Friday, 19 December 2014

CHINDI - Author Collectives VI

by Liza Perrat

For the sixth in our ongoing series of Author Collective interviews, I am pleased to welcome Chris Casburn (writing as Christopher Joyce), member of CHINDI, a Chichester network of independent authors.

LP: Who had the idea to set up CHINDI, and when?

CC: Myself and fellow local author Jeremy Good discussed the idea of setting up a group of local indie authors in January 2014. Our local paper, The Chichester Observer, is very supportive and had already featured 2 or 3 other authors living in and around the city. Jeremy had also made contact with a few others from social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. We contacted these people and six turned up on a wet and windy evening.

We met a further two or three times, decided on a name for the group and before we knew it we were at our first event to coincide with World Book Day in March 2014.

Jeremy Good

LP: Can you tell us a bit about how the network functions?

CC:The main aim of the group is to share the pain and costs of marketing. We each have different strengths. Some are great at social media, others have useful contacts with venues and local media, we all share a common desire to get our books out to our readers. In addition, we have approached the process in different ways. Some favour Matador whilst others are loyal to Createspace, Lulu or Ingram Spark. This means that there is usually someone in the group that can advise of the mistakes to avoid based on their own experience. We meet monthly to plan activity which has included: a library talk of self publishing, a wine and words evening with 4 authors reading, exhibiting at the Winchester Writers Conference, our first stall at this year's Christmas Market in Chichester, running a free promotional link on our local radio station, Spirit FM.

LP: How many members do you currently have and what must each member bring to the table? How do you know if someone is a good “fit” for CHINDI?

CC: There are now 18 members in the group and more are expected at the next meeting. We accept all genres but expect the production values of the book to be high. As we expand, we are planning to tighten up on this to ensure that the reputation of the group remains high. Each member must contribute to the group in some way. This might include: setting up a website, recording videos and setting up a YouTube channel, being the 'manager' of an event, designing and distributing leaflets, manning a stall, writing press releases etc. It's worked pretty well so far but as membership grows we may need to allocate roles in order to prevent duplication of effort.

Guests at the CHINDI Wine and Words event

LP: Are all your members independently-published uniquely?

CC: Some of our members are hybrid authors but most are solely self published.

LP: Like Triskele Books, do all the CHINDI authors each retain the rights to their own books, pay the costs of publication and receive the full royalties? What elements are done collectively?

CC: All authors retain the rights to their books and full royalties. Our group is more of a marketing forum than a collective. We are currently focused on our first Christmas Stall. The costs for 4 days is over £400 so clearly prohibitive for any single author, but by sharing the costs we're hoping to get sales and increase awareness. Several authors have contributed books to create a prize of over £100 and 'books for all the family' to attract visitors to the stand.

LP: What do you see as the key benefits of being in a cooperative? Any disadvantages?

CC: The experience has been very rewarding knowing that there are other writers facing the same issues. It's really hard to keep the momentum on your own but by sharing the marketing burden (and costs) it becomes easier. Chairing a meeting with 18 creative egos is not always easy and there is not always total agreement on specific activity. But so far only 2 people have left the group over the last 11 months. It's not for everyone, as it's not like ALLi where you pay quite a large membership fee and expect all sorts of benefits delivered to you. We currently have no fee and you pay with your time and input. This inevitably means that some 'pay in' more than others, but I think that's inevitable.

Book bundle of authors' books as a prize at the Chichester Christmas stall

LP: How do you see the future of publishing generally?

CC: I see the next few years as one of further change, which is quite exciting. Amazon is likely to dominate although I'm not sure how successful the Kindle Unlimited programme has been. More self published authors will hit the headlines and the ghost of vanity publishing will hopefully disappear. New initiatives such as audio books through ACX are exciting and several of us in the group are at the early stages of getting our books recorded. I'd like to see Indie Bookstores be more supportive of Indie Authors. We only have one in Chichester that we have failed to win over so far - but we haven't given up yet.

Thanks so much for answering our questions, Chris, and we wish you all the best with your writing, and with CHINDI.

Christopher started work on the first book in the Creatures of Chichester - the one about the stolen dog was released just before Christmas 2012. His second book, The Creatures of Chichester - the one about the mystery blaze was released in October 2013.

Christopher lives in the centre of Chichester and also runs a garden design business. He's been a teacher, marketing director and even made Venetian Blinds as a young Twoleg in Newport, South Wales. He dreams quite a lot and plans to write at least six more books in the Creatures of Chichester series. Book three The Creatures of Chichester - the one about the curious cloud is out now.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Those Hysterical Women

Liza Perrat reviews Guises of Desire and interviews the author, Hilda Reilly.
Guises of Desire is a fictionalised account of the three-year illness of Bertha Pappenheim, known as the founding patient of psychoanalysis, mental illness treatment pioneered by the famous Dr. Sigmund Freud. “Anna O”, Bertha Pappenheim’s clinical pseudonym, was a patient of Dr. Josef Breuer, an associate of Freud’s, and one of the cases on which much of Freud's theory was based.  Freud described his patient as cured of "hysteria" with his “talking-cure” method.

 Through the author’s extensive research, Bertha’s Jewish upper-middle class of 19th century Vienna is excellently portrayed. A sensitive, well-educated child who spoke several languages, Bertha was deeply disturbed by the gender discrimination she saw in her milieu of society. When her father falls ill, Bertha begins to exhibit more and more alarming symptoms such as paralysis, aphasia, blackouts and hallucinations. Through his regular visits to her home, Dr. Josef Breuer uses new methods such as hypnotism and the “talking cure” to try and root out the cause of Bertha’s psychological problems.  As Bertha comes and goes from sanatoriums over the following two years, the author narrates the progress of her illness in a fascinating and horrifying, but truly sympathetic manner that urges the reader onward, to discover what happened to this poor girl, in the end.

I found Guises of Desire an excellent and informative novel and would highly recommend it for readers interested in understanding the history of psychoanalysis.

Interview with author Hilda Reilly...

LP: Can you tell us what made you want to explore the medical concept of “hysteria” in the novel form?

HR: I first got interested in the subject of hysteria and hypnosis and various altered mental states when I was doing a Masters in Consciousness Studies, about 8 years ago. This led on to an interest in the early patients of psychoanalysis and it struck me that some of them may well have had an underlying neurological disorder, unrecognised by their doctors due to the limited state of medical knowledge at the time. I was curious to take a look at what patients’ lived experience of their illness and treatment might have been, and it seemed to me that a biographical novel would be a means of exploring this.

In the case of patients from the past it’s usually only the doctor’s version of events that we receive whereas nowadays there’s more attention being given to the patient’s narrative. Of course, we can only speculate as to what patients who are no longer with us felt and thought. I see the biographical novel as a means of narrativising a hypothesis about what these thoughts and feelings may have been. And after all, this is much what historians do when they interpret facts – they develop their own hypothesis on the basis of their research findings.

LP: When did you first become interested in the life of Bertha Pappenheim, aka Anna O, the ‘founding patient’ of psychoanalysis?

HR: Fraulein Anna O is the first of the cases to appear in Studies on Hysteria, published by Freud and Breuer in 1895. People tend to think of Anna O as Freud’s patient, whereas she was actually the patient of an older friend of his, Dr Josef Breuer. It’s true to say, though, that Freud in a sense appropriated the case as he wrote so extensively about it – hence the subtitle of the novel: The Story of Freud’s Anna O. It was in the course of his discussions with Breuer about this case that Freud began to develop his own theories about the diagnosis of those ‘hysterical’ patients and to devise new methods of treating them. I put the word ‘hysterical’ in quote marks as I think there is a big question mark hovering over the term. I suspected fairly early on that Bertha Pappenheim suffered from some kind of neurological disorder, a belief that grew firmer the more I discovered about the case.

LP: Do you have your own ideas about Anna O’s diagnosis of hysteria? And what do you think of the diagnoses of Drs Freud and Breuer, in terms of what we know today? 

HR: I think that the predominant cause of Bertha’s illness was temporal lobe epilepsy, a form of epilepsy which can result in a wide range of seemingly odd experiences and behaviours. In the case of Bertha, there were hallucinations, paralysis, visual disorders, aphasia, prosopagnosia, to name just some – the kind of thing described by Oliver Sacks, in fact. She was also taking significant amounts of morphine and other drugs which would have aggravated her condition. As well as that she undoubtedly had psychological problems generated by the socio-cultural milieu in which she grew up: for example, resentment about her second-rate status as a Jewish woman in the 19th century, frustration about not being able to develop her intellectual potential, and so on. I think there has been a tendency among commentators, even today, to jump to the conclusion that because she had those psychological problems, there is no need to look any further for a trigger for her illness. I believe, rather, that all those causes co-existed.

LP: What has the general feedback been about your story? 

HR: Very positive on the whole, and I’ve been particularly pleased about the reviews I’ve received from therapists and medical professionals. I had feared that the responses from that quarter might be rather snooty, but not at all. On the other hand, I’ve had some negative responses from people who are more concerned with the historical aspect and who believe that biographical novels are nothing more than a travesty of the biography.

LP: Would you like to tell us a bit about your other novels, and if you are currently working on anything new?

HR: Guises of Desire is my first novel. Before that I wrote a couple of travel books. Prickly Pears of Palestine is an account of six months I spent in the Occupied Palestinian Territories ten years ago. It gives multiple personal perspectives on a momentous period in Palestinian history, covering the death of Yassir Arafat and the election of Mahmoud Abbas. Seeking Sanctuary, which is part reportage and part travel writing, is set in Sudan. It presents the stories of six Western converts to Islam who sought a better life for themselves by moving to a country more in line with their new religion. Their journeys – spiritual, cultural and geographical – told in their own words, are set within the wider context of my own experience as an expatriate in Khartoum.

I’m now in the early stages of researching a second biographical novel, about another patient from the history of psychoanalysis, a patient of Freud’s this time. I don’t really want to say any more about it at the moment, but watch this space!

Hilda Reilly is originally from Perth in Scotland and recently returned to live there, after spending most of her adult life abroad. Her occupations have ranged from the stupefyingly dull to the wondrously surreal; when asked that common question: What do you do? She has generally found that the most accurate reply is: I live on my wits.

After graduating from Edinburgh University she started training to become an actuary. Three months later she decided that not even the prospect of belonging to what was then the highest paid profession in the country could induce her to carry on in a career to which she was so unsuited. Subsequent jobs have included oil industry analyst in London, artists’ model in Paris, technical translator in Baghdad, charity worker in Zanzibar, English teacher in Malaysia, journalist in Ho Chi Minh City and director of an educational organization in Khartoum.

In recent years she has returned to academic study, obtaining an MSc in Consciousness Studies, for which she specialised in the neuroscience of religious experience, and an MA in Creative Writing, focusing on the use of narrative to explore the medical concept of hysteria.

Her first novel, Guises of Desire, which draws on both of those areas of interest, deals with the life of Bertha Pappenheim, aka Anna O, the ‘founding patient’ of psychoanalysis. She is also the author of two travel books – Prickly Pears of Palestine: The People Behind the Politics and Seeking Sanctuary: Journeys to Sudan.

Guises of Desire can be purchased here.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Selling direct? The EU VAT laws lowdown

Guest post by Julie Relf of Applause Accountancy Services

Do you sell ebooks direct to consumers or non VAT registered entities?

Are any of these consumers outside the UK but within Europe?

If you answer Yes to the above, you need to be aware of changes in EU VAT legislation coming into effect on 1 January 2015.

To help guide you through the changes we have compiled a list of commonly asked questions we have been receiving:

What is changing?

Legislation comes into force which changes the “place of supply” of these services. Currently this is listed where the selling business is situated (so if you are a business in the UK the place of supply for all your sales is the UK), however from 1 January 2015 for digital services to consumers this changes to where the consumer is based. This means that the VAT applied to these services will be determined by which country the customer is based in.

For example

A non VAT registered individual in Spain downloads an eBook from your website. From 1 January 2015 you will need to charge this customer VAT at the rate applicable in Spain, report this on a Spanish VAT return and pay the VAT across to the Spanish authorities.

What types of service are included?

A full definition of the services included can be found here

But I’m only a small business and below the UK VAT threshold, will this affect me?

Unfortunately yes it will, there is no minimum threshold for these EU VAT requirements, every sale no matter how small needs to be charged the correct amount of VAT and reported in the correct country. Your first sale to a European country after 1 January 2015 will trigger the start of your reporting requirements for EU VAT. This legislation covers the whole of Europe and some countries do not have a VAT registration threshold so limits have been set to nil to comply across the board.

What information do I need to collect?

You will need to review your system to ensure you are collecting the following information:

1. Customer location

You will need to identify the location of each customer and maintain a record of this information. To do this you need to collect two of the following (and ensure they both confirm the same location):
customer address
bank details
IP address
SIM card country code
any other appropriate information confirming address

2. EU VAT registration number

For all EU customers, you will need to identify if they are VAT registered in their country by obtaining their VAT registration number. Any EU VAT registered customers are outside the scope of these requirements and will not need EU VAT adding or reporting. UK VAT registered customers would continue to report these on their EC sales lists.

If you cannot obtain a EU VAT number then the sale will need VAT adding at the rate applicable in the customer’s country and the sale will need reporting and VAT paying to the local authorities in that country.

Do I need to supply these customers with VAT receipts and if so what information do I need to include?

Reporting requirements differ between countries but it is expected that a “simplified” VAT invoice, showing the VAT charged and your VAT registration number will be required. This is not currently confirmed.

I offer training over webinar/Skype, is this included?

No, if the service is live with a presenter it is treated as a supply of training/education and so excluded from these rules.

However if the training is recorded or automated with no live presenter then it would be classed as a digital service under these EU VAT rules.

I sell apps via an app store, will I be affected?

VAT is due by reference to who your customer is, so in this case you will need to review the terms of the contract with each platform you use to check if you are selling to the app store or the end consumer.

If it is the case that you sell your app to the app store, who in turn sells the app onto the consumer, your part of the sale would be business to business, you would need to collect their VAT registration number and the transaction would be outside of these requirements. In this situation it would be the app store who would be required to report the EU VAT on sales to consumers.

A lot of the app stores are moving along these lines, Apple trade this way and Google Play have updated their terms inline as shown here

However some platforms act as agents taking a commission from the app sales, in this situation you would need to account for the VAT to the EU customers.

I sell eBooks via Amazon will I be affected?

The present situation is that Amazon deals with the end customers and deals with the VAT reporting.
[Triskele edit: Here you can find the detail of how the changes will be implemented at Amazon, the conversion of prices from VAT-exclusive to VAT-inclusive, the effect of pricing and royalty calculations, and how to check these changes to ensure your royalty rates.]

If you use other platforms you will need to refer to your agreements and the guidance from the platform provider.

How and where do I report?

You need to account for VAT in the country the customer is located, using the VAT rates applicable to that country. A list of these rates can be found here

This can be reported in two ways:

1. Registering for VAT in each applicable country and filing VAT returns in line with their legislation;

2. UK VAT registered businesses have the option to file returns via HMRC using the “Mini One Stop Shop” – MOSS

The MOSS service will allow you to enter the sales per country, calculate the applicable VAT due, send the reports to the required authorities and collect the payment from you for distribution.

Agent will be able to file EU VAT returns on your behalf using the MOSS system, however the registration for MOSS needs to be done by you. You need to register separately for MOSS: it is not included in your UK VAT registration.

The return are due for the quarters ended March, June, September and December.

Returns and payments are due 20 days after the end of a quarter.

To use MOSS you need to be registered for VAT in the UK and so will need to charge VAT on all UK sales. If you are not registered at present you will need to assess whether this will be beneficial for your business, an accountant will be able to talk you through the pros and cons. Update on this! HMRC have indicated that businesses may be able to “split” their sales separating out the EU digital services for the purposes of this VAT registration. The details are still being outlined but it would mean that the registration would apply to only the EU set of sales and UK sales would be remain outside of UK VAT. This would allow small businesses to use MOSS and only require them to register the business for UK VAT when the UK VAT threshold is met. When firm guidance is available we will update this matter.

How long will I need to maintain all the information?

You will need to keep the records for 10 years to comply with EU regulation. This is taken as 10 years from 31 December of the year during which the transaction took place.

This all sounds very complicated and costly for the amount of EU sales I have, can I avoid it?

The only way to remove yourself from these requirements is to stop all digital service sales to EU customers. You will need to assess whether the amount of sales (or potential sales) is worth the additional reporting requirements.

How do you do this? Well I’m not a tech expert by any means but Paypal and developers for Plugins for sites such as WordPress are coming up with solutions. It may be the case that EU digital baskets can be rejected at checkouts (and potentially offered a postal service). But it is a case of keeping your eyes out for a wave of solutions on the market.

So I’m definitely going to be inside these requirements, where do I start?

To get yourself prepared for the 1 January 2015 start date you need to review your systems and make the necessary changes to ensure:

1 You are recording the location of each customer;

2. You are recording (where applicable) customers’ EU VAT numbers;

3. You have made a list of the applicable countries and their VAT rates;

4. You have either a) registered for VAT in each applicable country and made a note of the reporting deadlines or b) you have registered with HMRC for MOSS (this can be done here);

5. If you are using an agent(s) to file EU or MOSS VAT returns on your behalf you have the appropriate engagements in place in advance of filing deadlines.

Full guidance on the changes and EU requirements can be found here and results from a HMRC Q&A session can be found here

Professional bodies across the UK have been appealing for the simplification of these requirements for small businesses for some time, however it looks increasingly unlikely that this is going to happen before 1 January 2015. It adds an increasing amount of administration on small businesses, going against the tax simplification policy the UK authorities have been striving to achieve. We will of course continue to monitor the situation and if the requirements do change we will be reporting back.

If you have any questions on the above or any other areas of accounting or tax, or would like assistance in this area please contact us at

Applause Accountancy Services Limited takes every care in preparing material to ensure that the content is accurate and up to date. However, no responsibility for loss for anyone acting from or refraining from acting as a result of this information can be accepted by Applause Accountancy Services Limited.

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Launch Weekend

Saturday - Triskele invades Leatherhead!

Kat, Barbara, Liza, Gilly, Jill and Jane
Tipped off by fellow authors Roz Morris and Jane Davis, we knew Peter Snell, owner of Barton’s Bookshop, was open to indie authors. When we approached him to suggest launching six new books in one afternoon, his response was pragmatic.
"Never done six before, but there’s a first time for everything."
Peter Snell of Barton's Bookshop
We needed no further encouragement. So we turned up, complete with books and themed props, and scattered ourselves around the shop.

Peter and his staff, Cameron and Harvi, did not seem to resent the invasion, but welcomed us, cheerfully supplying coffee. Peter had even made us a chocolate cake. What a host!

A lovely afternoon spent in a beautiful bookshop, with the added bonus of meeting readers and friends.

Thank you, Barton's Bookshop!

Sunday – IAF#14

This was our second time at Chorleywood LitFest.
The previous year we launched our 2013 novels and loaned ourselves out as a Human Library. When we started planning back in April, we wanted to do something different for 2014.

“What about a fair?” I said. “For indie authors.”

“There’s a thought,” said Catriona. “We could have a pop-up bookshop.” 
“Yes, that should be easy enough to organise,” we agreed.
Seven months later, we were kneeling in the mud trying to attach The Indie Author Fair banner to the railings, before lugging boxes of books down a slippery flight of steps, setting up the pop-up media centre, meeting our sponsors, directing authors to their stalls, answering media enquiries and posing for photographs.

Forty authors, hundreds of books, sixteen readings, four sponsors, a thousand catalogues and three hours of buzzing activity, all organised by Triskele Books, with the support of The Alliance of Independent Authors(ALLi) and Chorleywood bookshop. 
Not to mention afternoon teas with more homemade cakes.

At five o’clock, we celebrated with all the other indie authors with a well-deserved glass of wine. According to the feedback, our first ever Indie Author Fair had been a huge success. Catriona, our Triskelite on the ground, reminded me of that early conversation. Easy to organise? Not so much. But between us, we pulled it off.

Roll on next year. 

By JJ Marsh

Friday, 7 November 2014


by Liza Perrat

Thanks, possibly, to my life-long, unexplainable obsession with Alaska, I'm pleased to welcome author, Deb Vanasse to the Triskele blog today for the fifth in our ongoing series of author collective interviews. Deb is the founder of Running Fox Books, the Alaska-inspired authors co-operative.

LP: What decided you to found an author cooperative, Deb? And any particular reason for the interesting name, Running Fox Books?

DV: After more than a decade of traditional publishing, I wanted to re-release a couple of out-of-print titles and an unpublished novel that had generated significant interest among New York houses before the recession hit. My friend David Marusek had convinced me that respectable authors were doing such things, and he guided me through the production process. He and I also batted around some thoughts about credibility and reaching readers, and we landed on the author cooperative as one way to make those things happen. After exploring several more formal arrangements, I decided on a structure that felt most manageable to me; I’d already been involved in founding and running a nonprofit writing center (49 Writers) and knew all too well how managing an organization could rob time and energy from my own creative efforts.

The name Running Fox derives from a story I heard when I first lived in Bush Alaska, about a Yup’ik Eskimo boy, Gabe Fox, who assumed the form of his spirit self (a fox) to escape stresses he could no longer manage; in doing so, he became legend. It seemed a fitting metaphor for an altogether appropriate response of authors faced with the stresses of traditional publishing—to shape shift, if you will.

LP: I believe, like many of the Running Fox members, you are a hybrid author, publishing both traditionally and independently. Can you tell us a bit about how that works for you?

DV: I’m a firm believer in the idea that there’s a proper home for every book, and in order to find it, the author must draw on the same creative powers that helped her shape the book in the first place. I don’t mean for this to sound overly simplistic. No matter how you publish, the process is challenging, and compromises will be made. It goes without saying that the industry is in a tremendous state of upheaval, evoking wariness in the stakeholders with the most to lose. But this also spells opportunity for authors and presses that are willing to be creative and forward-thinking about how their books can best reach readers. Perhaps the best example of how this works for me in is my most recent novel, Cold Spell. I sold the English print rights to a small press, I’ve worked the digital and audio rights through Running Fox, and I have a foreign rights agent representing the book overseas. In a broader sense, at Running Fox, nearly all of our authors have published both traditionally and on their own, and while we only list their independent books in our online catalog, we celebrate all their achievements on our website and in our newsletters, including those associated with their traditionally published books, such as Girls Like Us, by Gail Giles, which was recently long listed for a National Book Award in Young People’s Literature..

LP: Like Triskele Books do all the Running Fox Books authors each retain the rights to their own books, pay the costs of publication and receive the full royalties? What elements are done collectively?

DV: Yes, Running Fox Books authors each retain the rights to their own books, pay the costs of publication and receive the full royalties. Readers don’t even buy the books through Running Fox; they may discover them through our website or newsletter or social media alerts, but the “buy” links click through to wherever the authors designate: their websites, online vendors, etc. And while we may contract with one another for services (I do freelance editing, for instance, and David Marusek does cover designs and ebook conversions), talent swaps aren’t a requirement for affiliating with the co-op. What we’re about is aggregated marketing of high-quality books with a northern connection (our motto is “Go north for great books!”) and providing a service to readers by gathering those titles together in one website. There’s no cost to authors who want to join, and if at any time they want to bow out, they can. Their only obligation, really, is to write books of such quality that we’re all proud to promote them.

LP: What do you see as the key benefits of being in a cooperative? Any disadvantages?

DV: Obviously, there’s a time cost for the person or persons who manage the co-op. But once I made the decision to add the indie route to my publishing options, I knew I’d have to expand my marketing efforts in order to reach readers, and if I was going to do an e-newsletter and such, I figured it really isn’t much more work to promote other authors and their work at the same time—plus it allows for an application of the 80/20 rule which I particularly believe in, which is that promotion should be 20 percent about you and 80 percent about others. Keeping it simple has been the key to managing the time part for me. I suppose another disadvantage to a co-op arrangement could be that a reader might opt to buy a book by another Running Fox author inside of buying mine. But if that’s the best book for that reader, that’s as it should be. From the perspective of our authors, another potential disadvantage might be association with authors whose work they don’t especially admire. But that happens with larger publishers, and I don’t think anyone minds. And the Running Fox authors seem to trust my judgment about which titles are good enough to stand alongside theirs.

Obviously, I feel the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, or I wouldn’t be doing this. I enjoy letting readers know about good books. I like the strength and credibility generated by a healthy community of like-minded individuals. I like efforts that make sense and keep the focus on a simple yet vital endeavor: connecting readers with books they’ll love.

LP: In the near future, for promotion purposes, Triskele Books will be publishing a collation of Triskele books' samples - There's a Time and a Place. I believe you use your collectively-written book, Alaska Sampler (which I'm currently thoroughly enjoying!), for promotional purposes. Apart from this interesting post on the ALLi blog recently, on how to reach readers through anthologies, can you tell us about Alaska Sampler, and whether this strategy is proving beneficial?

DV: The Alaska Sampler 2014 was another project David Marusek and I dreamed up, and it’s been quite beneficial in terms of visibility and sales. From both Running Fox authors and others whose writing met our standards, we gathered Alaska-themed work for a free e-book anthology—a digital version of what big publishers sometimes give out at conferences, as a preview of their upcoming list. Our goal was cross-readership and an ongoing promotional tool for our authors, along with increased visibility for Running Fox. The anthology continues to achieve all of that. It also works as a loss-leader for individual authors; instead of making one of my titles free, for instance, I point readers toward the Sampler.

LP: Are you actively seeking new members? How do you know whether an author is a good ‘fit’ for Running Fox Books and what sort of criteria must new authors meet, to become part of your coop?

DV: We don’t actively recruit, but we are acquiring new members; just this week, we’re adding two more. Authors who approach us need to be producing books that are high-quality in every aspect: content, proofing, and production. They also need to understand my terms: it costs them absolutely nothing to participate—all they do is send a bio, photos, and book descriptions for our website—but as the person in charge, I’m going to make my own calls about when to release our newsletters, etc. I also use Running Fox as my personal publishing imprint—it would be too complicated for me to create yet another entity for that while trying to manage Running Fox on the side. So far that dual arrangement doesn’t seem to have caused much confusion, but at some point perhaps the co-op will spin off on its own, under the leadership of someone who has more time than I do to run it.

LP: Would you like to tell us about any of your plans for the rest of 2014 and beyond?

DV: As I mentioned, we’re adding two new authors, and we’re also starting plans for the Alaska Sampler 2015. New books coming on in 2015 include a comprehensive guide to publishing (written by me) called What Every Author Should Know and a novel by David Marusek that I’m hugely excited to read. I’ll also be adding a nonfiction narrative, Wealth Woman, a biography of a First Nations woman dealing with a seminal event in the history of the US and Canada, the Klondike gold rush, from the Native perspective. And of course the rest of our authors have books in the works, although I don’t have titles yet.

LP: How do you see the future of publishing generally?

DV: I’d love to be able to speak with confidence on that, but at best the turf seems to me both exciting and treacherous. Maybe I’m just a person who likes to hedge my bets—that would explain why I’m comfortable as a hybrid author with hybrid books—but I really don’t think that anyone can say with any certainty how everything is going to shake out in the end. Yes, we have upheavals in music (and to a lesser extent, film) as indicators of how the pieces may eventually land, but there are obviously differences too, not the least among them being that the commitment to a song or even a film, in terms of the consumer’s time, is a lot less than to a book.

I’m also still old school enough to feel a little bit frightened by the exponential increase in titles and the fact that nothing will ever go out of print. There can never be too many books, right? And yet it feels like a lot for readers to wade through, so I can’t help but think that we may end up trading one sort of gatekeeper for another, and it’s hard to say what that means for literature as art (and entertainment) as it benefits both the creators and those who enjoy it on the soul level.

On the bright side, I do feel like there’s an increasing acceptance of alternative publishing within the literary community at large. But it’s going to take time to figure out the logistics. Books will find their readers, but many fine books will continue to be under-recognized (as they always have been); that problem seems germane to all types of publishing.

Thanks so much for answering our questions, Deb, and we wish you all the best with your writing, and with Running Fox Books.

Named by Library Journal as “one of Alaska’s leading storytellers,” Deb Vanasse has authored more than a dozen books. Her most recent is Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds,” according to Booklist. Deb lives and works on Hiland Mountain outside of Anchorage, Alaska, and at a cabin near the Matanuska Glacier.

Contact details for Deb Vanasse and Running Fox: debvanasse (at)

Purchase Cold Spell, Deb’s most recent book at these retailers:



Barnes and Noble 


Download the free e-book, Alaska Sampler 2014:


Barnes and Noble (99 cents) 


Running Fox Books members:

Cindy Dyson 

Gail Giles 

Kaylene Johnson

David Marusek 

Tanyo Ravicz 

Ned Rozell 

Lesley Thomas 

Deb Vanasse 

Howard Weaver