AHWA chats with Don D'Auria
[Marty] Hi Don
[GuestSpeaker] Hey Marty, how's it going?
[Marty] Bit tired... but glad to be home
[Marty] How're you?
[GuestSpeaker] Thanks again for the help the other day. I'm pretty new to this whole chat thing.
[GuestSpeaker] Anything I need to know?
[Marty] That's okay. I'm new to this too
[Marty] Just be ready for lots of questions fired all at once
[Marty] Hi Steve
[GuestSpeaker] Do I pick and choose the questions, or do you moderate?
[SteveC] Hi Marty, Hi Don.
[Marty] In our chat with Ellen Datlow, she put 'go ahead' at the end of her answers to let us know she was ready for a new question. That seemed to work pretty well, if you'd like to try that.
[GuestSpeaker] Hiya Steve
[Marty] Answer them as they come.
[GuestSpeaker] OK, sounds good to me.
[Marty] If it gets too chaotic, I will ask people to hold off until you have caught up
[SteveC] It's a real treat to have you here Don, I'm a big fan of the Leisure range.
[GuestSpeaker] Thanks, Steve. It's an honor to be invited.
[GuestSpeaker] What authors do you guys like in particular?
[Marty] I know a number of people who said they would be joining us but they all appear to be running late...
[Marty] I'm a fan of Tim Lebbon
[SteveC] Well I started with Laymon in the early nineties, after that everything I can get my hands on!
[Marty] and have just brought a copy of Robert Devereaux's collection
[GuestSpeaker] We'll keep the Laymon books coming. Hopefully we'll get to do them all.
[Marty] yeah, and Laymon
[Marty] Do you have more to come, then?
[GuestSpeaker] Devereaux is one hell of a guy. Yeah, we have more Laymon to come. Our next one to come out is Cuts.
[SteveC] Regarding distribution how does Australia rate with other countries?
[GuestSpeaker] Steve, it depends. On some books we don't have Australian rights, so on those we don't sell any copies at all. Otherwise, if we do have Australian rights, it's not a hug percentage, but it's definitely significant.
[GuestSpeaker] That's "huge" not hug.
[SteveC] So I take it there's no hidden Laymon novel hiding in your cellar then!
[GuestSpeaker] In the ...Cellar? Actually, we just agreed to publish the Wilds. That's been a pretty hard to find book for a long time.
[GuestSpeaker] I just realized I should be typing "go ahead." Sorry about that. Go ahead.
[Marty] Laymon was a pretty prolific writer
[GuestSpeaker] Thank god! I'm so grateful that he wrote as many novels as he did, so we have plenty of his books to enjoy. Go ahead.
[SteveC] Oh man, I've been wanting to read THE WILDS for ages, as scarce as hen's teeth.
[SteveC] Any plans for THE LAWMEN too?
[Marty] Is horror still selling well on the global stage? Improving or has the genre plateaux?
[GuestSpeaker] Yeah, we get emails and phone calls all the time, asking for the Wilds. That's why we figured we'd better do it! No plans for the Lawmen yet.
[GuestSpeaker] Oh yeah, horror is still selling well. I can't complain. Think of all the horror novels that are on the bestseller lists. Go ahead.
[SteveC] I've recently formed my own publishing company here in Tasmania called Tasmaniac Publications - are there any guidelines you stuck with when starting Leisure?
[GuestSpeaker] Hi, ck. How are you doing?
[Marty] Hiya Craig
[ckbezant] Hi Don. Just waking up - it's 8am here in Perth. And my daughter's clinging to me so I might be coming and going, sorry.
[GuestSpeaker] Hey, Steve, good luck. That's very cool. Honestly, my biggest guideline when I started with Leisure was to publish books I enjoy. I figured if I like them, other fans might like them too. It's been a good rule of thumb so far. Go ahead.
[ckbezant] Hi Marty
[GuestSpeaker] I can't imagine anyone wanting to wake up at eight in the morning to talk to me. But I'm glad to see you here. Go ahead.
[ckbezant] Don, is there a percentage of novels you publish that comes from overseas (ie. us Aussies), or is it merely on the basis of the story?
[ckbezant] And then the same question for emerging writers (or do you prefer established)?
[GuestSpeaker] Craig, there's no firm percentage. It really does depend on the story and the author. If I like a book, that's the most important thing. Go ahead.
[Marty] and on that theme, do you have a target number of novels you aim to publish each year or again, is that dependant on what comes across your desk?
[GuestSpeaker] Craig, with new authors I do actually try to keep at least one or two slots a year open for them. I think it's important to keep new writers coming into the market. I think this coming year we have even more new authors. Go ahead.
[SteveC] And regarding your Leisure book club, any plans to extend the subscription to Australia (wink, wink).
[GuestSpeaker] Marty. we publish two horror titles every month, so that's 24 per year. Go ahead.
[GuestSpeaker] Steve, I think the biggest issue with extending the book club to Australia is delivery times. That and postage rates. After a while it just isn't too much of an incentive for club members. But we are working on it. Hey, years ago even Canada wasn't a
[GuestSpeaker] allowed into the club. (I don't know why that got cut off.) Go ahead.
[GuestSpeaker] Can I throw a question out into the room?
[SteveC] One of the things I like about the Leisure range is that you can try out new authors and not break the bank.
[Marty] Morning Adam
[GuestSpeaker] Steve, it definitely helps that we're a mass market house. It's a lot harder to introduce new authors in hardcover. Go ahead.
[anw] Hi, very sorry I'm late. I'll explain later Marty
[GuestSpeaker] To the room, is there anything you'd like to see Leisure doing differently?
[GuestSpeaker] 'Morning, Adam.
[SteveC] Apart from the book club coming here! haha
[anw] Yeah, that's what I want. The book clubs
[GuestSpeaker] Hey, if I had my way, the book club would be open to everyone in the world!
[SteveC] The problem with most of the bookshops over here is that they don't carry a lot of horror titles
[ckbezant] Have you considered accepting simply queries via email or would you rather get a larger portion (synopsis, sample chapters) via post? I don't mind postage, but sometimes it adds up.
[GuestSpeaker] I know the feeling. A lot of the stores over here have removed their horror sections.
[ckbezant] Do you ever push horror novels under a different title then or 'stay true'?
[Marty] I like how Leisure will accept manuscripts from new writers with/without an agent and the fact you keep a couple of positions open each year for new writers. I think that's important for the growth of the genre
[Marty] (that was in reply to your question, Don)
[SteveC] Yeh, and what titles they do stock seem to filter into the general fiction.
[ckbezant] Yes, I agree with Marty
[GuestSpeaker] Craig, that's a question I hear a lot. The reason we try to get as many queries via regular mail as possible is so they don't get lost. Honest, a lot of them do disappear into cyberspace. But realistically, if someone queries me via email, I'll respond
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, I've found that a lot of times it's harder for a new writer to find an agent than to get the ms to me in the first place. So I'd say almost half of our authors are unagented.
[ckbezant] Thanks Don. I'll probably send sample chapters too because I feel that's sometimes a step a lot of publishers won't even let you get to.
[ckbezant] Via post I mean
[GuestSpeaker] Craig, the sample chapters are very important. That's how I can see how good a writer you are!
[SteveC] Ever thought of going into the lettered edition game? Bloodletting et all seem to have huge followings.
[Marty] Hmm, that's interesting. Why do so many other publishing houses only take ms from agents? Is it due to sheer volume of subs?
[anw] I have a couple of people who couldn't get in to the chat again. I'll see if I can get their questions through email and post them.
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, I used to work at Bantam and they wouldn't look at anything unagented. The basic idea was, it cut down on submissions.
[GuestSpeaker] Steve, nope, I'll leave the signed limited edition stuff to the small presses. They do an excellent job of it.
[Marty] How many subs would you get a week/month? It must be quite a few...
[GuestSpeaker] We're geared to getting our books into the hands of large numbers of people.
[SteveC] And a great job you do too!
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, very roughly five or ten a day. Do 25 or 50 per week.
[GuestSpeaker] Thanks, Steve, but it's the writers who do the real work.
[anw] We asked Ellen this same question, but have you considered writing yourself. Fiction or writing how-to etc
[GuestSpeaker] I tried writing once in grad school, but I'm a good enough editor to know I'm a lousy writer. I leave that to people who know what they're doing.
[GuestSpeaker] Hi Natalie.
[Marty] Are you allowed to name favourites? Who are your fave authors?
[nataliejep] sorry I'm late!
[Marty] Welcome Natalie
[ckbezant] Hi Natalie
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, well, I like all of our authors, obviously. I've made no secret of the fact I'm a big Laymon fan. I also love Lovecraft, though we don't publish him.
[ckbezant] Don, were you responsible for 'finding' Simon Clark? I'm only now getting into his novels but I do like them.
[SteveC] What was the deal with Laymon having more of a following in the uk & aus with the leisure p/b's at the beginning, over the US?
[GuestSpeaker] Craig, I think at most I was responsible for introducing Simon to the US and maybe a broader market than he already had.
[GuestSpeaker] Steve, when Leisure started with Dick's books, he was almost unknown here in the States. None of his books were in print in paperback when we started. Dick was very open in his dislike of US publishers.
[ckbezant] Ah. Well done. Is it hard pushing someone into the US? Would it be even harder pushing someone from Australia into the UK then into the US?
[GuestSpeaker] Let's face it, the UK and Australia were just ahead of everybody else when it comes to Laymon!
[GuestSpeaker] Craig, it is hard to launch someone in the States, but it's probably hard everywhere. There's just so much competition. It might be slightly harder to launch someone from Australia (but only slightly.)
[SteveC] This Rage of Echoes by Simon Clark is on order as we speak!
[anw] Would you be open to Australian settings?
[GuestSpeaker] Way to go, Steve!
[GuestSpeaker] Adam, sure, I'm open to Australian settings. We've done a couple of books set in Australia already, though a few of them have been thrillers, not horror.
[ckbezant] If someone from Australia is signed to Leisure Books, do they then come to UK to promote the novel, tours, etc?
[ckbezant] Or is it strictly through net orders, etc?
[GuestSpeaker] Craig, it all depends on the author. Some don't go anywhere to promote the books. (Like Laymon.) Of course, we'd love the authors to do as much promotion as possible, especially in the US. Tara Moss came to the US for us.
[nataliejep] Would an author's willingness to promote their book be a factor in deciding to sign them on if you were unsure about if you wanted to take on their novel or not?
[SteveC] Would the AHWA be able to set up a Leisure Horror club subscription? Marty? Maybe buying as a group would ease the postage costs?
[Marty] In regards to submissions, how important is the cover letter and synopsis for you?
[GuestSpeaker] Natalie, the general promote-ability of an author would be a factor, but not a huge one. More important to me is the quality of the book.
[Marty] then get the books posted across in one group rather than individually? Say every few months? Something like that?
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, good question. The cover letter and synopsis set the stage for me. They help determine whether I'll read the sample chapters. But the writing is the most important part.
[SteveC] Marty - sounds good.
[anw] Do you have any current needs or anything that you would like to see more or less of at the moment?
[GuestSpeaker] Adam, to be honest, not really. I always hate to say, "Send me more of this," just because I'll get 100 things just like it. I think the book should be what the author wants to write, not what I want to read.
[anw] Yeah, I can understand your reasons for that
[Marty] What is your view on the explicitness of horror today?
[GuestSpeaker] I always feel like I can tell if an author is writing something just because he or she thinks it's what's "hot" right now.
[SteveC] Any recommended/ essential reading coming up from Leisure? and don't cheat by saying everything!
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, I have no problem with explicitness, as long as it isn't there for its own sake.
[ckbezant] For your replies to submissions, do we include IRC's? Some US publishers don't except these, for some reason. Many Australia Post agents here don't have other countries' stamps - again, for some unexplained reason.
[GuestSpeaker] Steve, that's a toughy. I think everyone should read Nate Kenyon's Bloodstone. And people might not know Gord Rollo yet, but they should.
[SteveC] Check out Leisure's Ed lee range for explicit!
[SteveC] Bloodstone, I'll check it out - thanks.
[GuestSpeaker] Craig, yes, try to include IRC's if possible. We do accept them and it makes things easier.
[GuestSpeaker] Yeah, you can't get much more explicit than Ed Lee. Or JF Gonzalez' Survivor!
[Marty] Yup, I've read City Infernal by Lee and that was, er, quite something...
[nataliejep] Sorry if you answered this earlier, but how many submissions would you get per week?
[GuestSpeaker] Hi Natalie, no problem. I'd say roughly five or ten a day or 25 or fifty a week.
[anw] How long does Dorchester keep books in print. When I'm browsing through I see a lot that I would like that are out-of-stock. Do they get reprinted from time to time.
[GuestSpeaker] And if you consider we publish 24 books per year, that gives you an idea.
[Marty] Don, you said earlier than Robert Devereaux was one hell of a guy - did you mean his writing or just him in general?
[Marty] I haven't read any of his work but am looking forward to the Caliban collection I recently purchased.
[GuestSpeaker] Adam, we reprint all the time. The Keenes, Laymons, Lees and Ketchums are all in multiple printings. It all depends on how books are selling. If we see a demand for a tile, we love to reprint. It doesn't help anyone if the book isn't available.
[ckbezant] Hi Mark
[SteveC] Are there any changes within the Leisure group that you'd like to see Don?
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, both. He's an incredible writer, and also a really fun guy to sit and talk to. He's a great combination of vast intelligence and a wicked sense of fun.
[GuestSpeaker] Steve, I'd like to see us able to publish three books per month instead of two. It would make my job so much easier. I hate having to reject so many excellent books.
[GuestSpeaker] Also, I'd love to see them hire me an assistant.
[SteveC] More time for golf...i see!
[anw] Yes, aren't you also in charge of the western books
[GuestSpeaker] Adam, yeah, I do the westerns and thrillers. Five books per month. No golf for me.
[Marty] If you come across a book that is good but you just don't have room for it in your publishing schedule, what do you do? Do you just reject it?
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, that's a painful question. If something is really, really great, I buy it even if I have no room for it. But for every new author I buy I have to cut an existing one.
[SteveC] Ever though of a 'Down Under' series?
[GuestSpeaker] We have that same 24 titles per year, every year.
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, yeah, tell me about it.
[Marty] do you get many spiteful letters from upset writers?
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, no, to tell the truth, I haven't gotten any that I can remember. Maybe they all keep it to themselves and harbour murderous resentment.
[Marty] a lot of dartboards out there with your picture on it
[GuestSpeaker] There's a new market for you, Marty!
[GuestSpeaker] I can be the most hated man in the horror community!
[SteveC] Ok, signing off. Don it's been a real pleasure talking to you, thanks again for being here and answering all the questions. Take care, Steve.
[GuestSpeaker] Bye, Steve, thanks for coming by. It's been a pleasure.
[GuestSpeaker] I'm driving people out of the room!
[anw] Is Dorchester still expanding. Are books selling in greater numbers, decreasing or keeping steady?
[GuestSpeaker] Adam, we are looking for new ways to expand. We're getting into new genres. As for horror, I'd say it's holding pretty steady.
[nataliejep] Do you consider cross-genre? I find a lot of publishers like stories to fit under a label.
[GuestSpeaker] Natalie, cross-genre is hard. You have to remember, our major accounts, like the chains, buy according to genres. They have different buyers for different genres. They don't know how to handle stuff that doesn't fit into a genre.
[Marty] Don, I hope we're not holding you up?
[GuestSpeaker] Not at all. As long as people have questions.
[nataliejep] Could you just put the book into both areas on the bookshelves? :-)
[nataliejep] Double your sales
[GuestSpeaker] Natalie, but which buyer at the chain would buy it? They have one guy who buys for horror and a different one for, say, sci-fi. Only one of them can buy it and put it in his or her section.
[Marty] Who determines what genre label to give the book?
[GuestSpeaker] Marty, we can decide, but if we have a set horror line, we need to keep the same number of books in that line every month. Basically, the accounts will put a book wherever we tell them to.
[GuestSpeaker] Any last questions? I hate to rush anyone, but my wife is after me to come to dinner.
[Marty] yeah, and my wife is hounding me to finish building our front fence...
[nataliejep] Thank you very much for your advice and insight!
[Marty] Thanks Don, we appreciate you taking time out to chat with us
[GuestSpeaker] My pleasure. Really. I'm so grateful you guys asked me to come here.
[ckbezant] Thanks Don. It's been great.
[anw] Yes, thank you. Sorry for missing the beginning.
[GuestSpeaker] Hey, you'll just have to ask me back. It's been great.
[ckbezant] I'll start hitting your slush pile soon!
[anw] I hope you enjoyed it. I would have liked more people but I still think it went OK
[Marty] nothing too chaotic
[markmca] I'm a bloody Idiot... I forgot about Daylight Savings!
[GuestSpeaker] I'll keep an eye on the slush pile for you. I hope to read something from all of you soon. So long for now!
[ckbezant] Talk to you all next time
[nataliejep] Bye all, see you here next time!