Friday, October 17, 2008

Small Press Showcase: Bell Bridge Books

Every once in a while, a small press attracts my attention. I have only worked with a few, and I'm terribly selective. I want to make sure that I'm covering books that are properly supported by a publisher, not simply mechanisms to make money off authors who dream to appear in print, while the author spends a mint. I have had exchanges with disappointed authors who thought they were getting good book contracts, but who end up doing everything including editing, cover design and distribution. If you sign on for that by self-publishing your work--great. But if you think you're getting a more traditional publishing arrangement and you end up doing as much work as if you'd self-published it anyway, that ain't cool.

But I must admit that on the surface, Bell Bridge Books appears to stand out from the crowd. Why? First, it is an imprint of Belle Books. Belle Books has been around for almost ten years, publishing Southern fiction. Another reason is that it's run by a group of successful writers--some of them New York Times bestselling authors. They have been willing to put their names behind it, so they are going to want to make it work.

And lastly, one of those writers--who serves as publicist and editor--took the time to fill out my little form for each of the fantasy novels they have in print, all of which are debuts. This impresses me because she obviously wants her writers to succeed. And the writers can undoubtedly write. How do I know? Bell Bridge Books is confident enough to post excerpts of all books they publish. Those excerpts show skill and polish, and the books look like a lot of fun.

And what about these covers? They are unquestionably professional.
Therefore, in order to support an impressive new publisher, I am going to showcase all Bell Bridge Books in the future, starting with these three in the next few days. As far as I can tell--I havn't written to the editors yet--their books are not yet stocked on shelves of bookstores, but they are available to order, both through bookstores and at all the online outlets. Maybe if they are a success, they'll be able to get the big chains to stock them, like Juno Books does.

I wish them luck and much success.


Kimber An said...

Those are beautiful covers. It's smart marketing to have beautiful cover art! Readers are in a hurry. They don't always have time to read the blurb.

Tia Nevitt said...

And covers can lure you in psychologically. I have been taken in by many wonderful covers. I figured if the story is about what I see on the cover, I might be interested. Which, of course, is the whole idea.

Marilee Brothers said...

As a writer contracted by Bell Bridge, I'd like to to say your comments are right on the money. Deborah Smith and Debra Dixon are one hundred percent behind their authors and a joy to work with. I had quite a different experience with my first book (different publisher) which makes me appreciate Bell Bridge all the more.
Marilee Brothers, author of Moonstone

Tia Nevitt said...

An unsolicited author endorsement! Marvelous! Thanks for stopping by, Marilee!

Heather said...

Those are great covers. Thanks for this post!

Maria said...

Thanks for posting this. I am always looking into those small publisher and will take a look at some of the titles. Who knows maybe they can get on BookspotCentral list too!

SciFiGuy said...

Great profile Tia and well deserved. I will also be reviewing these titles in the coming week.

Paula Guran, editor Juno Books said...

Hi Tia!

Just to be educational... :-) You mentioned "Maybe if they are a success, they'll be able to get the big chains to stock them, like Juno Books does."

I don't know a lot about Bell Bridge, but I do know their books can be stocked by any bookstore. They are available through the standard wholesalers. Since they've been in business for some time, whatever they are doing to distribute their books is probably working for them.

Nationwide distribution through the chain stores is not always the best thing for a small publisher. And, "being a success" does not get you distributed.

First they would have to (probably) discount their books deeply in order to sign with a distributor and they would have to accept returns (which they may or may not do now, I don't know.) There is also a good chance that they would have to lower the cover price of their books. The ones you mentioned are listed at $14.95--the chains might insist on a $12.95 or $13.95 price. They might also be told that not many stores would take trade paperbacks anyway. Nor would it be likely that all of their books would be stocked at all. Plus, they'd have to, for some books, print many more copies than they are now. Etc.

In other words, you may or may not sell as many books with national distribution. But each book you sell without it, is probably a lot more profitable.

It is important for readers to understand that there are plenty of good books that are not in chainstores. There are plenty more that aren't in indie stores. That's where folks like you do a great service, Tia: you let readers know these books exist. Readers can order them from any bookstore, buy them from the online stores or direct from the publisher.

Tia Nevitt said...

Thanks for the "lesson," Paula! I'll shout-out this post so people don't miss it.

Kimberly Swan said...

Hi Tia...I've been fortunate enough to read/review Moonstone and Bite Me. They're both very well done YA reads. I'm looking forward to more. :)