Since it was launched in 2014 by bestselling author Meredith Wild, Waterhouse Press has released two romance series that have sold phenomenally well. The company’s first series, Calendar Girl by Audrey Carlan, saw each of its 12 books reach e-book bestseller lists in the U.S., and the series has become a hit overseas: rights have been sold in 31 countries, and the print versions of February and March landed at the top of the bestseller list in France at the beginning of 2017. Waterhouse CEO David Grishman noted that, while Calendar Girl did very well in e-book editions in the U.S., the print editions have sold better than e-books abroad, where e-book penetration is much lower. Overall, Calendar Girl has sold about 4 million units in English (all formats), and while the series has not yet been released in its entirety in all of the 31 countries, international sales in all formats topped 4 million units by the end of 2016.
Waterhouse’s second major series, the Steel Brothers Saga by Helen Hardt, has also seen each of the books released to date hit e-book bestseller lists. Waterhouse acquired the Steel Brothers Saga and other Hardt works in November 2015, and since Waterhouse began releasing the line, it has sold more than 1 million copies across all formats worldwide. Grishman expects unit sales to exceed 2 million by the end of 2017, with three books still to be released.
Beginning this fall, Waterhouse is hoping for another breakout success with Misadventures. As conceived by Wild, Misadventures will be fun, quick reads (about 50,000 words) that “will be high on steam, light on plot.” The first book in the series will be Misadventures of a City Girl by Wild and Chelle Bliss, due out September 12. Seven books are planned for the fall and more for spring 2018. “It will be our flagship product next year,” Grishman said. Each of the authors who have signed on to write for Misadventures has agreed to do at least three books, but Grishman is hoping that if the line is successful they will do more. His ideal schedule would be to release a Misadventure title every few weeks in 2018.
The publication of Misadventures will be the first time Waterhouse has released books in hardcover; currently, it has limited print publication to trade paperback. “We think readers may want to collect the books in the series,” Wild explained. Grishman said one of his goals for 2017 is to raise print’s share of Waterhouse’s sales from 16% to 25%.
Wild will cowrite four of the fall Misadventure books and at least one next year. Although she previously sold her self-published Hacker series to Grand Central’s Forever imprint, she said any new books she writes will be done for Waterhouse. “Selling the rights to Hacker was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Wild said. (She declined to say whether she would like to buy her rights back at some point.)
It is that experience that lets Wild empathize with Waterhouse’s eight other authors. “I know how personal books can be to an author,” she said. Because of that, Waterhouse will continue to promote books well beyond their initial releases and work to build a community of readers for each author. Wild also said Waterhouse’s contracts are different from those of larger houses, although she didn’t disclose details.
To help grow the business, within the past year Waterhouse has added Scott Saunders as managing editor and Jeanne De Vita as development editor; Waterhouse now has a staff of 10. Waterhouse is also taking some functions it has outsourced in the past, such as rights sales, in-house, although it will continue to use Ingram Publisher Services for print distribution.
For all of its early success, Grishman said Waterhouse is still “fine-tuning [its] process” and that he sees the release of Misadventures as a chance to prove the company isn’t “a one-trick pony.”