One of my favorite things about Cumberland House is that we are independent. We are owned by our president and publisher, Ron Pitkin. We do not answer to shareholders, or a corporate parent, or a holding company, or even a board of directors. This gives us great flexibility and agility and fosters great creativity. We have an entrepreneurial spirit and don’t get bogged down in corporate bureaucracy. We make decisions and we act on them.
One of the most eye-opening aspects of being independent is the reality of cash flow. In my previous jobs budgets were numbers on spreadsheets. They were important but they were never real money to me or, as much as I could tell, any of my colleagues. My previous employer is very disciplined about meeting profitability hurdles, but they were just percentages on a proforma, or profit and loss statement. At Cumberland House, we use a P&L as a tool to help us make smart financial decisions, but must we also look at the real impact of printing 10,000 copies of a book at $2.50 a unit and the $25,000 printing bill that will come due long before the first bookseller ever pays for (or returns) their books.
There are a lot of benefits for an author to work with an independent publisher, the best of which is that we have one goal—to sell as many copies of our books as possible. It is not uncommon at a corporate publisher for a good idea or sales opportunity to get passed around, person after person saying, “That’s not my job.” You won’t get that at CHP. If it is a good idea, we’ll do it.