Double, double, boil and …

As of this writing, we are about to hold our third imprint meeting. The first two, with Hellbender Books and Ars Metaphysica authors went very well. There was a lot of positive energy on the calls and the exchange of ideas was more than one-way. At Hellbender, it was decided to produce a compilation of short stories by our authors. There was also collaboration regarding our BookSpeak Network podcast programming. Likewise, at Ars Metaphysica, there was a lot of sharing regarding media opportunities. So far, so good. Next up is Brown Posey Press later this month. Milford House Press and Sunbury Press will follow and then we’ll start the cycle again. Our regular interaction should help build and grow our opportunities.
In the meantime, we have embarked on our most aggressive growth effort to date. Too many of you have been waiting too long to get started while we’ve been shifting our mix. Recently, we realized we have among the 1000+ manuscript proposals per year at least another 100+ quality opportunities. In order to move faster and do more, we have split our process onto two primary tracks — nonfiction and fiction. Over the last 12 months, we published 118 titles. Over the next 12 months, we expect to produce over 200.
How, you ask? We have brought in publishing veteran Chris Fenwick to jumpstart our fiction backlog and new fiction acquisitions. Chris is a publishing polymath who can quickly move books through the process — a process she helped start during the early days of Sunbury Press when she brought us our first fiction manuscript that jumped to #1 in visionary fiction. She has experience at other publishers and has a keen eye for quality and efficiency.
Many of you may have noticed movement on your manuscripts in the last month. Chris has been picking up a bunch as has Jen’s team. You may also be so lucky to have me working with you. It is all hands on deck at this time as we catch up the backlog and attend to the new in a more agile fashion.
“Dark Entry” by John Kachuba wins the Sunny Award for Hellbender Books Bestseller in 2018

“Dark Entry” by John Kachuba wins the Sunny Award for Hellbender Books Bestseller in 2018

John Kachuba’s classic horror novel was the 2018 bestseller for Hellbender Books, an imprint of Sunbury Press, Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

About the Book:

In the 18th century, members of the Dudley family settled in the deep woods of the Dark Entry Forest in northwestern Connecticut. Only a century later, Dudleytown was a ghost town with nothing left in the encroaching forest but cellar holes. Legend has it that the Dudleys were descended from a family in England that came to a bad end and that a curse followed them to America, a curse that drove residents of the settlement to murder and suicide.

In 1989, Sandy Lawrence, fleeing her abusive boyfriend, is given the use of her friend’s house in Dark Entry, one of the few homes in the isolated forest. She is unaware of the legends about Dark Entry but soon discovers the horrifying truth—something evil is alive and well in the deep woods, something intent upon murder. What began as a peaceful retreat from her domestic troubles now becomes a terrifying fight for her life.

About the Author

John B. Kachuba is the award-winning author of ten books, five of them about paranormal and metaphysical topics. He is a regular speaker at universities, libraries, and conferences, and has made numerous appearances on TV, radio, and podcasts. For more information, please go to www.johnkachuba.com

by John B. Kachuba
HELLBENDER BOOKS
Trade Paperback – 5.5 x 8.5 x 1
9781620060483
176 Pages
FICTION / Horror
FICTION / Thrillers / Suspense

Focus on imprints

One of the most important changes we implemented in the last two years was the introduction of additional imprints (beyond Sunbury Press) to address the variety of categories. This came about for several reasons:
1) Some authors of serious (academic) history books were complaining they were on the same label as children’s books. This would be an issue when peer-reviewed.
2) Nasty scary horror thrillers were branded with a positive upbeat rising (yep — not setting) sun.
3) Customers were confused about fiction books actually being nonfiction due to the Sunbury Press label.
It was clear that Sunbury Press as a brand had become associated with history and biography — especially about Pennsylvania. We felt our other categories were likely suffering due to the lack of identity.
We are committed to continuing to publish in a variety of categories and created a number of imprints to address this. We have been publishing new titles under these imprints since then and have been refurbishing our back list as we are able. This will continue over the next couple years until all of our active titles are properly branded.
Now, while that is going on, we need to bring more attention to these brands and categories. To that end, I am suggesting we start quarterly brand meetings involving the authors under that label and the marketing staff. The goal will be to come up with brand-specific activities, opportunities, or collaborations that we can work together on.
For instance,
1) Imprint-specific contests
2) Imprint-specific conferences or conventions
3) Group advertising / marketing opportunities
4) Reviewing each other’s books
5) Imprint-specific show(s) on the BookSpeak Network
… and many more.
As a reminder, here are our imprints. Become familiar with which imprint your book(s) are published under. Some of you deal with multiple imprints.
Ars Metaphysica — paranormal, psychic, metaphysical, spirituality, Eastern philosophy F & NF
Brown Posey Press — literary fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, politically left F & NF
Catamount Press — this is our new imprint for the Northern Appalachian region F & NF — more on this in upcoming newsletters (it has not launched yet)
Hellbender Books — horror / thriller / fantasy F only
Milford House Press — mystery/detective police procedural comedies romance YA this is our main Fiction imprint
Speckled Egg Press — currently coming out of hibernation — children’s F & NF
Verboten Books — edgy humor — rated R+ F only
Sunbury Press — our primary NF imprint — history / biography / memoir / religion / science / economics / politics non-partisan
Schedule:
Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct – Sunbury Press / Hellbender (& Verboten) Books
Feb/May/Aug/Nov – Ars Metaphysica / Milford House Press
Mar/Jun/Sep/Dec – Brown Posey Press / Speckled Egg
Look for invites coming your way soon! These will be conference calls.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction Sales

One of the most disappointing aspects of the eBook collapse is the lost opportunities for fiction. For some years, fiction has performed better as eBooks, supplanting mass (pulp) fiction. In the past I mentioned we published 60% fiction but 60% of our sales were nonfiction. As we shifted to a 50/50 split, you would expect sales to shift to 70/30 in favor of nonfiction. Instead, it is more like 80/20.
Yes, in recent months it seems 9 out of 10 print books we sell are nonfiction. The eBooks tend to split about 50/50. Above left is the pie chart by imprint. Sunbury Press is nonfiction as is most of Ars Metaphysica. A smaller portion of Brown Posey Press falls into this category as well. All told it is 80% plus for nonfiction.
While we have seen a strong interest in the Ars Metaphysica imprint and continued growth for the Sunbury Press imprint, Milford House and Hellbender Books have lagged. Brown Posey Press is the only good story for fiction in recent months. This brings to mind some questions:
1) Has our segmentation strategy further hurt fiction sales? In other words, were our fiction authors actually benefiting from being tagged with the Sunbury Press logo?
2) Or, is it a sorting of perceived quality? The literary fiction is doing better than it ever has with its own imprint, but the murder mysteries and horror have not.
3) Or, is it the brands themselves? Perhaps Brown Posey Press and Ars Metaphysica better identify with their target markets than Milford House or Hellbender.
4) Or, maybe we haven’t marketed the brands enough. It took quite a while for the International Thriller Writers to actually recognize the new imprints (Milford House and Hellbender Books). The others had no such restrictions.
More food for thought while chewing on your turkey! One last thing I will mention is the positive response received from independent bookstores for the Brown Posey Press email that went out to them. Maybe more direct email with the other imprints will help. And, we definitely need to leverage the Lurk character (below) for Hellbender Books a lot more!
Kachuba’s “Dark Entry” debuts at #1 for Hellbender Books for August

Kachuba’s “Dark Entry” debuts at #1 for Hellbender Books for August

HELLBENDER BOOKS – Bestsellers for August 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW Dark Entry John Kachuba Supernatural Thriller
2 1 The Keeper of the Crows Kyle Alexander Romines Supernatural Thriller
3 The Devil’s Influence Koscienski & Pisano Dark Fantasy
4 The Lurking Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
5 The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
Hawley’s “The Ripper’s Hellbroth” slashes to #1 at Hellbender Books for June

Hawley’s “The Ripper’s Hellbroth” slashes to #1 at Hellbender Books for June

HELLBENDER BOOKS – Bestsellers for June 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 The Ripper’s Hellbroth Michael Hawley Supernatural Thriller
2 NEW Dead Kill 3 – The Ridge of War Tom Malafarina Supernatural Thriller
3 NEW From the Dark Tom Malafarina Supernatural Thriller
4 2 The Keeper of the Crows Kyle Alexander Romines Supernatural Thriller
5 The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
6 4 Southside Sinners Keith Rommel Crime Thriller
7 The Cursed Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
8 Dead Kill 2 – The Ridge of Change Tom Malafarina Supernatural Thriller
9 Dead Kill 1 – The Ridge of Death Tom Malafarina Supernatural Thriller
10 The Lurking Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
Michael Hawley’s “The Ripper’s Hellbroth” is #1 at Hellbender Books for October

Michael Hawley’s “The Ripper’s Hellbroth” is #1 at Hellbender Books for October

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. —  Sunbury Press has released the bestsellers list for October for its horror/thriller imprint, HELLBENDER BOOKS. Michael Hawley’s supernatural thriller The Ripper’s Hellbroth was the bestseller for the month. Kyle Alexander Romine’s supernatural thriller The Keeper of the Crows was second. Keith Rommel’s psychological thrillers filled out the remainder of the list.

HELLBENDER BOOKS – Bestsellers for October, 2017 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW The Ripper’s Hellbroth Michael Hawley Supernatural Thriller
2 1 The Keeper of the Crows Kyle Alexander Romines Supernatural Thriller
3 The Silent Woman Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
4 You Killed My Brother Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
5 3 The Sinful Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller

Hawley was buoyed by author appearances and activities. Romines was helped by strong ebook sales. Rommel performed well with ebook sales due to his movie deals.

Kyle Alexander Romines’ “The Keeper of the Crows” is #1 at Hellbender Books for September

Kyle Alexander Romines’ “The Keeper of the Crows” is #1 at Hellbender Books for September

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. —  Sunbury Press has released the bestsellers list for September for its horror/thriller imprint, HELLBENDER BOOKS. Kyle Alexander Romine’s supernatural thriller The Keeper of the Crows was the bestseller for the month. Keith Rommel’s psychological thriller The Cursed Man was second.

HELLBENDER BOOKS – Bestsellers for September, 2017 (by Revenue)
Rank Title Author Category
1 The Keeper of the Crows Kyle Alexander Romines Supernatural Thriller
2 The Cursed Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
3 The Sinful Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
4 The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
5 The Lurking Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller

Romines was buoyed by strong ebook sales and author activities. Three of Rommel’s Thanatology Series books placed in the top five, including The Cursed Man, The Sinful Man, and The Lurking Man. His supernatural thriller The Devil Tree, recalling a real-life serial killer from Florida in the 1970s, also made the list.

 

 

Announcing our new imprints …

I’ve made a career of implementing change in the IT world. For years, I’ve been the guy who comes in and leads large implementations to transform organizations. I’ve been the guy a lot of people groan about because I have been a harbinger of change — often difficult. Ideally, these changes work out and organizations become more efficient. I suppose I would not have survived for 35 years in IT if that were not the case.
Then comes Sunbury Press. While I am the owner, I was dreading changing anything. Everything seemed to be working well enough. Why should I disrupt what we are doing? Maybe it will screw things up!  Maybe I should just ride it out a little longer … funny how I, too, am nervous about change over my own domain — not so much when it is someone else’s!
After a lot of thought, and listening to advice from many quarters, including reviewing what other publishers in the industry have done, I have decided to go ahead and launch our new line of imprints. These will serve to better target our reader communities and hopefully develop loyalty in more of our offerings.
This decision was not easy.  We are not a large publisher from a financial perspective, and creating five additional brands could be cumbersome.  But, it is also necessary to achieve the level of success we are collectively seeking.
First, before I unveil them, know that we are still Sunbury Press, Inc. The corporate name is not changing. We are only changing the imprint or brand under which we register our books for sale. This means, depending on your category, your books will begin to have this new targeted branding. Nothing changes regarding our contracts, or from a legal perspective with the book trade.
So, here we go:
Sunbury Press — remains as our primary nonfiction imprint. Our history, self-help, science, political, biography/memoir titles will continue to be published under our traditional brand. This makes a lot of sense since it has been very successful with these categories. In fact, many bookstore buyers think of Sunbury Press as a history-oriented press.
Milford House Press — is our new general fiction line, including mysteries, historical, sports, westerns, and young adult titles. Several years ago, I was on my way to Boston and stayed over in Milford. There was a lovely classic revival mansion in the town which had been converted to the library. At the time, I thought of Milford House Press as a potential brand and had the logo in my head until just the other week, when I designed it. Some of you are already holding books with this new logo.
Hellbender Books — is our new imprint for our horror, thriller, fantasy, and science fiction titles. It has been clear for some time that segmenting these titles into a more appropriate brand would eliminate confusion. Usually, in my experience, a rising sun, as in the Sunbury Press logo, is the bane of the nasty things that dwell in the night. So, why would we want such a positive enlightened logo on our more disturbing material? I know Tom Malafarina and Keith Rommel are happier now. Hellbender came from the large salamanders found in streams in the northeast. While not creepy themselves, the name was cool. And, the logo has kind of a horned “H” thing going on. Anyway, I think it works.
Brown Posey Press — is our new imprint for our literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and arts-oriented titles. For these books, we wanted a more boutique feel — something more niche sounding. Tammi and I were watching a movie some time ago, and the actor mentioned brown posies. I actually reserved the URL that evening and have held it for quite awhile. Now it’s being put to use.  The logo includes a wood carving from the Middle Ages overlaid with two shade of brown.
Ars Metaphysica — permits us to segment our spiritual and metaphysical fiction and nonfiction. It will also be home for our paranormal titles. This imprint was cooked up last year, while talking to Susan Kiskis about a potential blog under this name. I pulled a mystical design from ancient times.
Speckled Egg Press — has been resurrected to be used for our childrens (juvenile) titles. While we had taken a hiatus from publishing them, we are looking at reintroducing a line of paperbacks under this brand. Tammi designed the logo several years ago, and it had been used on a limited number of books.
So, how will this work?  New books will be assigned to their appropriate imprint. As we release your new books, we may take that opportunity to rebrand your other titles, especially if they are in the same series. This takes time, and money, and will likely require many months to accomplish.  The goal is to complete the rebranding effort of active titles over the next 12 months.