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Friday, 14 March 2014

Publishers: Surprisingly, Some Are Very Good.

Dan Grubb, Publisher extraordinaire.
In the Indie world, Publishers are pretty much rubbished. Let’s face it, the Big Boys generally do very little for authors. Unless you’re a ‘celebrity’ (whatever that means!) they treat you a like necessary evil, do the bare minimum to promote your hard work, and generally place barriers in the way of true creativity.

How refreshing, then, to find a publisher who not only does none of these things, but who actively become engaged in the whole process, including promotion? On 30th March, Fantastic Books Publishing will simultaneously launch ebook and paperback editions of the first volume of my fantasy trilogy. A Seared Sky: Joinings, has been a labour of love over a number of years. The first book runs to 220,000 words, the second exceeds 200k and the third, currently in the final stages of editing, will top out around the same level. When an author expends that amount of energy, creativity, imagination and time in a project, he wants to be sure that publication is going to be a positive event. We write to be read, after all.

For many authors, their experience with indifferent, lazy, unconcerned publishers only truly chasing the promise of megabucks on the backs of ghost-written ‘celebrity’ trash, is enough to make them do it themselves. I’ve done it. 7 times. Self publishing can be fun, liberating, exciting and rewarding. It can also be incredibly frustrating, time-consuming and, ultimately, a route to insignificant sales. The book world, as we all know, is fiercely competitive, yet, at the same time, amongst authors, surprisingly supportive. The problem for the Indie author is exposure. Build a platform, they say: good advice for a carpenter wanting to proclaim his political views, I suppose. We hear it time and time again. And I’ve had a stab at it.

With over 9k followers on Twitter, 3.3k on Goodreads, 2.5k on LinkedIn, an author page on FB with 600 likes and a personal page with 1.8k, fingers in other pies, guest posts on other blogs, comments all over the place and membership of umpteen groups, that’s a pretty reasonable stab, isn’t it? (Sorry for that very convoluted sentence. BTW, should you wish to connect with me on any of those networks, click the link and join me there, please). But has this resulted in noticeable sales? In a word: no!

Perhaps my work is poor? Well, those who’ve read it and placed reviews don’t appear to think so. With mostly 5 star awards and positive reviews, almost exclusively from people I don’t know, the signs are that my writing is pretty good.

So, back to the publishing bit. Many writers are put off even approaching a publisher, because of all the negative publicity about the process, coupled with dubious success. But, as in all areas of life, it’s the exceptions that prove the rule. I was introduced to Fantastic Books Publishing, a small independent publisher, through one of my colleagues at Hornsea Writers, a supportive group of professional writers with their own blog, here.

I sent them my precious MS, using their normal channels, and, lo and behold! Yes. Dan Grubb replied enthusiastically, asking for the whole thing. Since then, I’ve been treated as an equal partner in the venture. We each do those things that we’re best at. So, Dan sorted the final edits, is organising the promotional aspect, has engaged a professional cover artist who’s produced a brilliant cover (to be revealed in all it’s glory shortly before the launch). But, more than this, he’s produced a short video of an interview with me and is currently recording interviews with my characters. One of those you’ll find here. But, beware, Dagla Kaz is not a nice man!

The launch party, organised by my publisher (that sounds great, doesn’t it?) is being held online via Facebook so that I can connect with as many people worldwide as possible. You can access the party here, and, even if you don’t belong to FB, or maybe hate the network, you can still join in the fun on the day. I will, of course, also be presenting more information
here and on some guest posts on other blogs in the run-up.

My experience of working with this publisher has been entirely positive. Fantastic Books Publishing is run as the passion it truly is for Dan and his associates. I’ve been made to feel relevant, special, cherished and valued. This has been a far cry from the horror stories I’ve heard from other writers. So, you see, not all publishers are evil organisations run by bean-counters. This one is a company with heart and a true interest in the author and his work.
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