to authors

‘Susanne McDadd was the creative powerhouse whose faith and determination got her books, including my novel, into places other publishers couldn’t reach.’ – Maggie Gee (author of several novels, including The White Family, shortlisted for the 2002 Orange Prize)

The publishing industry is changing almost daily. Whereas even ten years ago, barriers to entry were sufficiently high to deter most authors – and indirectly helped the flourishing vanity press industry – today with the advent of digital printing, it is accessible to all.

However, getting a book into print and registering it with the various bibliographic agencies (eg BookData for the trade, BdF/Cilip for the library suppliers and Amazon for online sales) is not the same as publishing, which implies that the book has the potential for commercial success.

We enjoy working with authors who wish to self-publish as it represents a challenge and hones sales and marketing skills. It can also be fun – the jam rather than the bread and butter. However, our slots available are limited to authors who are both either experts int their field, or a celebrity, and who are committed to the sales and marketing process. Publishing is an increasingly tough environment and if you do not enjoy the media process, we would not be able to help you maximise your sales.

If you are an unpublished author who wishes to find a publisher, we recommend checking out our Submission Guidelines, or the FAQ Will I ever get published?

The first gives pointers as to how to present proposals and the second is designed to help you understand the mindset of the commissioning editor. If you have any insights from your experience of this, do let us know.

If you wish to self-publish, do check out Johnathon Clifford’s site first. Johnathon Clifford is the UK’s leading expert on vanity publishing and provide a full information pack detailing reputable suppliers (ie the ones who service the publishing industry as a whole, not a self-publishing ghetto).

In an ideal world, of course, you would not need our services. Ed Victor would have secured you a six-figure sum and your publisher taken over from there. Bookchain buyers would fight to set up central, non-returnable deals, and consumers would stampede to the shops.

But in publishing’s less than ideal world you are dealing with a hugely overcrowded publishing arena, one where the shelf-life of a new title is getting shorter and shorter. So you will be fighting for a slice of the sales and marketing cake at all stages of the process.

Your book is likely to be one of many on your publisher’s and/or agent’s list, so well to remember that although it is all-important to you, it may not be as high in the pecking order to them. Time to become a tactician.

The other point to remember is that, however time-pressed a publisher is, all books still have to be edited, typeset, proofread and printed. The sales and marketing process, however, is quite different, in that much of the activity is discretionary. The only guaranteed exposure an author can be guaranteed is an AI (advanced information sheet – used for the repforce and sales outlets), entry in the company catalogue, presentation at an internal sales meeting or conference, and review mailing (press release + book).

This is essentially a passive form of marketing which may be enough for a book which is part of an established series, a reprint or new edition or an academic title which slots into course reading lists, but is less suitable for new mainstream titles.

If this applies to you, it is of course intensively frustrating. However, do remember is that lack of marketing activity is NOT your publicist’s or sales manager’s fault. The usual culprit is simply the volume of books being pumped through the system and the limited time available for each.

In this case, ignorance is not bliss, so arm yourself with as much information as possible. The sales side is usually skimmed over in books about publishing, so we have made the tiniest of starts with our FAQ about different forms of sales representation – see our FAQ What are sales reps and how do they work?

For an insight into the detail of publishing we recommend The White Ladder Diaries which chart the first ten months of setting up a new publishing house. Refreshing honest with lots of practical tips. See the White Ladder Press website to order direct.