The ways people buy and read books have undergone revolutionary change in the last half decade. Book publishing is the latest major media to transition to the digital age. As a result of this shifting landscape, five publishing executives with more than 125 years of collective experience are teaming with international branding and marketing firm Grey Matter Group, Grand Rapids, MI, in launching Somersault Group, doing business as Somersault.
"For Somersault, the unprecedented changes in the publishing world aren't a crisis; they're a playground of possibilities," says John Topliff, General Manager. "Somersault will help clients embrace change and leverage it to fulfill their mission." Topliff comes to Somersault from Zondervan, a HarperCollins company (a division of News Corp.), where he was Vice President of Strategic Product Integration.
Due to rapidly churning communication technology and seismic shifts in the book market distribution landscape -- from the Internet to eReaders and the iPad to individual book print-on-demand capability -- publishers expect authors to take more responsibility for the development, promotion, and sales of their books. Somersault will help publishers, agents, ministry partners, and Christian authors adapt to these changes with dexterity. It combines the experience and vision of Somersault publishing executives with the integrated marketing and technology expertise of Grey Matter Group digital natives. Somersault will provide authors with brand counseling, editorial direction, research capabilities, marketing strategy, Internet and social media presence, and a comprehensive portfolio of publishing assistance.
Somersault's mission statement is: To change lives by connecting inspirational content creators with readers using exceptional creativity, right-now technology, and old-fashioned personal care.
According to John Sawyer, Brand & Marketing Strategist, Somersault will honor good ideas and the creative people who embody them. "We believe in the power of books to change lives, and are committed to help authors tell their stories and actively engage their readers," says Sawyer. "Somersault wants to be known for its nimbleness and responsiveness. Anticipating and embracing the future, being attentive to consumer behavior, inviting collaboration, and encouraging entrepreneurship are our core values, as we operate within the framework of having fun and reflecting the kingdom of God. We'll seek and find for our clients 'blue water' opportunities (uncontested market space), be they pond, lake, or ocean."
Somersault is an alliance of book industry executives who have a professional and personal passion for Christian publishing. The managers are:
* John Topliff, General Manager. In his most recent position at Zondervan, Topliff worked with bestselling authors, including Philip Yancey, John Ortberg, Anne Graham Lotz, and Rob Bell, to maximize their content across all publishing divisions. His career experience includes positions at Baker Publishing Group, Revell, HarperCollinsPublishers, and Spring Arbor Distributors. Topliff has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, and a Masters of Divinity Degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL.
* Jeannette Taylor, Research & Development Architect, responsible for product development and marketing strategies, and supervision of all research functions for Somersault. Taylor is the owner of the research firm JET Marketing and an adjunct Marketing Professor at Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI. She is the former General Manager of Bibles and Vice President of Marketing at Zondervan.
* David Lambert, Editorial Director, responsible for managing the editorial development process for each manuscript for Somersault. Lambert is the owner of Lambert Editorial. He is the author of ten books (including last year's The Missionary); speaker; former Senior Fiction Editor at Howard Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster; and former Executive Editor for fiction at Zondervan.
* Jonathan Petersen, Social Media Marketing/WOM/Publicity Evangelist, responsible for creating the Internet marketing and publicity strategy for all Somersault authors. Petersen is the former Senior Director of Corporate & Internet Communications at Zondervan and Religion News Editor at UPI Radio Network. His microblog (twitter.com/jonpetersen) is a featured recommendation in the twitterati, marketing, and social media categories on Alltop.com.
* John Sawyer, Brand & Marketing Strategist, responsible for developing brand identity and positioning strategies for authors to help them build loyal readership and long-term value. Previously Vice President of Bible Marketing at Zondervan and Director of Marketing at Baker Publishing Group, Sawyer is currently Chief Strategy Officer at Grey Matter Group.