We met up with Sheryl Koontz, CEO of Speedy Publishing LLC, to find out about their publishing programme and why the company decided to take the unusual approach of selling their rights to their titles as a block, or series, rather than as individuals titles.
Tell us a little bit about what Speedy Publishing does, where you are based, and what types of books you publish?
Speedy Publishing LLC is an independent publishing company based out of Delaware USA. With over 15 imprints across multiple genres Speedy Publishing has created a balanced catalogue of midlist and premium titles focused on informing, educating and entertaining readers across all age groups.
Imprints such a Baby Professor (K-12 Children’s market), Pets Unchained (Pet Care), Colouring Therapists (Adult Colouring Books), Cooking Genius (Cookbooks and Dieting), Third Cousins (Fiction Romance) and Speedy Kids (Activity Books for Children) are just a few of our more popular imprints with titles selling well in their respective genres.
Subsidiaries Speedy Publishing Canada Limited (Canada) and Speedy Publishing Limited (UK/Britain) launched in 2016 and 2017 respectively, now add several more imprints and titles to our already rapidly growing catalogue. We are especially proud of our front list series due out for Spring 2019 titled True Canadian Heroes.
In the age of digitalisation, it’s often hard to get one’s books noticed amongst all the ‘noise’. Why do you think discoverability is so important and what distinguishes your books from others?
Our process of discoverability starts before the genre, sub-genre and concept of a book is chosen. Selecting a genre with reasonable market demand is hence the first and by far the most fundamental step in our publishing process.
We conduct extensive research on what readers want to read, then create our content based on existing demand, then follow that by using tried and proven metadata practices to drive discoverability. Starting with the use of popular keyword terms in our titles, using colour psychology to improve cover design, using a strong call to action in our book description and finally the use of BISAC, BIC and THEMA codes help retailers properly categorize our titles are all essential aspects of our discovery process.
Employing the right pricing strategy has also resulted in phenomenal success. Pricing our titles to meet required profit margins yet remain close to the average pricing of content in the genre simultaneously has been difficult at times but is essential to our discoverability strategy as both eCommerce and brick and mortar book retailers report that price is a critical determinant and/or deterrent of a readers purchasing decision.
We also work hand in hand with retail partners and direct buyers. Retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Apple iBookstore, Kobo eBooks, Overdrive, Mackin Books, and Follet just to name a few have merchandising departments that we engage with to help drive discoverability for our titles. Promotions both online and offline in conjunction with these retailers help to get our titles in front of competing publishers in these retail stores.
Finally, reader engagement has been an essential part of ongoing discovery. Social media and email marketing has made that task much easier. We have been able to engage with passionate readers with proven commercial intent for our content at will. As our platform grows our tasks of discovery and meeting business goals has become much easier.
You take the somewhat unusual approach of selling book rights as a block, or series, rather than as individual titles. Why did you take that decision and what benefits would you say there are from adopting this method?
We are cognizant that this is quite an unusual approach, but think it is prudent when working with publishing partners. We believe the approach is a win-win for both Speedy Publishing and any prospective buyer.
A prospective buyer would acquire all foreign language rights for print, eBook and audio without the encumbrance of deciding on what initial royalty advances would be and without being burdened by accounting tasks of future royalty payments. This onetime transaction allows the buyer to apply advantageous business rules on the timelines for the release of titles and in what form to release the content in, whether print, eBook or audio. This makes it easier for a buyer to meet ROI targets faster than ever before with respect to rights acquisitions as the cost per title is dramatically reduced as it is a bulk sale.
The buyer can strategically select sub-genres from a wider range of content without having to revisit a rights contracts for each title and more importantly buyers can cross sell rights to other publishers in languages and territories they do not have the requisite skill set in-house to publish.
Publishing speed is also a major asset, because the buyer will have accessibility to critical source files the timeframe between translation and publication is dramatically reduced. Content can be translated and essentially copied and pasted in pre-made editable files resulting in little or no art and design work. For Speedy Publishing there are also clear benefits. Translation and publishing in foreign languages is not our core competency, so being able to work with a strategic partner helps to drive visibility of our imprint and author in markets we would not be able to reach directly. Getting these titles published in foreign languages grows our brand presence in multiple markets and undoubtedly improves the brand value. This, in our opinion, is a mutually beneficial approach.
Are there any series of titles currently listed on the IPR platform, with rights available, that you’d like to highlight?
Our K-12 content offered through our Spring 2018 Rights Catalogue consists of approximately two hundred titles across multiple sub-genres with rights being sold by block. Written to both entertain and educate K-12 readers this is a great offer for prospective buyers for the reasons we mentioned before and is the content we want to highlight.
Which territories do you think would be a good fit for the Speedy Publishing books featured on IPR right now?
We track consumer spending in the K-12 book market in Asia, Europe and the Middle East and have realized an upsurge in content demand over the last 24 months. The trend continues to tick upwards with forecasts showing the market growing in some regions by as much as 19% between 2018 to 2022.
We see China, India, France, Germany and the Middle East are the best territories to focus on for any prospective buyer. There is ample empirical evidence to support our opinion and we cite a few below.
China represents possibly the largest arena for K-12 sales as it boasts the largest market in the world: 230 million students, 12 million teachers. The Chinese government has cited that by “2020, all urban schools will have access to at least 100M broadband and all rural schools will have access to at least 10M broadband” – having a presence in this market is crucial for publishers as this market size dwarfs the K-12 market in the US, Canada and the UK markets combined. Our catalogue is a great way to enter or grow catalogue size and market reach.
In India, Vikrant Mathur, the director of Nielsen India, citing the FICCI–Nielsen Report: K-12 Book Publishing: Market Report published in 2016 estimated that the K-12 Indian book market would grow at a CAGR of 19.6% over the next 5 years. The demand for content written in Hindi continues to grow to serve the over 200 million K-12 students enrolled in Indian schools and that number continues to grow year over year. This is an ideal opportunity for both existing publishers in the market and publishers looking to get into the market.
In 2017 German Education Minister Johanna Wanka announced that 5 billion euros would be invested in 40,000 schools known as the ‘Digital Pact.’ This has led to an upsurge in Ed-Tech demand for K-12 digital content, making it ideal for publishers who have accessibility to new and exciting content to publish such as what our catalogue provides.
Ed-Tech continues to soar in France with more and more schools becoming technology driven through TICE (technologies de l’information et de la communication à l’école). Student’s become more and more excited about a wider range of educational and entertaining topics bolstering sales in both the digital and print markets. Independent publishers can step into this gap by providing our content in French to an already growing market.
In the Middle East “analysts forecast the K-12 education market in GCC to grow at a CAGR of 4.54% during the period 2018-2022.” – this includes Gulf based countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain – (Report cited K-12 Education Market in GCC 2018-2022). This emerging market is an important arena to be in for any K-12 publisher and because of the multiple sub-genres found in our catalogue this would be an ideal way to enter the market.