When Linda Stirling was just six years old, a difficult family situation got so bad she contemplated suicide. But amidst her despair, she had something powerful working in her favor.
Linda was an early reader. Most kids know how to read by age six, but she was so advanced her school’s library books didn’t hold her attention. Thanks to a particularly caring teacher, she discovered the The Boxcar Children books. Linda believes this series about the adventures of four orphaned siblings who run away together saved her life.
“The concept, at six years old, of being able to escape was appealing. It got me to thinking about other options, and it carried me through,” Linda said. “Books are such an important part of my life, and I think, ‘what if we didn’t have those creators because they couldn’t make a living from writing?’”
Reviving an industry
Linda never lost her passion for books. She eventually became an author, editor and publisher in her own right. She’s written and co-authored 54 books, many under pseudonyms. Some of those works are published by traditional publishers, but Linda has self-published as well. And through her interactions with the publishing industry, she noticed a few concerning trends.
“Right now, publishers are profiting more and more every year, and writers are making less. That’s been going on for quite awhile,” Linda said.
She has also noticed more and more books from self-published authors who either can’t break into traditional publishing or have chosen to forgo it altogether. Unfortunately, she said, self-published books often get little attention. And that’s because many writers don’t know how to market their work.
After experiencing these realities firsthand, Linda saw the need for a MindShift in an industry that rewards some authors, but keeps many highly capable writers from profiting off of their work.
Giving writers a fair shot
In 2017, she founded The Publishing Circle, a book publishing company helping writers develop and market their work, and even grow their careers over the long term. The very structure of her company differs greatly from traditional publishing companies. Because well-known publishing houses often make more money off books than the authors do.
At The Publishing Circle, 25 percent of the sales revenue from each book goes back to the author. Unlike other publishing companies, only 25 percent goes to the company. Perhaps most importantly, 50 percent goes into perpetual marketing of the book.
“Unlike traditional publishers, I don’t market for one-to-two weeks and then expect that if a book isn’t selling like hotcakes, that I’m done. I don’t give up on authors. My way of operating is with a long-term objective,” Linda said.
According to Linda, The Publishing Circle, based in Camas, Washington, is finalizing a profit-sharing program for all of its authors. She is also setting up a gainsharing structure for the company’s employees — a dedicated group of independent contractors who handle tasks like cover design and editing.
Shaking things up
It’s one thing to put forth a fresh alternative to established practice. But in an industry like publishing that is dominated by a handful of large companies, getting people to buy into new ideas isn’t always an easy task.
But Linda seems to have her feet firmly on the ground. Her company started acquiring authors in October of 2017. As of this article, the company has worked on almost 80 books, both fiction and nonfiction. Authors get a book launch, editing, design and marketing services at an affordable price. And they don’t need to communicate with their publisher through an agent. After publishing a book, if an author has another great idea, they will help them flesh things out, Linda said.
As a young publisher, Linda pointed out that The Publishing Circle works with a lot of new authors. One of her more established and well-known authors is Stephanie Frank, who wrote a highly acclaimed self-help book called “The ‘Accidental’ Millionaire.”
Linda Stirling’s revolutionary approach
With about 80 titles and a business strategy authors can believe in, Linda has a nice blueprint for accomplishing one of her primary goals. She wants to acquire 125 new titles each year. And, although it’s still too soon to tell for certain, her revolutionary approach has the potential to spark real change in the publishing industry.
“I think this publishing model is going to shake things up. Writers need to profit more from their work,” Linda said. “When they’re given an option to work with a publisher who will do all their marketing instead of having to figure out the marketing and the nuances of self-publishing, I believe that’s going to change publishing for the better. Ultimately, we need these important creators to profit so they can continue to write great books.”
The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.
Sam Bojarski is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in national publications, as well as local newspapers and magazines in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. A dedicated news junkie, he’s always on the lookout for how current events shape the financial aspects of our lives.