Success Means Showing Up – a heart-felt plea from a small publisher
I got to know BILL MUNRO at Society of Authors meetings and I admire the way he has carved out a niche place in the non fiction market for Earlswood Press. He would like to expand, give support to new writers, branch out into other subject areas but he has one propblem – authors.
Over to Bill…
Legendary filmmaker Woody Allen once said of the acting profession, “70 per cent of success is showing up.” Different people have interpreted this in different ways, but what I believe he meant is that if you want to be successful in the acting business, you’d better show up on time, clean, tidy, clear headed and keen to work. To say this, Allen would surely have seen brilliant actors spoil their careers by not being reliable, and been glad of the solid, reliable but not quite so brilliant actors who were there, ready to work.
I know from my own experience that similar advice can be given to authors: I have as a micropublisher had very varying experiences with them, producing nine titles by seven authors through my company, Earlswood Press. I could have published more, if only other authors had actually come up with the manuscripts, or at least supplied them in a commercially viable form and in a format that didn’t require me to deconstruct them, then bash my head against a brick wall trying to get them to rebuild them into a useable form.
Bill Munro of Earlswood Press
One author offered me a title that I could have produced with a high cover price, and sold many copies in a big market. The prospect of it had my wholesaler hopping up and down with glee. But did the author come through? Not a chance. What he sent was scanty, muddled and too derivative to be worth dealing with; then he disappeared off the radar for over a year. When reappeared, he made more promises and then disappeared again, sending me nothing more. I’ve not heard from him since, and if I did, I would not deal with him; it would not be worth the trouble.
But if he didn’t have the resources to produce the material, why did he offer it? It may have been an inability on his part to understand what I required, but I suspect it was that his dreams outstripped his resources and his dreams were stronger than his grip on reality.
But of course, many first-time authors learn, and go on to do great things. For me, one of the real joys of working with first-time writers is mentoring them. I’ve signed up authors whose basic writing skills left something to be desired and whose work needed some major editing, but as well as having the essential talent of being good storytellers, they would listen to my suggestions, act in accordance with them (or give sensible, reasoned arguments as to why their original content was better) and, most important of all, deliver the revised manuscript on time.
This is vital to publlishers, large or small. Publishing is a business and publishers are in business to make money. Manuscripts are the raw material from which the products – the books – are made and if the supplier, i. e. you, the author doesn’t supply the raw materials, there is no product, and if there is no product to sell, nobody makes any money, least of all you. And if you do not submit the manuscript on time, then the publisher’s schedules, which are all-important in what is very often a seasonal industry, go out of the window along with your reputation.
So, you may be a brilliant writer, or you may be one whose potential is still to be developed, but whatever you are, if you want to get published, you need to be professional about how you go about the job. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Make sure you are able to clear the decks, ready for work. Get your domestic life sorted so as to make time to write. If you don’t, or if you can’t do this, keep your dreams to yourself until you can. And when you can, you must set your goals, discipline yourself and produce and deliver your manuscript to time, to length and to topic. At times it will be hard, and at times it will be impossible, but you must commit to deliver if you want to succeed.
Bill had his first book published in 1998 and has been writing books and magazine articles on motoring topics ever since, focussing on the London taxi and the London cab trade. He started Earlswood Press in 2007 when a publisher with whom he was discussing the publication of a new book, folded. Bill decided to publish the book himself, and this led to him taking on other titles and to publish more of his own work under the Earlswood imprint. In 2015 he gave up his day job to focus full-time on expanding the business. Bill lives in Surrey with his wife, Karen.
We publish transport books and biographical work, but as well as increasing the existing ranges, we are looking to branch out, possibly into niche aspects of British history and books that either deal with aspects of London or have a significant London content. We would consider other topics too. We distribute some of our titles in the USA, so we would also be particularly interested in titles covering any and all British topics that would appeal to an American readership. We do not publish fiction, poetry or children’s books.
Please contact us via our website Press www.earlswoodpress.co.uk, with a brief outline of your proposal and we’ll take things from there
Books available from Earlswood Press
An Italian Village – a perspective on life beside Lake Como by Paul Wright
This is Paul’s second book and is the sequel to An Italian Home – settling by Lake Como, our best seller. ‘Village’ is scheduled for publication in paperback in October 2016, having gained considerable momentum as an ebook on both sides of the Atlantic.
Thanks Bill for this insight into the life and concerns of a small publisher.
Anyone got an idea that might appeal to Bill? An idea that you can deliver on?
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Brilliant post,. No as a poet I haven’t got anything for Bill wish I had. My potential fiction has fallen publishers nets on more than one occasion. What a pro. what an offer.. but more importantly I’ll check out books from Earlswood Press,
Glad you enjoyed it Ann – good to hear from the ‘other’ side and know that opportunities are there if you can do the work.
Excellent post and advice. Thanks for sharing it. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles
Spread the word, Sheila – it’s nice to hear of someone wanting more from writers!
This is a great point. You wouldn’t treat other commercial contracts that way. Thanks for a great post.