Earlier this year, entrepreneur, attorney and finance and real estate expert Jim Randel launched a line of brief self-help books offering advice and expertise under Rand Publishing . The books—paperbacks priced between $12.95 and $14.95 and illustrated with drawings of stick figures —can be read in about an hour. The first book, The Skinny on Willpower: How to Develop Self-Discipline, pubbed in February. Two more followed in April: The Skinny on Credit Cards: How to Master the Credit Card Game and The Skinny on the Housing Crisis: What Every Homeowner and Homebuyer Needs to Know; and another in May: The Skinny on Real Estate Investing: An Introduction to the Subject (Part 1). Randel wrote all the books, published them himself, and sold them through BN.com, Amazon and his own site, TheSkinnyOn.com.
Rand, in Westport, Conn., is working with Karen Strauss of Strauss Consulting to secure a national distributor for its books. The company has a small staff and is adding a new title every month or so, with the goal of publishing 25 to 35 books in the next year. But Randel can’t write all the books himself, especially since the series is expanding into categories where he’s not an expert, including online dating, medicine and books for teens. Rand’s editorial model is to connect in-house writers with topic experts for books like The Skinny on Migraines and The Skinny on Fad Diets. CEO Katie Rose Hope said the house is finding writers by word of mouth and online. It is also seeking new writers via a writing contest. Writers submit 10-page samples that mimic the Skinny On series’ style. One winner will receive a $1,000 prize—and the chance to join the Skinny On writing team permanently.
Hope said, “It may be unconventional to utilize a contest as a means of hiring, but we don’t aim to be a conventional publishing company,” and said she was “thrilled with the response we are getting.” Writers can submit samples to Mike Cassidy until July 2, and the winner will be announced July 17.