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Writing is an art. Publishing is a business.

A tough love guide for authors

An author writes a book and hands over to a publisher. Traditionally they then have a bit of a barney over cover, editorial changes etc, after which the publisher goes out and sells the book to bookshops and generates media coverage, while the author sits back and waits to be called to appear at signings, book fairs and interviews.

If that’s how you think the industry works, then this is a short and somewhat brutal guide for you.

Written a better Mousetrap?

Sadly, the world is not going to beat a path to your door. So to start with, some things you need to know about the market you, and hopefully we, will be putting your book out into:
  • Sources claim that over 1m books are published annually. With modern tools and platforms, putting a book out is easier than ever before. The corollary is that with a million other books being launched, standing out and selling a book is in some ways harder than ever before.
  • Over 50% of books are believed to be sold via Amazon. While they are arguably important for building a base of recommendations to their readers, independent bookshops only account for 6-8% of sales (and due to trade terms over discounts and returns they are difficult to get to stock books and generate lower royalties when they do).
  • When readers are asked the reasons why they buy a book, surveys suggest 80%+ is because they have already read and enjoyed something by the author (so first novels are particularly difficult to sell), while 75%+ are through a friend’s recommendation (so building social word of mouth is vital).
The net result is that other than for a few already established names, book marketing and publishing has changed forever, in many ways following what has happened in the music world, and our publishing business model is set up to reflect that.

Publisher as producer and promoter

In this new environment, our role as publisher is akin to that of a record label. As a publisher we are a business that invests in talent to generate a return. In order to invest in you and your work we are looking for talented artists who can:
  • Not only create great material,
  • But who can also demonstrate the ability to promote themselves and their work (generating that social word of mouth).
If this is you then:
  • We fund and help to produce your content, turning your manuscript into a polished and well packaged product, properly formatted to fit into the retailers’ supply chains.
  • We fund and help promote your work, creating a launch marketing campaign, providing sales information for the book trade, creating supporting materials and undertaking PR using our professional agent.
  • And we work in partnership with you as the author to help support you to sell your book.
To make a success of being a published author you need to treat your published book as a business in its own right. While being published does open some doors not available to the self published and we will support you, ultimately it’s your book and you need be focused on how you can build your audience and generate long term sales. In these days of social media we cannot emphasis this point enough – as a publisher we can help support you in selling your work – we are not here to take sole responsibility for selling it. If you are not actively involved in promoting yourself and your work the chances are it will not sell. And if we do not believe that you are willing or able to promote your work then we are unlikely to be willing to invest in it – sadly it’s that simple. We believe that author and publisher should work as a partnership so our business model is based on this partnership ethos in that:
  • You provide the content,
  • We fund and provide our experience in production and promotion, and
  • Once we have recovered our investment, we share the proceeds equally.
We think this model reflects an appropriate approach to publishing in the modern world.

So what are we looking for?

Firstly, we want a submission that provides us with the basis to judge your content. This generally means:

  • The full manuscript – so we can see how it reads,
  • A full synopsis of the plot – so we can see how it develops,
  • Of a suitable size – so we are dealing with something actually publishable,
  • That meets our criteria of edge-alternative fiction – so it fits with our imprint.

Secondly, we are looking for evidence of ability to promote and sell your work, so details of your social media presence and any relevant experience.

Think of your submission as a sales pitch / investment proposal to us in which we will be looking for a professional approach. So for example:

  • We’d expect it to provide the content we’ve asked for above. If it doesn’t, it shows us you’re not paying attention to the guidance we’re putting out for you.
  • While copy editing and proof reading are part of the expertise that we bring to the production process, we’d still expect a submission to be reasonably proofed. If you can’t be bothered to run it through a spell checker before sending it in, that tells us a lot.

Sorry if that all sounds a bit harsh but we believe in being up front about the realities.

If we’ve not put you off then great, please have a go at our submissions process.

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