Thank you so much for suggesting I write a guest article. I feel honoured!
Essentially, who am I and what do I do? I’m a writer, and I’m running a small publishing co in South Africa. I am also a violinist and run a music studio.
Along with my own books, I publish a growing handful of other authors. A lot of the material is either YA or for children; however, we do have fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and crime fiction too. Aside from this there are a number of music books, which tie in with our music studio. One of them is quite a happy little seller in the SA music shops.
Which kind of author am I looking at?
The kind who has already tried submitting to the “Big Five” and has had no luck. The kind whose manuscript I read and love. If you have not yet submitted to the Big Five (Penguin, Random House and so on), you have no business submitting to a small, feisty-but-courageous publishing company in an obscure little country. Go for the jugular first!
Secondly I’m looking at authors who have either been down the road of self-publishing and decided to run with a small publisher anyway (those are a favourite as they know so many of the publishing ropes already), or the type who’d rather not self-publish, but would rather be published within the year than potentially wait another ten.
P’kaboo is a few years old and we’re still innovating, all the way. We are building our way in a struggling economy, and are (still) running fairly on a shoestring, which influences many of our decisions. My free-lance team consists of an ace editor; a number of great graphic designers, and recently acquired, a good illustrator. We are also privileged to be represented in the UK by an agent, http://bookseekeragency.com/. I have a number of young artists on the team, and a webmaster. Not every book will need every professional on my team! However, our books don’t get away without being edited. Recently, to lighten the burden of our very busy main editor (who is an author too and occasionally wants time to write his own books), I have made it a submissions requirement that authors have already had their manuscript professionally edited. This makes a difference to me as well, as I am the first to read the stories, and by now a lot of literals or contextual mistakes get me on edge. However, it doesn’t mean that we won’t edit you again!
In the past two weeks we launched two new authors, both previously self-published; both books are of high quality and (we believe) should do well. Already I’m working on the next 2 books for release, and in the background, slowly, editing my own. (That is, I’m still on contextual edits and scene rewrites etc, once it is done of course it will go through the scrutiny of our Eagle’s Eye, Les.)
What P’kaboo can’t do for you:
I read that the “Big Five” purchase shelf space in the major book chains, for their bestsellers. This we can’t do for you – yet. The book chains don’t even give us the same deal as they give the Big Five. We do have distribution in a few select, smaller brick-and-mortar South African bookstores, in South African and UK libraries, and music stores. Beyond that our distribution is exclusively online, in places such as Amazon, Epub, Smashwords, the iStore, and on our own site.
What P’kaboo will do for you:
We launch authors. We seek publicity for you online, on social media, and if there is a paper launch, also in local newspapers. We look for reviewers for your book; we publicize your reviews; and we set up promotions and games to draw the attention of readers and followers to your books. We also create real-life events on occasion displaying all our print books. As we are speaking, I’m investigating and brainstorming into more and better methods to find publicity.
What you need to keep in mind:
Every book is a gamble. Not even the major publishers or the major book chains can predict what will sell. 50 Shades – who’d have thought?
Book sellers spread their bets. If a title doesn’t sell, they drop it. So do the large publishing houses – except that you, as author, will only know that you’ve been dropped 2 years on. A small publisher on the other hand tends to be invested in every title, so if it doesn’t sell well, we try to find ways to make it sell. This is a bit like black magic. But even black magic is not always reliable, so if your first title didn’t do too well, simply knuckle down and write another! I’ve read it somewhere that it takes 13 published books for the average author to begin drawing public attention.
While you are writing, we’re looking for new ways to market and distribute you and all our authors – this is why, at times, we take longer with your manuscript than you’d like.
What you yourself pay for:
- Your initial submission must be a professionally edited manuscript. If you don’t have an own editor, you are welcome to pay our editor to do this.
- Also, concerning the cover graphic: If e.g. you have a friend whose art you definitely want to use, it becomes a two-step process: Firstly we need to have a look at the art to make sure it meets the standards; and secondly, you commission the artwork from your friend and negotiate and pay her yourself. We then take the artwork, add the title, bar code and remaining information, and finish the cover. This you do not pay for.
- If you want to buy print copies at cost (for gifting or for resale, we do allow this, but read your contract carefully), you do pay for these upfront.
- If you want to advertise your book in more places than we do, or approach paid reviewers for paid reviews (which we don’t suggest), that would be for your own account.
- And of course, you have to handle your own income tax on royalties received.
What you don’t pay for:
Everything else. Think, traditional publisher “lite”. While we don’t pay you an advance on royalties, this simply means that you will be receiving your royalties from the first sale onwards instead of having to wait for the book to “earn out the advance”.
Publicity: That’s the main name of the game! We try to organize you (and our other authors) as much publicity as we can.
Launches and promos. The print launch when it eventually happens (the book has to “clock up” enough online and POD sales to deserve a local print run).
… and so on.
Please feel free to visit our site at www.pkaboo.net, (preferably on a laptop, tablet, PC or other computer, not a cellphone. The layout is designed for a larger screen. We’ll do the mobile downgrade one day when there is time). Have a good browse and don’t forget to make a turn in our Facebook book club, “The P’kaboo Book Club” where we hold games, discussions, author interviews and e-book launches.
🙂 Thank you again Chris, for allowing me to tell readers what we are about!
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Thank you. – The P’kaboo Team