My book is a the anchor book in the first list of Twelve, an imprint within Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group/formerly Warner Books.
Twelve puts out one book per month, at most 12 books per year. If you know nothing about the book industry (which was true for me before I started on this crazy Chinese food literary obsession), you would not understand why it’s unusual.
But by conventional book standards, this is a crazy idea. The whole idea behind publishing is you make a basket of bets and hope that some of them work out (in this way, it is not unlike venture capital). Except that my placing so many bets, not all of the projects get the kind of attention they ideally should. Twelve is basically saying, we are placing large singular bets, and will push the books with all our marketing might during the launch month. As far as i can tell, this is important signaling to book retailers to take the book seriously. There are anywhere between 70,000 to 150,000 books published a year (I have heard lots of numbers flung around), so standing out from all the noise is difficult.
It was started by Jonathan Karp, who was the former editor-in-chief of Random House before he suddenly, mysteriously quit. I heard Jon speak at the BookExpoAmerica (the top link on this podcast page) about why he wanted to start Twelve. He probably had worked with 200-225 books during his career at 15-year career at Random House. Of those, he thought maybe 75 had gotten a good run from the publishing house, but what about those remaining 150ish? Those may not have gotten all the attention they deserved. They might not have gotten the chance that they needed to live up to that potential. So that is where Twelve comes in. The promise is made to each author, that it will not get lost in the shuffle.
Here is the Mission Statement.
TWELVE was established in August 2005 with the objective of publishing no more than one book per month. We strive to publish the singular book, by authors who have a unique perspective and compelling authority. Works that explain our culture; that illuminate, inspire, provoke, and entertain. We seek to establish communities of conversation surrounding our books. Talented authors deserve attention not only from publishers, but from readers as well. To sell the book is only the beginning of our mission. To build avid audiences of readers who are enriched by these works â€“ that is our ultimate purpose.
12 Things To Remember about TWELVE
- Each book will enliven the national conversation.
- Each book will be singular in voice, authority, or subject matter.
- Each book will be carefully edited, designed, and produced.
- Each book will have a month-long launch in which it is the imprintâ€™s sole focus.
- Each book will be nationally advertised.
- Each book will have a national publicity campaign.
- Each book will be published by Jonathan Karp, the editor who discovered Book Sense Book of the Year winners Seabiscuit and Shadow Divers, plus such bestsellers as The Orchid Thief, Franklin and Winston, Thank You For Smoking, What Should I Do With My Life?, The Dante Club, The Last Don, The Godfather Returns, and A Conspiracy of Paper.
- Each book will be publicized by Director of Publicity Cary Goldstein, who for seven years was the architect of FSG’s publicity campaigns for such acclaimed books as The Assassin’s Gate, Sweet and Low, Natasha, and Trance, nominee for the National Book Award.
- Each book will have the potential to sell at least 50,000 copies in its lifetime.
- Each book will be marketed and distributed by the Hachette Book Group, the company with the best hit ratio in the American publishing business.
- Each book will be promoted well into its paperback life.
- Each book will matter.