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Monday, December 31, 2012

Closing InnerCircle Publishing - Chad Lilly

In 2000, InnerCircle Publishing was founded on the idea of mutually beneficial relationships created by the cooperation of many authors working toward a single goal; To produce greater exposure for their work by promoting a single source. In other words, put all the books in the same location, have everyone promote that location, and that location will receive the exponential promotion produced by many people pointing their audience to that same location. It's both simple, and genius, and I know this not because I created it, but because I learned it from Nature. 

After publishing my first book, A Day in the Mind, I began offering other authors the same opportunity InnerCircle Publishing was providing me. A way to publish their books worldwide, maintain creative control over their work, and retain the net on all sales. 

In 2002, Print On Demand (POD) printing was new. It was so new that many of the authors I found myself explaining it to just couldn't grasp the idea of making books available worldwide without doing a print run first, and their response was: "It must be a scam."

But along came Rick LaFerla, he was the first author to hear the concept of InnerCircle Publishing and say, "Well, yeah. This makes sense. Let's do this." And we did. (that was sitting in a booth at the Wings Truckstop in Avoca, Iowa, which happened to be the halfway point between where we lived.)

Not only did I publish Rick's books, but as more authors discovered what I was offering, and that POD was in fact 'real', rather some 'scam', more authors came to me to publish their books as well. And this continued for ten years, until I had published over 75 titles for more than 30 authors around the world. (when I say published, I mean I personally designed and created the cover and page layout for those books)

Along the way, thanks to Rick, we branched out and created a new imprint called Revolution Press, which offered the same publishing opportunity as InnerCircle provided to authors of 'Metaphysical Writing', for authors of any genre. It was never my intention to become another gatekeeper deciding which titles were worth publishing. The Revolution was... Now authors could decide what was worth publishing, not a publisher. And it worked very well. 

Authors enjoyed the benefit of having professional cover and book design available at half the cost of industry standards, as well as retaining copyright and creative control over their own work, while having the backing of a Publisher (to avoid the 'self-published' nonsense stigma), and all while retaining the net sales on every copy of their book sold ... and receiving that compensation monthly, even if only one copy sold.

Authors also enjoyed having access to personal assistance in answering any of their questions, as well as having all their accounting and drop ship distribution handled at no charge, it was all offered as just another part of the design of InnerCircle Publishing.

Authors also claimed to appreciate the concept of mutually beneficial relationships producing exponential results for their work. Who wouldn't? I mean, would you rather get a 1 for 1 return for all of your effort or 100 times the results for expending the same effort? 

The entire design of InnerCircle Publishing hinged upon one single function: Cooperation. It was dependent upon many authors working together to produce exponential exposure for the whole, by only having to do their own part. Because: Alone, each of us only have so much reach, but when we hold hands, we can easily reach around the world.   

We used the 'Boat' metaphor: One person in a boat rowing across the ocean is too much work for any one person. Two people rowing is obviously better, and of course, the more people you have in the boat rowing, the faster the boat is going to travel, and the greater your chances of actually making it across the ocean.

It all hinged on Cooperation among many sources. And even though all of those sources had proclaimed seeing value in the design of InnerCircle Publishing ... all of those sources refused to participate in the design. Rather than promote the same source where all of their books were available, they'd promote their own website instead. (working 1 for 1) 

For years I watched this happen, and no matter how many ways I tried to show them the value of cooperation over competition, no matter how many emails or handbooks I published giving them step by step instructions, or videos I put out ... none of it mattered because the problem wasn't knowing what to do, or why it benefited them to do it, the problem was their intention was never to cooperate in the first place. 

Finally, one of the authors told me why they refused to participate in this whole 'cooperation' thing around which I have designed the entire concept of InnerCircle Publishing: 'Since I procure the marketing for My Book, every time I get exposure for My Book, I am going to use it to promote My Book, not InnerCircle Publishing.'

And guess who had that same genius idea? EVERYONE in the boat. So now 30 people are sitting in a boat and aside from two or three of them rowing in the same direction ... everyone else is rowing in separate directions. And guess what the boat does?

The success of our authors was dependent upon Cooperation, but the long term success of InnerCircle as a company was entirely dependent upon this symbiotic relationship because as the founder, I designed it to pay the authors the net percentage that publishers generally take, and only a small portion was retained by InnerCircle per book sale to compensate for managing each account. In the same way that Ray Kroc only made a few pennies per burger sold, I planned for ICP to be selling large quantities books (eventually) and no matter how many years it took to reach that level ... one day it would be worth all of the design and publishing work I was doing at half price ... one day, everything I had offered for free would be returned many fold---when we were selling 1000's of books per month.    

Problem is ... no single author can reach a large enough audience to sell even 25 books per month by only promoting themselves (working 1 for 1), and since those same authors refuse (at all costs) to cooperate symbiotically to reach a larger audience, then how will it ever be possible for InnerCircle Publishing to reach a point where it reasonably justifies my entire life?  

For ten years I've invested 10-14 hours a day, 7 days a week into this dream of InnerCircle Publishing. And now I've awoken from it to realize it has always been just a dream. Over the years, I've seen authors that I've personally put on very large stages, get on those stages, then turn around and only promote their own website. Again and again.  

The authors I've published have all enjoyed the benefits of InnerCircle, but none of them were willing to offer the only thing I asked in return: Cooperation. With cooperation, all things are possible, and without it ... no thing is. 

And this year, after being in a motorcycle accident and almost losing my leg, I spent three months on heavy pain meds (Hydromorphone) and have been unable to preform all of the free services our authors have enjoyed all these years. And I've watched these authors who have refused to cooperate, whatsoever, become irritated with me for not being available to provide them with all they've come to expect, for free. And rather than allowing me time to heal, and learn to walk again ... these authors have relentlessly sent harassing emails, or phone calls ... either designed to manipulate me into doing what they want---RIGHT NOW, all the way down to threatening me with legal action if I don't do what they want---RIGHT NOW. Even though I've been unable to perform these requested actions. And this has been my final straw.

This is why I have decided to close InnerCircle Publishing. 

In a world of ME ME ME, cooperation is not valued, nor can it be embraced by parts who refuse to benefit the whole with their actions. In a world such as this ... everyone will strive to be first, one will succeed, and the rest will fail.

10 years ago, authors needed to be published by a 'Publisher' as a pre-requisite for consideration to even get their title stocked on the shelves of a bookstore. Today, anyone can publish a book on Amazon using Print On Demand, and the bookstores are closing in record numbers. Over 50% of all books are now sold Print On Demand.

Today's authors don't need a publisher. They need a designer to create professional page and cover designs and once those files are created ... anyone can publish anything, anywhere for a few hundred dollars worth of setup fees in most places. (Granted, you're still not going to find a place that will offer you the same net on your book sales as InnerCircle Publishing did, because a publisher would have to be crazy to do all the work of publishing your book, marketing it, selling it, and then giving the author most all of the net on every sale. I know this, because I've been the only one crazy enough to do it so far.)

For authors who need assistance in learning this, or need professional page and cover design ... contact me. I am happy to offer my ability and experience on your projects, and I'll gladly show you how to do everything you need to publish your work, without a publisher.  

I no longer have the desire to be the personal assistant, accountant, marketing and promotional consultant for 30 authors, for free.  

And since what I've been doing hasn't been working, I'm going to do something different. Life is too short, and way too valuable for me to waste mine chasing an illusion created by others, no ... now, I will use what I know to help only those who can see value in it.

Have a great day ... and Happy New Year.


- Chad Lilly
12/31/2012 
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