With a publishing industry that is ever in flux, it can be hard for an aspiring author to figure out what information is relevant and what she needs to do to be successful. Recognizing this, literary agent Andrea Hurst and writer/blogger Cherise Hensley-Jenkins present a series of weekly interviews with publishing industry specialists. The AUTHORNOMICS Series features literary agents, editors, authors, marketing experts and more talking about their opinions on the publishing industry, writing, and what a writer needs to know.
AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Marc Allen
Marc Allen is a renowned author, composer, and speaker. On the day he turned thirty, Marc cofounded New World Library with Shakti Gawain, and as the company’s president and publisher, he has guided it from a small start-up operation with no capital to become one of the leading publishers in its field. He has written numerous books, including The Greatest Secret of All, Visionary Business, The Millionaire Course, and The Type-Z Guide to Success. He has also recorded several albums of music, including Awakening, Breathe, and Solo Flight. He is a popular speaker and seminar leader based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more about Marc, including his free monthly teleseminars, see www.MarcAllen.com.
You co-founded New World Library with Shakti Gawain back in 1977. What motivated you to start up a company like this? What were some of the biggest challenges to starting your own publishing house?
I started the company simply by self-publishing a few little books… and then I realized that a “self-publisher” is exactly the same as a “publisher” — you have to do everything a publisher does in order to sell books. The biggest initial challenge was financing, seeing I had no money. I ended up raising money in a bunch of creative ways, including financing some books and music projects the same way movies and Broadway plays are financed: creating limited partnerships based on specific projects; investors put up the money, and we split profits 50-50. In my book, The Millionaire Course, I listed 12 different ways that start-ups can get financing — and as I wrote it, I realized I had done a lot of them, including “sweat equity,” local angels, loans from friends and family, credit cards, and SBA (Small Business Administration) financing.
The other big challenge is marketing and sales. It took me a while to find the right people to distribute and sell our books.
What do you wish someone had told you when you first started in the publishing industry?
I found people along the way who told me what I needed to know. An early mentor told me something I’ve never forgotten: Always take care of the business, number one. The business comes before the owners’ interests, and before everyone else. Take care of the company first, and it’ll take care of everyone else. I got another great piece of advice from an article I read about a Swiss hotel: Set up profit-sharing with every employee. Give employees 50 percent of the profits, and they’ll more than double your profits. It’s a win-win way to run a company, and I don’t know why more companies don’t do it.
New World Library is now one of the top independent publishers in the country. Could you talk more about the goal of New World Library of ‘personal and planetary transformation’?
It seems obvious to me that humans are a rapidly evolving species, and we’re here to grow in some ways. Personally, we all want inner peace, harmony, happiness, and love. Collectively, we all want the planet to be healthy and supportive of all the life on it. We publish books that support people in improving their lives and the world.
New World Library is a supporter of the Green Press Initiative, which encourages authors and publishers to use recycled paper. What further steps do you think that the publishing industry can take to protect the environment?
We use solar power in our offices, too. And a lot of our people have hybrid vehicles, and most of us live close to the office. And we’re happy to sell more and more ebooks, because they involve no printing, paper, binding, shipping, returns, and damaged copies to recycle.
As an internationally renowned author yourself, the president of New World Library, and a musician/composer for your own label, Watercourse Media; you definitely keep yourself busy. How do you balance all your different roles?
I see the truth in the cliché that time expands to fill however much time you allot for something. I give my publishing company about four afternoons a week; that way I have mornings, evenings, and a three-day weekend every week to do my other creative things with music and writing, and have time for family and friends and — something very important to me — time alone. Time to dream, to be lazy, to do very little. Time to read, time to relax.
Can you tell us a bit more about your latest book, The Magical Path — Creating the Life of Your Dreams and a World that Works for All. How can simple practices have a powerful impact on a person’s life?
When I published Visionary Business in the ‘90s, I did a lot of speaking. And sometimes if the audience was open to it, I’d say, “You know, it’s really all done by magic. I use a form of simple, practical magic.” I often say I never had to come to believe in any of these practices; I never had to make a leap of faith. I just tried some practices and prayers and rituals and affirmations in my own lazy, undisciplined way with an open mind, and I saw the results in my life — sometimes very powerful results, sometimes nearly instantaneous, and sometimes taking years to manifest. But manifest they did. So in The Magical Path, I recorded all of the things I’ve been doing for years that helped me transform my life from one of poverty to abundance, and from anxiety to a pretty unshakable inner peace.
What is one common misconception you’d like to set straight about what you call “Self-fulfillment books,” or to be categorized as “New Age”?
There’s nothing new in the new age. It’s the perennial philosophy. Each generation just needs to have the old truths translated into the current vocabulary. The Power of Now brilliantly translates the original teachings of Jesus and Buddha and the Vedas of India into our modern language.
In addition to publishing new titles every year, New World Library also focuses on its on backlist. What are some of the differences in your strategies for marketing between the new titles and the old ones?
There’s really no difference between our new titles and old titles. Every title we publish is something we hope to be selling for many, many years. We edit carefully to try to remove any references to current events or anything else that will date that book. Creative Visualization has been selling for almost 40 years, and I’m sure will continue to sell for many decades. We did a beautiful version of The Bhagavad Gita, which has been popular for about 5,000 years — and I hope it’ll be selling 5,000 years in the future!
You and your wife, Aurilene, also founded the Brazil Hope Foundation. Can you tell our readers a bit more about this organization and what it does to help street children in Brazil? What inspired you to get involved?
I always tell people to just pick something to support. My wife is from Brazil, and the cities have homeless children who need support. There is a wonderful woman in Rio named Yvonne de Mello who has set up a center where the street kids get fed, cleaned up, and put in schools. Google it, if you want: It’s called Project Uere, in Rio. There are so many great causes — just pick one or two that touches your heart. It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do.
Can you tell us anything about what you are working on now both as an author and workshop leader?
I just finished lengthy, in-depth project that DailyOm is producing, a master course in Visionary Business, with about 10 hours of audio recording scattered throughout 26,000 words of text. It’s really thorough, giving people everything I wish I knew when I started my company. And I’m always planning the next workshop/seminar — later this year, I’ll be doing a teleseminar with Kent Nerburn, a great writer, on the magic and craft of writing. It’s going to be totally unique — and we hope it’ll give people all they need to become writers and get their work published.
Thank you for interviewing with us, Marc!
Andrea Hurst has over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. She works with both major and regional publishing houses, and her client list includes emerging new voices and New York Times best-selling authors. Andrea represents high profile Adult Nonfiction and well crafted fiction. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network and in the New York Times.
Cherise Hensley-Jenkins has an M.A. in English from the University of Idaho, where she taught composition courses. She graduated from Whitworth University with a B.A. in English and marketing and also has a copy editing certification from UC San Diego. She has interned with Andrea Hurst Literary Management as well as the Rock & Sling literary journal and has been involved in the production of other print media such as newspapers, magazines, and yearbooks. Cherise is a teacher, an editor, and a writer, who loves discovering new books to distract her from everyday life.