2012 is the National Year of Reading.
So at Kids’ Book Capers we’ve decided to profile the people who make the books we love to read – the publishers.
Our first profile is Ford Street Publishing and today we welcome Paul Collins.
What kind of books do you publish?
Picture books through to young adult and crossover.
What do you love most about your work?
One has to be reasonably passionate about books, of course. I love working for myself. The more you put into your work, the more you get out. This means working seven days a week. When you work from home you never leave work! When I was a room service waiter back in the 70s a supervisor said to me, “You don’t like authority, do you?” And I guess she was right. I’ve worked for myself ever since.
What is the hardest thing about promoting books?
Promoting books is easy. It’s getting people to pay attention to what you’re promoting that’s the hard part. It’s a long and laborious job harvesting email addresses, building up databases, and hoping the people you’re adding to them actually want to be told about what you’re doing. There’s always the unsubscribe icon, of course, and sometimes I’m a little disappointed to see certain people unsubscribe from my newsletters. Of course, we all get unsolicited material via emails. I usually simply delete. No hard feelings that way, and it only takes a second. Paying for ads is also easy, but I’ve come to the conclusion that unless you bulk promote a product with ads, then you’re simply wasting money. Because books are a low ticket item, many forms of advertising are out of the question — TV, radio, billboards, etc.
2012 is The National Year of Reading. Why do you think reading is important for both children and adults?
There’s a hulking manuscript of an answer here, but suffice to say reading opens one’s mind to other people’s thoughts. It educates and expands the imagination. If nothing else, dare I say people who read are more successful in life than those who don’t.
Where do you see the children’s book market in five years’ time?
Kids will still be reading, but more online or via devices than printed books. A hardcore readership of print books will exist for a long time. But economically, the print books won’t be mass produced, more they’ll only be available via print on demand. This is itself might prove a hassle in the long run, so even those sales will dwindle. Once that happens, it won’t be feasible to have POD technology, so kiosks will fade away to be replaced with new technology.
My main problem with ebooks is that there’s no way to actually “show” them to people. Go to amazon and unless you know what you’re after, you’ll never find a good book, unless you have hours to trawl. I don’t see online booksellers ever competing with brick and mortar shops, although they will dominate. Much like VHS beat Beta. Beta was the better product by all accounts, but VHS had better marketing. Mac are better than PCs, but PCs won over, sales wise.
What is your current submissions process for authors and illustrators?
We’re closed to submissions. I’m still trying to get through the unsolicited material submitted last year.
What were some of your favourite PUBLISHING HOUSE book titles from 2011?
Tania McCartney’s Riley and the Grumpy Wombat was fun to work on. I’m also pleased with the way The Key to Starvelt by Foz Meadows turned out. We worked on Susanne Gervay and Anna Pignataro’s Ships in the Field. Although this book was published in February, I think of it as a 2011 title since all the work on it was done during 2011.
What titles do you have coming up in 2012 that you’re really excited about?
I’m excited by everything Ford Street publishes. I’ve contracted the next Toocool and Marcy books from Phil Kettle and Susan Halliday; a picture book from Michael Salmon; a YA book from a new author called Michelle Heeter; my own Dyson’s Drop which is a sequel to Mole Hunt.
I think Ford Street’s best selling title this year will be Trust Me Too, an anthology comprising 58 contributors including Shaun Tan, Leigh Hobbs, James Roy and Michael Gerard Bauer.