We as readers get the enjoyment of the final product of an author’s work – we immerse ourselves into the story, talk about it, the book may always stay with us, but have you thought about how that book has gone from scribbled words to a complete piece of work? Well today I bring to you one of two behind the scenes Q&As that answers some of those mysterious questions.
Today’s guest at The Reading Closet is Cole Sullivan who has been a massively huge help during #Orentober, the graphic for this month? Yes, he designed it, even when Kelly and I had next to no idea what we wanted. So, thanks Cole for being a star! If you don’t know who Cole is, where have you been? Cole is the publishing assistant over at Orenda Books – those visuals and book trailers? Yup, Cole made them! incredible right?
You can check out the book trailers for Changeling by Matt Wesolowski and Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb here.
without further ado, here’s my Q&A with Cole!
Orenda Books is a family business, but what made you want to take up the publishing role within the company?
It started out as a way to earn a bit of extra money at university. In my spare time I could help with various different parts of the business, such as doing a weekly press update. Once I finished university at the end of last year, Karen offered me the opportunity to stay on and have a larger role within the company.
So you didn’t go straight in as a publishing assistant, you worked various areas – picking up a multitude of skills as you went I bet. Some of us dream of becoming a publishing assistant but what does the role entail?
In my role, I look after promotions, which involves applying for the promotions at various different retailers, creating the visuals to help promote the sales, communicating with our pricing team, and finally communicating with the authors about the sales.
I look after the US side of the company as well, which involves uploading the new titles, ensuring the listings and jackets are correct, and making sure that everything goes smoothly with the release of books over there.
I also look after other jobs such as metadata, website updates, schedules for book fairs, and many other day-to-day tasks.
This is what I was saying at the beginning, we see the book and we sometimes don’t understand / appreciate that even when that book is in our hands, a hell of a lot more is going on in the background. That being said, I can imagine that every day is a different one. What aspects of the job do you find rewarding?
I love seeing the brilliant reviews that come in for the books. It is also great seeing our amazing authors being nominated and shortlisted for awards, and seeing the books jump up the charts when we are promoting them. Generally just seeing how happy the authors are when things are going right probably is the most rewarding thing in publishing, in my eyes.
I can understand how you can enjoy what must be one hell of a stressful job, especially when it brings the positives like that. But it’s not all sunshine i’m guessing. What do you find to be the most difficult aspects of publishing?
The eye for detail. Before working for Orenda, I had never had to work in an industry where every little spelling, or italicized word, was scrutinized and important. It has definitely been tough getting the hang of it, but i’d say it has definitely improved my focus and attention to detail!
I suppose the attention to those little, annoying details is what helps sell the books, so the eye is needed! As I’ve already said, you’re the man behind the creative side of things, from graphics to book trailers. Could you share with us what is the creative process behind book trailers is and how long does it take to construct one?
The book trailers process involves myself, Karen and the author. Karen will send a few suggestions as to what sort of images are wanted. I will then create a first draft, that will go through Karen and the author, edits are then made until the final trailer is created. It can take anywhere between a day or a couple of weeks, depending on the edits.
A couple of weeks? wow! Although I must say that they are damn spectacular! You’ve created various trailers, but what have been your favourite trailers?
Ooh, that’s a hard question. I don’t think I could narrow it to one, but I did really enjoy doing the Good Samaritans and Deep Dirty Truth ones. So I’ll go with those two.
The graphic side of things cover a large range of publishing aspects. Do you feel that design and development stage is an important one? Why?
Design is critical and Orenda is definitely known for brilliant covers. I look after graphics for social media, and I think it’s very important to maintain the brand identity and the standards set by our designer, Mark Swan. Everything on social media these days is visual … and an instant connection is made.
I absolutely adore Orenda’s book covers, it’s as though each author has their own style and you know which book belongs to who! Gorgeous! The first ever Orenda book I read was Good Samaritans by Will Carver, after that one I was well and truly hooked. What was your first Orenda read?
My first Orenda read was Reconciliation for the Dead. Which was around the time I started working for Orenda. I took it on holiday to Gran Canaria, and I went to the beach, and actually got burn marks around my chest where I held the book because I couldn’t put it down!
My latest Orenda read was The Closer I Get, which I thought was absolutely incredible. Paul is extremely talented, and a pleasure to work with!
Fantastic reads! I can absolutely believe that Paul is a pleasure to work with, I recently met him at Capital Crime and he was so lovely. Let’s talk book genres, what is your favourite?
Previous to working for Orenda, the only thing I read were sports autobiographies. Since then, I have definitely found a love for Crime Fiction, and absolutely love some of the titles that we have published.
Welcome to the crime fiction club, it’s the best club to be in, I swear it! Orenda Books has been around for almost 5 years, publishing some of the most brilliant crime fiction, as well as some amazing translated fictions. Could you tell us why it is so important to support indie publishers?
I’m not sure that the average reader understands how hard it can be for independents. We have to offer the same massive discounts to retailers as the big conglomerates, and when print runs are much smaller, each book costs a lot more to produce. If we want to compete, too, we have to make sure we are putting out quality products (in the reading experience and the physical product). It’s expensive and sometimes really dispiriting. Obviously bigger companies with a lot of marketing spend can bring books to the attention of a wider readership, and purchases are therefore skewed in that direction. What a lot of people don’t realise is that there are so many true gems published by indies. We take risks that would never get past a commissioning meeting in a big company, where past sales and potential are scrutinised, and everything has to be a safe bet. By buying from the big guys all the time, some brilliant books are missed (which means less of them can be published in future) AND it crowds out shelf space in retailers, making it harder for independents in general. We work so hard and absolutely need the support.
Wow, I didn’t realise that about the expense and how they don’t get it any easier that mainstreams with the larger side of budgets. Hopefully Orentober will help highlight how important support for Indies is and how we can help share the indie book love! So we have been So, can we have a day in the life of a publishing assistant?
I wake up, get to my desk, I check my morning emails, and make a list that needs to be completed during that day by order of importance. I then get my music on in the background and work through my list for the day. Every day is different. I might be updating the website, sending out media alerts for big bits of press, putting retailer copy into html, chasing authors for information on upcoming events … booking book fair appointments, creating visuals, pitching for promotions, editing an episode of Orenda Books at Bedtime, uploading title information to our international sales teams … anything goes. SO much going on all the time. I will finish at around 6 or 7pm, do a work out or play football and then go to sleep watching a Netflix series (more often than not crime).
Wow that sounds like a long day, but we have established that it is very rewarding. Last but no means least, can you share a random fact about yourself?
I studied Sport Business at Liverpool John Moores university, and have worked as a teaching assistant at a small local primary school that I attended when I was younger.
Wow, a man of many talents!
Thank you again Cole for visiting The Reading Closet and letting me probe you with my questions, it’s been very insightful and eye opening.
Tune in next time for a behind the scenes Q&A with West Camel . Keep an eye on the #Orentober posts by using the hashtag – catch up now!