Mark Levine

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Publisher, Publishing Company Owner, Self-Publisher

DropCap LLC and Domain Theory LLC

My entire company grew from a book I wrote in 2004 on self-publishing, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Today, I walk into my office and see 30 employees; I can't believe I did it.

But, what really makes me bounce out of bed in the morning is my passion for being an innovator in my industry. What happened in the music industry is now happening in publishing. Indies can and do make it. The gatekeepers are gone. No longer are having an agent and a New York publisher the only ways to making it as an author. The Internet and social networking have leveled the playing field for those who have books and who can compete.

I am the CEO of Hillcrest Media Group, Inc., a technology company that happens to be a book publisher. Since our launch in 2006, we’ve patented our e-book formatting process, and grown a portfolio of 1200+ book publishing-related domain names that rivals any in the world. Our back-end system can manage the publishing process for thousands of authors and small publishers, while simultaneously managing the dissemination of thousands of book reviews to genre-specific directories.
In the nearly six years of our existence, we’ve expanded into just about every area of book publishing: printing, fulfillment, distribution, marketing, and sales. Based in Minneapolis, we have a full-time staff which includes three book designers, two publicists, five web developers, an SEO/ SEM specialist, two website designers, a social media director and sales and operations staff.

Here’s a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• How to understand the publishing landscape.
• How to put out the best product possible.
• How to publish and promote your own book.
• How to start your own publishing company.
• How to become a publishing coach.
• How to start an ebook conversion / formatting service.
• How to transition from a career in traditional publishing to a career in epublishing and/or self-publishing.


I've always been an entrepreneur. In the early 1990's I owned a company with several WWF wrestlers who owed their trademarks. We created and marketed goods with their images to wrestling audiences around the world (all pre-Internet). In the mid-1990's, I owned several small clothing companies. I was never a corporate guy. I felt suffocated. I need to create and build things to feel alive.

In 1999, I founded Click Industries, Ltd., a company that provided online business registration services (copyrights, incorporations, dbas). It was started long before there was a Legalzoom. In 2009, I sold the company to a legal services company. The only reason I sold the company was because our publishing company was growing so fast, it was impossible to run both effectively.

My book, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, which led me to starting Hillcrest Media Group, won the 2009 Gold Medal in the Independent Book Awards for best publishing book. And the 2011 edition of the book later won both the Bronze Medal in the same category and the Best Business Book in the Midwest Book Awards. I have been quoted in Publishers Weekly for my company's new program,, that partners with regional coffee chains. I have also been quoted twice in The New York Times since 2011 in stories about self-publishing.