I asked three new publishers five questions, in an effort to understand why you would decide to start anew in the current publishing environment. These are the answers from Marie Hodgkinson of Paper Road Press. (Left, with publicist Elizabeth Heritage) Over the coming two days I will post full answers from the other two publishers covered in this feature article, Mákaro Press and Cats and Spaghetti Press.
1. Why did you decide to create your own publishing company?
I’ve always been interested in working with books and words. During university I ran Semaphore Magazine, an online publication that focused on short stories and poetry, and my experiences working with authors and a mixture of online and print publishing made it clear to me that this was a field I could really enjoy. After I completed the Diploma of Publishing at Whitireia Polytechnic in Wellington, there weren’t many jobs available that offered the breadth of publishing activities I enjoy, so I started up Paper Road Press in addition to working as a project administrator at another publishing company in town.
2. You have had some success already – what is your aim with the company? What constitutes success for you?
Our first book, the charity collection Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror, sold out soon after it launched. It’s now available as an ebook and via print on demand. I’d say it’s done really well, for an admittedly niche book (scary stories about, but not for, children − difficult!).
We released our first novel in May − Engines of Empathy, by Paul Mannering. Obviously, a movie deal and Scrooge McDuck-style rooms of gold would be an ideal level of success, but keeping things within the realm of reality, it would be great to see the book be well received in NZ and overseas, and sell well enough that we can finance publishing the second book in Paul’s series.
3. How are you selecting your titles? Have you got a MS pile yet?
Paper Road Press currently has a completely open submissions policy − writers send in the first 5000 words of their manuscript, and if I like what I see, I ask for the full manuscript to review. I do my best to keep on top of the pile, but I admit there are a few in there at the moment that I really should get back to! I may move to a ‘reading period’ submissions policy at some stage, where I only accept submissions in certain months of the year (and can plan ahead to put time aside for reading and assessing manuscripts), but for the time being, open submissions are working for me.
4. How are you going with distribution? Is there anything you would like to see booksellers doing?
I did the distribution for Baby Teeth myself − never again! Our current distributor is Greene Phoenix Marketing, with Paul Greenberg, who’s a well known figure in the book trade. The book’s only been out for a couple of months, so it’s a bit early to know how that’s going, but I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen so far.
5. I would imagine with a small list, you are easily adaptable for new realities. How are you dealing with future technologies for distributing your books?
All of our books (all two of them!) are available both in print and as ebooks. We’re also working with a Scottish audiobook producer to create audio versions for digital download. I do my best to keep up with new technologies in the publishing industry, and keep an eye out for new distribution systems − but there’s certainly a risk in jumping on every shiny new idea before it’s been market tested.
– Booksellers NZ