Small Press Spotlight
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Welcome to Small Press Spotlight, where we showcase some of the smaller publishing companies who offer romance fiction. This month we're pleased to welcome Neighborhood Press. NP's publicist, Karen Williams (who writes for NP as Alexis Hart) offers readers some insights into NP's organization, and author Cathy McDavid tells readers about her experiences as a NP author.

Karen, tell us how and why Neighborhood Press got started.

Rhea Griffths had one thing in mind when she started Neighborhood Press. Quality fiction. Mainstream houses tend to lean toward certain formulas, but Neighborhood Press is unique in its quest to publish truly original stories. We love the books put out by the big house, but isn't it nice to read a story that is fresh and innovative-not your typical marriage of convenience or runaway bride story. Neighborhood Press would like to give new meaning to curling up with a good book.

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

To offer the finest in in romantic fiction and build a place for new writers to begin their careers as published authors. With so much talent in the romance industry it is inevitable that market opportunities decrease. Established authors bring in the money and as this is a business, money talks. Neighborhood Press intends to make money and history by introducing fine new talent in quality books to the readership for approval.

How are your books published?

Neighborhood Press has covered a vast majority of the market types. In the beginning books were released in Electronic Book and download format then followed up by Trade Paperback. This worked well, but keeping the readers and limited budgets in mind, we are redesigning many of the books into mass market paperback. Not only will this open the retail market up and make us more competitive, it will also make the authors more more able to compete with established authors. Many chains shy away from trade paperbacks and E-books. With the release of the mass market books we are offering something for everyone's taste and budget.

Do you do print-on-demand books? How does that work for you?

Print on the demand is a wonderful thing. An author at a major house may get a print of of 75,000. If she sells 10,000 or even 20,000 that is wonderful, but pays the price when the remaining books are returned. With POD, there is no major expense involved in printing a huge number of books that may or may not sell. Of course as writers/authors we all hope to sell a million copies, but let's be practical. POD is the answer! Get your orders, print the copies and you are guaranteed sales. Everyone is a winner.

How are your books distributed? Do you get help from Ingrams or B and T, or are you on your own?

At Neighborhood Press we are going through all the channels to make our titles available at all the major distributors and on line retailers. At this point Ingrams and B and T are your best bets. Another sure fire way to order Neighborhood Press books is through Amazon.com. We have received wonderful support from them during our launch process.

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

Neighborhood Press knows the importance of promotion. With a growing list of new releases soon to be available we are planning some dynamic packages to promote our authors. Several will be featured authors in magazines such as Romantic Times, Romance Writer Review and the Lovers Knot. Each author isencouraged to promote their book in the best way they know how. There are always the traditional ways, bookmarks, postcards and flyers. In a unique move three of Neighborhood Press's authors have joined together to form a very successful promotional team. Cathy McDavid, Alexis Hart and Lisa Mondello have put together a gift set, containing all three of their books at a special gift set price. Included in the Debut Spotlight Author group is Fiction Works author Kathy Ishcomer, whose first romance, ICE ANGEL will be available on February 15, 1999 from www.fictionworks.com. They have advertised together, planned and distributed a newsletter and various other things. We encourage our authors to work together- united we stand...

Who are some of the authors you've contracted with? What releases do you have out or soon out?

Neighborhood Press is pleased to have among our ranks authors like Holly Furhmann, who after selling selling A SNOWBALL'S CHANCE went on to sell several books to Kensington's Precious Gems line. Our first holiday title, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU by Lisa Mondello has received wonderful reviews and will be available in mass market paperback in July 1999. Right on the heels of Cathy McDavid's release WILD NOTION came Alexis Hart's MOONLIGHT FOR MAGGIE. Both of these books garnered excellent reviews. These two authors are about to embark on a weekend long booksigning spree in Houston, TX in March 1999. While in Houston they will help spread the word about the upcoming releases SWEETER THAN WINE by Michaela August, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN by Evie Eastwood-Van Veen and TRUTH TO TELL by Deborah Sutton. You can visit the updated site to see a more complete listing of upcoming releases.

What is the price range for your releases?

The titles range in price from $4.00 for downloads to $12.00 for various Trade paperbacks. The mass market releases will be in the $5.99 range.

How can readers purchase your books?

There are any number of ways you can get your hands on one of our hot titles. You can order from Amazon.com, you can special order the titles from your local bookstore (and while you're at it order an extra copy to have them put on the shelf), or you can visit our website at http://members.aol.com/nppubsrg/welcome.html and order from our online catalogue. If you prefer a more personal approach you can call Neighborhood Press directly at 1-888-243-7422 and enter pin# 3828. One of our happy people will take your order and get your book on the way.

Do you have a website with more information?

Neighborhood Press has a new website up and running. http://members.aol.com/nppubsrg/welcome.html. We hope you will visit often to get the latest acquisitions and meet some of the romance industry's up and coming stars.

Cathy, let's hear about your experiences with Neighborhood Press.What led you to a small press like Neighborhood Press? Were you previously published by a mainstream house?

No, I had been rejected by 5 large houses. My book, Wild Notion, is a single title contemporary with mainstream elements. A very difficult book to place. I was considering a number of options at the time, such as getting an agent, when a writer friend of mine, Holly Fuhrmann, had her book accepted by Neighborhood Press. Holly and I had had several short stories published together in various magazines. She was so enthusiastic about her experience with Neighborhood Press, I decided to take a chance and see what happened.

What's it like writing for a small press?

There are definitely pros and cons, but I imagine there are with big houses too. The downside is, of course, smaller print runs and distribution. We'd all like to see our book become a huge seller. Chances of that happening are not too great. The money can be decent, depending on how much effort the author is willing to put into self-promotion. With a small press, there is no built-in promotional allowance. There are also, sad to say, those that snub their noses at small press authors. Sometimes it's a difficult road to travel.

But I have never regretted my decision. I feel the plusses far outweigh the negatives. First of all, I'm published! I see my book in print, hold it in my hands, and know the thrill of others reading it. I've been giving a chance to get my foot in the door in an industry that is next to impossible to break into. Being published, even with a small press, is like being given a negotiable commodity that you can exchange for opportunities. I have been asked to speak at function, been quoted, been asked to write articles (for money, even), approached by published authors, and had interviews requested. I'm still the same charming and glib person I was before, holding the same opinions, yet now, all of a sudden, people are interested in hearing me. It's pretty darn cool.

I also had tremendous control over my book with a small press, from cover to font size to page layout. I didn't always get my way, but many authors with large houses are "told how it's going to be" rather than "asked what they would like to see". Sure makes the process more pleasurable and rewarding.

Do you receive advances and royalties? Or is a flat fee basis?

I receive royalties. But no advance. However, my contract is quite generous.

Tell us about your experiences promoting a small-press release. How do you handle the PR?

I'm still experimenting. I've done the usual things, bookmarks, flyers, webpage, author pages at two reader/writer sites, give- aways, book signings. Most recently, I joined with two other authors at NPPubs for a joint e-book promo campaign that includes a separate website, a newsletter, and a massive direct mail out. It will be interesting to see the results of that.

Tell us about your current (or upcoming) release.

Wild Notion was my first attempt at full-length fiction. I've had numerous short stories published, even winning some contests. It's a long contemporary with suspense elements. Some might say it's more mainstream, but I've always considered it pure romance.

I struggled with my first couple manuscripts, then decided my problem was I needed to "write what I knew". Wild Notion takes place in a fictional town in northern Arizona. The heroine, Claren Phillips, is a divorced mother of three trying hard to make ends meet and run her small ranch. The hero, Tanner, knows almost nothing about kids and animals. So it makes an interesting combination. Claren and her young son rescue Tanner from a brutal mugging, taking him home when he begs for their help. Eventually his past catches up with him and puts Claren and her family in grave danger.

When I wrote Wild Notion, I thought about all the things I like best in a good book, and tried to incorporate them into mine. So there plenty of humor, touching emotions, excitement, suspense, and some good ole sexual tension.

Do you have plans for future releases with Neighborhood Press?

I'm a staff member on The Lover's Knot, which is a bi-monthly romance magazine put out by Neighborhood Press. In addition, I've done stories and articles on request for them. As far as a full-length book, the chances are good that I will do another one with them, but nothing is definite as of yet. I have so enjoyed my relationship with Rhea Griffiths, the senior editor, I would love to keep working with her.

Thank you, Karen and Cathy, and best of luck to you both! Readers, we have a review of Wild Notion.

March 1, 1999


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