Fiona Veitch Smith
I MET FIONA VEITCH SMITH online via the Association of Christian Writers facebook group, where she was telling us a bit about her experiences of trying to persuade Christian bookshops to stock her new children’s book, David and the Hairy Beast.
Curious to know more, I checked out her website where I found, to my delight, an excerpt — and loved it. Hopefully, you will too — and you might even find your customers like it as well, but there’s only one way to find out about that…
I invited Fiona to tell us all about it. She writes:
David and the Hairy Beast claws its way to market
When we read of bookshop chains shutting down, publishing contracts becoming scarcer than a footballer without a super injunction and the bogey man of the e-book market changing the way we consume books, then you would be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at a new company launching its pilot title – in hard copy. Add to that the fact that the pilot is ‘self-published’ and the more business savvy among you may well be tutting in disdain. And yet, that’s what Crafty Publishing is doing. My husband Rod and I felt called to start Crafty Publishing using some of the redundancy money he received after being ‘released’ from the NHS. Our vision is to test out the market and distribution chains with a series of children’s picture books that I’ve written and then, if all goes well, start taking on other titles.
But we’re not going into this blindly. I am not a wannabe author who is so desperate to see her name in print that I’d sell the family silver to see it happen. I am already published and produced in a variety of genre including theatre, film and books. I’m currently working on a non-fiction book contract with Lion Hudson and a devotional booklet contract with CWR as well as continuing to work on a series of ghost-written children’s books for the secular market. In addition, I have worked as a freelance editor for Tafelberg Publishing in South Africa as well as for a number of magazines (in the UK and SA).
So why am I publishing my own work? I got a taste for the business side of self-publishing about eight years ago. My first book, Donovon’s Rainbow, was published in South Africa by Vineyard International Publishing (who have subsequently discontinued their children’s line). The book was not distributed beyond Vineyard bookshops in the UK, so when I moved back here in 2002 I asked permission from the publisher to distribute it. Effectively then I took on the job of a self-publisher. I entered the book for the Writers’ News best self-published / independently published children’s book of the year award in 2002 and won. The award gave me confidence to tackle the market and I was able to distribute the book to around 20 bookshops in the UK (secular and Christian).
It was a steep curve and I quickly had to learn about things like wholesale discounts the pros and cons of sale or return, the horrors of cold calling and the shaky financial footing of independent booksellers. I also realised that the title I was trying to sell did not fit easily into existing age categories and that the cover made it look as if it was for a younger readership than it actually was. Despite that, the book went into profit, but we would not do it the same way again.
So when my husband and I decided to launch our own title this year, we had some background to draw on. In addition, since 2002, the internet has become a much more effective marketing tool and as he is a professional software developer, he has been able to tackle that side of things.
But it’s still a scary world out there for a new publisher, not least when dealing with some bookshop managers who consider any ‘retelling’ of a bible story with the same abhorrence they normally reserve for Satan (or Rob Bell). However, there are some great folk too and in the month since the title’s been launched, five bookshops have agreed to stock us and our online sales are ticking over very nicely.
David and the Hairy Beast
Our pilot title is called David and the Hairy Beast (retailing at £5.99) and is the first in a series of six books about the childhood of King David. The illustrations are by my design partner, Amy Barnes. We’re working on the next book, David and the Kingmaker, now. It will be ready for distribution in October, in time for the Christmas market. We’ll see how sales go in the New Year before launching the third in the series David and the Giant.
To find out more, please visit www.craftypublishing.com
Fiona Veitch Smith
e: Fiona AT thecraftywriter.com