“As writers ourselves, we wanted to create an atmosphere in which the author and the publisher become true partners in a collaborative enterprise. “
Why did you become a book publisher? As writers ourselves, we wanted to create an atmosphere in which the author and the publisher become true partners in a collaborative enterprise. We've worked hard to develop and maintain an atmosphere in which authors, if they wish to do so, have significant input in the entire creative process from the moment we receive the book until it is published, and share equally with the publisher in the fiscal rewards of success.
What do you like best about publishing? For us, it's all about relationships. We love developing relationships with authors and artists and working with them to create project concepts that all of us find exciting and inspiring. We also love finding new or under-exposed authors and introducing them to the reading public. We've had the privilege of publishing several New York Times bestsellers and other well-established authors. We thoroughly enjoy our interactions with them, count many of them as dear friends, and their projects to be some of our most fulfilling. The real joy for us, however, is finding that talented writer who is just developing their tool kit, and giving them a platform from which to grow.
What do you publish? Primarily speculative fiction, mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genres, but also some non-fiction (like our book A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination).
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? To date, our most effective marketing has been through social media and word-of-mouth. We've developed a following on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter that we've leveraged to create a great deal of success. Our current focus is on expanding our online marketing presence outside of the social media and crowdfunding arenas.
How do you define a successful title? We're small enough and new enough that success for us is not defined primarily in monetary terms. Of course, we want our books to earn out our initial investment and provide a continuing income stream. That generally requires sales of over 1000 copies, assuming an average ratio of about 25-50 to 1 eBook to print book sales. Assuming that goal is met, though, we define a successful title as one that we enjoy having published, and one that allows us to bring something to the reading public that is of excellent quality but might not have been published by a traditional publisher. We want to publish things that we feel should be out there and work with people with whom we enjoy working. It's all about relationships.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. While we publish a lot of novels, our favorite publication is probably the Athena's Daughters anthology series. Athena's Daughters is a science fiction and fantasy anthology series in which all of the stories are about women and written by women. While we always have some well-known authors in the books, we hold an open submission each year because we want most of our stories to be from writers who haven't had a chance to be published yet. We are passionate about diversity in publishing, and this is one of the vehicles we use to express that passion.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? Our biggest challenge is probably the same challenge that most small publishers face: exposure. It is just very difficult for a small publisher or independent author to achieve a significant level of exposure in the publishing industry. The vast majority of the existing mechanisms favor larger publishers.
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? Don't become a publisher because you want to become wealthy or famous. Becoming a publisher is not going to achieve either of those things for you. You should become a publisher for the same reason that you should become anything else in life - because you are passionate about it. It is a challenging field, but if you have true passion for the business and the people, it is an incredibly rewarding field.
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? This year, we're going to be publishing sixteen books of various types and genres. I expect that we'll publish around 20-25 next year. This means that we're knocking on the door of no longer being a small press. Our intention is to keep our levels around the 20-25 book-per-year level for at least a few years. We like being a small press. We like the fact that it allows us to have direct relationships with our authors. Any expansion beyond the small press arena, at least in the near future, will not come in the form of more books, but in the form of other supporting ventures (graphic novels, games, online resources). In five years, I suspect we'll be at the point where we have grown as much as possible in the supporting fields, and have to address the question of whether or not we want to become something larger than a small press.
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? I'm a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, so I spend a fair amount of time doing that. I also enjoy running quite a bit, so I travel to half-marathons and marathons around the country. I love building and restoring just about anything. Currently, I'm working on restoring an old 1940s Philco radio, but as soon as that's done I'm likely going to start looking for an old car to restore. I also spend a little time playing guitar. Of course, I love reading, and try, as much as possible, to find time to read things other than submissions.
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