With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
It’s an exciting time to run an indie publishing house, there are lots of opportunities out there but the truth is it’s also incredibly challenging. Recently two of our favourite indie crime publishers, Blasted Heath and 280 Steps sadly closed their doors as the financial realities of running a small independent publisher in today’s market eventually took their toll.
Both of these publishing houses were run by clever publishers with an eye for talent and the balls to run with their instincts. Both will be missed.
Sadly from what we’ve heard on the grapevine these two indie publishers wont be the only ones to close their doors in the coming months.
These small indie publishers aren’t shutting up shop because they’ve suddenly gotten bad at publishing and marketing their titles. Margins are tightening in every direction at the same time as competition for readers increases.
Just to give you all a taste of the financial realities - if an indie publisher sells an eBook on Amazon at $0.99 - the gross profit from that sale (after Amazon take their cut) will be approximately $0.30. If we assume that the publisher pays 50% royalties to the author that means that the publisher’s cut is $0.15 per unit. To make $150 a publisher needs to sell 1000 copies of that book. All the publishers costs need to be paid from their share of the take - salaries, design, editing, promotion – booze for the parties, big shiny motorcycles...
The truth is that most titles either lose money or just about cover their costs – the 80/20 rule seems to hold true here – we can see at Fahrenheit that as a rough approximation we make 80% of our revenue from 20% of our titles.
Anyway, the point is, no-one is getting rich quick in this game.
On the whole, the people who run indie publishing houses are committed and clever and hard-working but sadly none of those things guarantee success.
When both Blasted Heath and 280 Steps closed down there was a certain amount of schadenfreude coming from some corners of the publishing industry – those people should be ashamed of themselves.
In our view anyone who risks their own money and their hard work to bring awesome books to market should be applauded.
At Fahrenheit we have nothing but respect for everyone connected with both Blasted Heath and 280 Steps and we hope it wont be too long before they get back in the game.
And that brings us to the good news.
Those who know us best know that we felt a particular affinity with 280 Steps – we didn’t know them personally or have any professional dealings with them but we always felt they shared some of our values and a fair proportion of authors who pitched books to us also pitched to 280 Steps.
With all that in mind, I guess in retrospect it wasn’t too surprising that when 280 Steps ran into difficulties some of their authors started to reach out to us.
We haven’t been able to offer a home to all of the books on the 280 Steps list but today we are delighted to announce that we’ve signed contracts for 7 of the books (some of which had already been published and some which were in the works). We expect to be announcing more over the coming months.
The first to come knocking on our door was Mark Rapacz. We had already signed a contract with Mark to publish one of his novels this summer so we knew he could write like a demon. Mark was contracted with 280 Steps for his book BOONDOGGLE and when he asked us if we’d be interested in offering the book a berth on the good ship Fahrenheit it took us about 5 seconds to say “Hell Yeah!!!”
Here’s what Mark has to say:
“280 Steps gave BOONDOGGLE its first real shot. Unfortunately, despite being highly-influential and visually stunning, 280 was also too-short-lived. We didn't know what to do. Thankfully Fahrenheit have pulled some of the 280 Steps crew out of the publishing murk and gave us a home at Fahrenheit more badass than we could ever imagine…” Mark Rapacz
We’ll be publishing BOONDOGGLE later this month and Mark’s next book for us will be out as planned in June.
Also joining us from 280 Steps will be filmmaker and author JJ DeCeglie who commented in his usual understated way…
“Fahrenheit Press came down like some glorious thundering rescue chopper slicing through the suffocating and disorienting smoke...when something so fortudious happens, all you can do is smile at your luck and say thank you - they saved the asses of a number of writers...myself included.” - JJ DeCeglie
Todd Morr, noir legend and author of classics such as MR CHIPS MUST DIE and JESUS SAVES, SATAN INVESTS will also be pulling on his Fahrenheit t-shirt as we re-publish his very well received novel IF YOU'RE NOT ONE PERCENT.
"Indie Publishing is a tough racket. I don't have any hard feeling when someone calls it quits, but when it came to crime fiction I thought 280 Steps filled a unique niche. I was glad to be part of it in my own small way. I was stoked to see Fahrenheit Press step up to fill some of that void, and again happy as hell they want me to be part of it." - Todd Morr
We’re also particulary pleased to have Las Vegas based author Nikki Dolson joining Team Fahrenheit with her debut novel ALL THINGS VIOLENT. Nikki actually submitted the manuscript for her book to us last year and we were all set to make her an offer when 280 Steps beat us to the draw and snapped her up from under our noses. It feels nicely karmic that she’s ended up back with us again – we loved the book when we read it – we have zero doubts you guys will too.
“280 Steps books were great reads and good looking. That Fahrenheit Press is taking on some of the authors is a wonderful turn of events. I'm truly upset that 280 Steps closed and so immensely happy that Fahrenheit has thrown us a rope." – Nikki Dolson
Lastly from this first batch of 280 Steps authors, from Austin we’ve got author Jonathan Woods who’s bringing us his awesome novel KISS THE DEVIL GOODNIGHT.
“When the crime fiction publisher 280 Steps crashed and burned out of the blue, it left at least a dozen writers stranded and traumatized, including yours truly, whose book Kiss the Devil Good Night had just been published. Thank the gods for Fahrenheit Press who have stepped in and rescued my book from the wilderness.” - Jonathan Woods
So there you go, the first batch of 280 Steps authors who managed to clamber aboard the good ship Fahrenheit.
Sadly I don’t expect it to be the last indie publishing rescue mission we’ll have to undertake in the next 12 months but should the need arise Fahrenheit will always make sure that we help out our fellow indies and authors whenever and wherever we can…
Boondoggle by Mark Rapacz will be published on 31st May 2017 – the remainder of this first batch of ex-280Steppers will all be published over the next 8-10 weeks.