Salome Jones talks about Ghostwoods Books and how you can help
Ghostwoods Books is a British indie publisher who also happen to be the publisher of one of my favourite recent books Red Phone Box, read my thoughts on that here. Being an indie publisher isn’t easy at the best of times though and as anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave knows these aren’t exactly the best of times so in order to fund their publication plans for the next year (and publish more books) they’ve turned to crowdfunding via Kickstarter. For details CLICK HERE
So for the uninformed what is Ghostwoods Books about?
We’re a small, London-based, fair-trade publisher, primarily of genre novels and anthologies.What we’re about is publishing good books and giving authors a fair deal.
What does a fair deal for authors mean?
Well, first of all, we give them half the profits, but also decent contracts that help them make the most of their books. We don’t grab all the rights, only the ones we can reasonably make use of. We give them a relatively easy way out of the contracts. Expenses come out of our side of the profits, not the authors.
You’d think fair contracts wouldn’t be that unusual among small presses, but publishing is a brutal business to be in right now. Business models tend to heavily favor the publisher. Authors who sign with a small press without knowing what they’re getting into may be in for some difficulties.
Publishing is inherently expensive. In order to publish more books, we need more upfront money than our current list of books is earning. We earn about enough right now to properly publish two or three books a year. We can’t help very many authors publishing two books a year.
We looked into getting investors, and for a few reasons decided it wouldn’t be in line with our goals. If you saw the recent article by Aral Balkan about Ello, you’ll understand that venture capital comes at a price. That price for Ello, is probably an exit strategy, meaning they will have agreed to build up to a certain level and sell for a profit. For us, they’d want a very clear profit stream. Giving half the profits to authors? Probably not so much.
What can backers get from pledging to your campaign?
Books. Ethically produced books. DRM-free eBooks, and paperbacks, for sure. Possibly some hardcovers. And at least one audiobook. But also the ability to give some input into decisions. Knowing that they’re part of a cool, progressive project.
One of the really cool things we will only be able to publish if we succeed with the Kickstarter is Haunted Futures, a multi-genre anthology. We’ve gotten several notable writers to agree to contribute stories, including Warren Ellis, John Reppion, Liesel Schwartz, Chuck Wendig, and Richard Kadrey. All in one book! Plus we’ve been talking to John Coulthart, who illustrated Lovecraft’s Monsters about illustrating it for us. (For more info on Haunted Futures go here Ghostwoods Books Haunted Futures ) We’re also accepting submissions from other writers. We’ll take the very best, most suitable ones to be included with the work of these amazing authors. And once the project is funded, I’ll recruit some more good stories myself. It can take quite a bit of work to get enough great stories for an anthology.
There are a number of other books we can’t really talk about in detail yet because of contractual obligations. But great genre books. When it looks like we’ll be funded we’ll be able to move ahead and divulge more about them. You can see some of them on our Kickstarter page.
But writers and artists need to be paid, so this can only happen with resources. And that’s the truth of all of this. We’re very good at our jobs, good editors, good at recruiting people to write, but some projects just can’t happen without extra money.
What will Haunted Futures be about?
It’s just going to be genre authors writing what they write best, about whatever the term ‘haunted futures’ inspires them to write. We’re going to get a peek inside the creative minds of some excellent writers. Warren Ellis has given me his story already, for example. It’s a sci fi police procedural. Ish. I expect the others may write in the genres we’re used to seeing from them, but also maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll use this as an opportuty to blow us away with something new.
I can’t wait to see what they write. Then my job is to make sure the stories are ordered in the best way, for pacing, and to do all the other things editors do without you knowing, to make the book as good as it possibly can be.