In the ever-evolving land of book publishing the small press and its indie authors can get lost in the shuffle, just ask Lucie Simone publisher of small indie press Simon & Fig.
The Southern California small press, (which, also published my debut novel Heartbreak Cake) has been around for 4.5 years and has published nine titles that specialize in Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction and Lad Lit.
We spoke recently with Lucie just after she received an email from Kirkus Reviews letting her know one of her authors Lisa Doyle and her new release “MILKED” made it to the print edition, which according to Kirkus is an honor that only goes to 10 percent of their Indie Reviews.
For Lucie and her company Simon & Fig, this was a victory. Perhaps a small one to a big press, but to a small company like her own — these are the kind of strides she hopes to continue to make as she pushes forward to introduce new and exciting voices to readers and also to remind the book industry that Chick Lit is alive, well and thriving.
We sat down and chatted with Lucie to get some perspective on the landscape for independent publishing houses and how she stays in the competitive game.
For a Small Press what does a Kirkus Review mean? For the press and for the author?
Discerning readers respect the opinions put forth by Kirkus. A positive Kirkus review lets readers know a book is worth their time. There are a lot of books out there, and readers want some assurance that buying a book by a debut author won’t turn out to be a disappointment. So, when a small press like Simon & Fig receives a great review from Kirkus, it serves as a terrific form of recognition for the work we’re doing, which is definitely a labor of love. And for the author, it can lead to many great opportunities as Kirkus Reviews is read and respected by industry professionals as well as those simply hoping to discover a great book to add to their shelf.
According to Kirkus only 10 percent of indie authors get this chance, what are your thoughts on that number and how did you separate yourself from other small presses to get the chance?
With the number of submissions Kirkus receives, it’s easy to imagine how hard it must be to select a handful to feature in their print edition. Simon & Fig prides itself on publishing high quality work, ensuring that everything from the editing to the cover art is to professional standards. We also have a narrow niche, which allows us to be really selective. And most importantly, we only publish what we love. We carefully consider what titles we wish to take on, and that often means that we only put out a few titles a year. This separates us from many small press and e-presses out there that are uploading books every week and doing so as cheaply as possible. We aren’t afraid to invest in our books and that translates to readers as quality reading. Readers can count on a Simon & Fig title being top notch because our own standards are really high.
What are the challenges for reviews and marketing for indie authors and small presses? How does one get noticed?
With the relative ease of eBook and Print-On-Demand publishing these days, the publishing industry has seen a huge increase in the development of small and micro presses. Add to that the multitude of authors self-publishing their works and it’s easy to see how quickly the online eBook market can become flooded with books. Amidst this sea of literature, it’s hard to stand out. A positive review from Kirkus lends a certain credibility to an author’s work and a publisher’s reputation.
What types of marketing (events, author fairs) do you participate in?
A staple in our marketing plan is blog tours. These are great for reaching a specific audience who wants to read what we publish. We’ve also had some good experiences with local book signings in the authors’ home towns. But we’re really excited about a big event we’re sponsoring in June, Celebrating Women’s Fiction, which brings together a panel of Women’s Fiction authors to discuss the impact Women’s Fiction has on the publishing industry, writers, and ultimately the readers. We’ve got an incredible line up of authors speaking at the event, such as Laura Dave, Liz Fenton, Anita Hughes, Juliette Sobanet and several others including Simon & Fig authors, Cindy Arora, Lisa Doyle, Anna Garner, Nancy Scrofano and Lucie Simone. It’s sure to be a great event!
Any advice for indie authors on getting any kind of notice out there?
First and foremost, write a great book. Make sure it is the best it can possibly be (and this may mean spending some money to hire an editor). If you’re self-publishing, don’t rush to publish. Take your time to make sure it meets the same level of quality that traditionally published books do. Basically, you’re launching a small business and that takes determination, direction, and knowing when to hire professionals to polish things up. And be a part of the community you’re writing for. If you’re a Chick Lit author, participate in associations or groups that support that genre, visit and interact with bloggers dedicated to the genre, and read and celebrate your fellow authors.