I'm a big fan of Sam Tonge's blog where she interviews not only other writers but people connected with women's magazines such as fiction editors and illustrators. Her writing is going from strength to strength, and she has a new short story collection Sweet Talk just out, published by Alfie Dog Fiction, available as both an ebook and a print book.
In this guest post she talks about her experiences of publishing through Alfie Dog, and why she chose this route rather than self-publish.
Alfie Dog Fiction is an innovative short-story publisher, offering hundreds of stories available to download, plus collections, some of which are out in paperback. They have just published my short story collection, “Sweet Talk”, so I thought I would share my experience with those of you who are considering submitting your stories to them - and those of you who, like me, have never been through the process of publishing a book.
Back in June, I started off submitting my individual stories to Alfie Dog Fiction, most of which had been previously published by women’s magazines. Each one accepted was posted on the site, and available for download for 39p a time – I would earn 16p from each sale. Not a huge amount, but, to my mind, more than I’d earn if said sold stories were left to languish in my computer files.
Having had a number accepted, I approached Alfie-Dog Fiction’s editor, Rosemary Kind, to see if she would be interested in putting together a collection of my feel-good stories. Several of my fellow magazine writers have self-published their own collections, but this was never an option for me. I considered it better to have Alfie-Dog’s platform to sell my book from, as well as my own, plus, of course, the benefit of Rosemary’s experience as an editor and publisher. Also, unlike some of my fellow writers, technically, I lack confidence and knowledge regarding the self-publishing model. I didn’t want to have to invest a large amount of writing time learning how to correctly – and professionally - format the cover and contents, get the book onto Amazon, buy the IBSN number, etc.
To my delight Rosemary was interested and our first task was to decide on a title, to be taken from one of the stories we were considering. I suggested what I thought would be the most uplifting, appealing ones – “Sweet Talk” or “Bluebirds of Happiness”. Rosemary liked both, so I canvassed friends for their opinions. In retrospect, what luck that the majority chose “Sweet Talk” because this meant we had a wide range of covers to choose from, and - more importantly - when it came to asking retail outlets to stock the book, there was an obvious market: sweet shops.
The great thing about working with a very small, independent publisher is the input I’ve been allowed to have, at every stage. Rosemary offered me approval on all the cover choices, the font to use, positioning of the words… A journalist photographer friend of hers took a picture in Rosemary’s local sweet shop, which we both deemed perfect. Cover decided, Rosemary then selected 20 of my stories, covering a wide range of subjects and seasons. We discussed which should go first. I wrote the dedication, the acknowledgements, a paragraph about myself and the blurb for the back and Amazon page, all under the beady eye of Rosemary of course.
We began talking about how the sweet shop cover would really appeal to sweet and gift shops and I consulted writing friends who had successfully got their books into various retail outlets. I thought “Sweet Talk” might sell well as a gift, due to its feel-good nature and appealing cover. How exciting it was when Rosemary decided to invest in doing a trial print-run with my book - a first for Alfie Dog. This meant we would have 100 books to get into shops and that this would be feasible because we could offer a decent, attractive discount of up to 30%. If we’d not done a traditional print-run and tried to get the POD paperback version, from Amazon, into shops, we would only have been able to offer an unappealing - and frankly unworkable - 10% discount.
Doing the print run meant we needed to add another story, to fit the printer’s page requirements. Then finally the order was made and several weeks later, I met up with Rosemary – and her lovely dog, Alfie - to pick up my copies. This was very exciting!
I love the look and professional quality of the physical book and have put on my thick skin to get it into outlets. So far, we have done deals with a gift shop, sweet shop and post office. I am waiting to hear from a book shop.
It’s been a fascinating journey and one which, in many ways, is only just starting.
I hope this post provides a comprehensive view of Alfie Dog Fiction and the opportunities this inspired publisher offers.
Thanks Sam! The book does look good enough to eat and what a great idea to market it in sweet shops and as a gift. I've not had chance to read it yet, but it's on my Kindle, and up next.