Book Country launches self publishing services

Penguin's online genre fiction writing community broadens path to publication

NEW YORK, November 16, 2011 -- Book Country, the online community dedicated to genre fiction launched by Penguin Group (USA) earlier this year, today introduced a suite of self-publishing tools, marking the first entry by a unit of a Big Six publisher into this fast-growing, non-traditional segment of the book industry.

"In combination with free access to our community and all it offers readers and writers of original genre fiction, these professional tools provide a direct path to publication for those who choose to go the self-publishing route," said Molly Barton, president of Book Country. "And the site remains a great way for authors to get their manuscripts read, critiqued and workshopped in preparation for readers."

The site has attracted more than 120,000 unique visitors since going into public beta in May and has close to 4,000 members who have posted over 500 works of genre fiction and offered thousands of constructive critiques of those works. Publishing professionals have used the site to scout for new authors. A small number of writers in the community have secured agents. The new self-publishing tools will add another way for site members to reach readers.

David Shanks, chief executive of Penguin Group (USA), said, "Penguin is committed to maintaining its leadership position in digital publishing and that includes offering self-publishing services that are consistent with our overall strategy of connecting a broad variety of writers to the reading public. With its focus on nurturing and supporting new voices, Book Country is the perfect vehicle for introducing a new kind of self publishing that offers a more professional product and provides guidance that isn't currently available from other players."

While there are dozens of book packagers and self-publishing sites, Book Country is the only one that allows writers to create an eBook and a print book in one simple flow. Book Country combines a robust peer review process, a staff with decades of book publishing experience, and groundbreaking browsing tools to help writers be discovered. Book Country also provides a cover creator tool and suggests fonts and styles that would be appropriate for the book's genre. And unlike other self-publishing sites, the author can make up to 15 free formatting changes if they need to make small refinements late in the process. Three options—user-formatted eBook only, user-formatted eBook and print, and professional eBook and print—are available. Start to finish, the Book Country self-publishing process is streamlined and simple, while offering flexibility and customization.

"Self publishing is a trend that isn't going away," said Ms. Barton. "There are a growing number of authors who simply want to go directly to readers with their books. We respect that new reality and the changed landscape that technology has brought to book publishing."

In addition to being Book Country's President, Ms. Barton leads Penguin US's efforts to publish apps, enriched eBooks, and eSpecials, which are digital-only essays and short stories. As Global Digital Director at Penguin, she is applying her vision and knowledge of digital publishing to developing key elements of Book Country's offerings.

“Book Country is egalitarian and merit-based while fostering an atmosphere of encouragement and creativity,” explains Ms. Barton. “We created the site because while writing and publishing sites have proliferated in recent years, none are focused on supporting genre fiction writers from inspiration to publication.”

Visit Book Country at



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