Friday, June 13, 2014

Guest Post Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing

Thank you very much for having me, Leanne.

You're most welcome, Michelle. Thank you for visiting my blog.

What is Central Avenue Publishing's mandate?
Our goals are to treat writers with respect and integrity while bringing to market entertaining books and authors that connect with readers.

How/why did you decide to be a publisher?
Unlike many in the publishing industry, I didn’t work in it before. I’ve always been an avid reader and the idea for this company actually started with a conversation about 6 years ago that it should be easier for authors to get their work out there. Ebooks were in their infancy and being a technophile, the whole idea of a low cost, environmentally sound way to publish books really intrigued me.

The first iteration of Central Avenue Publishing was ireadiwrite Publishing, which was basically a DIY type of venture where we would take anything that anyone submitted and put it into the various ebook formats and sell it on our website. A year later, I wanted a change. I wanted to feel really passionate about what I was helping to put out into the world and so we adopted a more traditional publishing model. You can learn more about our first year here: 

When did you establish Central Avenue Publishing?
We started research and work in September 2008 and opened for business on May 1, 2009.

Share some of Central Avenue Publishing's challenges and victories...
Our biggest challenge is trying to get distribution into bricks and mortar stores. With paper books in decline, and fewer bookstores around, it’s near impossible to find anyone to represent our print titles. That said, I often wonder if it’s worth the effort. After all, the majority of our revenues come from digital and all signs point to continued success in that segment. I talk a little more about our challenges in this post:

I also find marketing and sales challenging. Until about 2 years ago, I was solely focussed on production, getting books into the market. Book marketing is tough, it’s hard to make your book be seen in the other millions of books out there. We believe we’ve come up with solutions that work for us so far, but as always, I’m constantly looking for new ideas.

We have had a series of small victories over the last 5 years, and they’ve come in the form of authors who are truly dedicated to making their writing careers work. That said, we have had a few books go viral - which has meant that while the author did some great initial work to get the word out, the genre and the audience took over and helped propel the books to get more widely read.

We’ve had several books hit high on bestseller lists and it’s meant that a few of our authors can afford to do more of what they love: write.

This is a challenging time to become a publisher. How are you uniquely equipped to meet these challenges?
This is such a difficult question to answer. I believe that the only thing that I can offer any author is to be their collaborator and champion. Any author can publish themselves, they don’t really NEED a publisher. That said, there is inherent and tangible value to working with someone who has a vested interest in making your book work. I bring that to the table. That and a strong case of integrity and honesty and a true love of books.

What do you see as the benefits of being a publisher?
As I said, I love books. But what’s really cool is seeing the evolution of the story into a book that is even better than when it came in. With my editor’s hat on, I love suggesting changes to characters and storylines - it lets me be a bit creative.

Being a publisher is a bit like being a parent. You foster this thing along through maturity and then release it into the world to see what it can do. When it does well, boy that’s the best feeling.

I understand that Central Avenue Publishing is a Canadian publisher, what unique benefits and challenges does this present?
You know, I don’t know if being a Canadian publisher is good or bad - but Canada is so great at supporting their arts that they make it easier to do business - like issuing free ISBN’s and offering grants and awards to publishing houses. We take advantage of the former of course, and one day, when I have the time to fill out the paperwork, I’ll look at how to apply for some of those grants.

The only challenge I have seen is that I’m a small, primarily digital publisher on the West Coast of Canada. This means that there are few other professionals close by for me to collaborate with. However, my discovery of Twitter five years ago has meant that I can connect with other like minded people - no matter where they are.

Do you only publish Canadian authors?
No, only a small handful of our authors are Canadian.

How does Central Avenue Publishing market their books? Do you have a global reach?
Primarily, marketing is spearheaded by the author with support from us. At launch, we prepare all the materials an author might need, postcards, posters, press releases, media sheet, etc. We also query hundreds of book bloggers and run giveaways. Our books are reviewed about 2-3 times per week on book review blogs around the world. But really, we rely on the author to develop the plan (with our input) and we do their bidding.

We are so very global! Our authors live in all four corners of the world. 

Please describe a typical work day...
Since I’m pretty much a one-person show, I wear all the hats. I do on occasion work with freelance editors, proofreaders and art directors but for the most part I do it all. I have partnered with Meghan Tobin-O’Drowsky who runs our Everheart Books imprint.

What genres do you publish?
We publish all forms creative writing. We are not interested in self help or other non-fiction.

Who pays the publishing costs--the author or the publisher?
We are a traditional publisher, we pay all costs.

Does Central Avenue Publishing pay royalties as well as an advance?
We pay royalties but not advances. That said, our royalties are the highest I’ve seen talked about in the publishing world.

Do you publish ebooks, print or both?
Both, but depending on the book, it could be ebook only.

Please take us through Central Avenue Publishing's author submission process...
We aren’t currently accepting unsolicited submissions but we might later this year. When we are, we ask for a one page query letter. If we’re interested we ask for the first three chapters and then the whole manuscript.

How do you choose the authors you publish?
Of course, I have to like the book - but most importantly, I have to like the author. I look for authors who are serious about their career, putting themselves out there and being professional. I research them quite a bit before furthering the submission process. If I find instances of being overly dramatic or unprofessional websites, social media activity, etc. then it’s a red flag for sure. Since we work together a lot, I want to be sure that we’ll get along!

What next, please walk us through the process of publishing a book...
Our process is much like any other publisher, initial read, rounds of editing and proofreading, rounds of cover design, distribution and then development of a marketing plan and follow up.

Parting words...

I just want to thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to meet new authors and publishing professionals. I always have the same words for any person who feels themselves compelled to write. Never stop writing, if you do, you do a disservice to the rest of us. It doesn’t matter what happens to those words, if they’re read by one or one million it is more important that you wrote them down.