IBPA Member Spotlight: Interlude Press
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Posted by: Christopher Locke
Interlude Press Inks a Distribution Deal with Independent Publishers Group
|Interlude Press collage: (from left to right) Director of Marketing & Communications Candysse Miller; Co-Publisher and Art Director C.B. Messer receives an IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award; Running with Lions author Julian Winters signs books at 2018 BookCon
“We’re overjoyed!” says Interlude Press’ Director of Marketing & Communications Candysse Miller about recently landing a distribution deal with Independent Publishers Group (IPG). “Signing with a distributor has been one of our goals since we first started sketching out a business plan for Interlude Press in 2013. We had hoped for a distribution deal toward the end of our first five-year strategic plan, so to accomplish this after four years in business was a real high point for our little publishing company.”
IBPA member Interlude Press launched in 2014, followed a year later by their YA imprint, Duet Books. The independent publishing company was founded by three friends: Candysse, Annie Harper (Managing Editor), and CB Messer (Art Director)—all of whom had complimentary backgrounds in publishing, technology and PR/marketing. Their initial goal was to identify breakout authors and help nurture their debuts in publishing with high quality romantic fiction featuring LGBTQ+ main characters and perspectives. The company has since expanded their titles to other genres as well.
In the first few years of business, Interlude Press has already had books receive IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, Foreword INDIES Awards, had books named to Publishers Weekly Best Books lists, and more. Landing a distribution deal was one more huge accomplishment added to this long list of accomplishments, and interestingly, Independent Book Publishers Association had a part to play.
“We have IBPA’s Publishing University to thank for the opportunity to connect with the Independent Publishers Group,” says Candysse. “Two years ago at Book Expo, Cevin Bryerman of Publishers Weekly urged us to have a conversation with IPG about distribution. We stopped by IPG’s booth to introduce ourselves, but we knew that we still had a couple of goals to accomplish before actively seeking distribution representation.
“Nearly a year later, we saw that IPG’s vice president of publisher development was a part of IBPA Publishing University’s ‘Ask the Experts’ sessions, and we showed up with galleys and data in hand. That moment started a conversation that resulted in a distribution agreement about six months later. It was a surprisingly smooth process, but we also made sure that the company was ready for it—that we could make a solid case for Interlude Press with its brand identity, consistent quality, and sales. We’d had brief talks with large distributors before, but they weren’t interested in a small company with specific needs. IPG, which specializes in small-to-medium-sized indie publishers—was a perfect fit.”
|Interlude Press' The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens
Transitioning to a distributor is a major shift in operations for an indie publisher, but Candysse explains how they prepared for the change. “We didn’t rush into this. We believe in taking bold steps with the books that we publish, but we’re cautious in the way we develop the business side of the company. We don’t believe in overextending ourselves, so we waited until we felt that we were ready for what would ultimately mean some big changes. We’re already in the process of shifting the timeline of future book development and promotion in order to fit into the IPG schedule. We’ll be streamlining a lot of tasks that can tend to spread us thin, and we’ll be reducing our 2019 front list while we make adjustments to our editorial timeline. That will help us maximize the number of titles. Happily, there will be less need for time spent in a storage locker packaging and shipping thousands of books.”
In 2019, Interlude Press has a host of books being published through their Young Adult imprint, Duet: Not Your Backup, the third book in C.B. Lee’s bestselling Sidekick Squad series is coming out in June 2019; How to Be Remy Cameron, Julian Winters’ sophomore novel, is coming out in September 2019, and Monster of the Week, which is the sequel to F.T. Lukens’ Benjamin Franklin Award-winning The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic, is arriving in October 2019.
Three Questions with Interlude Press Director of Marketing & Communications Candysse Miller
IBPA: Can you share three tips on how an independent publisher can land a distribution deal of their own?
Candysse Miller (CM):
- Take the time to develop your brand. A successful company should have a personality of its own that customers can identify with, that they know they can turn to you for a particular thing. When you’re ready to talk to a distributor, be sure that you’ve built a strong case for your company.
- Study. You should not only know what your company’s specific needs are, but also how individual distributors can help to fulfill them. One of the things we love about IPG is that we see it as a true partner in selling Interlude Press titles, rather than a company that’s just responding to requests for our books.
- One conversation is not enough. Follow up.
IBPA: Interlude Press is a boutique publisher of LGBTQ general and romantic fiction. Why is it important for you to focus on books with LGBTQ stories and characters?
CM: Too often, we saw LGBTQ+ books treated as a genre. We disagree. It is a perspective, a point-of-view that had been underrepresented in multiple genres for much too long. To this day, books featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists are often relegated to a back shelf in a bookstore. We not only wanted to create books that LGBTQ+ readers could see themselves in, but also publish titles that general readers would pick up, read, and maybe gain more understanding of how someone else views the world. The more we accomplish these goals, the more often we’ll see LGBTQ+ titles featured prominently in store displays and end caps.
IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
- Don’t take on more than you can handle. This is Business 101, really, but you see small publishing companies succumb to this all the time. Manage your growth so that it doesn’t overwhelm you. There were dozens of things we would have loved to have done from Day One, but it also would have meant taking on a level of financial risk that we weren’t comfortable with, so we’ve built Interlude Press to accomplish those goals over time. It’s working for us.
- Spend time in industry spaces like IBPA’s Publishing University. Ask questions. Network. Learn from others. We can’t say enough about the value of IBPA’s Publishing University in helping us take stock of administrative issues specific to small publishers. We’ve also learned a lot talking to librarians at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference, and making the rounds at BookExpo America (BEA). Conferences and conventions are opportunities for small publishers to gain access to people who otherwise might be difficult to connect with.
- As a small publisher, you are susceptible to a lot of intangibles. Do your best to control what you can: the administrative plan, the financials, the vetting of prospective authors. Learn from your successes, but also learn more from your failures, and own them enough to make substantive adjustments.
IBPA: Thank you, Candysse, for sharing your story with the IBPA community! We wish you all the best.
Click here to learn more about Interlude Press.
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