“…Connecting with readers. That’s what it’s all about.”
Why did you become a book publisher? I was definitely curious about having my work printed and connecting with readers at book fairs and such vs waiting to be discovered from an agent's slush pile. I was very interested to learn the process.
What do you like best about publishing? Definitely connecting with readers. That's what it's all about. Another thing I enjoy is building the portfolio of work, one title at a time. I'm up to four (and no, it's not a four-book series! They are very different.) I'm working toward taking on writers other than myself, which will be interesting to say the least. Just don't want to do that before I'm ready. As a start, I'm currently writing a project that was created by and is primarily owned by an artist.
What do you publish? Middle Grade & YA fiction and graphic novels. Currently working on a humor book and adult fiction novel. All over the genre map. Deliberately.
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? We are still so small at this point that it's all about book fairs and school visits. We "market" (i.e. advertise) these events/appearances on social media, but that's about it. We've gotten some exposure from online magazine ads and goodreads ads but that's not our focus at the moment.
How do you define a successful title? By the positive feedback, mostly. I've been fortunate to have book bloggers, teachers, kids and even Publishers Weekly praise my work. So "successful" to me means living up to the brand standard I've created.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. Gemiknight Press' first book is TaleSpins, a collection of three twisted fairytales for YA readers. The first story is a bit of a cult hit about the 8th dwarf no one knew about. His roommates nickname him "Creepy" and banish him to the basement for being weird. From there, he affects the Snow White story we all thought we knew. I sent TaleSpins in for a PW Select listing and it was selected for a positive review! That was cool. Then the book was chosen as required summer reading for an entire middle school (6th, 7th and 8th grades) at a prestigious school in my hometown of Pasadena. I got to give a talk to the kids, which was great. People really connect with the stories and Creepy's story is now also published as a graphic novel titled: "8: The Untold Story"
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? Distribution, of course. And overcoming the stigma of being a "self published author." At first my efforts were to promote the Gemiknight brand vs myself as an author. I recently learned that was an error, so I'm backpedaling a bit. Live and learn. (Hardly a costly mistake, though!)
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? Think of it the way anyone would starting a business. There is an initial investment of money upfront that is just required. Period. If you don't look professional, no one will take you seriously. I've been next to authors at book fairs who sell no books all day, then regret participating because they spent money on gas driving there! That kind of thinking is ludicrous to me. Great content and quality presentation are equal parts essential. Sad, but true. Getting someone to buy your book is a game and the rules are established. Play by them.
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? I would love to take on other writers, but I only want to do that if I can offer real value to them. With a few more titles, I can get a legit distribution deal. I also want to see if the brand can take hold and expand (funny term to use now, given how tiny we are!) into the digital publishing arena. And by that I don't mean eBooks - we already do those, of course! I mean online magazine-type content.
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? I play tennis and want to get back into golf. I enjoy reading and movies, and spending time with my kids. I'm also starting to learn more about wine and whiskey. A fun, social hobby for sure.
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