Monday, January 13, 2014

Confessions Of A Publisher

I confess that when I started Blackbird Digital Books to publish a PDF ebook collection of my  Guardian Space Solves cleaning columns, Done & Dusted - The Organic Home On A Budget, I was a little ashamed of being an author. 
Blackbird Digital Books
If I'd been a publicist, a marketing expert, a lawyer, a computer geek, a cleaner, a helicopter pilot - anything but a writer - going into the publishing side of things, I would have felt more comfortable.  At the beginning of 2010, whilst digital was exploding in the US, independent publishing in the UK was still very much "it's vanity publishing therefore rubbish". This continued for a few years. The Guardian was one of the worst offenders, publishing several lunatic articles by a self-publicising type whose name escapes me. Probably just as well, even though I wanted to link to one of his pieces here for fun. There was much less of the old-fashioned publishing snootyness in the US and more of the generous, friendly get up and go. Big-hitting bloggers and the mainstream press reviewed independent books from the get-go.

At the end of last year I attended a Saatchi & Saatchi X marketing seminar and had a bit of a branding lightbulb moment, described in an earlier post The Psychology Of Book Marketing. We are a different sort of publishing company and we should be shouting about it. That's our strength. We're authors. We're fair. And we care. We're also highly selective. This year we're concentrating on building our brand and the list we have grown rather than publishing more titles. We do, though, have a few new choice books coming later in the year, including a new Susie Kelly. Last week, thanks to a BookBub ad, Susie Kelly's memoir, I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry..., took off, reaching #5 in the Amazon US Paid Nonfiction charts:

There's lots of humour, as in all Susie's books, but this one is an emotional rollercoaster, the only book I can think of where I've actually wept real tears as I read. The proofreader Andrew Ives was the same and - as he said in his comments - he's a roughty-toughty bloke. Read Susie's blog piece on how I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry... took ten years to write.

Susie and I met through this blog. She liked one of my E-cloth cleaning tips, and we struck up a correspondence. She's a remarkable woman and this is an extraordinary story. Thank you, Susie. Thank you, blogosphere.

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