As a follow on from the last blog about a future model for our small press, here are some of my writers’ responses to the Linen Press experience. What is it like on the other side of the fence?
To my delight, they have started to pool their experiences and to support and help one another. Instead of competition, there is co-operation, so much so that there seems to be a Linen Press authors’ club out there!
I smiled at this email exchange between the experienced, two-novel-Hema Macherla (H) and LP new girl Susie Nott-Bower (S):
S: How do you initially approach bookshops – do you email, or ring them, or just go in on the off-chance?
H: I email or ring them first and if they don’t respond, I go to the shop on the off-chance.
S: Who do you approach – the Fiction Buyer in large bookstores, maybe? Or the manager in indies?
H: I ask for the manager first. Waterstone’s managers are approachable and helpful but W H Smith managers always ask me to contact head office
S: What do you actually say to them to persuade them to stock your book?
H: I introduce myself first and tell them about my book and ask them to support me because I am a local writer. Sometimes I send a friend or two into the shop beforehand to ask for my book.
S: Do you bring in a copy of your book to show them?
H: Yes, I take a copy of my book, an AI sheet and information about awards.
S: What exactly do you ask them to do – stock your book or ask for a talk/signing or a display or a review?
H: I ask them to look at my books and read the short blurb on the back cover. I tell who the book will appeal to. Then I ask them to stock them and to arrange a talk/signing for me. It helps too if you approach the local papers for an interview/article about your books.
S: If they agree to stock the book, what happens next? Do you bring them copies? Or do they order through Gardeners? Or from Linen Press?
H: Through Gardners. This is their preferred way.
S: Do you ever offer them books on a sale or return basis?
H: Yes, at least to smaller book shops because they say they can’t afford to buy the books first.
S: And, on a more general note, does Lynn supply books for this kind of thing, and for sending off for possible reviews?
H: Yes, she does, very happily. I had never done or sold anything like this in my life before. I am a very shy person. It is very hard work but we have to do this in order to get the attention to our books.
Recently, my authors have independently sent emails that tune in nicely with the Blog I put up. A couple of the emails were in response to it; the others came when we started the editing process:
Hema has been an author with Linen Press for three years; she is our guru of sales and marketing, while Kerry’s book is just being printed now. Stephanie is my young, non-stop creative whirlwind who was also one of the first authors of Linen Press. . . Sophie Radice has a background in journalism and probably knows more about publishing than I do! Susie Nott-Bower is the newest author at Linen Press but has lots of writing and networking experience. All are at different stages of the writing, editing and PR process,but all posses the determination and passion that we need at Linen Press.
What can I say! I am grateful that you liked my books and understood my characters and made me a published author. This was only possible because of a small publisher like you is not looking only for commercial, money-making fiction but is genuinely interested in emotionally strong stories and good writing that capture the hearts of readers. Long live small presses! Zindabad LP!
I love the fresh new voices joining Linen Press. I feel very proud to be in such great company. As one of the first LP authors, I know how much work it takes to get the books on shelves. You have to be dedicated and believe in your projec, but being accepted by a small press means they have taken a risk to publish your writing so thay must like it. This means you are also responsible to ‘get it out there’. Luckily I really enjoy giving talks about my work and meeting people. Having my book published has meant that I have read at amazing events – including Mental Health Matters, The Edinburgh International Book Festival and various bookshops and literary events. Through trial and much error, I have learned (and still am) which promotion works and which I am comfortable with. I still tremble when I pick up a copy of The Device, The Devil and Me. It is an odd and challenging book and I am ever grateful to Lynn for seeing the potential in my darkness! I am so excited by the new talent coming in and can’t wait to see what the Linen Press does next. Go LP!
As one of Lynn’s to-be-published authors, I thoroughly agree with this. For me, the process of working with someone who has a passion for prose is proving invaluable. I love the collaborative aspect of this work, the personal involvement, and the sense that the future of my book is not only in my own hands, but also in very safe hands with Linen Press. For me, to create a beautiful book is vital. And when that’s hopefully achieved, I will do all I can to find ways of publicising and selling it.
I’m really happy with the LP experience so far. Many of my friends have been published by big publishers and because they are mid list or lower they don’t get any publicity – none at all – and then of course have ‘disappointing’ sales and are then dropped… I am so happy with LP so far…. I know that much of the publicity is down to me and that is so much better than being in the control of a large company that isn’t allowed to spend any money on the small fry of its stable.
For me, (at least in theory, since I haven’t done it yet!), I like the sense of involvement and the creative sense of coming up with ideas for publicity and marketing. From what I’ve seen from writing friends online, the big publishing houses don’t do that much in terms of marketing, especially if you’re a mid-list author. They seem to choose one or two titles to push, and the rest have to publicise themselves. The ether is chock-full of mid-list authors trying to get their books noticed. The only down side is that it means less time for writing the next one. But in a way, I think it’s good to have an opportunity to get ‘out into the world’ as a complement to the long hours spent alone with the computer.