1 What's your company called?
2 What do you publish?
We are a digital-first company that publishes both new submissions and backlist or out of print titles. We work across a wide variety of genres including crime fiction, thrillers, romance, women’s fiction, historical and military fiction, as well as some historical non-fiction and biographies.
3 What's the story of the company?
Amy Durant, Caoimhe O’Brien and Richard Simpson had all worked in digital publishing for a number of years before deciding to form Sapere Books. We were keen to start a company that placed author care at the heart of the business—offering a fair royalty rate, extensive editing and with the main effort on digital marketing. We officially launched in March 2018 with six authors, and our list has now grown to more than 40 authors.
4 How's business?
We were confident in our digital marketing strategy and our ability to source and publish genre-strong books that would thrive in the digital sphere, but we have still been happily surprised with how well our first year has gone. We decided to publish exclusively with Amazon and that has worked really well for us. Our books are thriving in Amazon’s borrowing programmes and we have received bonuses for the ‘most read’ authors.
We have found that series are working particularly well for us, and our two bestsellers this past year have been crime series: Keith Moray’s Scottish detective series and Elizabeth Bailey’s Regency romantic mystery series. We are selling our ebooks worldwide and are seeing a lot of growth in the American and Australian markets, which we anticipate continuing. We are now ready to expand and are currently in the process of hiring our first full-time member of staff.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
The main upsides of being independent are freedom and flexibility. We are self-funded, so we do not have to wait for approval before making decisions. We can change strategies at the drop of a hat and we are keen to try out new ideas as often as possible, which helps us in particular to keep up with the rapidly evolving digital marketplace.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
The continued discord between ebook and paperback publishing, particularly in the major publishing houses. There still seems to be a certain rhetoric that celebrates print success, which is fine, but it also secretly celebrates the idea of ebooks plateauing. Ebooks are just books, and publishers should be pleased that readers are enjoying all formats. Generally, the most successful ebook strategies are coming from smaller independent publishers, who have understood the market value of digital books and the importance of competitive pricing strategies and extensive digital marketing.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Know your business and what your strengths are. We were well aware before we started that unfortunately we are not the best company to sell literary fiction or cross-genre fiction, so we have stuck to the genres we know work well in ebook format and we are confident we can make successes of. We also knew we did not have the expertise or the funds to tackle print publishing, so our books are only available in ebook and print on demand format. So, our advice would be to start small, play to your strengths and don’t be overly ambitious until you are financially successful.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
Publishing is an industry that is constantly developing and the IPG has been a great source of opportunities to learn about these developments, via conferences, the Skills Hub and other members.