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Why New Degree Press is betting on community-powered publishing

“We sold 700 copies during my presale campaign,” shared Nicole Bianchi, author of Small Brave Moves (New Degree Press, 2021) and partner at Bravium HD. “Most first-time authors sell 100-150 books on average, and we did 7x that before the book even came out. That’s the real power of pre-sale publishing.”
New Degree Press has pioneered a new and different approach in the $26 billion publishing industry.
“We believe that every author should be the owner of their work,” says Brian Bies, the head of publishing at New Degree Press. “It’s shocking that most authors keep less than 4-5% of the revenue from every book they sell. We think given the changes in the creator economy, there had to be a better way.”
After working with some of the leading experts in the creator economy from Chase Jarvis, NY Times bestselling author, and founder/CEO of Creative Live, Daniel Houghton, former CEO of Lonely Planet, one of the largest book publishing companies in the world, Joshua Schwartz, CEO of Pubvendo, Robert Stevens, the former GeekSquad founder and Chief Technology Officer of Best Buy, David Marquet, the President of Intent-Based Leadership Institute and bestselling author Rated #1 Business Book by Forbes, and other, New Degree Press realized there was a huge opportunity to become the premier creator-focused publisher in the world.
“We don’t take any ownership in the books of our authors,” continued Bies. “We’ve published more than 800 authors and had three national book award winners or finalists just this year — and all of them own their books completely which is unusual in the traditional book publishing industry. But it’s core to our philosophy of the author as the creator and owner of their work.”
New Degree Press facilitates this model through its use of a pre-sale publishing approach, guiding every author through a pre-sale campaign of their book to sell the first two hundred copies of their book before the book goes through publishing. The publisher has found that not only does this approach ensure the author owns their work, but it drives a much bigger reach for the author.
Said Bianchi, “I assumed everyone just had to give up something to get a book out — but pre-sale publishing helped my book reach way more people and I’m the owner of the book.”
New Degree Press is a certified hybrid publisher from the International Book Publishing Association (IBPA) headquartered in Maryland but operating and publishing internationally. The organization is a social venture having applied to be a certified B-corporation (benefit corporation) in 2020.
The publisher prides itself on its diverse set of authors with nearly 40% of its authors represented underheard communities in traditional publishing. According to the New York Times in 2020, less than 10% of authors published by the major publishing houses in the last twenty years are authors of color.
“We work with authors all over the world and from an incredibly wide range of backgrounds and experience levels,” said Mackenzie Finklea, author of Beyond the Halls (New Degree Press 2019) and the lead author coach. “We’ve realized that our secret advantage is the ability to help every author sell more books in their pre-sale campaign than they thought they could — we have 94-96% of our authors exceed their pre-sale targets which is a testament to the model and the power of community.”
New Degree Press has an open submission policy whereby any author can submit a draft manuscript and get feedback within 3-weeks. Less than 20% of authors who submit are approved to publish, but authors who need more support are encouraged to work with partner Creator Institute to get a publishable draft completed.
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Use another story from Author Haley Newlin
“The support for both books has been remarkable – and as a horror novelist that’s saying something,” shared Haley Newlin, author of Not Another Sarah Halls (New Degree Press, 2019) and Take Your Turn Teddy (New Degree Press 2020). “As a recent graduate from a Masters of Fine Arts program I was told I’d likely have to wait until I was 40 to publish my first book but our response to the first book was so unbelievable that my publisher and I decided to get the second book out as soon as we realistically could.”
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Use story from Author Morgan Wider
“I am so grateful this book has allowed me to connect with women on a deeper level,” said Morgan Wider, author of A Worthy Wardrobe (New Degree Press, 2020) and the founder/CEO of Wider Style. “Publishing this book with New Degree Press allowed me to build an incredible community of women who supported me through the publishing journey – I thought authors just did the book alone, but building a community around my book has been transformative for me and the book itself.”
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Use story from Author Joseph Minani
“It’s truly an honor to be named the 2020 New Author of the Year by SABA,” said Joseph Minani, author of The Mindset of a Refugee (New Degree Press, 2020). “This book was never on the radar of the major publishers, but because New Degree Press is committed to underheard voices they took a chance on me and the story of dozens of other refugees in this book. I’m so grateful to a publisher who truly sees authors differently.”
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