Welcome to our Small Press Spotlight column, where we're pleased to introduce some of the smaller publishing houses producing romance fiction. This time we're visiting with Jean Hackensmith, publisher/founder of Port Town Publishing.
Jean, welcome to TRR! Tell us how and why your press got started.
Port Town Publishing was formed in July of 1999 after I decided to
self-publish my time travel romance, "Wagons To The Past." I had received
enough rejections from the "professional" publishers to paper my walls --
literally -- and decided I could not lose anything by giving it a shot
myself. I printed the book, had it bound, built a website and started selling
it locally and on the web. The respond was so tremendous that the "Wagons To
The Past" sales actually funded the creation of Port Town Publishing. I
actually never really thought about publishing other people's works until I
met Jonathan Briggs in an author chat room. I was promoting "Wagons" at the
time, and he sent me an Instant Message and asked if I would be willing to
take a look at his science fiction novel, "S-4. -- Roswell Was Only The
Beginning!" I agreed and was so impressed that I decided to take the dive. I
edited and published his work, and then held my breath. 6 months later, we
had sold nearly 500 copies, and Port Town moved into the realm of
As for what we can offer prospective readers? EXCEPTIONAL NOVELS! All of
the PTP titles are hand-picked to offer only the best in genre fiction. Each
book has a well defined storyline, characters that the reader will identify
with and enough action to keep them turning pages. Our steamy romances (which
are the only kind we offer!) are also guaranteed to intrigue and titillate.
We offer several romance titles, but also offer science fiction (as mentioned
earlier) and will be releasing our first Mystery-Thriller, entitled "Stigma,"
in October, and "The Hunger," our first Horror title, in December. Our goal
is to offer at least one title in each specific genre category by the end of
Did you have a mission in mind when you began producing books?
To publish authors who were never given a chance in the "professional"
market. There are thousands of gifted writers out there, whose manuscripts
were never given a serious read by the larger houses simply because they
needed work. Our in depth editorial process takes a good story and turns it
into an exceptional novel, and we develop a personal relationship with our
authors in the process. 90% of our authors learn from that editorial
process, and this gives them a better chance of selling their next work to a
larger house -- of course, we always hope they will come back to us!
How are your books published?
We offer books in both soft cover editions and downloadable e-book formats.
Do you do print-on-demand books? How does that work for you?
Basically, I guess, we are a "print on demand" publisher. Our authors demand
copies, and we print! We do very small print runs -- 100 copies at a time --
unless more copies are warranted. So far, it has worked very well. The PTP
titles are printed in house, including the covers (often designed by our
authors) then sent out to be bound.
How are your books distributed? Do you get help from Ingrams or B and T,
or are you on your own?
We're on our own. Our authors are very active in promoting their works.
They set up books signings in their local areas and place the title with
local book sellers. The majority of our sales though, come through the
website and mail order. Titles are shipped within 24 hours after an order is
received, in most cases.
Tell us how you advertise. Where do the dollars go, primarily?
Again, we concentrate mainly on web advertising -- and we spend many hours
looking for free advertising. (Inclusion in search engines, banner exchange,
etc.) Since most of our income goes back into printing the titles at this
point, we cannot afford to spend a lot on advertising. Word of mouth has
served us well.
Who are some of the authors you've contracted with? What releases do you
have out or soon out?
Our In-Print titles are:
"S-4", by Jonathan Briggs -- a Science Fiction Thriller
"Hannah's Promise," by Diane Robertson -- An Historical Romance
"The Van Winkle Bride," by Charlene Tess -- Contemporary Romantic Suspense
"Fiery Surrender," by Linda Morelli -- An Historical Romance
"Wagons To The Past," by Jean Hackensmith -- A Time Travel Romance/Western
"Charmed Passage" and "Destined Passage," by Jean Hackensmith & Kathe Birch --
The first two novels in the "Passage" Time Travel trilogy
"Tender Persuasion," by Jean Hackensmith -- A True Contemporary Romance
"Stigma," by Adam Moore -- A serial killer Mystery-Thriller
"Dori Dreamer's Dreams," by Dori Bushee -- Poetry
"The Hunger," by Marc MacLeod -- Horror
"Never Say Never," by Carla Jeanne Bingham -- A Contemporary Romance
"VetCop," by Donna Conger -- Contemporary Romantic Suspense
What is the price range for your releases?
Our smaller novels (up to 175-200 pages) sell for $7.95. Our longest novels (600+ pages) sell for $12.95.
How can readers purchase your books? Do you have a website with more information?
Titles can be purchased by visiting our website at www.porttownpublishing.bigstep.com We offer secure on-line purchase with a credit card, or visit the "Mail Order" page to order with a Money Order or Personal Check.
The website features a "Synopsis/Excerpt" page, with a full synopsis and excerpt from each of our titles, so readers know in advance what the book is about and can also see the quality of the author's work.
April 16, 2002