BelleBooks Believes in a New Business Model

December 2010
by Linda Carlson

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BUILDING THE BUSINESS

BelleBooks Believes in a New Business Model

by Linda Carlson

When I heard that BelleBooks had been founded in 2000 by a group of Southern romance writers, it was easy to visualize poufy-haired blondes sipping iced tea in a rose garden, passing out editorial, design, accounting, and marketing tasks like cards for a bridge game.

The reality, of course, is far different. True, BelleBooks was created to issue what president Deborah Dixon and editorial director Deb Smith call “feel-good Southern fiction.” But its six founders were authors with more than 200 books to their collective credit from such major fiction publishers as Bantam, Berkley, Avon, Little, Brown, Random House, and Ballantine Books. And they didn’t just think it would be fun to publish books. They had a strategy: combine the talents of writers with important industry strengths in graphic design, public relations, and business operations.

The founders didn’t go into business to publish their own novels; in fact, their existing contracts prevented them from doing that. As Dixon recently explained, the first BelleBooks title was a collection of their short stories, because that was the only kind of fiction their contracts allowed them to publish elsewhere.

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