Today I am delighted to welcome to my blog Nathan O’Hagan and Wayne Leeming from new independent publisher, Obliterati Press. Obliterati state on their website that they are ‘a publisher for writers set up by writers keen to use the experience they have gained to unveil great new voices.’ Please read on to find out more.
1. Why did you decide to set up Obliterati?
Nathan: It all started almost as a joke. We were in Leeds doing a panel with Armley Press at the Big Bookend Literary Festival, and a few of us went for a curry the night before. Wayne and myself got chatting and it came up that starting a press was something we had both thought about. Wayne said we should think about it. I laughed it off initially, but Wayne kept the idea alive, and eventually, after we’d talked seriously about it for a while, I realised it was something I’d really regret not doing.
2. What sort of books do you want to publish?
Nathan: The kind of books we want to publish will have a certain edge to them. I know ‘edgy’ is a bit of a vague term, but it’s one we keep coming back to. We want distinctive voices, hopefully from as diverse a group of authors as possible.
Wayne: We tend to share a liking of material that is gritty. Material that explores the darker, rougher elements of human nature. Material that portrays life as lived by those who struggle in some way. If someone sent a manuscript chronicling the trials and tribulations of pre-war aristocracy, I’m not likely to be interested.
3. How do you go about finding and signing authors?
Nathan: When we were talking about setting up, an idea that was struck on very early was that, rather than opening for submissions, I would approach a couple of very talented but unpublished writers to see if they’d let us read their novels. The first two I thought of were Richard Rippon and Dave Olner, and both of them were up for the idea of being there at the start of a new press, and were willing to take a chance with us. Since then we’ve been approached by a few other writers in our extended network, and we’re hoping they’ll all have something for us to look at soon. Sometime late this year or early next, we’ll be opening for a short submissions window, and will do that at regular, short intervals thereafter.
4. Is your experience of marketing what you expected when you started out?
Nathan: I knew it would be challenging. It’s hard even for some big presses to get media coverage, so for a brand new indie press starting out, it’s always going to be an uphill struggle. I’ve had to be quite persistent, but I’ve found many book bloggers to be incredibly supportive and helpful, and they’re all very supportive of each other. Most of them don’t get paid for it and do it in their spare time, so it’s great that so many are willing to help out a new press like ours.
Wayne: This is one of the things I’d say Nathan excels at. Promoting work is hard, and I learned that from my efforts self-publishing. But we’ve had a few good ideas between us that we think are unique to us, and we’ll continue to expand on that so our writers know we really care about getting their work some attention.
5. There are a good number of small, independent publishers out there publishing some great works. Do you consider yourself different and, if so, how?
Nathan: I like to think we have our own identity, but we certainly have a lot in common with other small publishers, in that we want to find good writers who don’t yet have the audience they deserve.
Wayne: Ultimately, we have a goal that is shared with other independent publishers, so I don’t see it as some sort of competition. Independent publishers should support each other as we all have the intention of bringing good writers some attention; the kind of writers who’ve been ignored by bigger publishers despite being talented. However, as Nathan says, we do have our own identity and it’s only right that we do.
6. Latest trend or totally original – what sells?
Wayne: I believe there’s a place in the market for both. But for my own part, I won’t disregard a manuscript simply because it doesn’t fit into a current trend. Trends change, and part of our ethos is to consider work by writers potentially deemed risky by other publishers. Work that fits within a trend is fine, too, as long as we think it’s good.
Nathan: I think ‘originality’ is also an overrated virtue. Something can be wholly original but poorly written. There’s not much new under the sun, and the quality of writing is what counts.
7. Ebook or hard copy – what do your buyers want?
Nathan: That remains to be seen! Richard Rippon’s ‘Lord Of The Dead’ will be our first release in November, and I’m very interested to see what readers go for. I’ve got a feeling it’ll be more kindle, as a lot of crime fiction fans seem to like that format, whereas I think Dave Olner’s ‘The Baggage Carousel’ will be more hard copy, but that’s just an instinct, I’m really looking forward to see what people prefer.
Wayne: My own feelings on this are that readers will buy whatever makes them happy. It’s not easy to second-guess what they want so why try it? All the arguments about the experience of reading an eBook versus physical book seem pointless to me; when push comes to shove, it is the existence and availability of the book itself that matters more. How readers choose to consume those words is a matter for them.
8. Do you consider Obliterati to be niche or mainstream?
Nathan: I suppose more niche, but ‘Lord Of The Dead’ has huge commercial potential. We want the kind of books that most mainstream publishers wouldn’t publish, regardless of how good it is, but we’d love to cross over.
9. Collaborative or dictatorial?
Nathan: Definitely collaborative. We have pretty clear ideas what we’re after, and I think we’d always have the final say, but any decision we make, we want it to be in consultation with the authors. They’ve got to be happy with what you’re doing
Wayne: Collaborative, yes, but with some necessary dictatorial elements. We want our authors to enjoy the process and feel that they’re getting their ideas across, but we too have certain clear ideas that we’d like to adhere to, so someone has to take charge somewhere. And that’s us. We want authors to have some input, but it has to be controlled and contained.
10. Plans for the future?
Nathan: ‘Lord Of The Dead’ is out soon, and we can’t wait for it to be out there, then we’ve got ‘The Baggage Carousel’ out around February or March next year.
Wayne: Although we haven’t opened submissions yet, we’re liaising with some good writers who want us to look at their work. I’m excited about that, as I know from experience that they’re good writers. After that, I’m just keen to open the floodgates and see what we get in our inbox.
Thank you Nathan and Wayne for taking the time to answer my questions. To find out more about this small press, including details of their books, visit their website by clicking here: Obliterati Press
Keep up to date with all of their news via Twitter: Obliterati Press (@ObliteratiPress)
Over the next few weeks I will be reading their inaugural title, Lord of the Dead. Do look out for my review.
Lord of the Dead will be published on 3rd November 2017