Story Merchant


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Text Box: Lisa Cerasoli                          Exec VP                                  Story Merchant



Story Merchant Books is your facilitator for direct publishing of your books (novels and nonfiction). For new and mid-career authors who seek an alternative to traditional or “legacy” publishing, Story Merchant Books introduces them to their potential readership worldwide, while simultaneously exposing them to the film and television story marketplace.

Q. Why did Story Merchant create Story Merchant Books?
A. Story Merchant, affiliated with Dr. Ken Atchity’s Atchity Productions, LLC, created this “incubator of new and remarkable voices” to make the stories it selects visible to the television and film industries. Atchity has produced thirty films to date, with a dozen approaching production.
As a literary manager, Ken Atchity became increasingly frustrated by the restrictions and brand-focus of the traditional publishing community. Wanting to have a book to show to his entertainment financers, he created Story Merchant Books as an imprint in 2012. Since then, over one hundred books have been published and several of them are in late stages of film and series development.

Q. What are the relative pros and cons of traditional publishing vs direct publishing via Story Merchant Books?
Traditional Publishing
3-12 months response time. 
All publishing rights to publisher in perpetuity.
Author retains dramatic rights, repped by his agent or manager.
Print and eBook.
One-two year time lag between sale and publication.
0-Low advance, unless a number of publishers are bidding.
Nearly all marketing dependent on author.
Author loses control of cover design.
Author has no control over his or her book's ePage.
No ability to revise or alter once published.
No control of retail pricing.
After a gap of two years, royalties reported/paid every six months.
Little or no interaction between author & publisher on marketing.
Author needs to work through a publicist to market.
Direct Publishing from Story Merchant Books
One month maximum response time.
Author retains all publishing rights.
Author retains dramatic rights, repped by Story Merchant Books and Atchity Productions.
Print and eBook.
One-four-month time lag between start and publication.
No advance.
Primary marketing dependent on author (with SM advice). SM does opportunistic marketing to its lifelong contacts.
Author retains control of cover design.
SM's special relationship with the estore allows us to add enhancements to your page.
Full ability to revise or alter once published.
Author has full control of retail pricing.
After ninety days, royalties reported/paid every six months and upon request.
SM advises author on marketing.
SM Book Marketing Services eliminate the need for a publicist.

Q. What IS Story Merchant Books?
A. Story Merchant Books is a literary-commercial incubator whereby authors at all stages of their careers can test the waters of publishing through ePublication and Print-on-Demand (P.O.D.). When a Story Merchant book reaches the "level of visibility" its access to traditional publishers and entertainment companies can take it to the next level of success.
Direct publishing isn’t for everyone. There is no sure-fire way to publish, but the route taken should be tailored to the author’s goals and objectives. SM agrees that nonfiction and genre authors are substantially better off direct publishing, regardless of the commercial potential of their manuscripts:
For those who want to take control of their careers, we’ve designed a system of getting your book direct to your readers with close, hands-on support of the primary retailer,
If an author’s book succeeds through SM Books, traditional publishers will track and find it. Then, if an offer is made, the author can decide whether to move from direct to traditional publishing—though the number of authors abandoning the traditional system in favor of direct publishing is growing virtually every week.

Q. How much of the sales price do I receive if I publish through Story Merchant Books?
A. SM authors receive 70% of the sales price of their books from, as long as the book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Outside that pricing window, authors receive 35% of the sales price. For launching, tracking, Amazon-marketing, and administering your book, Story Merchant receives twenty-five percent (25%) of your revenues from e- and print sales.

Q. What kind of promotion will Amazon offer my book if SM Books gives them a twelve-month exclusive?
A. Although this may vary from book to book, your book will receive most, if not all, of the following:

  • Kindle New Releases Storefront posting.
  • Kindle Exclusives posting.
  • Kindle Daily Deal posting.
  • Kindle Category Storefront posting (in the category of your book)
  • Kindle 100 Books for $3.99 or less posting.
  • KOLL – Kindle Owners' Lending Library for three months, while the book is also on sale for its regular price.
  • E-letter promotion.
  • Email campaign.

Each promotion runs solidly for thirty days, then intermittently afterwards.

Q. Do I sign with Kindle Direct if I work through Story Merchant?
A. No, you only sign a representation agreement with Story Merchant, which has an overall agreement with Amazon. You can review KindleDirect's standard agreement, which is what Story Merchant is bound by, at:

Q. Why can’t I just publish my book on Kindle Direct without the need for Story Merchant?
A.  You can. You just won’t receive (a) the daily hands-on treatment accorded by Amazon to Story Merchant Books, (b) the advantage of SM Books marketing your book to film and television through the experienced track record of Ken Atchity at Atchity Productions:, or (c) thirty years’ of accumulated marketing experience SM shares with its authors.

Q. Can I track my sales directly through Story Merchant?
A. To protect the privacy of our authors, only Story Merchant has direct access to your book's sales reports on both eStores. At your request, we will send you a direct screen-printout of your sales totals.

Q. How does Story Merchant assist me in marketing my book?
A. Story Merchant assists in many ways, including the following:

  • Its close working relationship with the major eStore ensures that will automatically promote your book, as long as we've given them an exclusive.
  • It will put you in touch with qualified and tested book trailer creators, blog and Facebook book page builders, reviewers, a basic marketing array, and publicists. You can also join the ever-growing “Book Review Bank” whereby Story Merchant authors buy and review each other’s books to insure reaching the critical mass of reviews that brings your book to the attention of the Amazon computer.
  • Story Merchant will also refer you to its preferred cover artists and interior layout artists, as well as digitizers to prepare your book for ePublication.
  • Story Merchant will give you feedback on your "marketing plan" that will enable you to promote your own eBooks.
  • Story Merchant will use its years of connections in the literary and entertainment world to promote your book opportunistically, with a goal to increase its visibility, which leads to attention from traditional publishers—and to entertainment companies—worldwide.

Q. What are my upfront costs for working with Story Merchant Books?
A. Story Merchant charges a "launch fee" of $2,500 to shepherd your book to publication—and twenty-five percent (25%) commission on your revenues received from Amazon. We report your royalties to you in January and July of each year, until you reach a threshold of 500 books per month when we switch to quarterly reporting. Additional upfront costs include cover and interior design, which we will quote to you after our initial consultation and agreement to facilitate your book’s publication.

Q. Is Story Merchant no longer representing books to traditional publishers?
A. On an extremely selective basis, Story Merchant still represents books to the traditional publishers if, in consultation with you, SM believes this is the best way to launch your book. For most first-time fiction authors who are not household names, ePublication is generally the best launch strategy available in today’s changing story market. But if your platform is visible enough, whether in nonfiction or fiction, that may not be the case—in which case, Story Merchant will represent you to the traditional publishing market (we’ve had a New York Times bestseller each year for several years now, including 5 Days in November, Mrs. Kennedy and Me, The Kennedy Detail, Dracula: The Un-Dead).

Q. How do I get started with Story Merchant?

  • Send an email to and tell Dr. Atchity your book's title, one-paragraph pitch, one paragraph on you, and the status of its rights. We will reply with "how to get started.”

Q. Does Story Merchant accept any book that’s submitted for publication?

  • No. We accept only books that have (a) entertaining or inspiring stories or useful information well-organized; (b) a high-level of professionalism in the writing; and (c) strong commercial potential for sales.

Q. What are the steps by which a book is accepted by Story Merchant Books?
A. Here are the steps to publication:

    • After you’ve received the “how to get started” email from Dr. Atchity, you send in your manuscript.
    • Story Merchant reads the book, to determine if it’s publishable under our imprint, and is or is not professionally ready for publication.
    • If it is not ready for publication, Story Merchant will refer you to an editor through our sister company, (responsible for dozens of bestsellers through the last twenty-five years).
    • When the professionally ready book is accepted, Story Merchant designs a cover with your input, for which you have final approval.
    • When the cover is approved, if the submission is e-book only, Story Merchant submits the book to Amazon for digitization (or expedites digitization through our in-house digitizers).
    • When digitization is complete, the e-book is launched.
    • If the book is also for print, the interior design commences prior to digitization.
    • When the interior design is completed, you approve it and proof it one last time. We offer professional proofing services, upon request.
    • The book is then combined with the front, spine, and back cover and launched as a print book.

Q. How does Story Merchant Dr. Ken Atchity feel about Story Merchant Books?
*A. Since he launched Story Merchant Books, Dr. Atchity has been more excited about the world of publishing than he has been for years! “Finally, I’ve found a way to give storytellers control over their own fates, instead of seeing them with no recourse but the mercy of traditional New York gatekeepers.”
Story Merchant is privileged to help storytellers get their stories to their maximum global audiences through assisting them in professional direct publishing.

Highlights from the report
…Our data shows quite conclusively that mid-list titles earn more for self-published authors than they do the traditionally published…. It is also worth noting, again, that self-published authors are earning more money on fewer titles. Our data supports a truth that I keep running into over and over, however anecdotally: More writers today are paying bills with their craft than at any other time in human history.
…Our data suggests that even stellar manuscripts are better off self-published. These outlier authors are already doing better via self-publishing, when compared one to one.
If I had to guess what the future holds, I would say that the world of literature has its brightest days still ahead. That we have come so far in such a short period of time is revealing. We take for granted changes in other mediums—the absence of that tall rack of CDs beside home stereos, the dwindling number of people who watch live TV, that missing thrill of opening a paper envelope full of printed photos. There will be casualties in the publishing industry as the delivery mechanisms for stories change. There already have been casualties. But there are opportunities, as well. And right now, the benefits are moving to the reader and the writer….