Today we are talking with Christopher Robbins (yep, you’ve heard a name like that before) about his company FAMILIUS.
See what he says, below.
Familius mission: To help families be happy.
Through the use of current digital technologies, Familius connects families with the books, e-books, videos, articles, and apps they need to build successful marriages and families. Familius is a transmedia publisher, creating content across multiple platforms that focuses on marriage, parenting, family fun, fiction, education, health and wellness, and children.
1. Christopher, you worked for many years at Gibbs-Smith. What did you do there? How did this time prepare you to launch FAMILIUS?
I’ve been in book and magazine publishing since 1992. As the CEO of Gibbs Smith during the late nineties and until 2012 I was part of a company that went from a regional, small, western publisher to one of the most significant illustrated book publishers in the country, outpacing many of the New York houses in design, architecture, business, children’s, and cooking categories. At one point we held 40% of the top spots in design, had a NY Times bestseller, and were publishing over 100 titles a year. Being part of such growth helped me to experience every area of publishing, from acquisitions to editorial to production to accounting to sales and marketing to fulfillment and more. Further as the industry changed from independents to chains to online to chain bankruptcy, the rise of social media, ebooks, and more, I became very familiar with the need of a publishing company to constantly adapt. The most important thing I learned was that publishing is a product driven business–publishing is about acquiring, not about editing.
2. What makes Familius different than other publishers? And is that difference good for all writers?
Familius is different in that we are not trying to be a traditional book publisher. First, we are what I call a transmedia publisher, a company that tries to publish content in as many ways as possible–books, articles, apps, video, etc. 52 School Lunches is a good example. This book succeeds as an ebook for all devices, an app for all devices, as content for our familius.com and as a print book scheduled for winter 2015. Further, at Familius we work hard and invest significantly in creating a website that attracts a family demographic. We don’t want to delegate the sales and marketing responsibility to stores or reps. We want to have a direct relationship with our customers. So, the third phase of Familius which launches in September is about building a community. As we strengthen our community we can then focus on finding writers for our readers rather than readers for our writers. This strategy inverts the traditional publishing program.
I think Familius is a company for writers who want to explore a new way of publishing and who are very eager to partner with a company who acts as a steward of their content. We don’t do well with authors who just expect us to do everything. Authors who engage with us throughout the process seem to enjoy the company and have more success. And so do we.
3. I know you are launching middle grade and young adult fiction this year. Why did you decide to step into the fiction arena?
We decided to explore fiction for two reasons: first, my kids always complained that I never published anything they wanted to read. Second, we feel that there’s opportunity to publish very good, intelligent, wholesome, family-friendly fiction. We’d like to be a counterpoint to some of what’s out there. We’ve been working with some of our authors on what I call our fiction constitution, a standard of what we’ll be acquiring and publishing.
4. Are you a writer, too? What do you love to read?