I’m delighted to welcome Oliver Rhodes in this year’s first post in our Chatting with Publishers series. Oliver is the founder and managing director of Bookouture and winner of our very own Publisher of the Year Award for 2016.
Starting one’s own company is a huge venture. May I ask about your personal journey in publishing and what decided you to establish Bookouture?
Prior to starting Bookouture I was the head of marketing at Harlequin UK. I’d worked in publishing for more than ten years and I was incredibly excited about the opportunities for digital publishing.
I had a vision of an author-centric digital publisher with a strong marketing focus and realised that could be achieved just as effectively by a start-up as by a larger organisation. It felt like a ‘now or never’ moment and I decided to take the chance.
How long was it in the planning stage before the company became established?
It was something that I’d been planning for around a year before Bookouture officially started.
How do you think the industry reacted to a new publishing company?
I’d say the initial reaction was very positive – we had a very high standard of submissions from authors. I was always aware though that it was important for us to build on that initial interest and to establish a reputation for successful publishing. That doesn’t happen overnight, but with everything that we’ve achieved in the last four years – and over 8 million sales – I think we’re getting there.
The award must surely be affirmation of your success. How did you feel when you learned you’d won?
Absolutely. It was a wonderful surprise, and it was particularly heartening to hear so many positive comments from authors in the room. My aim for Bookouture was for us to be a very author-focused publisher, so it was really encouraging to hear that we’re heading in the right direction.
What are you looking for at present and what do you think is next for Bookouture?
We’re looking for authors who create page-turning stories that will keep readers coming back for more – whether that’s romance, women’s fiction, thrillers or historical novels – or indeed any other fiction genre.
In terms of what is next for Bookouture, we’re in the process of adding to our publishing team, which is very exciting for us. Jenny Geras has just joined us from Arrow, as Publishing Director, and we’re expecting to add several new faces over the coming year.
Expanding the team will allow us to increase the number of titles that we publish, so we’re also actively looking for new authors right now.
You cover many genres. Do you have a personal favourite?
I’ve always enjoyed working on a broad range of genres – I think having variety across the list is very important – I wouldn’t say I have a particular favourite.
You’ve built quite a team. Should submissions be made to individuals or initially to the company?
We ask authors to send submissions through our website at: www.bookouture.com/submit
We have a new system which makes it easy for us to share submissions internally and make sure they find the best home. We’ve also improved our turnaround time, so all submissions should receive a response within four weeks.
What one particular piece of advice would you give to anyone submitting a manuscript?
Really just to focus on the quality of the story – that’s what we’ll be judging submissions on. I always say that there needs to be a clear reason there that people will want to read the next book from the author.
Thank you for joining us today, Oliver. It’s easy to see why you received the award for you ‘vision, drive and passion’. It’s infectious.
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