Tuesday, 9 July 2013

WORKING WITH SMALL PUBLISHERS


During my 30+ years as a published writer of 120+ books, I have worked with many publishers – trade and educational, such as Penguin Books, Random House, HarperCollins, Allen & Unwin, Rigby, Pearson, et al, but along the way have been some small publishing houses which have taken on my manuscripts. In many ways I have found small publishers far more proactive and a joy to work with, particularly in the area of marketing.

The first small publisher which accepted one of my manuscripts was Kangaroo Press, run here in Australia by a husband and wife team, David and Cilla Rosenberg. At the time they accepted my (third) manuscript, The Belligrumble Bigfoot, I had only dealt with one international publisher. What I found, though, was that the Rosenbergs were more hands-on in dealing with me than major companies.

Mostly I communicated with Cilla; she was always available on the phone when I rang, whereas with my first publishing house it was usually difficult to make contact with my editor. Cilla was impressive insofar as nothing was too much trouble for her and she attended to matters I raised almost immediately. (This was pre-computer days, so contact was only via phone or mail.) Over the years I could count on my royalty statements and cheques arriving promptly from Kangaroo Press, whereas there were always delays with the first, major publisher, and often their statements were inaccurate. Recently an author friend told me that Kangaroo Press is still distributing a children’s non-fiction book of hers 22 years after it was first published!

More recently I have returned to working with small publishers: Ford Street (publisher, Paul Collins), Celapene Press (Kathryn Duncan) and Morris Publishing Australia (Elaine Ouston). All have been simply splendid to work with. All responded to manuscript submissions more swiftly than major publishers which take months (and sometimes literally years). In each case I have felt a valued member of their publishing house. I’ve been consulted about book cover designs, and my opinions taken into consideration. All have entered my books into literary competitions and so far there has been success: Crossing the Line was short-listed in the NSW Premier’s Awards; Nobody’s Boy won a CBCA Notable award. The Girl in the Basement was released in June 2013 so it is too early to tell.

With all of the books I’ve worked alongside the publishers in publicising and marketing. The very proactive Paul Collins, for example, has a speakers’ agency, http://fordstreetpublishing.com/cnet/ through which I have been employed in numerous schools, including a week as writer-in-resident at a central NSW school. As well, I presented for Paul at a Melbourne writers’ conference, talking about Crossing the Line. I’ve also joined Paul’s Creative Net speakers for a day-long writing workshop in a NSW school.

Working as a team, Paul and I spent weeks sending out a huge amount of promotional material. This also included numerous articles I’d written which were published online and in hard copy magazines. As well, I undertook interviews on radio, in newspapers and in many magazines. Paul and I also sent thousands of emails to individuals and organisations on our respective databases. As a consequence, Crossing the Line has sold well, received many (favourable) reviews and, thanks to Paul, sold to Australian Standing Orders (a book club) and to a German publisher for translation. Something else that Paul did that none of my dozens of publishers have ever done, was to create a u-tube with a young actor speaking in the role of the book’s protagonist about a scene from the story.

More recently, the publisher of my cross-over novel, The Girl in the Basement, Elaine Ouston, has made good use of her 27 years in marketing. Like Paul and Kathryn (Celapene Press), she has sent out many press releases and copies for review. She has made great use of social media to promote my new title, and I am working hard in this area; with little expertise in the area, I am employing a computer guru and employing blogs http://diannedibates.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/get-your-copy-now-of-girl-in-basement.html, facebook entries http://www.facebook.com/dianne.bates.71 , LinkedIn and twitters to publicise the book’s release. Once again, I am writing articles about the creation of The Girl in the Basement, and Elaine has organised a blog tour on 12 sites to happen in July 2013.

Elaine also has a background in graphic design; she kindly designed and sent me a number of full colour flyers including an invitation to the book launch and an advanced information sheet (which lists where to obtain the book), flyers and envelopes for students when I give free talks in schools about the book. In September Elaine is also flying me to Brisbane where she will have book events organise for me, including signings in stores.

Like Paul and Elaine, Kathryn has a one-person publishing house, but which she juggles with a family; she also runs an annual children’s writing competition in memory of her daughter, Charlotte. Every time I heard of a literary competition I thought Nobody’s Boy had a chance with, Kathryn immediately sent off a copy. She has always been available and continues to promote my junior verse novel at every opportunity. After the book won a CBCA Notable award, there was a huge spike in sales and I’m well pleased that Kathryn was able to re-print the book. Both Kathryn and Paul have provided Teachers’ Notes for those books of mine that they’ve published; at the moment I’m writing notes for Elaine.

I hold Paul, Elaine and Kathryn in high regard and am always thankful to them for all the hard work they’ve put in to promoting my respective titles. To learn more about these three marvellous publishers and their publishing houses, check out


Morris Publishing Australia http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com/


(Better still, support them with book sales from their sites!)

 

 

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