By Dennis Abrams
You’re a children’s book author without a publisher. You’re an author who likes to travel. Authors Abroad, along with its imprint Caboodle Books, might just be the ideal publishing partner for you.
It all started when Caboodle Company Director Trevor Wilson was working with UK author Peter Murray to arrange school visits. At the time Wilson was still under contract with another publisher, which meant Murray and Wilson had to purchase books from at them at the usual 50-percent discount for the author. Wilson and Murphy had an incredibly busy schedule, visiting up to five schools a week and selling a large number of books in the process, but they received little support from the publisher and had a growing sense of disillusionment: it seemed that they were doing all the work while the publisher was collecting revenue from book sales. They realized something had to change.
So they paid back all the advances Murray had received and bought back the rights, determined to go it alone. Wilson then set up his own publishing company called Caboodle Books to continue printing the books. “This was the best thing we ever did,” Wilson says. “It gave us total control of the book sales, and, of course, a much better profit margin going directly to the author.”
After a couple of years had gone by, more and more authors, poets, and illustrators began approaching Wilson, asking if he could help promote their visits to schools as well. Which led to the next natural step: setting up his own company in 2008 called Authors Abroad. Within a matter of months, Wilson was arranging school visits and tours for over twenty authors. And soon enough, some of those authors and poets asked if he could publish books for them as well.
The reason was simple. Of the more than 100 authors signed up for Authors Abroad, many of them had works they wanted to publish but either couldn’t get their usual mainstream publishers on board or they simply didn’t have the funds to do it themselves. “We offered the authors the opportunity to publish their books in partnership with Authors Abroad. We share the costs of setting up the books, art work, typesetting, front cover design, proofreading, etc., and then print them under the imprint of Caboodle Books. The costs are affordable and shared fifty-fifty. The profits from books sales are then shared fifty-fifty between author and Authors Abroad.”
While the bulk of a book’s sales comes through school visits, they’re also sold through normal distributor outlets in the UK and through Amazon. Because Authors Abroad already booked more than 1,000 school visits per year, they were in a strong position to promote their authors and increase sales. And plans are in place for continued expansion and growth.
The company expects to have over 200 authors and a 100-title backlist within the next five years. Wilson adds, “We now work in over 40 countries worldwide, sending authors to over 300 International Schools from Vietnam to Brazil and China to Russia, handling everything from travel arrangements to the shipping of books to invoicing, and hope to expand upon this. We are currently developing a new strand to our business for CPD (professional development training for teachers) and are hoping to become the number-one provider in the UK within five years and then expand into the international market within the next 12 months.”
Along with the company’s success has come success for its authors. Chris White, illustrator, and author of such titles as Bitey the Veggie Vampire and Never Give a Duck a Pen, has been with Authors Abroad for three years and sings the company’s praises. “Authors Abroad really gave a shot in the arm to my writing and performing career. Firstly they published my work and then together we have sold more books than I ever have done before with other publishing outfits. Add to that all the places, both home and abroad they have booked me into and it’s a pleasure to be involved with them. If you told me when I started writing and illustrating that I would perform my work in such places as Kuwait, Kuala Lumpur and China, I’d have laughed hard at you, got my breath back, then laughed some more. Authors Abroad are professional, friendly and brilliant at what they do and it’s great to be part of their set-up.”