Morgan James Publishing: The future of publishing

The Hancock family: Susan and David with Morgan Renee and Ethan James, for whom the company was named.

David Hancock set out to change the publication business in 2003 after two different routes of the publication process, one being self-publication and the other the traditional publication process. Hancock wanted to mesh the best parts of both options and create a new way for authors to get published. And thus, Morgan James Publishing was created.

“The short version of how we started is after having successfully published both traditionally and self-published, I realized both models were lacking. Traditional publishers buy the rights to your work and make the decisions for you, then complain that you aren’t selling enough books. But they do bring exclusivity, distribution, opportunity and credibility to the table,” Hancock says. “Self-publishing brings flexibility and speed to market, along with the ability to create other things related to intellectual property rights and a higher profit margin. I set out to blend the best of both worlds, create an entrepreneurial publishing house that added value of a traditional publisher but stay out of the entrepreneurial author’s way and offer a close relationship, marketing support, ownership and control in the process to the author.”

Since then, Morgan James Publishing has been hand selecting entrepreneurially minded authors, mostly in the nonfiction genre, to publish and distribute to bookstores, both online and off for 19 years. While setting out to get published may be intimidating for many writers, Morgan James prides itself on how to assist writers with the process.

“We make the authors a part of the process, helping them figure out how to both leverage the power of the book as well as sales and marketing of the book. We don’t charge fees, offer any services or packages but rather partner with the authors to bring the book to market,” says Hancock.

While many may find the publication process long and confusing, Hancock sums up what Morgan James looks for in writers to begin the process. “While a potential author can submit work or an idea to us online, ultimately, meeting personally with one of our literary scouts or me, or over Zoom, offers the chance to catch the author’s vision and goals, generating excitement,” Hancock says. “Eighty percent of our decision is the author. Who that person is, what
that person does and why. The other 20 percent is the text of the book. One could always hire a better editor, even hire a better ghostwriter, but one can’t overcome an author who just doesn’t care about the audience or is in it just for the author’s sake.”

The company has expanded over the years, with offices now in New York, Nashville, London, Vancouver and Australia to better support its authors. Hancock says that while the company has branched out, remembering its humble beginnings in Oyster Point is important. Born in Hampton and raised in Yorktown, Hancock moved to Newport News after he got married. He started his business in his Newport News home in 2003, opened an office in Oyster Point in 2005, and Morgan James continues to grow. The company is named after his two children, Morgan Renee and Ethan James.

Hancock was inspired to enter the publishing business because of the belief in his potential. “It was at the prompting of Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of Guerrilla Marketing, who suggested that I grow my business by writing a book to prove I am the authority in my space. I agreed and it changed my life in less than eight months,” Hancock says. “Business nonfiction is my favorite genre to read. And Levinson’s books are my favorite. I met Jay after his third edition of the main Guerrilla Marketing book. Levinson dedicated the fourth edition to me, and Morgan James published the fifth edition.”

Hancock admires other authors who seek to get published and described this as his favorite part about his job. “I meet some amazingly passionate people who really care about others who have a burning desire to educate, encourage, inspire and entertain the world with the books and relationships with the readers,” Hancock says.

Morgan James Publishing also has a mission to help the community. “We are very community-driven and philanthropic. Habitat for Humanity has been our local charity for more than 15 years. We donate funds and books to the organization as well as raise awareness and support by including them in every book we publish,” Hancock says. He also serves on the board for Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg and the Land Rover Advisory Board, and is chairman of the board of the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence. 

“We have been blessed with our share of success stories. We’ve had titles on the New York Times bestsellers list 29 times in our short history. We’ve had more than 70 USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers and two London Times bestsellers,” Hancock says with pride.

Hancock enjoys spending time with family and friends. He also enjoys traveling, speaking across the country and four-wheeling on the beaches of the Outer Banks. 

About Noelle Riddle 30 Articles
Noelle Riddle is from Fairfax County, Virginia, and earned her degree in English with a double minor in both Leadership Studies and Communications Studies from Christopher Newport University. Growing up, it was always her dream to pursue a career that involved writing or creative expression. She is currently a full-time writer with US News. When Noelle is not writing, she enjoys walking her dog, playing volleyball or trying new and unique foods to review on her food blog.

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