One year ago today, July 12, 2022, the first Lake Drive Books title, Faith Doesn’t Erase Grief by Kate Meyer, released into the book world.
After one year, here’s a glimpse at what I’ve learned at Lake Drive Books.
I’ve worked in publishing for nearly thirty years. I’ve seen the business from bottom to top, negotiated multi-million-dollar book contracts, met famous authors, supervised publishing teams, and witnessed the rapidly evolving realities of the digital economy. But I can tell you, other than missing some of the great people I’ve worked with in the past, no work has been more satisfying and fulfilling than what has been happening with Lake Drive Books in the last year.
I thought I knew a lot about the book business when I left one of the big five publishing companies, but I’ve learned far more than I ever thought possible. I’ve learned more and in greater detail about things like the coordination of production, marketing and publicity, online platforming, and simply running a business.
I also now work as a literary agent and author consultant in part to supplement revenue but also in large part to stay narrowly focused on authors who are not choosing to go down the beaten path. I love it because I was deep inside of the publishing business, a generalist and a good student of its practices and patterns, and I know that I can help these authors, and their editors and marketers, have a smoother and hopefully more impactful journey.
I also like the agenting side of things because it reminds me where book publishing remains stuck in waning business practices and ebbing cultural mores. The marketplace has shifted quickly and vastly, but publishing is at times fatally attached to its retail dependent sales model and its consistently profitable content—much of it now backlist and celebrity driven. It’s difficult for those inside established houses to see what is going on in grassroots publishing and innovative culture creation. Conventional publishing often has too much overhead and can’t be nimble, and we’ve seen so much downsizing at media companies lately.
By contrast, with less overhead at Lake Drive Books, it’s possible to realize a bigger profit margin and pay better royalties. Authors today should be rewarded better not just for their content but for the platforms that publishers now rely on more than they care to admit. That’s some justice, too.
It’s also possible to be closer to the content, the authors, and the readers. In the work I do now, I see more reader interaction and more genuine and authentic engagement with the authors and their books. One reader commented, “How have I not seen this book before?” There’s a specificity and excitement here that I’ve not experienced in so many years of publishing. I realize that might sound hyperbolic, but I’ve also worked in some hyperbolic publishing.
The work of Lake Drive Books hasn’t been easy. The demons of anxiety and self-doubt and typos jump out at me more than I’d care to admit. But publishing is a long play business, and it can take time to develop. Like anything that takes a long time, it can grow into something complex, well-rooted, even beautiful. In a publishing world where everything is retracting, consolidating, and operating on a model of scarcity, the seeds are in place for Lake Drive Books to grow and discover abundance. It’s just a different, right-sized scale.
One of the biggest needs of our time is community. So many of us are asking questions, shifting in our beliefs and practices, and growing in our awareness of the world around us. We’ve also found that there are seemingly not enough places to gather and centers of culture that attune to what we’re overcoming and our new creative directions. It is every bit the intention of Lake Drive Books to provide community and structure around long form reading to inspire, inform, and simply help authors and readers build emerging narratives and identities. And it is happening with a new business model that fits our richly segmented marketplace.
I’m so grateful to the authors who have taken a chance on Lake Drive Books (and Hyponymous Consulting). Never have I felt such a sense of fighting for a cause, and a feeling of community, with so many unique and amazing humans. We are doing the work to heal, grow, and discover.
That’s our vision, and we’re still here after one year.
Publisher, Lake Drive Books