After 15 years working in traditional publishing in New York City—the last five as v-p, online consumer sales and marketing, at Penguin—Jeff Gomez moved to San Francisco to take a job with Byliner, a digital short-content publishing venture, as head of writer marketing. A novelist and nonfiction writer, in addition to working as a publishing executive, Gomez told PW recently that after publishing Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age in 2009, he developed “a different view of the business.”
Gomez said he had “always been the digital guy at traditional publishers, but everything digital is happening in California.” He said, “this is where stories are going and where the business is going—online—at places like the Byliner. This is the future and I wanted to be at a place that’s all digital.”
Founded in 2011, Byliner provides a selection of links to short fiction and nonfiction by a host of distinguished authors, in addition to commissioning original works for its subscription service, Byliner Premium. The firm offers linked content for free via its Web site as well as through an app, e-books, and Web-enabled devices. Byliner’s publishing list features more than 200 well-regarded writers, including Jon Krakauer, Amy Tan, Margaret Atwood, Buzz Bissinger, and Sebastian Junger; the company works with authors by invitation only.
Gomez will direct the Byliner writer unit, a new section developed to connect the company’s writers with readers—specifically those authors who have signed contracts and backlist agreements for content offered through Byliner Premium. “We’ve got an online catalogue of great writers, but you need to support writers and show them how to reach their audiences online. That’s my job,” Gomez said. One of his first initiatives is to produce a marketing newsletter for Byliner authors; Gomez said it would also be offered as a subscription to agents and publishers as well.
He acknowledged that Byliner faces a lot of competition in the digital short-content business but said, “it works in our favor. Self-publishers really spurred this market, but what’s missing is what goes into making something a quality product. We get and work with the best authors. Readers are looking for something they can recognize, like big New York publishers, and Byliner means quality.”
After moving west, he said he initially felt the pull of “the New York state of mind,” but added that after attending San Francisco’s Books in Browsers conference, an annual digital publishing conference, “I found that there are readers here just as passionate about the product as anything at the Big Six.”