Eric Kampmann, president of the distribution firm Midpoint Trade Books, has created what he describes as a joint-venture publishing operation that will cost an author more than publishing with an online vanity house, but will be less expensive than forming a company to self-publish a book.

Under Kampmann's model, both Midpoint and the author will invest several thousand dollars in a project, with the author's investment covering overhead and preproduction costs, while Midpoint will cover the cost of printing and some initial publicity efforts, including sending galleys for review and creating a press kit. But the most important perk in signing with Midpoint is that an author is ensured distribution through Midpoint, which provides sales and fulfillment for more than 200 publishers.

Kampmann will publish the titles under Beaufort Books, an imprint he has owned for about 20 years, but which has done only a few small projects (including one of Kampmann's own titles) in recent years. Publishing veteran David Nelson joined Midpoint at the beginning of this year as publisher of Beaufort and is also in charge of selling Midpoint titles into mass merchants, a new area for Midpoint. "If you publish with Beaufort, you will get into stores," Kampmann said, a claim that can't be made by online publishers such as iUniverse.

Nelson said he plans to publish five or six books this year and between 20 and 30 in 2006. Beaufort's first book, a novel, is due in September. Nelson, Kampmann and v-p for sales and marketing Gail Kump comprise Beaufort's editorial board and will select manuscripts they deem appropriate for the list.

While competitors such as Independent Publishers Group and National Book Network are affiliated with publishing houses, Kampmann said he was looking for a way his company could own some content when he came up with the business model for Beaufort. He noted that a number of self-published authors who had been distributed by Midpoint had had their titles acquired by larger houses, without any financial gain for Midpoint. Under Beaufort's contracts, Midpoint splits the profits with the author on all sales made through stores, as well as any revenue from rights sales. Other terms include a 70% buyback provision for authors.