Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Founded by a small group of traditionally published writers from Prospera, Penguin, Random House, Harper Collins and Hodder, Notting Hill press is a dynamic imprint representing professional writers in the UK and US. 
They agreed to answer a few questions from one collective to another.

What brought you together?

Talli and Michele have known each other for a few years, and met Belinda when she put together her Sunlounger summer anthology. When Belinda mentioned that she wanted to start independently publishing her books in the US, the time seemed right to combine our resources.

Most of you have previously been traditionally published. So what were the factors that triggered the decision to go indie?

Michele began independently publishing in the US where she didn’t have a publishing deal. It seemed to make sense for her debut, Single in the City, which was about an American woman who moves to London. That book was successful in the US so when it came time to publish the sequel, she and her agent decided to publish that independently too.

Specifically with the Sunlounger summer anthology (which was very much inspired by Michele's community spirit) Belinda felt that it was the only way to go. There was a size factor - the collection runs well over 200,000 words, which would make for a hefty doorstop of a paperback - but more significantly our independent status is what freed so many authors (44 in total) to contribute with their publisher's blessing. (No rivalry between houses, just benefit for all!) In fact Belinda’s traditional publisher, Hodder, even put her next novel (The Travelling Tea Shop) on hold to accommodate this project, so the two modes really can work in harmony. (And as we type, Sunlounger is #19 in the Amazon Kindle Chart, which is thrilling for us all.) 

And Talli decided to self-publish after having two novels traditionally published by a small press. With 99 per cent of her sales in e-books due to limited print distribution, she figured it made sense to pay a one-off fee to a professional cover design and editor, and keep the remaining profit for herself.
Like Triskele, you each retain the rights to your own books, pay the costs of publication and receive the full royalties. What elements are done collectively?

The main benefit of being part of Notting Hill Press is the sharing of expertise. For example, one of the authors has an excellent paperback printer in the UK that some of us have looked into. Others are experienced publicists, so have been able to write the PR for our launch. Then there are the million little details around marketing and promotion where we share our knowledge. If something has or hasn’t worked for one author, the rest of us learn from that. 

What do you see as the key benefits of being in a collective?

It’s definitely in the sharing of expertise and resources.

Do you share a designer? Do you try and go for a shared look and feel?

We don’t share a single designer, or try for a consistent look, but some of the authors use the same designer. Because they’re vetted by people we trust (each other), it saves a lot of time and energy to use them. The same is true for our copy editors, content editors and formatters.

You say you consider yourselves hybrid authors. Is this a matter of chronology, or do you have other books you are choosing to publish traditionally? If so, what drives the different choices?

We have other books that we choose to publish traditionally. Michele, for instance, will put a manuscript out to UK publishers within a month but will publish her Christmas novella independently. Talli has just signed with Amazon for her most recent book, The Pollyanna Plan, and her upcoming manuscript. There are other deals in the pipeline between some of the other authors and traditional publishers. And some of our authors, like Lucy Robinson, doesn’t consider herself a hybrid; she just publishes her books in the US independently.

Each of us makes our own decision about publishing independently versus traditionally, and in which geographies. That’s based on many factors including our relationships with our traditional publishers and whether we think a book will be well-suited to their business model. For instance, some books may be considered too niche for a traditional publisher, who might want to appeal to the widest possible audience. In that case, independent publishing makes more sense.

The publication schedules of traditional publishers also means that it might make sense to independently publish, as is the case with Michele’s Christmas novella (which she’s writing now for publication in October – a traditional publisher would struggle with such a short publication timeline). 

According to Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown, commercial women’s fiction, or chick-lit,  is having a tough time of it. Given your USP, would you say that’s true?

Definitely not. We’re all best-sellers and see no signs that our readership is tiring of the genre.

How do you know if a writer will ‘fit’ NHP? What factors do you consider?

Two things are critical. We have to love their writing and want to work with them. This means someone who is cooperative, supportive and happy to pitch in. After all, it’s a collective, so it’s only as strong as its members.
And of course their books have to be chick lit/romantic comedy. 

What are your plans for 2014?

We’ll run two big promotions a year, one in summertime and one near the end of the year. We’re not open to submissions so may not expand in 2014, and don’t have any plans to expand into other genres. We’ll probably put out a dozen books or more in the year. It’s a fairly new venture so we’re still feeling our way around a bit! 

How do you see the future of publishing generally?

We think more collectives like NHP and Triskele will emerge, and more “traditional” authors will look to publish independently. The trend for self-publishing will continue and lots of new authors will try their luck, but readers are getting tired of poorly designed, edited and written books, and the role of book blogs will become even more important as readers look for recommendations they trust.
The traditional publishers will continue to be the main distributors of paperbacks in the UK and will get increasingly savvy on the eBook front. We already see some nice initiatives around pricing responsiveness from some of the publishers, but still too many high-priced eBooks, especially in the US.

No comments:

Post a Comment