Kevin Duffy from Bluemoose books – guest speaker at UCLan

Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books came to speak to us. Bluemoose Books is an independent publisher based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Kevin Duffy comes from a sales and marketing background.

Bluemoose books publishes 5-8 books a year. Kevin Duffy said that big publishers are getting risk averse, that they tend to try and replicate successes, meaning their offering can be a bit bland. Out of the last 8 Man Bookers, 4 were won by indie publishers. Kevin Duffy believes that indies have become research/design hubs.

80% of sales in publishing come from backlists. Will big publishers in 10 years have that backlist if they’re not investing in new writers?

Indie publishers still read manuscripts – in 5 pages you can tell if something is good.

It’s expensive to get face outs, dump bins, half windows in retail stores. For Bluemoose to stand out they spend a lot on cover design and production values.

STEP 1: have 1/5 of a second to catch the browser’s eye

STEP 2: the blurb

STEP 3: first pages

Kevin Duffy gave us a task: to rewrite a blurb in 100 words and choose tag words. In a team, we chose The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Changez never questioned the fundamental values that underpinned his life. Until the fateful day that the planes hit the twin towers.
As society changes around him, he is forced to question his position at the elite “valuation” firm Underwood Samson, his infatuation with Erica, his pursuit of money and power.
In a ripple effect, his identity is slowly torn between his Pakistani home and his adopted American life, leaving him with uneasy choices.

Metadata tag words: American dream, fundamentalism, Pakistan, September 11

When pitching, you don’t have much time. It’s important to know your book, convince them of the story, give a bit of background about the author especially if they do something different that sticks out.

Important to have an AI sheet (advanced Information sheet).

Kevin Duffy gave us an overview of what happens from when you find an author to selling the book, mixed in with some tips:

  • send the contract, always go for world rights in author contracts, has to state that author has to work with the publisher to build readership
  • get contract back
  • set publication day
  • first 6 months is line by line editorial , author works with one editor. There are big changes between manuscript coming in and the final product
  • after that got 4 months before your book is published
  • bibliographic info is important, it’s done 4 months before publication
  • put together blurb and keywords
  • allocate an ISBN for each edition with title, author name, price, blurb, rights, pagination, publication date, 350 characters for synopsis (pay for longer), meta words, jpeg of jacket, etc [two weeks after that will go online]
  • send to designers, who come back with 5 designs (in indies author usually involved with creating the covers)
  • for the library market, there’s a company that distributes to every library (Askews and Holts)
  • typeset the book; Bluemoose uses Carnegie in Lancaster
  • 2 weeks to check for errors, then goes to printers
  • 3 months before publication, have the book in the warehouse
  • getting reviews: most important word in sales and marketing is discoverability
  • finding readers: about building email lists, building that trust. Bluemoose used to do world tour of Northern libraries. Another marketing stunt was doing a one book bookshop (took all books out of bookshop except for copies of books), took a pic for Instgram and it went around the world.
  • Angela Hawking, the first self-publishing queen, spent 82% of her time on social media to promote her book

Read tips on announcing your book

Other interviews with Bluemoose Books.

Want to get more insight from other authors?

Check out Vulpes Libris’ publisher interviews.

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