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Agate: Starting Small, Growing Carefully

doug-seibold-headshot2.jpgAgate president Doug Seibold (right) recounts his history in independent publishing to Slate readers in an extensive interview for the site’s “BizBox” column, including an explanation of how he decided to start small but focused:

“For a company like Agate, the African-American world represents an ideal small market to get into: it’s perennially under-served, and there’s also a great deal of commitment and attachment to good, quality stuff that comes to the African-American people and is respectful of their interests—there’s a real hunger for it… Our first book, [Jill Nelson's Sexual Healing]… was not a home run, but it was a very solid effort. We sold a lot of books, we sold rights in four markets around the world, we sold film rights, we sold paperback rights. The success of that first book allowed me to bootstrap it from there, and it’s been my own resources ever since then.”

“I believe that you’ve always gotta be trying to grow,” Seibold adds. “That’s one of the basic fundamental things about any business, is pursuing growth. I have made the choice to keep reinvesting in growth rather than to take money out of the company.” In addition to creating three other imprints over the years, Seibold reveals at the interview’s end that he’s about to launch “a big e-book rollout,” starting with somewhere between 40 and 50 titles. (For anyone interested in indie publishing and entrepreneurship, the entire article is a must-read.)

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