Friday, 7 December 2012

Interview with David Lear, Editor at Firestone Books

Firestone Books, a new publishing company set up by David Lear, are now open for un-solicited submissions from writers. As well as novels, they accept short story collections. This being fairly rare to find I thought it’d be a good idea to have David along to the blog to chat about Firestone, and what they’re looking for.

Hi David. Tell us a little about yourself.
Aside from my interest in fiction, I’ve had fun over the last few years learning circus skills (mainly acrobatic tumbling), drawing, genealogy, geology and trying to fathom the strange universe that is quantum mechanics. 
I also met three killers before the age of eight, and saw a ghost when I was a child.  Luckily my adult life has been less frightening!

Why did you want to start up your own publishing company?
I’d always enjoyed writing and had a story published in an anthology a couple of years back.  When I got my copy of the book I noticed a few errors and I wondered if I could do a better job.  This idea quickly mutated into dreams of setting up a publishing company.

What makes Firestone Books different to other publishing companies?
Our first two anthologies contain the earliest science fiction tales ever, dating back two thousand years.  As far as I’m aware we’re the only company to have put together such anthologies.  

For the moment at least, we’re more likely to accept submissions than other publishers. We have at least half a dozen slots to fill, so we’re well worth approaching. 

I also have ideas which I daren’t mention just yet (sorry), but if I can pull one of them off it’ll bring a host of readers (and new authors) to Firestone Books. 

What kind of submissions are you accepting?
We're currently accepting science fiction, fantasy, crime, mystery and horror fiction. These can be novels or short story collections.  We're not accepting poetry, plays, picture books or individual short stories, I'm afraid.  To contradict myself slightly, if an author had say three titles published by us and the titles were selling well, we would consider publishing either poetry or plays by that author. 

When you're reading a manuscript, what do you look for?  
Aside from following the submission guidelines which my colleague has mentioned on the website, I’m looking for good, commercial fiction.  I want a good plot and interesting characters.  Prose should be easy on the eye, rather than intellectually demanding.  I’d love to sign a modern day Virginia Woolf, but it would be even better to sign the next JK Rowling. 

What can a writer do to make their submission stand out?
Following the guidelines is a good start.  It is very easy to overlook something a publisher has asked for.  The cover letter is vital and writers should sell themselves as much as possible here.  If a writer has had stories published elsewhere and they have their own website, it shows both talent and commitment, and can tip the balance in their favour.   

What should they absolutely not do?
Disregarding the submission guidelines is probably fatal.  A genuine mistake is completely forgivable.  We’re happy for writers to simultaneously submit their work elsewhere, as long as were notified of this. 

When you take a writer on, what can they expect from Firestone Books?
The writer will either have an eBook contract or both an eBook and paperback contract.  If it’s the latter then the author will receive six complimentary copies of their book.  In both cases profits will be split fifty-fifty between the writer and publisher, which is pretty generous.

If they have an eBook only contract, they can choose the length of the contract (between one and five years), and if their eBook sells five hundred copies or more, the writer will be automatically entitled a paperback contract.

Authors who have paperback contracts can get involved in creating the cover if they want to. We’re hoping to use the very talented Stuart Bache, who has created covers for the likes of Stephen King and John le CarrĂ©.

We won’t ask for a cut of film, TV and other rights, which is something many publishers do.  The author will retain all these rights.

And what do you expect from the writer?
I hope our authors will be up for interviews with magazines, as this will be one of our main marketing methods.

I also see Firestone Books as an investor in authors, rather than in books.  By this I mean that we’d hope to publish more than one book by any author we sign.  Having twenty four books by twenty four writers isn’t good.  It’s harder to manage, and returning readers will be disappointed to see their writer only has one published work.  Having six authors with four books is a much better state of affairs, so I hope authors, in the long term, will be looking to submit more than one book to us. 

Tell us what's coming up for Firestone in the next year.
Our two early science fiction anthologies will be coming out in paperback in the next few months and I’m looking forward to welcome the first few writers aboard.


Thanks, David – that all sounds fantastic. I like that you see investing in writers as important, and it’s heartening that you accept short story collections too.

You can find Firestone Books website here.
And follow on Twitter here.

David is happy to answer any questions you have in the comments here, so please just ask and interact if you wanna. 


Rachel Fenton said...

Very encouraging to see a new publisher, and one so keen to get the subs in. Thanks, David, and thanks, Teresa, for passing on the good word.

David Lear said...

The interview has generated a lot of interest, and I'm looking forward some good reads over Christmas. There might even be a publishing deal or two in the new year.

Teresa Stenson said...

You're welcome, Rachel. It is encouraging, innit.

That's great news, David - you'll have to let me know if you sign anyone as a result of this - I feel like Cilla Black!