JournalStone Press – an interview with Joel B. Kirkpatrick


journalstone-new-logo1The book selling market changes faster than we read.  The right publisher navigates these currents deftly.

Agile, responsive, and with the freedom to pick a niche market, a small publisher has the yogic flexibility and strength to polish and distribute your story.

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JournalStone Press evolved from the joy of sharing a good book with others. This infectious enthusiasm is the cornerstone of its mission statement and communications.

Joel B. Kirkpatrick, Senior Acquistions Editor, shared his opinions on the relationships between audiences, authors, and the backstage crew.  He also answered a few questions about  how JournalStone merges the art with the industry.

Shannon:

What strategies for publication, publicity, discovering and retaining talent, etc are most effective?

Joel:

The new era of publishing is quicker, less cumbersome, more cyber-savvy, and very intimate. It has been fueled by the surge in new authors, who are willing to put their own necks out and make some noise. Authors are far more involved in the process than they were twenty years ago. Back then, it was impossible to have direct communication with ANY popular authors, unless the publisher trotted them out for an airing and promotion. Today, authors have their own websites, and are incredibly active on social networks. Nowadays, authors come to publishers with surprisingly well developed fan bases. That was unheard of in the old paradigm. Authors are discovering ways to promote themselves. Small presses like JournalStone don’t have to build any infrastructure to market or advertise books—those mechanisms are developing themselves. We only tap into them.

The most easily tapped resource is new talent. There are millions of good books being shopped around, and at times it seems that the larger publishing houses are blind to that fact. They are dying of thirst in a flood, so-to-speak. Add to that the difficulties of breaking into the business with a book about monsters…JournalStone is happily reading, and quickly discovering wonderful talent, with a surprisingly small investment in time and trouble. We aren’t begging at all for submissions of our favorite kinds of books.

When you compare the real numbers, it is obvious that very few authors are making a fortune. That is even true of the established names. Self-published authors, for the most part, are delighted to sell a dozen books a month. With the fortune being the elusive dream, and the meager returns being the self-marketed reality, a small firm like JournalStone is the perfect vehicle. We are the right size to gather readers in real numbers, with no gambling involved. There is a good living to be made selling good books to people who want them.

Shannon:

What freedoms do you experience as a small publisher, as compared to a traditional house and as compared to self-publishing?

Joel:

Naturally, the largest constraint is our voice. We might adore a particular book by a particular author, but it won’t be possible to tell ten million people about it tomorrow. However, we are not trying this the old way, spending a fortune yelling our advertizing to the largest audience, hoping some of them hear us.  We are telling a hundred people a day about our new product. Because we are using the craziest party-line in the solar system—the world wide web—our readers are telling others, and those new readers tell other readers again. That gives us a lot of freedom.

Feedback from readers is almost instant, and we can follow their discussions in real time. People share what they find on the internet. Books are a great topic right now and JournalStone is developing a great catalog of titles. Readers may adore Stephen King’s books, but those readers are probably never going to get a personal message back from his publisher, thanking them for reading the books. JournalStone is doing exactly that. We are commenting back, with thanks, to readers who take time to discuss and review our books.

Self-publishing is probably the loneliest route to take in this industry. In that model, it truly is the author and each reader, one reader at a time. We have to ask which is better—a small team of professional helpers and advisors, or, no team at all?

Shannon:

What trends do you see regarding the popularity of the ebook format or the paperback?

Joel:

It may still be too early to define a trend, other than to say that readers are buying a lot of EBooks that they can’t find time to read. EBooks are certainly convenient, but how convenient are one hundred of them? How convenient are ten paperbacks? It may prove that the rustle of paper pages will always win out over the book on a cell phone. People who buy a paperback book are more inclined to open those pages in just a few days while most of us don’t even know how many EBooks we own.

Shannon:

Have you noticed differences in the kind and quality of submissions you receive based on demographics? For example, is there a different tone or writing style to those who grew up and began writing before the explosion of the internet and social media and those who have always lived and worked and socialized with the assistance of these tools?

Joel:

First – authors come from every walk of life. Second – authors just don’t offer their age in their bios.  We don’t really know if they are pre-explosion or not.

If there is a true difference, between an author of 25 and an author of 60, it is in the fact the older author will have read more in his lifetime. That is key. You might get lucky and invent something new to literature…but you might get hit by a bus from Mars more quickly. Authors need to be expert readers. They need to sample and hear a variety of ideas and styles. Not to learn how to imitate, but how to properly express themselves. Expression is not learned from the internet. It might be truer that the internet is squashing expression. There is a loud, poorly educated noise from that whole thing.

However, modern authors are heavily involved, as a rule, in social media. It has become a marketing necessity. Truly talented authors will never let cyber-speak get into their writing. (unless it is vital to the story.)

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My suggestion:

Books are business. The story you write needs to be worth someone’s hard-earned cash.  There are marketing tools, strategies, and budget debates which need to happen for your audience to find you.  Constructive revisions, copy editing, graphic design and publicity require the input of others. Additionally, each one of those tasks is a full time job with its own special skills. Very few people can wear all those hats. Aligning yourself with a group such as JournalStone can give you this support.

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About JournalStone Publishing:

JournalStone Publishing is a small press publishing company, focusing in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genres in both the adult and young adult markets. JSP also owns and operates the Hellnotes website, offering daily news and reviews of interest to genre readers and fans, and Dark Discoveries Magazine, a slick, full color, distinguished and internationally distributed quarterly magazine.  We publish in multiple book formats and market our authors on a global level. We are also active with major writer’s groups, including the Horror Writers Association (HWA), and produce a monthly newsletter with exposure to thousands of people.

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For further information –

Twitter

@JournalStone

FaceBook FanPage

http://www.facebook.com/JournalStone

Contact:           Christopher C. Payne, President JournalStone Publishing

Email:              christophercpayne@journalstone.com

Website:           http://journalstone.com

Phone:             415-763-7323. (READ)

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About Shannon Blue Christensen

Storyteller. Author. Editor. Literary Critic. Director. Teacher. Knitter. nascent Musician. Student. Operations and Quality. Marketing. Historian. Lear's Fool. View all posts by Shannon Blue Christensen

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