“We published regional non-fiction until 2006 when we added a fiction imprint and a children’s book division. We now have 194 active authors and over 270 titles in print. “
Why did you become a book publisher? We owned a weekly newspaper and we had a terrible flood in West Virginia in 1985. It was a $500,000,000 flood and 52 people were killed. We compiled newspaper coverage from the 29 affected counties and published our first book, Killing Waters: The Great West Virginia Flood of 1985. It was declared a bestseller by USA Today and went on to sell over 100,000 copies. We were able to donate $35,000 to flood relief and put 5 weekly newspapers back on their feet who had been completely wiped out by the flood. We published regional non-fiction until 2006 when we added a fiction imprint and a children's book division. We now have 194 active authors and over 270 titles in print. Our authors speak all over the world and we have a very active School Show Program--having been in over 2100 schools nationwide. We have won 196 national awards for our titles and have a Pulitzer nominee and a movie option on one of our novels. Helping independent authors is one of our goals.
What do you like best about publishing? The reward of hard work. We work with our authors to help market and distribute our titles plus we do many major events during the year. Book Expo America is one of our largest and we have featured as many as 27 independent authors at this event per year. To help bring an excellent book to readers around the world is a wonderful thing, and to see an author's confidence grow as their book gains ground is fantastic. Being an author (or publisher) is very hard work, but it is also one of the most fun and rewarding experiences one can have. Our authors travel as much as they like, meeting people, speaking at conferences, and appearing at book signings and events year round. Our authors are extended family and working hard toward a common goal of success is what we all strive for.
What do you publish? Headline Books publishes fiction, non-fiction, and children's books.
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? Author participation via social marketing is one of the most important. Social marketing is an amazing tool for promoting and moving books, plus we do all the media/publicity work for our authors and their appearances, etc.
How do you define a successful title? A successful title requires a successful, hardworking author and publisher. Teamwork is absolutely necessary to sales and exposure. When our phone continues to ring for author appearances we know we have done our job as books are selling steadily not only online and in stores, and author fan bases continue to grow.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. With nearly 275 titles this is a really tough question...there are so many! One of the most memorable and inspirational is the memoir by Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr, winner of Season 6 of America's Got Talent. Landau is from West Virginia and was courted by several of the major New York publishing houses. I approached his agent, Burke Allen, about publishing Landau's story and we met several times. Much to my delight, Landau signed with Headline Books, a West Virginia publisher, for his story. Co-authored by Rick Robinson who is an award winning political thriller author, Landau's book, From Washing Cars to Hollywood Star is of the most inspirational books you will ever read. Landau literally had nothing and through the grace of God made it to the audition in New York and went on to win the competition. Landau continues to donate concert profit to charitable organizations and continues to help children and inspire them to be the best they can be.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? Time. Money. Patience. This is really very hard work, long days and long nights but very rewarding in the end. Working with disinterested buyers and hard to get along with distributors, and returns are some of the biggest challenges we face. We persevere however, and get things done as it not only benefits us but the stores as well.
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? If you're in it for the money, do something else. Get plenty of advice and have some working capital to begin your company. Attend as many IBPA conferences/events as you can as you will learn so much and the networking opportunities are excellent. We joined IBPA when it first formed (as PMA-Publisher's Marketing Association) and Terry and others have been so beneficial to me by way of answering tough questions plus steering me to the right people for legal advice. They are a wealth of information. Jan Nathan, Terry's mother, was so kind to me when I first joined and she helped me so much through several tough publishing issues.
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? We anticipate continued growth. We get about 20 submissions per week and publish about 20 titles per year so we look forward to bringing new authors into the spotlight and getting their books into the hands of anxious readers.
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? Spending time with friends is important and there is not much time for anything else. The travel for business is very enjoyable and something I look forward to as we continue to book events. I'm also working on a book of my own...and don't know if it will ever be finished.
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