With more than 335,000 copies of Mugglenet.com's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7 in print since its November 2006 publication, Berkeley, Calif.—based Ulysses Press plans to use the more than $2 million it will earn from its bestselling title to help continue what it calls “auteur publishing.”
Ulysses copublisher Ray Riegert said the press developed the auteur acquisition strategy about three years ago—Ulysses looks for areas in the marketplace where there's a publishing opportunity, then comes up with a book idea and the right author to make the project happen. “The change in philosophy to originate projects, rather than get things shopped to them, has made all the difference,” said Sara Rosenberg, marketing director at Publishers Group West, Ulysses's distributor. The new approach, which led to the creation of the Mugglenet book, helped Ulysses land on PW's Fast Growing Small Press list for the first time this year and weather the PGW bankruptcy.
Riegert said Mugglenet is just one example of the press's acquisition strategy. It begins with an acquisition meeting with Riegert, sales and marketing manager Bryce Willett, editor Nick Denton-Brown and publicist Karma Bennett to examine Nielsen BookScan numbers. When the group agrees there is a publishing opportunity that is being overlooked, they put together a team to develop a new title.
Riegert is aware that a book like Mugglenet will not contribute to its backlist, so the press also uses BookScan to guide acquisitions of titles like Complete Krav Maga: The Ultimate Guide to Over 200 Self-Defense and Combative Techniques, a book about self-defense techniques used by the Israeli army. Since it was released in May, Krav Maga sold out the 10,000 first printing and Ulysses has gone back to press.
Riegert founded Ulysses in 1983 with his wife and copublisher, Leslie Henriques, to publish his book Hidden Hawaii. The press expanded the Hidden series to include other locations and now has 35 titles in the line, which it is redesigning. In addition to travel guides, Ulysses publishes titles on fitness, martial arts and mind/body/spirit. Ulysses will use some of the Mugglenet money to begin publishing full-color high-end books like the forthcoming Mega Picture Puzzles. But Riegert is being careful not to overexpand, and intends to continue to produce 50 books a year with a 12-person staff.