New Companies Writers Need to Know about in the World of Publishing

Chip MacGregor is the president of MacGregorLiterary, a full-service literary agency on the Oregon Coast. A former publisher with Time Warner, he has worked with authors as a literary agent for more than a dozen years, and was previously a senior editor at two publishing houses. An Oregon native, Chip lives in a small town on the Oregon coast. Chip is also the author of a couple dozen books and a popular teacher on the craft of writing and marketing. Connect with him through his blog and on Twitter.
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My
recent blog posts on trends shaping the publishing industry has led to a number
of people writing to me, asking what other new companies are doing significant
things in the world of books. Several people simply asked, “Who
are the new companies I need to know about in publishing?” 
I can
think of several…
There are new companies that writers need to know about.
BookBub—This is a site that offers a daily deal for certain
ebooks, and they have a huge database of readers they market to. Publishers and
authors suggest titles and pay a fee to BookBub, and the company has an
editorial team that selects the titles they want to offer. The price is usually
very low (sometimes free), they send out an email advertisement to a couple
million followers, and authors have been raving about the results. Another
company, Riffle, is trying to do the same thing, only by
offering more choices by letting the readers select the books they want to see
discounted.
Oyster—A company that is the ebook version of NetFlix. You pay
them a monthly fee, and you can read all the ebooks you want. They’ve recently
signed a couple of deals with publishers, and their popularity is growing. (So
much that recently Amazon created Kindle Unlimited, which does the same
thing, only with a larger number of self-published books.) And, if you’re not
familiar, Entitle is another company that does something
similar. Right now these two and the company below are leading the
way with ebook subscription services.
Scribd—They also offer a monthly subscription service to ebook
titles, but they’re best known for document sharing and digital distribution.
What you may not know is that Scribd does a nice job of working with authors,
offering a bunch of analytics on who is reading what, which ebook device
they’re using, which genres are most popular, etc. In my view, this is one of
the key companies to watch. They think creatively, are nimble, and seem
determined to make an impact on the world of books.
Librify—Just started a year ago, they’re basically a “Book
of the Month Club” for ebook readers, and they are partnering with Target
to sign up people and get them reading. I keep hearing they’re right on the
verge of breaking out.
With all the options, we need to stay informed.
Atavist—I’m always surprised I don’t hear more from authors
about this fabulous site. Started by a journalist, they offer great writing
that is shorter form than books—most frequently journalistic pieces in the
10,000 to 20,000 word range, often including video and other visual elements.
If you’re like me and enjoy great nonfiction writing, you should check them
out. A similar company is Byliner, which has done short-form
fiction as well as nonfiction projects, and has teamed with some headliner
authors in the past year.
DailyLit—Almost ten years old, this company got started by
emailing chapters of Pride and Prejudice to people who wanted
to read great books in bite-sized chunks, but needed someone to help them stay
on track. Now they have their own serialized fiction projects that they send
out to subscribers. I mention them because I know several authors who love
their dose of daily literature arriving via email or app.
Zola Books—This is another one of those companies that may or not
may survive, but has an interesting place in the business. They’re a
combination ebook store and social media network, and they take the unique
approach of working with large independent bookstores (The Tattered Cover in
Denver is one example), small indie presses, as well as working directly with
some authors (such as Audrey Niffenegger, of The Time Traveler’s
Wife) 
to create and sell exclusive titles. Readers can comment on them
and interact with the authors. It’s a fascinating site. A company that’s
similar is Bilbary, which sells ebooks that can be read on any
device.
Don’t discount the value of fan-fiction sites.
Wattpad—One of the earliest fan-fiction sites, this is aimed at
letting people come on to post their thoughts, poems, stories, and articles on
the site, then letting others respond to it all. They started out focusing on
young writers, ran into trouble when
people started posting copyrighted material, and have said they’re making an
effort to stop the stealing. But they’re one of the most well-funded of the
newer companies, have signed deals with most of the major publishers, have done
book launches for significant authors, and now offer their own crowdfunding
plans. In my view, it’s turned into a promotional site with some social media
built in.
SliceBooks—Remember when you used to put together a playlist of
your favorite songs on a CD? This company does the same thing, only with
chapters of books, to try and create marketing pieces for publishers and
libraries. And, if you’re an author looking for new companies that offer
helpful content, by all means check out BiblioCrunch, which is
sort of a combination do-it-yourself publishing site and an Angie’s List. You
can visit the site to find cover designers, freelance editors, publicists,
ebook consultants, and the like. Some people like them, others find they tend
to push a bit hard, but they certainly have become a leader in the field of DIY
indie publishing.

There
you go… Fourteen companies that are becoming movers and shakers in
publishing. What companies have you worked with that the rest
of the folks in publishing should know about? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Chip MacGregor