I got into the e-book industry by chance really. I was looking for internships at the end of 2012, and like most English literature graduates, my dream was to work in traditional print publishing. I came across an internship offered by Endeavour Press, and at that time I didn’t really know anything about e-books (I’d only had my Kindle for a few months). When I started Endeavour was a very new company – the day I began my internship was the first day they officially moved into an office – and so I was thrown in the deep end, which I loved! Before I knew it I was working on social media campaigns, coming up with ideas for covers, and tracking down potential authors to publish.
At the time I was offered a job with Endeavour as a publishing assistant; there was only one other full-time staff member, and we were only publishing five books a week. Now, three years later, I am publishing director of Endeavour Press, and we have eight full-time staff members and around 50 freelancers, and (including our other imprints: Endeavour Press Germany, Venture Press, Albion Press and Pioneering Press) we are publishing 30 books a week. We publish a lot of backlist titles, so we can turn books around very quickly, although we take a lot of time and care over covers and blurbs, to make sure our books are attractive to modern readers.
What I have found, both working for a small company and working in the digital market, is that you need to be flexible, creative and highly-motivated. The market is constantly changing, and we have weekly meetings to discuss new marketing ideas, and new ways to compete with the ever-growing list of titles joining the e-book market. One of our main mantras is ‘there are no new and old books’. We treat every book as if it has only just been launched, and we spend a lot of time on price promotions, making sure each title gets a marketing boost every three months.
There has been, and still is, a lot of negativity surrounding e-books and the digital market, but that isn’t coming from readers. From what we are seeing, people are reading more than ever, with may people switching between print and digital depending on what book they want to read, so although the game is changing very quickly, the e-book industry is thriving, particularly for self-published and independently-published authors. The issue, however, is working out how to access potential readers. I spend a lot of time in the office coming up with ideas on how to do this – from thinking of ways to boost our mailing list, to running competitions to attract book lovers – and I have just set up a virtual historical fiction festival, which will run from 18th to 22nd April, and will allow historical fiction fans to tweet authors their questions, and get exclusive deals on their e-books. It is exciting coming up with ideas of how to connect people over the internet, instead of face to face.
Everything is changing in publishing at the moment, and I feel that working in digital you are bridging the gap between the old and the new, and learning valuable skills to help make sure authors get the exposure they deserve, as readers shift their attention from print to digital. You need to be prepared to take risks, and to change your strategy at the drop of the hat. New ways of selling and marketing e-books are popping up all the time, and it is important to be on top of the latest trends. The digital marketplace is growing rapidly and working in digital is a very exciting place to be at the moment. Despite being a lover of the printed book, I have found working with e-books fascinating, challenging and a lot of fun. The digital market is only going up, and so I think it is very important for young people trying to get into publishing to embrace new technologies, and be aware of different ways to read and sell books.
Amy Durant is publishing director for e-book publisher Endeavour Press.
To take part in the Endeavour Press Virtual Historical Fiction Festival, follow on Twitter @HistFest or visit the website.