Monday, June 18, 2012

Snubnose Press is one year old today - some thoughts

On June 18th, 2011 Snubnose Press released it's first book, Speedloader, an anthology of six original stories.  Here we are, one year later. 

In that time we have released 14 titles, including one anthology (Spedloader); one issue of Spinetingler; six short story collections (Cold Rifts, Old School, The Chaos We Know, Monkey Justice, Laughing at Dead Men, Gumbo Ya-Ya); three novellas (Nothing Matters, Dig Two Graves, Old Ghosts); and three novels (Harvest of Ruins, The Duplicate, Hill Country).

So why did we decide to get into book publishing?  How about a little history (I promise I'll keep it quick). Years ago, even as far back as when Spinetingler was owned by another site, we had been looking for a way to branch into publishing.  Once we even tossed around the idea of getting into limited edition hardcovers, kind of like you see in the horror market.  Even back then I was talking about novellas.  Simply put, Ebooks finally allowed us to enter the fray with lower costs.

Also in the mix was a couple of ideas that came together for us, forcing us to decide if we wanted to do something about it.  One, we knew a lot of really good authors who had come up through the short crime fiction scene and knew that they starting to produce manuscripts.  Two, the changing market place seemed to have had a negative effect on certain types of darker crime fiction, so we saw a gap that we could potentially fill.  Three, we were aware, through various personal correspondence , of some quality manuscripts that were floating around not getting picked up by bigger publishers. 

Spinetingler Magazine strives to publish the best in darker crime fiction with a mix of established writers, emerging writers and new writers.  More then one story in Spinetingler has been expanded and published as a novel, and many authors have gone on to signing with agents and publishing deals.  Snubnose Press was started to be an extension and continuation of that ethos.

One question I'm asked sometimes is What are we looking for in a manuscript?  The simple answer is, unfortunately for authors, a vague one.  We want to be grabbed, without a wasted word, and dragged along against our will to the very end.  I want to say "holy shit, I have to publish this".

That idea of what we wanted to publish can, and does, cover a broad range of genres, sub-genres and styles.  Which is how we like it.  But one thing we have noticed over the past year is that we are seeing a lot of hardboiled manuscripts.  I can only surmise that this is one sub-genre that the market changes are squeezing out.  While it is not our intention to be considered solely a hardboiled publisher I have to admit to some pleasure in seeing this written about Snubnose Press:

"Snubnose Press came to hardboiled literature as welcome as ten feet of gauze on an open wound. So much talent had little to nowhere to go. They are such a hardcore, dedicated publisher, that I know whatever title I'll pick up from them will be strong."

It's the little things that really make this worthwhile. 

Over the past year, two of our books have come out in print. I am sometimes asked if we will continue to expand into this area.  The simple answer is yes. The extended answer brings to mind a political phrase, "incremental change you can believe in", which to my mind simply means that we want to continue to grow, to do new things, but we also want to maintain a reasonable pace so that we don't stumble and fall because we want to continue publishing books for a long time to come.  So yes, you may see some more printed books this year.

So where are we headed in year two and beyond?

A key to continued success in year one was to try and keep costs as low as possible in order to maximize revenue.  One thing that we decided to do was to start out using a free blog platform as our website.  We will be looking into an upgrade to a dedicated domain in the near future. 

We will be launching a customer feedback form for people to tell us how we are doing and what we can do better.

Right now, as we speak, I am planning a big batch of Summer titles. In July and August we are planning on releasing at least ten titles.  I've had a bit of a change in philosophy since last year.  Initially I worked one one book at a time, getting everything ready for publication then launching the title, at about a one title a month pace.  At some point I thought that it was silly to sit on a manuscript that was publication ready because of a pre-existing schedule.  So now, we are increasing the amount of titles that we are working on at any one time and when a book is ready, we're going to publish it.  This means that you guys are going to see a huge increase in production over the course of the rest of the year. 

Look, I know that Snubnose Press is a small fish in a big ocean but I want everyone to know just how serious we take it.  We went into his with realistic expectations. Our sales numbers during year one have been on the small side but we have all the pieces in place to really see them grow.  As a new publisher, with only a handful of titles, we have been focusing on developing a reputation for putting out quality titles.  Building that reputation is part of our strategy for increasing sales in the long-term.  However, although we do have authors who are earning royalties and receiving payments, building those sales can be a slow process.  We are working hard to grow the sales numbers.  There are some who seem to suggest all a person needs to do is upload their title and start cashing checks for thousands of dollars.  That isn't the case.  Unless the writer has a preexisting base of readers to bolster sales and reviews immediately, e-publishing seems to run counter to print publishing.  In print publishing, the bulk of sales occur in the first few months from release.  In e-publishing, sales tend to build.

Finally, once the queue is cleared out some, we will be opening up submissions again some time in the summer. 

Please drop us a line or leave a comment.  Tell us how we are doing because we would be nowhere without you, our readers. What have we been doing right? What could we be doing better?  Any questions, comments or concerns?

To celebrate Speedloader, our first release, is FREE this week, and all of our titles are .99 this month. 


Chuck said...

Congrats on your first year! You've a stable of great authors. My one hope is that we'll see them available on a service like B&N for Nook owners.

At the time of OLD SCHOOL's release I pimped it a bit and got a few folks asking me if it was available for the Nook. It wasn't, and that was months ago. Seems to be you should be over there, too. Amazon ain't the only game in town (though it is perhaps the biggest).

My experience with B&N is that you'll maybe only see 10% of your sales come through that space, but hey, ten percent is ten percent.

And that is, well, my two cents.

-- c.

Brian Lindenmuth said...

Agreed Chuck. There are a couple of things we have to do a better job at and getting into other markets upon realease is one of them.

Al Tucher said...

That's good to hear. I'm also a Nook reader.

Congratulations on the anniversary!

John McFetridge said...

Congratulations on a great first year and I expect there will be many, many more years of publishing to come.

If you want feedback all I can say is that you're doing the most important things right - you're publishing what you really like because you really like it.

Les Edgerton said...

Happy Birthday, Brian! I'm extremely proud to be part of the party with all the talent you've assembled. I'm lifting a glass of Jack in your honor.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Brian. You're the best.

Paul D Brazill said...

Congratulations. A great roster.

Steve Weddle said...

Great selections you folks have chosen.
Helluva lineup.

Nick said...

Those have been three of my favourite ereads this year.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't give alot of time to getting these on the nook. Nobody has one of the those.

Unknown said...

First off, congrats on year one. I produced a manuscript that several other folks looked at and said thanks, but no thanks. Then Snubnose came along and got excited. And that is the greatest compliment anyone can give. Not to mention that as I started to see who they were signing and putting out, to realize I was included in that group, it was amazing. Mr. Lindenmuth calls them a small fish in a big ocean, but they have the chops to eat bigger fish. These folks have already gone places and are going to bigger places. I want to be there when they do.

Kyle MacRae said...

MANY congratulations! May your snubbie snouts continue to blaze the trail in this brave and bonkers new world.

Many thanks too for all the support you've shown the Heathens. It's very much appreciated.

Raising a wee glass of Laphroaig to you now in a birthday toast.

Richard Thomas said...

Congratulations and Happy Birthday, Brian. Or is it anniversary? Either way, thanks so much for the support, and keep up the great work. You're doing a great job, and I'm honored to be a part of the Snubnose family.

Joe Clifford said...

I am honored to be in such esteemed company. Can't wait to see where you guys take this. I foresee good things happening. Happy birthday!

tom pitts said...

"small fish in a big ocean"? No, I prefer simian in a world of dinosaurs. You guys are in on the ground floor of (and helping shape) the evolution of publishing.

Craig Wallwork said...

One of the coolest places around. So glad to be part of something unique. Happy birthday Snubnose!

vmars said...

Um... I was told there would be cake?