Fiction Book Releases (Soft and Grand Openings)

Q: When will my novel be released?

A: Historically, publishers have a long lead-time from contract signing until the book is released. This is a throw-back from the days of paper manuscripts and snail-mail. Today, things move along much faster.

Sunbury Press does not deal with paper manuscripts. The entire process, from submission, contract signing, to book release is done electronically. We communicate most often through email and public posts on our website. We do this for efficiency and to free our staff to concentrate on editing and getting your books out the door. For fiction, we are also moving to a single point of contact, so you have access to the primary person in charge of your book’s publication. Internally, at Sunbury Press, we work together, but there are no review boards or long review processes to contend with. We’re a small company of professional, hardworking people committed to publishing good books.

We have over 800 fiction manuscript submissions in our queue right now, with more coming in every day. We are working as fast as we can to evaluate and get back to the authors that submit to us. The only way we can hope to better serve all those authors, is to streamline our process. And that is just what we are doing.

Once we take on your novel and the contract has been signed, your book will be released within three months, sometimes even faster depending on the quality of your manuscript and the workload in our queue.

This quick pace might not allow you the time to do all the set up necessary to properly release your book to the world. If you are a new author, you’ll want to setup a new website, Facebook page, get a list of family and friends to help you, etc. So, we recommend that no matter the date that your book is available for purchase, you choose your own Book Announcement date far enough into the future that you have time to prepare. You can think of this as a ‘Soft Opening,’ and ‘Grand Opening’ model. For the Soft Opening, your book is out there selling and available for more reviews. For the Grand Opening, you announce your book with parties, emails, and whatever else you are planning. This lead time also allows you to purchase books (at discount) and have them on hand for your Book Announcement party(s) to sign and/or giveaway.

As an example, your book might be released on April 1st. But you schedule your Book Announcement or Grand Opening on June first. You will have time to work with local bookstores and establishments to plan your party(s), order and get books, make sure you have your website and other pages up and running and your author pages on Amazon and Goodreads ready. In this way, you can maximize the effectiveness of your Book Announcement.

Authors spend a good amount of time slaving over the words, trying to create the best story. But after it’s complete, they are anxious to get it out to the world. We understand! Many of us at Sunbury are also authors. We believe this model will serve authors wants and needs but still give time to give your book the splash you hope for.

One final note, Sunbury Press loves a big splash, just like any publisher. But we prefer the long, slow burn to the quick flash and then burn out. So, plan your big Grand Opening, but also make your plans staggered throughout the year to keep interest flowing and growing your readership. And then write another book! 😉

-Chris Fenwick

#bookrelease #bookannouncement #grandopening #longslowburn #welovebooks

FAQs

We’ve signed a number of new authors in recent months. We also continue to receive many of the same questions from a lot of you. I thought it best to summarize these into an FAQ for this month. Here we go!
Q. When will we see the production queue report? It’s been many months since you included it in this newsletter.
A. I know we promised to provide an updated version of this but we just aren’t ready. We’ve been too busy releasing and selling books. We will get to this soon.
Q. How do I order books at the author discount?
A. Go to our bookstore at www.sunburypress.com. Find the books you want to order and use coupon code A50 when you check out. This code is for authors only and triggers your discount. Please note that your order total must be at least $100 in order to qualify for free shipping.
Q. When will I get my author copies?
A. We do not automatically send you your author copies. Many authors wait until their first book order and have them added to it. In that case, include a note with your order. If you just want your free copies, send a note to orders@sunburypress.com. Identify yourself, your book title, the number of copies, and the shipping address.
Q. When will I get my royalty statement?
A. We send statements four times a year on January 31, April 30, July 31, and October 31.
Q. I have not received a royalty check. When can I expect one?
A. When your total royalties hit $50 or more, you will receive a check in the mail. These checks are issued fifteen days after the royalty reports — four times a year.
Q. It’s Wednesday and I need books for a signing on Saturday. Can I get books?
A. Please allow up to three weeks lead time to be sure to get your books in plenty of time. Our print orders usually are prioritized lower than consumer orders so we are at the mercy of the capacity of our printer partners. Please try to plan ahead, if possible.
Q. I am working on a new manuscript. Must I go through your submissions process like I did the first time?
A. The short answer is “no.” If a new fiction concept, send to Chris Fenwick at cfenwick@sunburypress.com. If nonfiction, send to me at lknorr@sunburypress.com. Please include a summary of the book in your email and your estimated completion date. Also note which number it is in the series, if applicable.
Q. I’ve been waiting quite a while for you to start my book. Why the delay?
A. We are working diligently to catch up on our backlog all the while signing new authors. We are making significant progress in recent months. Bear in mind we are also always re-prioritizing our backlog based on category and market conditions. If you think your manuscript has been waiting too long, reach out and find out why.
Q. I’m selling too many books and my royalty checks are too large!
A. Yeah, right! Maybe you should move to Baltimore and run for mayor!

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.

Marketing activities for 2019

Last month I covered our plans for imprint-specific author meetings and marketing activities. We’d like to pull together each imprint’s authors about twice a year. I had initially thought we could do this quarterly, but we just can’t handle that many meetings! Rather than two meetings per month, we will be focusing on one imprint per month.
So, we have the Hellbender Books meeting scheduled for next week and I am really looking forward to helping the imprint get some traction. This being a smaller group, it also provides a model we can experiment with regarding these meetings and what is possible. I will report back on what we discussed and decided.
In the meantime, we are currently negotiating increasing our Cision contract to include global media contacts — not just US. Many of our books are selling in Europe, Australia, and other far-flung places. I know our Amsterdam book would perform better if the Dutch and British media were aware of it. The key question is whether or not we will see sales growth in these places due to more media outreach. We also need to be able to actually use the tool and make the effort. In other words, paying for a tool you don’t use is wasted money! I will let you know where we land.
In recent weeks we are seeing an uptick in collaboration among authors. This is great! Specifically, the most helpful thing you can do is review each other’s books. You can post your review online. If it is in a longer form, we can always post it as a blog entry. Ideally, we can find some snippets for the book’s product page or cover. There is also the side benefit of being able to mention your own work, though we recommend this is done subtly.
If you purchase the other author’s book from Amazon, you will be able to enter a review as a verified purchase. This seems to carry a little more weight than unverified reviews. You can also purchase the books from the Sunbury Press store and use your author (A50) discount — yes — you can buy any of our books at your discount. So, why not throw another author’s book on your next order and do your colleague a favor?
Last, but not least, contests are top of mind as we enter the new year. I personally was nominated by SABR for the Larry Ritter Award regarding my recent baseball biography of Eddie Plank. I was surprised by the nomination and immediately complied with their request for copies. I have no idea who nominated the book — someone at SABR — but I am honored to even have the chance. (I am nearly 100% sure I will not win!) Many of you have asked about contests over the years. You are always welcome to enter contests you think you have a chance to win. We will support you if the contest requires the publisher to enter. We try to avoid contests that have fees. Usually these are set up to be money makers for the organizers and have little marketing value. It seems the best contests — the most meaningful — only require copies to be sent. Of course, from time to time, we, as publisher, nominate your books for awards. You might not always know this.
This year, I’d like to set up something different — something more formal and with better tracking. We will be discussing this in our imprint meetings, but there is no reason to wait until then. Here is what I am asking — if you are aware of a contest that might be of benefit to you or one of our other authors, please send me the link. We will be developing a master list of contests and the schedule associated with them. Rather than an ad hoc activity, we will incorporate this into our planning.
“A Short Season” by David Bohner and Jake Gronsky wins the Sunny Awards for Sunbury Press Bestseller in 2018 and Sunbury Press Book of the Year

“A Short Season” by David Bohner and Jake Gronsky wins the Sunny Awards for Sunbury Press Bestseller in 2018 and Sunbury Press Book of the Year

Gronksy and Bohner’s “A Short Season” about the short life of Josiah Viera was the 2018 bestseller for Sunbury Press, an imprint of Sunbury Press, Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. It was also selected the Book of the Year at Sunbury Press, Inc.

About the Book:

No parent is ever ready for a terminal diagnosis of their child.  No mother should see the day where turning off your son’s ventilator is the only option to end his pain.  And no grandfather should see the day when your grandchild is scheduled to die in his mother’s arms.  But on September 10, 2005, this was the harsh reality facing our family, and this was the day we’d never forget.

I am no pastor; nor a preacher. I am no miracle worker, nor a missionary. I am a struggling husband, a decent father, a survivor of brutal child abuse, and from the miraculous survival and extraordinary life of a Progeria child, I am a believer saved by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ.

In A Short Season: Faith, Family, and a Boy’s Love for Baseball, Dave Bohner, the story’s narrator and Grandfather to Josiah, and Jake Gronsky, former professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals organization, tell the powerful story of Josiah Viera’s fight for life that not only sparked a family’s journey towards healing but inspired a generation of baseball players from one of the most historic organizations in Major League Baseball.

A Short Season is a story of hope; a story of acceptance; and a story of faith based on the idea that sometimes a person’s only journey to peace is first trekked through pain. A Short Season is a family’s journey through sorrow and joy, it is a baseball team’s inspiration, and it is the story of one exceptional child’s ray of hope that changed all of their lives forever.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:

“Josiah has a passion for baseball that transcends the sport. His story has inspired millions, and this book will impact everyone who reads it.” – Ben Houser, Senior Producer ESPN E:60

by G. David Bohner & Jake Gronsky
SUNBURY PRESS
Trade Paperback – 6 x 9 x 1
9781620060223
240 Pages with b&w photos
SPORTS & RECREATION / Baseball
FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Children with Special Needs
MEDICAL / Diseases / Genetic

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.

Sunbury Press book production goes global

While we have had the ability to print books overseas, we have been reluctant to do so for many years. We have always taken pride in putting “Made in the USA” on our books. Most of you might recall the recent controversy about doing that — we had cover designs rejected for proudly noting the country of origin. We since adjusted the slogan to say “Designed in the USA” despite the fact every book was still printed here.
Our US distribution model had books printed and shipped from locations close to the end customer. We had contracted with three print operations in each time zone in the US except Mountain. Except for some Amazon orders and our eBooks, all other foreign orders had to be exported. This has now changed.
We were very pleased with a recent test of our print/ship capabilities in the UK and Australia. Karim El Koussa was able to get his new release to Beirut via our UK printer much quicker and cheaper than shipping from the USA. Martine Kalaw had a number of overseas orders that were printed in either the UK (for Europe) or Australia. All worked very well. Captain Hooter had a number of his books about Amsterdam “Coffee Shops” printed in the UK and shipped to the Netherlands.
Going into 2019, we now have print/ship operations overseas through our distribution partners that did not exist before. This greatly increases the potential reach of your books — and we need to think about possible target markets overseas (at least in English-speaking countries.) Here’s the updated list of countries we print and ship from:
USA – Pennsylvania
USA – South Carolina
USA – Tennessee
USA – California
UK (for UK & Europe)
Spain
Germany
France
Italy
Australia (for Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands)
India (coming in 2019)
One of the most amazing things I noticed is the reduced shipping cost for UPS in the UK versus in the USA (after the currency conversion). I am not exactly sure why — but I’m not complaining!
As we continue to market your books, we will expand our thinking to include these opportunities. It might finally be time for us to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair (Buchmesse) in person. Germany anyone?
Diane McCormick’s “Well-behaved Taverns Seldom Make History” reigns as the Sunbury Press bestseller for November

Diane McCormick’s “Well-behaved Taverns Seldom Make History” reigns as the Sunbury Press bestseller for November

SUNBURY PRESS – Bestsellers for November 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 3 Well-behaved Taverns Seldom Make History Diane McCormick History
2 13 A Super Steelers Journey Merrill Shaffer Football
3 NEW Beagle Tales Christmas Bob Ford Hunting
4 12 Chicken Bone Beach Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks History
5 6 Gettysburg Eddie Lawrence Knorr Baseball
6 5 The Marines’ Lost Squadron: The Odyssey of VMF-422 Mark Carlson Aviation History
7 1 Illegal Among Us Marktine Kalaw Immigration Memoir
8 NEW The 1932 Yankees Ronald Mayer Baseball
9 14 Call Sign Dracula Joe Fair Military Memoir
10 NEW Hear the Whistle Blowing John Lindermuth Railroads
11 20 Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, 2nd Ed. Mike Campbell History
12 18 The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment Mark Pendergrast Legal History
13 2 Captain Hooter’s Guide to Amsterdam Coffeeshops Captain Hooter Travel
14 15 Freemasons at Gettysburg Sheldon Munn History
15 NEW Mosquitoes and Tortoises Donald Dewey Memoir
16 Tories, Terror, and Tea John L Moore History
17 9 Beagle Tales 8 Bob Ford Hunting
18 19 A Short Season Jake Gronsky & David Bohner Sports Memoir
19 The Boys from Brookdale John L Moore Biography
20 25 Bows, Bullets, & Bears John L Moore History
21 Prohibition’s Prince Guy Graybill Biography
22 24 Jonathan’s Rainbow E J Benner Medical Memoir
23 Warriors, Wampum, and Wolves John L Moore History
24 Digging Dusky Diamonds John Lindermuth History
25 German Prisoners of War at Camp Cooke, California Jeffrey Geiger History
26 27 Forts, Forests, and Flintlocks John L Moore History
27 29 Settlers, Soldiers, and Scalps John L Moore History
28 Prince and the Paupers Guy Graybill Biography
29 Dreams of My Comrades Scott Zuckerman Biography
30 28 Cannons, Cattle, and Campfires John L Moore History

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!

Top ten ways to sell more books

I thought I would share with you the summary of my presentation regarding selling more books. I’ll spare you all of the introductory material and get right to the point! Of course, we are already doing most if not all of these things for you — or have done them for you in the past.
  1. Reviews, reviews, reviews
  2. Distribution that allows returns and is discounted as expected
  3. Metadata / product information
  4. Direct email appeal to independent bookstores
  5. Publicity campaigns to major media
  6. Flash promotions aligned with non-fiction hooks, holidays, current events, etc.
  7. Write series
  8. Periodically refresh your backlist
  9. Sell in non-bookstore outlets / situations
  10. Build an email list to your readers
We are in an era which is dominated by Amazon with over half of all sales. Our mix is less reliant on Amazon, but Amazon reviews are most important. As mentioned previously, books with at least 1 review have sales 50% higher on average than books with no reviews. Also note, a 5-star average does not help! This is seen as suspect. It is actually good to have a few negative or critical reviews in the mix — as long as your average is better than 3.5 — 4+ preferred.
Distribution has the second biggest impact at Sunbury Press. This makes sense since it opens more markets. The key here is the return flag — while it might increase sales, it might also mean a portion of the sales might come back. Thus the additional sales might not be profitable.
Publicity campaigns are not #1! They are best suited for nonfiction books / authors. Fiction publicity is less effective. Note that publicity is a crap-shoot — one fantastic mention can make all the difference but is unlikely. You can spend a lot of money chasing it and receive little return.
I’ve provided a link to a number of other ideas that are less impactful (in our experience).