Small Press Spotlight
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Welcome to our Small Press Spotlight, where we are pleased to showcase smaller publishers offering print-format romance to readers. In this issue we welcome Dr. Siobhan McNally, head of Domhan Books, and author Deb Crockett, whose historical romance Natchez is a Domhan release.

Interview with Siobhan McNally of Domhan Books:

Tell us how and why your press got started.

We started out with e books in February of 1998 and moved into paper in Oct 1998. Ebooks will revolutionize reading. With paper, you have to wait nearly 2 years to see it in print even after it is accepted. How long the acceptance takes is anyone's guess. the record I know of so far is 3 years of to-ing and fro-ing, and then a final no, so that that author had to start all over again. With the e medium it is much faster, 3 -6 months.

With our on-demand printing, the paperback comes straight from the file, so it is faster too. There are no rules and regulations, we just want good writing, and a balanced list. We are different in that we specialize in writers from all over the world, and are UK and US based.

Did you have a mission in mind when you began producing books?

Our mission was to break down the barriers, no more genre romance, the secret handshake, authors being offered huge advances while really good books molded away. We also knew the huge potential of the e-book, with more and more people computer literate, recycling conscious, and receptive to new technology.

How are your books published? Do you do print-on-demand books?

Yes, we do, and it has been great, with Ingram and Barnes and Noble our distributors. We published our first list of 40 titles in December, and the very first one, The Last True Story of Titanic, was under consideration for a Pulitzer this July.

Tell us how you advertise. Where do the dollars go, primarily?

Ingram advertises for us, in their Advance magazine, and we target publications suited to our books, eg mystery, romance and so on.

Who are some of the authors you've contracted with?

Lidmila Sovakova and Albert Russo are both prizewinning European authors. Our main romance authors are Sorcha MacMurrough and Jacinta Carey. We just named the three winners in the Domhan World of Romance competition as well.

Do you have a website with more information?

http://www.domhanbooks.com/ is our romance url, and it is broken down into sections, if you want to see the sort of things we do:
Previews: http://www.domhanbooks.com/domhanbooks/previews.htm
Reviews: http://www.domhanbooks.com/domhanbooks/reviews.htm

What releases do you have out or soon out?

We will be publishing our next list of 20 books very soon. In terms of romance, we have the latest June releases from Mary Lynn, Lisa Mondello, and new Aussie writer Diana Waldauer.

Interview with Deb Crockett, Domhan author

Deb, what led you to a small press? Were you previously published by a mainstream house?

Most every serious writer has one basic need: to be published. I have always dreamed of being accepted by major romance publishers like Harlequin, Zebra, etc., but realized early on that the types of stories I have to tell and love to write would never fly with these same publishers, because of strict taboos and requisites which I insist on flaunting in my work. So, as a result, I mostly write for my own enjoyment. The advent of small press publishers has given me fresh hope that the types of stories I write do in fact have a chance of reaching an audience, albeit a smaller, more select one.

What's it like writing for a small press? Pros and cons?

The biggest benefit is definitely being able to write the stories that are near and dear to your heart. This is not to say that they will all be accepted for publication, of course. Small presses, by their very nature, must be as selective if not more selective than major publishers, in order to make a profit and survive. However they are not as restrictive in story material, allowing a writer lots of latitude and very few do's/don't's with their work. This is, in my opinion, why electronic publishers are enjoying so much attention: they are offering stories to the reading public that major publishers aren't willing to take a financial chance on. While this is a good thing, it can be foreseen that competition will increase tremendously, even with small presses. There are lots and lots of good writers out there, with excellent manuscripts collecting dust because they will never be bought by major publishing houses, who will find a new and ready market for their work in small presses and electronic publishing. Of course this can only be good news for readers looking for something "different"!

Do you receive advances and royalties?

I have not received an advance from my publisher, Domhan Books. But they do pay royalties. Another benefit of small presses and electronic publishers: their sample contracts are usually available to be read online before ever submitting to them. So you know up front what you're dealing with. Although advances are nice, higher royalties are even nicer! Lower publishing costs and overhead result in higher royalty percentages. While most major publishers offer somewhere around 5 - 8% royalty rate, small presses can offer around 25%, some even more. My publisher, Domhan Books, offers the highest royalty rate of any that I know of, though of course this is negotiable on an individual basis.

Tell us about your experiences promoting a small-press release.

Since my first historical romance, NATCHEZ, is hot-off-the-press, so to speak, I can't really answer this question yet. But the Internet is proving to be a vast marketing ground. I am a member of several email lists, and try to promote my book there. Putting the publishing info in a signature line is a good idea. And a good homepage on the web helps, too. At my homepage, I try to offer more things of interest to attract potential readers than just my book info. HUNK-O-RAMA has been a big draw! There are good sites online that will offer reviews of books, sites that get high traffic, and offer good exposure to romance readers. I'm also arranging for local booksignings. While I may not be able to "wow" them in New York or California, I will enjoy my fifteen minutes of fame in my hometown in Tennessee! And my book will be available for much, much longer than the monthly offerings by the major publishers, which see about 3-6 weeks shelf-life then disappear forever. I can continue to promote my book for years. And for a new author in the romance genre, word of mouth is the best promotion tool.

I am currently running a contest at my homepage. I'll send an autographed print copy of Natchez to one lucky reader who enters before October 15. Visit the Natchez page at http://pdq.to/natchez and you might be the winner!

Thank you, Siobhan and Deb, and best of luck to you both! Readers, we have a review of Natchez on our historical page.

September 27, 1999


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