Thursday, 12 November 2009

CALLING ALL EYORES...

Susannah Rickards has posted on the thread below to say this:

V, I'm in serious talks with some web designers to see how much it would cost to set up a One Stop Shop website for Indie Publishers, where readers can browse the books and then buy direct from the publishers (maybe eventually buy from the site - but that's down the line.
It would be a place where medium and small publishers can publicise their new titles and existing stock. It can feature interviews, reviews. Much more magaziney and overtly shop-like than T's Short review but with a similar ethos. To support and foster the small presses.
With Facebook, Twitter and writer's forums it wouldn't take long for word of mouth to spread about it and I bet Guardian Review, LRB. TLS would all give page space to the launch of such a venture.
I think it's time for the tinies to fight the big boys in the playground. Strength in numbers....


Susannah would love to hear people's response to this idea, especially from Eyeores who think it can't work, so we can foresee and resolve problems before it's set up.

My response would be this. Fantastic idea. I want to know WHY the small publishers arent doing this themselves?

15 comments:

Susannah Rickards said...

Hi V,

I've also started a discussion thread on WW in Private Members so members only can participate, but essentially I've asked for Eyeores to come forward and quash the idea to see if I can counter their reasons. (Did we simultaneously come up with Eyeores?)

My guess is that small press publishers haven't the time to do this as well as maintain their own sites. Barely have their heads above water. This should be a welcome helping hand. But it must also be a realistic business proposal.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Eyores is your word.. from your comment on my post below. From where I sit, your idea is fantastic. It's a win-win surely? Great for readers, g reat for publishers, great for weriters. It would help those who publish wonderful books but dont SELL the things well, or have lost ground selling. Unless Im missing something???

Vanessa Gebbie said...

sorry, was typing too fast with one eye shut!

If this had existed last year, maybe Cadenza wouldnt have shut... I can see it applying to all sorts of presses.

SueG said...

I guess my qs would be who would organize and run it and would that person/those people do it "for love" (ie for free) once again. Or would you charge a fee to the publishers to use the site. And if so, would they be willing to pay, given that they're all broke to begin with....it's a very interesting idea, though. It might work better if the site could actually be the seller too. As I said before on another post, V, the publishers have no staff and often have trouble getting the stock up and out. So there's me being an Eyore.

Sophie Playle said...

I think it sounds like a great idea! My only concerns are (like SueG), who would run it, what would the cost be for those involved, and would there be any quality control for what is put on the site?


(PS, sorry to hijack, Vanessa, but I've got one of those little 'blog' award things for you if you're interested! - http://sophieplayleblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/kreativ-blogger-award.html)

East Kent Live Lit said...

Hi Vanessa -
In the States, it's often independent bookstores that lead the parade for small publishers and overlooked writers by handselling books that the chains won't carry. Some regions also band together to share reviews of who they currently love and sell (like SCBA, Southern California Booksellers Association) and they get publishers to send "white boxes" full of new writers to bookshops to interest buyers in thinking outside selfsame box. Writers can do their part by taking bookstores shelftalkers, book marks, and reviews as well as getting books to shops when publishers won't play along. Think about how independent shops could become the internet space you're designing!

Rachel Fenton said...

I think it's a fab idea..oops, sorry, Eyore head now on, bah, how's it going to work...surely the small presses are failing because they can't survive against the big guns if they are keeping their pricings as competetive, so how is another outside venture going to help funds...will it not merely take another mouthful away from the starving small presses?

Tania Hershman said...

I think it is a great idea but I have to say, given my experience running the short review, which costs me money and makes nothing financially, that the set-up costs to do it with a proper shop etc.. and enable the publishers to upload their own content - which would save time and effort - will not be insignificant and someone would need to oversee it and make sure the technical side was working, because a site that sells things needs to be working most of the time otherwise customers won't buy from it. If one of our review links isn't working, it's not disastrous, but a commercial site is a different matter. That's my Eyore response! Would love to see it happen, though.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Just got back from Southampton and the launch of Short Circuit at the NAWE Conference -
and had a very interesting natter with jen hamilton-Emery of Salt, about this idea.
But The Book Depository is already set up... she said. ...

One issue is visibility. The big publishers market their books - the media carried articles, adverts, lists, reviews.

The indie presses rarely get a look in - is that because the larger publishers have marketing departments who sit on the case all day every day, creating a buzz, following up on everything?

If The Book Depository is (maybe) the shop...what about the co-operative effort being for the marketing...just a thought.

Fia said...

Fantastic.

I know nothing of web design, apart from Frontpage. Try Captain Black at the Novel Racers.

lyuba said...

Good point about the co-operative marketing concept, V. Surely we writers have lots to gain & nothing to lose by collaborating with each other & the small presses on selling more of our own books?
The big publishers do have big marketing Depts. to do all this stuff (I'm involved with Canongate, so I know what they're up to ree this). Your idea of us all devoting a bit of time & energy to collaborative marketing of books to be sold through Book Depository sounds good to me...I'm in if it goes ahead.

p.s. it might be a good idea to brainstorm some marketing strategies & roadtest them first, though...

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks L - good points.

But I also think this is something that must be led by the publishers themselves, not the writers. Unless the publishers 'own' the fact that one of their failings is a lack of effective marketing/selling in the face of the marketing might of the big boys - nothing will work.

The indies dont have much in the way of marketing budgets, if at all. I asked my own publisher Salt, who was their publicist - I mistakenly thought they had a marketing assistant in the office...it is the same person who commissions the books, directs the birth of the books, works closely with the writer to ensure effective editing and proofing, liaises with the cover designer (her husband) to agree cover, and gets the files into a shape to go to print, and organises that. Then she organises distribution, tries to sell to the mainstream shops, tries to attend launches, talks up the publishers, works alongside the writer who is expected to also sell, market, organise - and rightly so.
And she has a full time job as a mother.
The realities of the indies are not as one imagines...

Ossian said...

I always liked Eeyore. He provided plenty of laughs when I was reading for my baby sister and later my son. I am an Eeyore with lots of ideas - watch the space - but another online shop is not one of them. In fact as I said on the other thread below, we're thinking of closing ours. We still make a little out of Amazon but make a loss on the shop. If Amazon, B&N, Powells, Kenny's et al are happy to find customers, source books from printers, wrap them in serviceable cardboard and shoot them off to the cornerless world, Hallelujah! Money for old rope.

Susannah Rickards said...

Hi,

Just caught up wioth this- been letting it sit for a while as I got on with other things.

V I think your point about it being solely marketing site is interesting, and Tania Hershman has directed me to a US site which is a strong working model for what i had in mind.
http://www.spdbooks.org/
(Not sure if I've hyperlinked that correctly.)
I'm holding fire until new year but will look into it seriously then. V I can well imagine Salt is run with skeletal staff. Not at all surprised they don't have a publicist. However, I did notice on Dzanc's pages they have a heap of interns. I know Salt has some, but given they are based in Cambridge, awash with young people with great brains, tireless energy and independent means, maybe they could appoint an intern to deal exclusively with publicity...

Thanks so much V for getting the feedback coming in here.

x Susannah

Ossian said...

On reflection, I think an online shop that helped small presses by dealing with the customers and taking care of post and packing, while offering better margins than Amazon, would be very useful. Think carefully what you wish for though, it would need warehousing and a proper office - there's nothing worse than big boxes of books around the house at home. The danger is that you'd become a distributor for the presses that Nobody Else wanted to distribute and then that you'd find out quite quickly why Nobody Else felt that way. It is easier for a camel to pass through the wallet of a miser than to get people to buy books.