I don’t normally profile fiction titles preferring to profile nonfiction instead. However, Beyond the Precipice, a book of fiction by Eva A Blaskovic, an Alberta author, is also the debut of a new publishing model called Fair-Trade Publishing, a first for Alberta if not the world. Fair-Trade Publishing and its CEO Mary Dunford who operates Ashby-BP, seeks to restore the value of publishers by providing editorial, design, and promotion services – while alleviating the chief concerns of authors, such as higher royalties, author’s vision and branding, and copyright. Ashby-BP achieves this through financial transparency with authors, by collaborating on all aspects of book production and promotion, and by offering 50% net royalties from every sale. Though Ashby-BP finances each title, secures key professionals, and promotes its titles, the author and publisher are equal partners. The result is quality books that readers enjoy, and authors who can make writing a full-time profession.
In a recent conversation I had with Mary, she predicted that the collapse of traditional publishing is fast approaching and the need for a new publishing model is needed. She points out that in recent years, the world’s largest imprints have trimmed budgets, cut staff, limited new talent, merged with each other, and even purchased self-publishing houses – just to remain profitable. Meanwhile, self-published authors such as Seth Godin (The Purple Cow and others), E. L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey and others), David Chilton (The Wealthy Barber and others) have flourished, but book quality has declined, and readers are increasingly inimpressed.
Many traditionally-published authors – both established and emerging – are now forced to live in poverty because the royalties offered by traditional publishers are now so slight they often never see much beyond the small advances they receive. Additionally, publishers are are offloading marketing and promotional responsibilities to the authors who must financial these activities out of their own pockets.
As a result, Mary points out, many authors are turning to the self-publishing model. In an illuminating article in Techdirt, New York Times bestselling author Barry Eisler shared his decision to decline a $500,000.00 mainstream publishing contract in favour of self-publishing because it made financial sense. Despite claims to the contrary, many self-published authors earn a far superior living to those who have published through traditional imprints. So why is the self-publishing model under such fierce attack?
Authors are typically neither editors nor designers, she points out, and in an effort to reduce book production costs, self-published authors often overlook these key steps. This largely results in a substandard product, and readers often take offense. Retaliatory measures include web pages like Lousy Book Covers or The Best of The Worst, and readers are now leaving scathing reviews describing how they have wasted their money or even been insulted by the author who publish titles that include blatant errors. Value-conscious readers will not accept shoddy titles forever. These concerns directly led to the rise of a new publishing model.
Is Fair-Trade Publishing the solution? Author Eva Blaskovic, Ashby-BP’s first fair-trade client and the author of Beyond the Precipice, thinks so. According to Blaskovic, “Fair-Trade Publishing is a three-way win” for authors, publishers, and readers; and consequently …the successful publishing model of the future.”
Beyond the Precipice is “a story about coming of age and transitioning into adulthood-and how this rite of passage changes the protagonist’s situation, perspective, and sense of responsibility. For six years, Bret is trapped by the wishes of his dead father, blackmailed by his brother, and rejected by his uncle. He watches his mother descend into the depths of poverty. At 18, Bret realizes he must confront his past in order to seize the future.
The inner strength he relies upon comes from his earlier years, a legacy from his mother — a gift that has nothing to do with money. As he struggles to resolve his guilt over the death he thinks he caused and comes to terms with how the loss has touched everyone’s lives, he is helped by Nicole, the cello player with big dreams, and with whom he falls in love. She stirs the embers of his longing for music and ignites a fire he can’t extinguish, but he knows that desire alone is not enough. Dr. Kern Willoughby, Nicole’s father, holds the keys to Bret’s future–if only he can let go of his guilt, accept himself, and accept help.”
The author will be signing books on March 16 at Chapters in St Albert from 1:00 to 5:00pm.
Beyond the Precipice Book Trailer:
For more information on the book see the author’s blog
For more information about Ashby-BP Publishing see www.ashby-bp.com.