Welcome to our Small Press Spotlight column. Here you'll find information on smaller publishing houses producing quality fiction. This time we are visiting with Pamela Goodfellow, founder and publisher of Goodfellow Press in Seattle, Washington.
Pamela, tell us about your background in publishing.
In the last twenty years, I've has written twelve books, edited over 700 titles, and worked as a bookseller, an educator, a speaker, and an agent. In addition, the year 2001 brought the first offering of an Editing Certificate Program at the University of Washington, and I taught the advanced sections. I am also the 1999-2000 recipient of the Award for Teaching Excellence for Arts, Writing, and Humanities Programs.
What did you hope to bring to the reading public when you started Goodfellow Press?
In launching Goodfellow Press, I achieved a personal goal - to develop the highest standards of fiction, while introducing to the general public, new authors from the great Northwest. Goodfellow Press has a goal. It is to discover and encourage new writers, assisting each to find the best expression of his or her unique voice. Goodfellow Press was founded in March of 1994, its purpose being to encourage and nurture the unique talent of new writers, book designers and editors from the Northwest.
Who are some of the authors you've contracted with? What releases do you
have out or will have soon?
At the present time, GP is contracted with twenty NW authors. A number of them have two books published by GP and some are now writing for larger houses. In June of 2001, we released four novels from new authors, each one being that author's first published novel- length work. The titles are: DIAMOND LIES by Johann Sorenson, HOWL AT THE MOON by Polly Blankenship, ALTAR STONE by Robert Hackman, and THE GIRLS FROM HANGAR B by Kristin Campbell Nail. In the spring of 2002, we will again release four novels by first time authors, from our AsYouLikeIt imprint. These titles are: MIDNIGHT CHOIR by Richard Clement, THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED by Florine Gingerich, POINT OF DEPARTURE by Doni Swenson, and YELLOW FINCH by Ed Ratcliffe.
In what format are your books published?
All GP books are produced in fine quality trade paper or hard cover format. I consider books to be works of art and each project that I work with is not only a wonderful story but also an exquisite piece of finished art. I use NW designers to make the books beautiful inside and out. I commission NW artists to do the original illustrations that appear on the covers and through out the interiors. Early in my career as an editor, the tears I would encounter when an author saw his or her book for the first time and was grossly disappointed in the quality or the look of the project dismayed me. I vowed that would never happen in a company I was running. The GP books are beautiful, inside and out. And the authors are an integral part of the design team, so they know the quality and look of the book before they hold it in their hands.
Do you do print-on-demand books, or a specific print run?
GP does an initial print run of two to five thousand books, depending on the project. Once we have sold that print run, which we try to do in the first eighteen months after release, we move to a good quality trade paperback, P.O.D. format. This keeps the books always in print, and reduces our warehousing costs. After the initial release, GP's goal is to get the author picked up by a larger house, to continue on in his or her publishing career. This usually takes between two and three novels produced, to manage. Currently GP has one author preparing to release her fourth novel with Pocket Books and another releasing her third novel with Heartworks Press in England, which is her home country. This format, releasing hardcover books, selling the print run out, selling subsidiary rights to the books and keeping the books in print via print-on-demand, works very well for us.
How are your books distributed? Do you get help from Ingram or B and T, or are you on your own?
In this industry, if you don't have, at the very least, support from Ingram, you do not have decent distribution. GP deals with all the wholesalers and has from its inception been a premier small press with Ingram Book Company. This means that the books are available anywhere Ingram works, which is many countries. We also deal with B&T and here in the NW we use the company called Partner's West for local distribution. We do no direct sales, the books are only available through distribution lines like a wholesaler or Amazon.com, B&N.com, Booksense.com etc. We do sell books directly to the public at our own events, but that is a small portion of our sales record.
Tell us how you advertise. Where do the dollars go, primarily?
GP primarily depends on the publicists we hire to get the word out about the books. We contract with a NY firm, Over the River Publicists and a local publicist, Debra Borchert, for our NW events. Generally we do what they recommend and it is a costly program, usually between $5k and $10k per project. We do a mix of media, ads in magazines, interviews and reviews in print, lots of radio interviews and some TV interviews and such. Our biggest help with advertising is the bookstores themselves. GP does such a good show with our authors that the stores love us and really do a fine job of promoting our projects. I speak all over the country and in Europe and I take authors with me when I do, so we can do promotion in all these places. I will be speaking in England at the RNA conference in Durham, this July (2002). Naturally I bring the books to all the events I schedule. We also do the trade show circuit, purchase display space in bookstores and we depend on the good word of mouth that our fine quality books garner.
What is the price range for your releases?
Ah that is the interesting part of publishing isn't it? At the present time, our beautiful hardcover books are released at the cover price of $22.00. In 1994, we released our first two novels, in fine quality trade paperback format, with the cover price of $7.99. Quite a difference! Books, done well, are expensive to produce. I budget $50k for the production of each book GP contracts. And that only covers the production costs, nothing to do with promotion or distribution. You do not become a publisher with the idea of getting rich, let me tell you. This is a career that is pursued for the love of it, as is the writing life. So, it seems appropriate.
How can readers purchase your books?
Readers can purchase GP books at any book retail store in the United States. Having said that, the savvy reader should know that when looking for a book from an Independent Press, you should request it at the desk, by using the ISBN number. Sometimes small presses are not stocked on the shelves. But the stores can get them and it is helpful to the authors if you request their books. If a store gets enough requests, they can decide to stock the book for their customers. Same thing goes for libraries. If a library gets three requests for a book, they will make a purchase. And a purchase is a purchase as far as a publisher is concerned. Also the books are available on line through those outlets, Amazon.com, B&N.com and Booksense.com. It is helpful to take the time to seek out these books. Independent companies do not get the exposure that the big five in NY enjoy. If we, as readers want to see a better quality of book for sale, and a wider variety of titles, then we must be willing to do the work to assist the smaller companies.
Do you have a website with more information?
Yes we do, thank you for asking as we are very proud of it. The website is www.goodfellowpress.com and it is constantly evolving and changing. You can see and read about each book we produce, each author we work with, get updates on our educational opportunities and services provided for writers and in general see what this company is all about. We are unusual in the industry and worth checking out.
Pamela, thank you for joining us, and best of luck with your future releases, Readers, we have reviews of several Goodfellow Press titles on our two sites. The Girls From Hangar B can be found on the Eclectica page at The Romance Reader, and Altar Stone can be found at The Mystery Reader. We hope to review more Goodfellow Press titles in the future.
February 4, 2002