We’re patient about that, too. We don’t care how many copies a new title sells in October/November or April/May, the traditional “bump” months. We’ll consider it successful if it builds slowly and keeps selling in modest numbers over multiple years.
So with that background to explain that we are not a traditional publisher, here’s more detail on three areas: the kind of authors we are looking for, what we expect you to provide in that relationship, and what we’ll provide in return.
Characteristics of RockBench Authors
- Have a point of view that rises above trends and fads.
- Demonstrate personal financial success through their own consulting work, either individually or in leading a company, to ensure that they can be persuasive and that they have found traction in the marketplace. Our market is not the professional author who depends on advances against royalties.
Have a written body of work to demonstrate their expertise, even if not published commercially.
- Remain involved in front-line consulting in order to illustrate their content with fresh examples, remain relevant as the marketplace changes, provide a proving ground for ideas, and foster a connection with an audience who will be first-level buyers.
- Articulate their content well.
- Write concisely.
- Are disciplined, particularly in their relationship with RockBench (brilliance without discipline is just annoying).
- Have been published commercially before, preferably in the form of a book by a commercial publisher (not self-publisher), or several commissioned articles.
What RockBench Provides Authors
- Imprimatur that you are worth publishing (we’re very picky).
- Editorial oversight.
- Cover design (or approval over yours, in rare circumstances).
- Interior design (or approval over yours, in rare circumstances).
- ISBN assignment within RockBench ISBN block.
- Commercial printing (casebound, paperback, or print on demand).
- Copyright filing (in your name).
- Author copies (20, not for resale).
- Additional copies at 40% off retail, directly from us.
- Review copy management.
- Distribution through key retail channels.
- Listing in major title sources.
- Marketing and public relations support.
- Speaking/interview opportunities via our Profnet subscription.
- Interactive platform to connect with your book’s audience.
- Simple royalty structure (see below).
- Quarterly royalty statements.
What Authors Provide RockBench
- Disciplined adherence to deadlines.
- Manuscript free of typos and grammatical errors (we’ll edit it from there).
- All secured appropriate permissions for citations and images.
- Appropriate index for manuscript.
- Microsite production with our input.
- Professional author photo.
- Complete bio that we can edit for marketing purposes.
- Access for media interviews.
- Speaking opportunities (we want the book to have exposure, but you keep all the speaking fees).
- Informal viral marketing of the title.
- Rights for text in hardback, paperback, digital, and broadcast.
- Your own compensation while you write (we don’t provide advances, as RockBench authors are already making significant money in relation to a typical advance anyway).
RockBench Royalty Structure
Our philosophy is that author royalties should be fair and simple, which means that you shouldn’t need a law degree to understand them. In brief, here’s how we structure the typical deal, which is based on the format of the title itself:
- Casebound, commercial offset printing: No advance; no royalties on the first 4,000 copies sold; 20% of the revenue on all additional copies sold.
- Paperback, commercial offset printing: No advance; no royalties on the first 2,000 copies sold; 20% of the revenue on all additional copies sold.
- Print-on-Demand, casebound or paperback: No advance; no royalties on the first 1,000 copies sold; 20% of the revenue on all additional copies sold.
There’s a boundary of unit sales in each of the three formats–on one side, it favors the author, and on the other it favors the publisher. We’ll need to walk you through this, as it varies based on the book. For example, with the typical casebound book, the simple model above favors the author if at least 4,000 copies are sold. This does not account for the bigger platform that comes with being published.
Our suggestion is to decide on the right publisher, first. After that, the contractual arrangements work themselves out.