Friday, 19 September 2014

Self-Publishing with Matador.

Today we are delighted to welcome Sarah Taylor from Matador to the Triskele blog. Sarah is Marketing Manager at Troubador Publishing, and editor of the Self-Publishing Magazine.

Hello, Sarah. Can you tell us when and why was Matador set up? What is the relationship with Troubador?

Troubador Publishing Ltd, established in the 1980s, is a traditional publishing house and the parent company of Matador, our self-publishing imprint. Matador was launched in 1999 as a response to the wealth of authors approaching us to publish the sort of books a mainstream publisher never would – like biographies, niche non-fiction titles and local interest titles. Matador established itself from the start as high-quality self-publishing, combining the freedom of self-publishing with the quality and distribution of traditional publishing.

In the 15 years that Matador has been running, we’ve grown to a 16-staff-member imprint, offering a full range of publishing, marketing and distribution services, printing over 300 books a year. Not only do we still help the authors we used to – those with the niche, smaller interest titles – but we also help authors who want to print larger amounts of their book and have their books stocked by bookshops across the country. Self-publishing is not a one-size-fits-all process, and the variety of methods we offer can be tailored to an author’s specific self-publishing goal.

What specifically does Matador offer authors?

Matador is all about ‘serious self-publishing’ – we have always placed a great deal of emphasis on quality, and on producing books that wouldn’t look out of place next to books published by Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, etc. We’re also a bespoke self-publishing services provider – we can do as little or as much as an author wants us to: we don’t have packages or regimented offerings. Editorial work, typesetting, cover design, ebook conversion, marketing, distribution – it all depends on what the author wants for their book. Most of our books have longer print runs that are printed upfront (i.e. 300-500 copies), but we publish Print On Demand books as well. We also offer ebook publishing, either on its own or alongside a physical book – which is a really popular option.

Who is it suitable for and how is it different from going it alone?

Our services are suitable for anyone who wants to self-publish their book and wants a company who can undertake some, most, or all of the different processes involved! Going it alone requires an author to outsource all of the many components involved in self-publishing and bring them all together. Not only can this be very time-consuming, but some of the processes are very difficult to do on your own – for example, distribution is tricky to outsource well, but it’s a vital part of publishing a book if you want to sell your book to the trade.

Typically, what does it cost to publish a book through Matador?

There isn’t a typical cost, as we don’t offer packages, and because it’s all based on the specific book, size and pagination. We also price-check with the different printers that we use so that we can offer the best costs for an author. That’s why we always ask authors to send us a manuscript upfront, so that we can provide an obligation-free quotation. Some authors want to opt for all of the services we offer, and some select specific ones, so prices vary.

Do you have any editorial input in the books you publish?

We turn down about a quarter of the manuscripts that are submitted to us – generally where we feel that the book isn't ready for publication, for example if it needs more work than an copy edit would cover, or if we feel that there would be legal issues with it. If we don’t feel that a book is ready for publication, we’ll give the author feedback – and often these authors go off and work on their book and come back with a manuscript that we can accept for publication. We don't gate keep in terms of content, but we do have a quality control in place!

Who has the final say on design?

As it’s self-publishing, the final say lands with the author. We’ll always provide advice and guidance where we can, and let an author know if we think something isn’t right for their book or genre, but at the end of the day it is up to the author. Our production team take a great deal of pride in their book design and work hard to ensure that our titles are bookshop quality.

Do you link your authors up with editors and designers?

Yes, as well as offering our own editorial and design services in-house, we also provide link-ups to external editors and cover designers – for example, illustrators, map creators and graphic designers.

What if they want to use their own cover?

As long as the specifications fit, it’s high-resolution enough and there are no copyright issues, they are free to do so! Some authors supply their own cover; some use their own front cover and we do the spine and back; some just supply an image for the front cover; and most authors ask us to design their full cover from scratch! The production team can provide feedback and advice on all aspects of cover design, including whether an author-supplied cover is of suitable quality.

Do your authors own their own ISBNs or does Matador provide them? Who owns the rights? Who is the publisher of record?

We own all of the Matador ISBNs, but not in terms of copyright to the work – we’re simply recognised as the publisher/owner of that ISBN. If an author wants to use their own ISBN they can do, but they then need to handle setting up the data with Nielsen and ensuring that the data is disseminating correctly. If we use our ISBN, then we handle all of the bibliographic data management for a title – but again, it doesn’t mean that we own the rights to that book. We do however subscribe to Nielsen’s enhanced data service, which gives our records more prominence when viewed by book buyers.

How easy is it to make changes to ebooks and pbooks post-publication?

If an author wants to make changes to their paperback or ebook, they’re welcome to do so. They can make changes to their existing paperback book – like using revised text or a new cover – and then do a reprint. With ebooks, it’s easier to make changes because we can simply upload new files – it’s also easier to change the pricing of an ebook, whereas printed books usually have the price printed on the back.

How does the payment of authors work?

Royalties are paid quarterly and are sent via BACs, along with a full statement that includes how many books have been sold in that quarter, what channel the books have been sold through and how many copies the author has left.

What distribution channels are Matador books hooked into?

We have accounts with Orca Book Services (part of Marston), who distribute a large amount of our books – and we are on direct supply via Orca to Waterstones. We place a number of our titles each month with Star Book Sales, an established book repping company, who in turn promote titles to retailers nationwide. They work on a national level with big buyers, including Waterstones and WHSmiths, who they present forthcoming titles in that month to, and they also have reps working across the UK, who present titles to bookshops in each region.

We also have accounts with Gardners and Bertrams, the two biggest UK book wholesalers, and we can fulfil orders from our warehouse, ensuring that we can supply bookshops across the UK. We also offer a Print On Demand overseas distribution service to the US, Canada, Brazil, South Africa and Australia. In addition, we offer a full ebook distribution service, distributing industry-standard, DRM-protected ePub and mobi files to hundreds of major retailers and libraries worldwide, including Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Google, Nook and Scrib’d.

What sort of marketing do you give your authors?

We have a full range of services for authors that they can take according to their needs – including paperback marketing, which involves us marketing our authors’ books to the trade, to increase book sales, and to the media, to generate media coverage and in turn boost sales. We also offer ebook marketing and use an ebook review site called NetGalley that allows NetGalley members (nearly 200,000, spanning a variety of reviewers, booksellers, librarians, media professionals and educators) to download a DRM-protected free copy of the ebook and then review it and share feedback. We also offer social media marketing, which involves us getting authors set up on Twitter and Facebook, and a full range of marketing materials – including postcards, bookmarks, posters – plus book trailers, inclusion in our IPR License scheme and much more! We’re always on the lookout for new marketing opportunities that we can offer our authors and are often launching new services and improving our existing ones.

Do Matador authors support one another – with practical issues, say, or with marketing?

A lot of our authors are in contact with each other, yes – both on Twitter and in real life! We find that they help each other a lot by providing advice on various aspects of self-publishing, giving valuable feedback and assisting each other with marketing and promotion. They even buy each others’ books!

Lots of our authors meet and network at the industry events that we hold, like The Self-Publishing Conference and our Self-Publishing Experience Days. We’re passionate about providing unbiased advice to self-publishing authors, which is why we hold these events, and also why we publish the quarterly Self Publishing Magazine.

Tell me about the Matador author conferences.

We hold the annual Self-Publishing Conference in Leicester, which is a full-day event packed full of informative sessions on a variety of topics. Self-publishing authors can pick and choose which seminars to attend, allowing them to tailor the day to their own project, and in the breaks they can mingle with other delegates and the self-publishing speakers. Many experts in the industry come and hold session – last year our Keynote Speaker was Alysoun Owen, the editor of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, and we also had representatives from Nielsen and Kobo. Our third annual Conference is in May 2015 and booking opens later this year:
We’ve moved the Conference to a Saturday this year to allow attendees to network at a post-Conference drinks party!

We also hold Self-Publishing Experience Days across the year at printers across the country. Around 10-15 delegates come along and members from the printer and Matador talk about various aspects of printing and publishing, and advise authors how best to go about the various processes themselves – the authors then get to look around the printing firm so they can see how their book will be produced and ask any questions about their specific self-publishing project.

What happens if an author wants to leave?

An author who publishes with Matador owns the copyright to their work, so if they choose to they can withdraw the edition they have with us or let it go out of print. Authors aren’t tied into lengthy contracts.

Tell us some of your success stories? What are you particularly proud of?

Success comes in many guises for our authors, because our authors have varying self-publishing goals and therefore different definitions of success. We’ve had a lot of authors being signed up to mainstream publishers – including Gollancz, Headline, HarperCollins, Palgrave Macmillan and Transworld – plus authors who have won book prizes (we’ve had two category winners at the British Sports Book Awards, and at The People’s Book Prize), as well as authors who have sold out their print runs. We also have authors who appear in national papers and magazines and on TV and radio, plus authors who have signed film/TV rights with external companies. We’re proud of all of our authors – and we’re proud that we help them to achieve their self-publishing dreams.

You can learn more about our authors in our Media Centre – plus via our Twitter feed @matadorbooks, which is a great place to catch up with new developments and author news!

Thank you, Sarah!

Sarah Taylor is the Marketing Manager at Troubador Publishing, where she has worked for over four years. She is also the Editor of The Self Publishing Magazine. She studied at English and Journalism at De Montfort University, Leicester, and has over seven years of publishing experience. Sarah works with self-publishing authors daily to help them market their books and has given numerous speeches at industry events on a variety of self-publishing topics.

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