I first came across the all new Fahrenheit Press on Twitter. They were arrogant, assured and deliciously upfront about what they were going to achieve. They want you to buy their books. That’s it. They will provide books that are worth reading and they want you to buy them.
Sometimes, as I am being seduced by the friendliness and hype of publishing companies, it is easy to forget that this is why they exist. I’m not knocking that friendliness; it is welcoming, encouraging. I also know that many publicists truly believe in their product, and with justification.
Fahrenheit Press grabbed my attention because their approach was different. When they offered me the opportunity to interview them I jumped at the chance.
Please welcome to neverimitate, the founder and mouthpiece of Fahrenheit Press, the original Hot Punk Publisher, Chris McVeigh.
1. The obvious – why did you decide to set up Fahrenheit?
In short I’ve become increasingly depressed and frustrated by the way the publishing industry has developed. Authors are continually being let down by sub-standard marketing and promotion. Thousands of authors careers are being thrown on the scrap heap because the business models of the big 5 publishing corporations are no longer aligned with the business models of authors.
I’ve worked in publishing for 25 years, started as a marketing grunt for one of the big corporations and worked my way up. In the end my speciality was finding poorly performing publishers, turning them around and selling them on. I moved to Los Angeles about 6/7 years ago to concentrate on other things but I’ve always kept my hand in by writing opinion pieces and talking at publishing conferences around the world.
In the 6 or 7 years I’ve taken a step back from the industry I’ve waited for things to get better but in fact they’ve got worse.
In the end I just got fed up shouting from the sidelines and decided to put my money where my mouth is and get back into the ring.
The main point of Fahrenheit is to prove that all the things I’ve been saying over the years are true.
- Having a hit book doesn’t have to be a fluke.
- Effective marketing is scalable & predictable.
- Both publishers and authors can get paid fairly.
So far it seems to be working.
2. You decide to set up – what sort of books do you want to publish and how do you go about signing authors?
I knew fairly quickly that if we were going to hit the ground running we had to do it in genre publishing because the audiences and the routes to market are more clearly defined.
For me that meant either Crime or Romance. I know more crime writers than romance writers so that was a fairly easy decision.
Initially a lot of the authors on our books are friends of mine. Most are very well established names with a fair few books to their names and some fairly weighty sales histories.
James Craig author of our launch title A Slow Death is a great example of that – we met 5 years ago when I helped guide his debut book to the No.1 spot on Amazon. We kept in touch over the years and I’ve enjoyed watching his success grow and grow. He now has nine Inspector Carlyle novels in print with Hachette but when he had a new series he wanted to publish he chose to do it with us.
That said since we launched last month I’ve been buried under the weight of submissions from authors wanting to get on board.
The one thing they all have in common is that they’ve been used to making a living out their writing but over the last few years they’ve seen their incomes shrink.
We have signed a deal with one previously unpublished author who sent us his manuscript on the off-chance and we liked it so much we snapped him up – now, after years of trying to get published he’s one of our November books – that’s how quickly we can move.
Basically if you’ve got a crime book and you hold the rights to it, we’re happy to have a look – we don’t mind if it’s been published before – what’s important to us is the potential.
3. The marketing strategy – is the early experience what you expected?
Unlike most publishing companies, marketing is in our DNA so it’s kinda our main thing.
We’ve spent quite some time crafting our strategy and so far it’s pretty much going to plan. We had to establish Fahrenheit’s presence in the market quickly which we’ve done by employing a fairly radical and mouthy approach on social media – to some success.
We’ve followed this up with some very carefully placed adverts and features in various places and one month in we’ve established a fairly decent sales footprint for our first title A Slow Death by James Craig – we’re now just about to enter phase two of the marketing of this title and we expect sales to peak for this title about 8-10 weeks after the release date.
Interestingly this is another key difference between us and most other publishers. Most publishers front-weight any marketing and promotion they do to hit around the release date. If a book hits they plough a bit more money in, if it doesn’t they abandon it and move on to the next title. We don’t do this. Experience of building hits over the years has shown us that it’s much more effective to stagger your marketing and promotion over a longer period – not only does this prolong the active life of the title but the data has shown us time after time that overall sales are significantly higher over the lifetime of the book.
4. There are a good number of small, independent publishers out there publishing some great works. Do you consider yourself different and, if so, how?
Yeah there’s a vibrant scene of small publishers out there – often set up by people migrating from bigger corporations and having a go themselves.
This pleases me greatly.
One thing that doesn’t please me though is when they wear the clothes of the vibrant new indie start-up and then adopt the same tired old industry attitudes and techniques. Sadly this is becoming all too familiar. Lots of talk, lots of press releases but then at the end of the day underneath all the glitter is the same old business model peeking out – publishing too many books, not putting the marketing graft in, hoping for a hit, authors getting paid peanuts while the publisher scales small profits across many titles to make a decent living.
We are not those guys. We’re the real deal. I promise.
For sure we’re unapologetically commercial – as we keep saying, we want everyone to get paid properly – that said the money isn’t our main driver.
We mainly want to prove our approach to publishing and marketing is the right one.
We want to show authors that things don’t need to be the way they are and that there is an alternative.
5. Do you intend staying with just ebooks?
No, not at all. We started with eBooks because it’s a quick, low cost way to get our books out in the marketplace but very soon we’ll be offering paper versions of all our books.
Watch this space.
6. Are you collaborative or dictatorial?
Dictatorial. For sure. No doubt.
This is my train set.
If you don’t like what I’m doing or the way I’m doing it go find another publisher.
I’m not everyone’s cup of tea – I’m clever, I’m cocksure and I’ve got a smart mouth that throws out one-liners like bullets.
I ruffle feathers – I always have and that’s just the way I like it.
Fahrenheit has a gang mentality but make no mistakes it’s my gang.
7. Aiming for subculture or mainstream?
We want to have a subculture attitude with a mainstream balance sheet.
I’ve always had one foot in the music business and we’re running Fahrenheit very much along the lines of a record label.
Each book, each author will be slightly different but together they’ll reflect the personality of the label.
We fully expect people to become fans of Fahrenheit in just the way they became fans of Factory Records back in the day. We have no doubt that very soon people will buy books because we publish them and they trust us.
We’re bringing an old fashioned punk ethos to everything we do we’re trying to be as transparent as possible in everything we do – which if you read our twitter feed you’ll know is true.
8. Plans for the future?
We’re not in this to build a massive company.
We’ll only ever publish one or two books a month but we’ll make sure every one of them is marketed properly and that each and every book makes money and gets to the widest possible audience.
Our programme is already full for the next 12 months so we’ve got plenty to be getting on with though we’ll probably mix things around a little as new authors get on board.
In a year or two once we’ve proven our point we’ll most probably either sell it to someone else and split the cash with the authors or we’ll turn the whole thing over to the authors themselves and let them run it like a sort of United Artists.
Whatever happens it’s going to be fun. The second it stops being fun is the day we stop doing it – (my) Life is literally too short.
The website: Fahrenheit Press : Crime Fiction Publishers
The Twitter account: Fahrenheit Press (@fahrenheitpress)
Now, go buy their damn books… Fahrenheit Press : Our Books