In the Spotlight with Brian Felsen, CEO of BookBaby



If you are a self-published author you have probably heard of BookBaby.  They can convert your book (or manuscript) into an eBook for a very reasonable price and help with getting your book into major distribution channels.  With so many authors opting to go this route it is great to have BookBaby around.  One of the things I like about this company is that they charge you a flat up-front fee and that’s it.  They don’t take a percentage of your sales once it becomes available as an eBook.  There are not many services around that do that.  Having an innate sense of curiosity about the people behind the companies I like – I wanted to find out more about the person who created Book Baby.  In my eyes, this person and company is helping to realize people’s dreams.  How many people wish they could write and publish a story they might have been working on forever.  Well, BookBaby can help you realize this dream and the process is fairly simple.  Both Penelope and Gerry are available as eBooks created by BookBaby so I am speaking from experience when I say the process was quite easy.  CEO and Founder of BookBaby, Brian Felsen, and I had a chance to speak about what was the motivation behind starting BookBaby and what has been some of his more memorable experiences with his fellow authors.




Tell us what was the inspiration behind starting BookBaby?

Our sister company is CD Baby – the world’s largest distributor of independent music, which distributes almost 5 million tracks to stores like Apple and Amazon, so we have a great relationship with them.  When they came out with these beautiful devices like the iPad and Kindle, I was thinking that independent authors are in the same boat as musicians: looking for a fair way to get their work out there to the world without having to deal with the problems of traditional distribution.  We thought that it would be popular, but I didn’t expect it to be this popular.  And I love the service – I’ve distributed my own book through BookBaby – and my wife’s, and my 8-year-old son’s!


What changes have you seen in the publishing world and how has that affected your business?

Many of the same changes that have been impacting the music business – consolidation, decline in physical distribution, loss of major physical retail outlets – were leading to the crumbling of the traditional model – and the biggest hits were independently released!  So now it’s not only possible but actually desirable for writers to DIY and release their works everywhere, control their distribution, get into all of the major online retail markets, have a fast time-to-market, and to keep the maximum amount of their revenues.


One of the things I love about Book Baby is that it allows people to realize their dream of publishing their book(s).  What is one of your more memorable comments or experiences with an author who has worked with Book Baby.


Brendan Spratt, author of Special Nobody.


Self-publishing is overwhelming. I envy anyone who thinks it’s easy. In fact, I’d put money on the fact they were bluffing or weren’t doing it properly. It’s an industry and like any industry can take years to learn about, navigate and be successful in. When I decided Self-publishing was the route I wanted to take, I started reading blogs about it. Being a bit of a technophobe when I’d read the blogs, I’d always feel a little queasy until I came across BookBaby. BookBaby takes all the difficult parts of publishing and does it for you. I submitted Special Nobody, sat back and let them do the work. Seeing Special Nobody appear on Amazon, the queasy feelings were replaced with feelings of excitement.

I’m an Indie Writer.   I’m a one man band.   I’m a writer, a publisher & a marketer.   BookBaby is helping me find the audience I know is out there and waiting to read my work.

I have made two phone calls to BookBaby and was worried my questions were a bit silly or I should know the answers. The BookBaby team put me at ease and answered my questions making me realize no question was too small. Self-publishing can be a lonely business so it’s great to feel like somebody has your back and you are part of a team.


Special Nobody is the story of a young man who has broken down at the crossroads of life, the teenager he once was and the man he aspires to become.  At 22, Jason L’Estrange should have the world at his feet. Instead, he wakes on a dismal hospital ward to discover he’s a broken foot and a multitude of other injuries.  Learning he plunged down the stairs of Dublin’s seediest nightclub, Jason has no recollection if he fell or was pushed and the hospital psychiatrist is questioning if he may have had any reason to harm himself?  Heart-warming but gritty and honest, Special Nobody is the realistic story of a flawed young adult and will appeal to other young adults and those who remember how hard it can be to find your way in life. No vampires or wizards, this is sex, drugs and dance music and guarantees to take the reader on a roller coaster of a ride.    Special Nobody has now been available for 4 weeks on Amazon and is now available in all the BookBaby affiliated book stores. I’ve yet to receive any sales information from BookBaby but am continuing to concentrate on marketing the book and am happy with the 5 positive/5 star reviews it has already received on Amazon.    I started writing my first book at 16 and all through my twenties completing a book was top of the list of things I wanted to accomplish. When I turned 30, it was hanging over me like a dark cloud and I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I got Special Nobody written. Now it’s for sale, there’s a great feeling of accomplishment and although amazing sales would be fabulous, just getting it out there feels good.


Any news you want to share with Penelope’s mates?

We just signed a bunch of new retail partners and libraries overseas (we distribute to over 170 countries!) – stay tuned!  J


More praise for BookBaby:



Thanks for your time Brian and thank you for creating BookBaby and helping people realize their dream of publishing a book (or two).

Good news! Bookbaby is offering a discount for Penelope’s mates.  Just use coupon code: GLAWS for now, which is good for 15% off their
services, and expires 12/31/13.


To read more about how easy it is to convert your manuscript into an eBook go here:




  1. I’m a ghostwriter and have written over 60 books. I used to write my own books for major publishing comapnies but now I mostly ghost for people who want to write books but don’t have the time. Often my clients get their books self-published by Create Space or through some publisher they find on their own. Recently, a client asked if I could handle the publishing of an e-book. Having recieved many e-mails from baby I figured why not try them out. I’m not sure I made the right move.

    Thgus far, the designers created a great cover and we are nearing the end of the process, I think. But the road has not been “user friendly.” Even sending a simple word document meant I had to install a new program… and it still didn’t go through – finally customer service said why not just attach it and send it to them – so I did – unessessary problem solved. Next they told me that they would set up an account where I could receive my royalties. Roayalties? Huh? I thught that under their Premiere Package I would get the full profits. They explained that by royalties, they meant payment after Amazon and the other distributors take their commissions. That is not at all what royalties mean. Royalties are when a traditional publishing comapny pays you a small percentage of books you sell, NOT when a company pays you what you are entitled to (full profits) less commissions. Again, unnessessary confusion averted. When I received the book cover I simply needed two words removed – very straight forward – but they sent me an e-mail to insure all of the words on the page were correct, and insisted they needed this completed. The only t problem was now the punctuation was wrong. So rather than correcting two words, I now had to go back and write out the whole cover again with proper punctuation. In the end the cover looks great. Another hurdle covered. Now I have the entire book which was sent over so I could see that it was corrected and laid out perfectly. Of course it’s in a file that does not download and won’t open. I get PDF files from people everyday, why can’t they put it into a simple file? Apparently that would be too easy. So, I have yet another hurdle along a very very bumpy path. In the end, I’m assuming they will provide an answer so I can read the book without having to download all sorts of programs. I assume it will all work out but boy they have a lot of unessessary potholes along the way.

    In business, to get the most customers, you want to make the process as simple as possible. Also, DON’T send form e-mails every time you try to reach out to someone in customer service. Have one person assigned to each book so you don’t have to start all over with a new person every time you try communicating with the company. Continuity counts.

    I’m not sure whether or not I’ll recommend Book Baby in the future at speaking engagements when I discuss publishing. They need a smoother process that is user friendly and a customer service team that replaces form letters with real people. If Zappos can do it, so can Book Baby. For now, the verdict is still out from my perspective upon how they rate as a self-publishing house.

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