The box greeting Keith Ogorek at home one day in December 2011 was a pleasant surprise, the latest consequence of a project he embarked on to save himself from making $40 trips to Kinkos.
The same project also inadvertently led him to play an integral role in self-publishing, the blossoming-turned-booming industry that he dubbed “the next indie revolution,” which has made book authorship available in a way unimaginable more than 15 years ago. Ogorek, who is senior vice president of global marketing for Author Solutions, embodies the self-publishing success story while working full-time for the company that helped to make his goal a reality.
Ogorek eagerly opened the box that he received nearly two years ago to find eight copies of the first book he had ever written translated into Italian. The Italian version even featured the additional chapter he wrote specifically for that new edition.
He wrote, “A Clear View: The Formation and Impact of Worldview,” to supplement a class being taught at his church. As people learned more about the class content, which details how people develop their worldview based on their thoughts of God, humanity and the nature of existence, they began requesting copies of what he had written. Ogorek initially responded to each individual inquiry by visiting a local Kinkos printing center, making copies of the different materials he created, organizing them in a binder and putting them in the mail.
His desire to find an alternative to those Kinkos runs led him to AuthorHouse, a Bloomington, Ind.-based self-publishing company that provides services to help people create and publish their books, which are then available to sell to consumers. After working with AuthorHouse, Ogorek simply told people interested in his work to visit amazon.com, to learn more about “A Clear View.” He then received an inquiry from someone in Italy, asking for approval to translate the book into Italian.
“The royalties on this book will never be significant,” Ogorek said. “But the idea that someone got the book at a conference in Europe, took that book back to their country, started using it, found it useful enough so that another publisher in another country would invest the time to translate and publish it in another language is just thrilling.”
It was his first experience into the self-publishing industry, which Ogorek said follows in the footsteps of filmmaking and music production by making media creation available to the masses. Authors can now contract with a company to directly publish their book without depending on a major publisher to first take interest.
“Most people say ‘If I could just impact 10 or 15 people with my writing, I would say it was worth it,’” Ogorek said. “The reality is some people actually impact 10 or 15, some impact hundreds, some impact thousands. The point I make often is self-publishing doesn’t mean everyone will be successful. It’s that now everyone has the opportunity to be successful.”
Making his mark
Ogorek, who graduated from Indiana State in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, knew his professional interest since he first took a marketing course as a junior in high school. While at Indiana State, he gained experience by selling ads for The Statesman, the student newspaper.
“I always had an affinity to understand how consumers think and figure out ways to effectively communicate with them,” Ogorek said.
He worked in marketing for a bank and advertising agency before becoming an advertising consultant. After publishing “A Clear View” in 2006, a friend of his who was also friends with the president of the company encouraged them to meet for lunch to talk about AuthorHouse. They met and talked about the company’s approach to marketing, which led to an employment opportunity for Ogorek.
“People have different motivations and goals in wanting to publish their book,” Ogorek said. “The more you can communicate to them based on those motivations and goals, the more effective you can be in your marketing.”
He started working for AuthorHouse in September 2007, and the business has quickly grown. The company created Author Solutions in 2007 as an umbrella organization after acquiring an additional company that provided specialized self-publishing services. Six years ago, the company featured two brands and 220 employees; today, Author Solutions boasts 1,800 employees working for more than 20 brands around the world, Ogorek said.
The company’s annual revenue has grown fivefold in six years, he added. Last July, Penguin Group acquired Author Solutions for $116 million.
“It’s a validation that self-publishing is not only something that is a viable option for authors, but it’s also something that will be transformative to the publishing industry,” Ogorek said. “When one of the largest, most respected publishers in the world purchases your company, that says something about your model.”
Ogorek has continued to take advantage of his company’s services. In 2009, Ogorek published “Eli the Stable Boy,” a fictional children’s book about the boy who prepared the stable where Jesus was born. The book was based on a story that Ogorek made up to tell his then-young daughters before they would go to sleep.
The book has led to some memorable experiences for its writer. Ogorek has done book signings in churches and bookstores. He and his daughter even did a signing at the bookstore at Taylor University, where Ogorek’s daughter studied.
He even was told of how a friend’s daughter and son-in-law had purchased the book for her as a Christmas gift, asking her to read it when her first grandchild would be born. It was her daughter and son-in-law’s way of telling her that they were pregnant.
“I get to help people do that every day,” Ogorek said of authors’ unique experiences with books they have written. “I tell people, if the only reason you are going to publish is because you want to make a lot of money, you will be sorely disappointed and you will miss out on some of the most important things.”
Ogorek has also leapt into the digital realm of self-publishing. Last year, he wrote “7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors,” an e-book available on tablets, eReaders and mobile devices that provides an overview of advice for aspiring writers that Ogorek ascertained from conversations with hundreds of authors.
“I knew the industry was changing fast, and if you publish digitally you can update the content very easily,” Ogorek said of the e-book. “If you publish in print the content is there permanently, and you can’t update it as quickly, which is why I only did it as a digital book. I actually need to revise it, because things have changed that significantly (already).”
He also supports self-published authors on the Internet and in social media. His blog, www.indiebookwriters.com, features posts and advice on different aspects of self-publishing, including advice and other items that Ogorek finds to support writers.
He frequently discusses writing and self-publishing at conferences and programs around the country, and he travels internationally for Author Solutions. In the past few months, he has traveled to New York, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Australia and the Philippines.
But he also points out with pride that the publishing revolution did not start in a major city like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, but at Author Solutions based in Bloomington, Ind.
“I had a sense that from my own personal experiences that there was something significant here, but I would be lying if I said I knew we would be growing as fast as we’ve grown, and things would change as fast as they’ve changed,” Ogorek said of self-publishing. “It’s been an amazing ride. It’s been great for Indiana.”
Austin Arceo is the assistant director of media relations at Indiana State University.