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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community


Thursday, July 13, 2017
TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN: New World Library Publisher and Cofounder Marc Allen on 40 Years in Publishing
 
I can’t believe it. We’re celebrating forty years of publishing at New World Library. And it was all something I just stumbled into. Or maybe I was guided into it by forces far beyond me — who knows?

In my twenties, I spent most of my time in what we called the “spiritual smorgasbord” of the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was twenty-eight — in 1974 — I met a young woman named Shakti Gawain. She was two years younger and had just spent a year in India. We went to a weekend workshop led by a man named Ken Keyes, Jr., based on his book Handbook to Higher Consciousness. It was an incredible experience, and Shakti and I became close heart friends and partners.

Neither of us had any money whatsoever, so when a friend asked us to work for him during a four-day seminar he was going to lead, we both said yes. It was a paying gig, after all. Shakti was going to cook, and I was going to support him in whatever he needed, handing out papers and things. Twenty-five people registered for the workshop and showed up at a big house we were all renting in north Berkeley. 

Ten minutes before it was supposed to start, the three of us were in the kitchen, and our would-be seminar leader said, “I can’t handle this,” and he went out the back door and left. And that’s how Shakti and I got started leading workshops: we never would’ve had the chutzpah to organize one ourselves, but one fell into our laps. We threw everything at the participants that each of us had learned in the previous decade, and it turned out — to our amazement — they loved it.

Between sessions I kept running upstairs and typing out a summary of what we had just done. We covered so much in those four days, and I knew people would forget most of it, so I wanted them to have a written record. I went to the copy shop in the evening and made copies to hand out. 

Some of the people who’d taken the first workshop asked Shakti and me to do another one, and we used the little booklet I’d thrown together. We even made extra copies, and charged $2.00 to cover the cost of making it. I wondered if that meant we had written and published a book, so I looked up book and publish in the dictionary and found that a book was any collection of paper with a spine of some sort (I assumed stapling it together counted), and publishing just meant printing a number of copies (no specific number was given) and distributing at least a few to the public. 

Every little step we took led to the next obvious step. We put out our funky little book with the title Reunion: Tools for Transformation and started to sell a few. Then I wrote a book called Astrology for the New Age, and we put out a slightly better-looking book.

Then in 1978 Shakti wrote a book called Creative Visualization, and it started selling through word of mouth. A few years later, Oprah Winfrey found it somehow and invited Shakti on her show. Suddenly we had a book that was selling. Suddenly we had a bona fide publishing company.

And it was totally out of control, losing money every month, because I had no idea how a profitable company operated. Finally, in 1982, we hired a woman named Victoria Clarke as a bookkeeper, and she showed me how to control our costs so that the bottom line was black instead of red. I’m eternally grateful to her. We’ve been profitable ever since she joined us — and she’s still with New World Library, thirty-five years later.

We still had one major weakness, however: marketing. We had no knowledge of promotion, no understanding of how the book industry operated in general. That problem was solved when Munro Magruder came along in 1990, first as a consultant, then full-time as Marketing Director. He had been with Little, Brown in Boston and knew what a serious publishing company needed to do to promote and sell books. He’s been with us ever since.

Once we had Creative Visualization out, it worked like a magnet, attracting other authors who we were able to publish successfully. Now we’ve got names on our list that include Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Campbell, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Deepak Chopra, Jane Roberts, Dan Millman, Richard Carlson, Peter Russell, SARK, Bernie Siegel, Mother Teresa, Alan Watts, and many, many others. We publish books we love, books that change people’s lives.

One other thing transformed our company: In those first years when we were losing money, I read an article about a Swiss hotel that, like us, was bleeding red ink. They interviewed someone to be the new manager, and he told the owners that his plan for success was a simple one — he’d give half the profits to employees, half to owners. After the first year, employees received a bonus from the profits equal to about two and a half weeks’ pay. After seven years, when the article was written, they’d received bonuses of nearly eight months’ pay. In cash. The hotel had obviously become a huge success.

I went to my staff and said, “Look, we’re losing money. Help me make a profit, and I’ll split the profits between employees and owners.” There was a dramatic change in the company, practically overnight. People found all kinds of creative ways to make the company better, and we eventually created a smoothly running, profitable enterprise.

We now have a wonderful team of eighteen staff members working together to produce books, as well as the occasional audio or video, that help fulfill our goal of creating beautiful works that help change people’s lives and help make this a better world. Of course, a great many other people also contribute to our success, including our authors, our distributors (thanks especially to Publishers Group West!), booksellers, enthusiastic people in the media, and, most of all, the people who read and love our work.

I salute every one of you. I’ll raise a glass of nonalcoholic champagne or sparkling apple juice and toast all the people who have helped me build the company of my dreams. We couldn’t have done it without you!

# # #

Marc Allen is the author of several books, including Visionary Business, The Magical Path, The Greatest Secret of All, and Tantra for the West. He is an internationally renowned seminar leader, entrepreneur, author, and composer. He cofounded New World Library (with Shakti Gawain) and has guided the company, as president and publisher, from a small start-up to its current position as a major player in the independent publishing world. He leads seminars in Northern California and gives teleseminars that reach people all over the world. Visit him online at MarcAllen.com


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