|Warning: this is a feel good story so if you’re looking for drama and disappointment, move right along!|
Twelfth Planet Press is an indie (independent, small) publisher in Australia that has been around about 5 years (first in an online form, then in print). When the owner, Alisa Krasnostein, approached me about publishing a collection of my short fiction, my first thought was “But hell, I don’t have enough stories to make a decent sized book”. My second thought was “But hell, no one will buy it”.
Further discussion with Alisa revealed that she had a clear plan. She was only interested in my themed Carmine Island stories (reprints), and only if I would write one new one to go into a boutique collection. And yes, she was confident someone would buy it. After a bit of discussion we decided to include another story as a bonus, one that wasn’t one of the Carmine set but was written in a very similar voice (and had been shortlisted for Best Fantasy short story in the Australian Aurealis Awards). And so Glitter Rose was born.
Alisa Krasnostein, publisher of Twelfth Planet Press, with Glitter Rose.
Twelfth Planet Press had only ever published paperback, so when I mentioned the possibility of hardcover to Alisa, I was pleased that she was open to pricing it. In fact, she was open to all of my suggestions, and we progressed to commissioning internal black and white illustrations and then agreeing to a colour double spread illustration in the centre of the book.
Marianne de Pierres proudly shows off her independently published collection.
I’ve never been so hands on with the actual production of one of my books, and along with the doubts and concerns that we were going the right way came a wonderful sense of ownership and creative collaboration.
But rather than continue to waffle on about my own book, I’d like to share with you some suggestions and thoughts I’ve garnered on the process of publishing with a small press.
1. Do your homework on them before you enter into a contract. Do they pay on time? Do they meet their target deadlines? (Some small presses are notorious for taking years to get books published.) What kind of publicity do they offer? And – most importantly – what is their distribution like? Talk to other authors who’ve published with them.
2. Once you’ve garnered all that information, be realistic in your expectations. An indie press is unlikely to be able to afford colour page spreads in mags, or roadside billboards, or even items like bookmarks. Nor will they sell in the major supermarket chains. What they should do though, is have a well designed website through which it is a simple process to purchase your books. Ideally, they should have distribution in a few retail outlets as well, usually specialty bookshops, but if not then they should be prepared to send out a decent number of review copies (and know to whom they should be sent!), and be actively promoting you on pertinent websites. They should also be prepared to submit your book for any relevant awards.
Internal art, by author's request.
4. Bring your own effort to the party. Ask your publisher how you can best help them. For example, even if your publisher can afford to throw you a book launch, the chances are it will be modest. Consider contributing to the cost, or even waive the whole launch in favour of money spent on a widespread mail out of publicity material. Know what the break even number is and work with your publisher to reach that goal.
5. Little things can make a difference. Glitter Rose was released at the 2010 World Science Fiction Convention (AussieCon 4). The cost of launching it at the con was prohibitive but Twelfth Planet Press wrapped a number of copies in pink cellophane and pink ribbon and sprinkled silver stars through them. The effect was eye catching on the dealers’ table and attracted curious customers. They also had postcards made which offered 10% off their books purchased online. They were relatively inexpensive and effective both as table offerings and when sending review copies out.
6. Maintain a sense of humour and perspective. Things don’t always go smoothly. TPP were using a new overseas printer with Glitter Rose, and had to manage the language and distance barrier. When Alisa came to me with very last minute and unalterable concerns my reaction was simple: ‘We’ve done our best, put as much as we can in place, que sera...’ As it turned out, our worries were unfounded.
If you’re about to enter into a contract with an indie publisher, it could potentially be one of the best experiences of your life. It certainly was for me -- so much so that I’m backing up for round two. Stay tuned …
-- Marianne de Pierres
Geek Speak Magazine would like to thank Special Guest Contributor Marianne de Pierres for joining us this month. We are truly honored.
Request Glitter Rose book plates here
For more on Marianne, check out her Geek Speak Staff Bio
Visit Twelfth Planet Press at their website www.tweltfthplanetpress.com
Check out Glitter Rose
Geek Speak's Glitter Rose review, by Kate Nagy
Conventional Wisdom, a WorldCon memoir, by Rachel Hyland, Issue 7