Thursday, May 2, 2013


William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, yesterday announced the launch of Witness, a new digital-original mystery, suspense and thriller line – the first of its kind from a major U.S. publisher.  Witness will debut in October 2013. Editors have already acquired more than 100 full-length books for Witness - with 10 titles publishing within the first month, and are actively seeking additional titles for the launch.

In addition, Witness will feature digital versions of Agatha Christie’s short stories. In the Fall, Witness will release all the “Hercule Poirot” short stories as digital singles, and then together in a single omnibus edition with a foreword by Charles Todd.

“Our starting lineup gives an indication of the editorial scope of the imprint,” notes Mallory, executive director of Morrow.  “It's an exciting collection of brand-new content, international bestsellers not previously available in the U.S., and newly digitized backlist classics. It runs the gamut from police procedurals to literary suspense; historical mysteries to action thrillers.”

Authors published by Witness will have a dedicated team, ensuring they receive full editorial support as well as an individualized strategic marketing and publicity campaign.  Dynamic, market-responsive pricing remains a cornerstone of the Witness/Impulse e-book pricing strategy.  Even though these books are digital-first, the HarperCollins sales group is always seeking out opportunities in print, working with key retail accounts to execute tailored promotions in physical stores.  To date, more than 60 percent of Impulse titles have a print format, with thousands of printed copies sold for each of those books.

Later this year, Witness will launch its website,, featuring excerpts and author-reader interactivity.

Witness launch titles include:
Darkness First by James Hayman
Black Dog by internationally bestselling author Stephen Booth
Prince by CWA Dagger-winning author Rory Clements
An Illustrated Death by bestselling author Judi Culbertson
Hunted by Sunday Times “Top 10” bestselling author Emlyn Reese
Blind Date by CWA Dagger-winning Frances Fyfield
The Drop by Howard Linskey

“Impulse has become a great place to develop new talent – we’ve launched so many new voices in just one year,” said Senior Vice President and Publisher Liate Stehlik.  “We are excited to extend this publishing model into the mystery, suspense and thriller genres with Witness, and are actively looking for new writers to introduce to readers.  Our digital publishing also gives our existing author base the opportunity to stay in the public eye year-round, with strategically published short stories, essays, interstitials, and other creative works.  I want to emphasize: for all of our Impulse lines (Witness, Avon and Voyager), our digital-first authors get the guarantee that they are working with the same talented teams that edit, market and sell our printed books.”

Witness will feature the same royalty structure as William Morrow/Avon’s other digital-first imprints: authors receive a 50% royalty once their book sells 10,000 copies (initial royalties start at 25%). They will not receive an advance.

Stehlik is also proud to announce that beginning August 1, all digital-first authors who opt for the Impulse model will receive royalty payments on a monthly basis.   “This is exciting news in itself,” says Stehlik.  “There is a true financial benefit to signing with our Impulse imprints.”

This year, Avon Impulse had multiple authors who transitioned from a digital-first to a traditional print model; this is in addition to a plethora of bestselling e-books that were released in widely distributed print editions by leading mass merchandisers and bookstore accounts.  The digital imprint has already produced many bestsellers and award-winning publications within the first year.  Avon, William Morrow and Harper Voyager U.S. have found the flexibility of digital publishing to be an ideal arena for innovative projects, such as interstitials, short-form novels and novellas; as well as promoting between-the-book publication strategies that help keep major authors connected with their readers on a year-round basis.

“There is no doubt that digital publishing has become an integral component in strategically growing new authors, and extending the discoverability and marketability of our existing author base,” comments Stehlik.  “We forecast more opportunities for everyone involved as we launch Witness and continue to expand, evolve and improve the Impulse program.”

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