As part of SpecFicNZ's blogging week, today I'm talking with Grace Bridges. Grace owns the publishing house Splashdown Books, and she is also a science fiction author and has two published books. A graduate of the University of Auckland and a translator by trade, she spent eight years globetrotting chiefly in Europe while working for the police.
1) How long has Splashdown been operating?
Officially since 2009, though I worked at self-publishing my own novel in 2007 (Faith Awakened, now re-released through Splashdown). We are about to release our 23rd title.
2) You’re also an author and have two novels out: Faith Awakened (2007) and
Legendary Space Pilgrims (2010). What sort of readers would most enjoy them?
People who enjoy experiencing other cultures and having their horizons broadened, for a start. Not just because I'm an international writer with settings beyond the familiar, but also because science fiction in and of itself is an exercise in expansion of the mind. That said, my stories are always rooted in reality in one way or another. We don't have to go very far from our own lives and current technological potential to find a mind-blowing new idea. I'm all about bringing the two together: ordinary familiar humanness, and some fresh aspect that gives a new slant on what we thought we knew. In short, readers who like to reflect and savour are those who have reacted most positively.
I've been told that my tales stay in people's memories long after they finish reading.
3) What is it like to sit on both sides of the table - as author and publisher?
I adore helping people's dreams come true, by getting their books in print. It is a big thing for anyone to experience, even if a small press can't offer much in the way of fame and fortune. That is my favourite part of publishing - helping authors along the learning curve and watching them develop through it. As an author I still have those pangs of nerves when I send off a submission. Publishing has not changed that one bit. And although time is often short, I try my hardest to keep in close contact with my writer-self, the part of me that gets inspiration and wrestles with edits and plot holes just the same as anyone on my team.
4) There are a lot of small publishers out there. What are the signs an author has found a good trustworthy business to deal with, and what are some of the things to be wary of?
Check out the contract carefully to see what happens with your rights. Be sure you are happy with the manner in which they revert to you, and make sure that option is there. Never pay a publisher for services. They should be paying you. If they want money from you to publish your book, that is a vanity publisher and must be avoided.
5) As well as the portal of Splashdown, where else are Splashdown's authors books sold? And what format are they in? Can I read them on my kindle?
Yes, absolutely, you can! Paperbacks are sold at all the usual online retailers, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, even some at Whitcoulls NZ (online), but the best place for Kiwis to get them is the Book Depository, because no shipping is charged and the pricing is reasonable. They are also available in all ebook formats, of which Kindle is the most successful. Links to the various retailers and formats are all in our Bookshop.
6) What's it like to work in publishing from New Zealand?
Not as hard as you might think. Sure, there are all sorts of challenges that include technicalities such as coordinating with team members in different time zones, but also the inability to attend in-person events in places where they are most likely to succeed. Fiction doesn't have a good grip in NZ, though I am slowly infecting my friends!
It's all made possible by the miracle of global distribution and printing in America when that's where books are wanted. In that sense, I could be anywhere to publish, and in fact have done so from Germany and New Caledonia. Later this year I plan to be in the USA to connect with my team and supporters, continuing to publish as I travel.
7) What type of book are you after to publish right now?
I'm always on the hunt for good speculative fiction. There seems to be plenty of fantasy all the time, so I'm especially happy when I come across a great science fiction or supernatural manuscript. My particular favourite is literary science fiction that explores the poetry of language and consciousness while also telling an awesome story.
Many Thanks to Grace, you can find her when check out Splashdown Books.