A New Era: (Non)Traditional Publishing

Written by Nick Thacker

NICK THACKER is a full-time thriller author and publisher who helps authors get to the next level in their author career.

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There’s probably no better way to start off a fresh new blog than with an update on how things are going. In other words, while this is the first installment of (what I hope to be) many, it’s not the actual beginning. 

The beginning

The beginning was, without question, an accident. I had been (lovingly) hounded by my wife to start a publishing company. For years I’ve kept a list of all the ways I believe the traditional publishing model is broken, and a slightly shorter list of the things I would do to fix them. 

After some encouragement, some deep pours of bourbon, and an agreement that I wouldn’t go it alone, Conundrum Publishing was born.

…at least in theory.

I still needed that thing most publishing companies (and any good ones) need: books to publish.

For that, I turned to social media. I’ve been an author for over a decade, and have amassed quite a list of acquaintances and friends in the author space. My assumption was that they allowed my digital friendship because I was just barely not annoying enough to sever ties, and it was easier to let me fill their Facebook feeds with rambling musings and whatnots than it was to go nuclear and completely unfriend me. 

So when I asked, naively and innocently, if any of these friends had any thriller novel outlines I could, you know, just peek at… the floodgates opened. 

I had not announced anything — certainly not a new publishing company focusing on thrillers. And yet, you would have thought I had started a million-dollar ad campaign targeting the next Lee Child hopefuls. 

Very quickly after that post, I realized I needed a proper submissions system. The current iteration is here, and while it looks nice and pretty and works a treat, it was not the original monstrosity I set up. 

No matter: people submitted anyway. A lot of them. More than I could handle at once. 

It seemed ten minutes had passed and I was now in business. The only trouble was… I didn’t really have a business. 

Sure, I had ideas and thoughts and random musings, but nothing in the form of a proper business plan. So I set out to create one. 

I’ll spare the details, but Conundrum Publishing, LLC., was born shortly thereafter. I began working on a CRM tool to handle the projects (the books) and the lovely wife — brilliant in all things communication and administration — set out to set up some basic email procedures, templates, and the like. 

Within a month, we had a publishing calendar: a handful of authors, most of whom I knew personally, and about 15 novels in differing stages of production. That grew to about 45 novels, including outlines and already-published manuscripts, and we were off to the races. 

The present

It feels very strange to consider our three-month mark anything other than still “the beginning,” but in a lot of ways it’s not. We’re rolling, we’re publishing, and we’re building. Things are working, and while none of our thrillers has become the next Da Vinci Code, they’re all just as good (promise)! Our authors are happy, our books are selling, and our little baby website is growing like a healthy weed. 

And we still haven’t gotten to the end of the submissions pile, which grows seemingly daily. There are so many amazing thrillers and thriller authors looking to publish their work, and many of those are looking to do it in a way that’s more closely aligned with their business. 

Perhaps they want the personal touch and control of self-publishing, but want someone else to handle the production costs, little decisions, and deal with the marketing and advertising spend. 

Perhaps they want a trusted partner who has proven experience in the thriller publishing game, and just needs some confirmation that they’re on the right track. 

Perhaps they want to do nothing at all but write the next thriller, turn it in, and cash the checks. 

Conundrum Publishing was born for these authors. Our thrillers are top-notch, and while it’s still very much the early days, it’s so clear to me now that the sky really is the limit. There will be ups and downs — what business doesn’t have them? — but the steady flow of solid work and great products has already begun, and there’s no stopping it. 

The future

Who knows? Our authors are showing no sign of slowing down, and it seems there’s always another author waiting in the wings with a submission in hand. I’m floored by the positive response of these friends and acquaintances, and I’m even more stunned by the eye-opening possibilities I’m now seeing. 

I used to work on deals and partnerships for my own books. That was a great experience, and it led to some inroads that will be beneficial in the future. But it’s even more astounding at the willingness of these partners to look at a growing catalog of brand-new thrillers when I can promise them ten times this sort of work in the future — I’m amazed at the capabilities the modern publishing landscape has created, and I’m even more excited to jump in head-first and see how I can use these tools for our authors. 

As the first of many such updates, I’m hoping I’m only scratching the surface. I’ve experienced first-hand the amazing things that are possible for a single author, and I cannot wait to discover the possibilities for many. 

Here’s to the future — and to the moon!


What Just Happened? [Q1 Update]

What Just Happened? [Q1 Update]

Well, we've just finished the first three months of Conundrum's existence. And what a quarter it was. We went from no signed authors to eleven signed authors (with another ten on the way) by the end...