A New Business Model for Publishing?

I’ve been reading articles and blog posts by John J. Miller for years over at National Review, and I was only half surprised to find out that he was publishing his first novel. The First Assassin is an historical novel that takes place at the beginning of the Civil War, and seems as though it will be a nice complement to Gore Vidal’s Lincoln (just kidding, John!). Having finally finished The Killer Angels a few weeks ago, I’m ready for another fictional take on the Civil War era.

I was surprised to learn that Miller self-published the book through CreateSpace, the latest incarnation of BookSurge the print-on-demand press so strongly associated with amazon.com. As he describes his publishing odyssey on his website:

The spine of The First Assassin includes the title of the book and my name as author. At the bottom, there’s also a small publisher’s logo: a W with a box around it. That stands for Woodbridge Press, my own imprint.

So what is the Woodbridge Press? It’s my attempt at entrepreneurship, an opportunity that puts me in charge of every aspect of The First Assassin. I’m not only the writer but also the publisher and publicist.

The First Assassin is available exclusively online through a new print-on-demand service: If you order a copy, they’ll print one and mail it to you. My partner is CreateSpace.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. During this “soft launch” phase, The First Assassin may be purchased only through CreateSpace.com (here). Soon, it will also be listed on Amazon.com.

I’m impressed, and I think it shows how years of hard work may be required to produce a successful novel. And I’m not even referring to the actual writing of the novel, which Miller has apparently been working on for a number of years. Having already published non-fiction and established a career as a journalist with a fairly large profile at National Review, Miller is in a great position to market the novel. While I’m not sure this model works as well for authors with a smaller cyber footprint, it may not be long before POD options like CreateSpace are the only way to go. As Miller explains:

When I finished writing The First Assassin, I tried to sell it to a traditional publisher the old fashioned way, as I had done with my previous books of non-fiction. Yet I couldn’t find a publisher that was willing to take a chance on a first-time novelist during the worst economy of our lives. I didn’t exhaust my options in this area, but I did start to explore alternatives.

So best of luck to John Miller and The First Assassin. I’m ordering a copy, and will try to get a review up at Korrektiv soon. Hey, I just realized I’m now a part of Miller’s viral marketing scheme!


  1. By spending just a little bit more money but with no more effort, John could have his book POD'd by Lightning Source.

    It would automatically be offered by Amazon, BarnesAndNoble.com, Target.com and dozens of other online booksellers worldwide. It could also be ordered by any bricks-and-mortar bookstore.

    Michael N. Marcus
    author of Become a Real Self-Publisher, http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661742


  2. Matthew Lickona says

    Good for him. Some of us are stuck self-publishing comic books on sites with difficult purchase mechanisms.

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