Most publishers aren't content to "fly below the radar," as Jodere founder Debbie Luican says she is, but the executive with a "broad-based mission to find authors with a message" likes it that way. Luican, who has already published a bestseller, Crossing Over by TV personality John Edward, has a number of beliefs about why publishing economics often don't work—and a few ideas for correcting them.
Luican ran a live-events company for many years and founded Jodere in September 2000, after realizing the opportunities live events held for authors. Described as a "publishing multimedia firm," the house will release about 25 titles this year, most of them in the categories of personal fulfillment, coping and spirituality.
It is, however, not so much the kind of books Jodere publishes but rather how it publishes them—with little to no advances, heavy marketing, authors handpicked because of their platforms, cross-media licensing—that makes its tack unorthodox. "We're always on the cutting edge of understanding what the general public wants," said Luican. "We're doing the events already, so we know what resonates with people."
When it comes to her ideas, Luican is short on specifics, saying a lot of plans are still in the works, but if half of what she talks about comes to pass, she may in fact have a new model on her hands. For instance, Jodere has only 15 people in its San Diego headquarters, but the company has full-time employees scattered throughout the country working on everything from licensing to distribution, including a few in Los Angeles, where Jodere is negotiating a TV pilot for one author and an infomercial for another. Plans for a third include a board game.
Luican, who does not have a publicist on staff, holds some unconventional notions about publicity, noting that "every book needs a different kind of expert." She also uses a strategy that relies less heavily on traditional notions of sales and marketing. While Jodere sells into many outlets, many of its sales come through live events, where a few hundred copies can be sold at a clip. First printing for most titles is at least 20,000 copies. Starting this spring, the house will end its distribution agreement with Hay House and will distribute titles on its own.
The house's biggest success has unequivocally been Edward. Lucian signed up the former Sci-fi Channel host before he crossed over to CBS. The house has been happy with his success, but wary of becoming too associated with it, in part, perhaps, because Jodere has not signed up anything else by him.
If the house has some interesting ideas in the works, it also has made secrecy a priority. Luican rarely gives interviews and declined at first to even specify what she anticipated as her big spring titles, saying she loved all her literary children.
Secrecy, she said, has suited the house just fine. "We haven't advertised, so everyone's first- or second- or third-generation friends. You need to know we exist."