Tuesday 21 July 2020

Small Press: The Ups and Downs

This year has been a tough one for small press, as it has been for most industries, and the sailing probably isn't going to get any smoother in the near future. A number of small presses have gone under and I thought I really ought to write a blog post outlining the strategy and aim in place here at Black Beacon Books. Like most small publishers nowadays, Black Beacon Books is a labour of love. It is not a full-time job, and no matter how much I wish it were, it almost certainly never will be. You have to chase your dreams, but you also have to keep your feet on the ground...not simple!

The strategy behind Black Beacon Books has been, and will continue to be, one of slow and measured growth. This is why we currently only release one title every year or two. When quality matters to you (and anyone who has read our books knows it does), the process of releasing a book takes time. But the biggest constraint is money. If we had more to invest (a lot more!), we'd be able to pay professional rates and fund broad-reaching marketing campaigns. In the meantime, we offer token rates and rely on word-of-mouth, social media, and reviews. We've also set up a Patreon page, which we use as a subscription service, not for crowdfunding (meaning the monthly fee covers the benefits provided). The disadvantage of this conservative approach is that we're not making a name for ourselves as quickly as many other small publishers who use personal savings to fund projects. This means lower sales due to lower exposure. The advantage is that there is almost no risk of being forced to shut down because debts can't be paid. And it's that stability, along with the artistic freedom it allows, that is probably our greatest strength. The frequency of publishing books can speed up or slow down as a result of fluctuating sales, but we can keep plugging along through the tougher times.

You may be asking why I'm writing this post. Well, I suppose it's to reassure you that Black Beacon Books plans on keeping at it, publishing quality mystery, suspense, and horror fiction that makes us proud, first and foremost, and that we're confident you'll enjoy, as a natural consequence. This adventure is, of course, a team effort. We need you to chip in. We need you to write amazing stories for us, to spread the word about us, but above all, way up there in the clouds, the absolute number one thing is to buy our books. Making sales is the only way for us to truly grow as a publisher. In a way, when you buy one of our books, you're not only getting your money's worth in reading entertainment from that title, but you're also investing in an even better book for a similar price next time. That is what it boils down to! That's the kind of "social contract" (for the philosophers out there) we want you to figuratively sign with us. 

So, there you go. I hope that reassures you. It certainly feels reassuring from this end to write this little post, and to put it out there as a clear statement. Black Beacon Books is here to stay! We have countless great stories to tell you, from yesterday, today, and more are coming tomorrow. Get reading!

Founding editor, Cameron Trost