Paul Collins is the author of over 100 books for children from picture books through to young adults. He’s probably best known for The Jelindel Chronicles and The Quentaris Chronicles.
He’s both publisher and author. He’s been self-published, turned his hand to POD, and is now an indie publisher with his own company Ford Street Publishing: http://www.fordstreetpublishing.com/
What is your role within Ford Street?
Everything rolled into one! Commissioning editor, publisher, proofreader, publicist, warehouseman, printer liaison, administrative/reception person. You name it. I do freelance out some editing and all the design work, though!
What is your typical day like?
I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time promoting Ford Street’s books. Mostly via social media, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, contacting online booksellers, etc. In order, though, take the dogs out for a run, shower, read the paper, breakfast, by which time’s it’s 9:30am and then it’s on the computer and the day really starts as per the “most job” description.
Do you get many unsolicited enquires?
I get one or two a day. Everyone gets replied to. Some of our best titles came through the unsolicited pile.
Would you consider a children’s book from further afield such as America?
I only publish Australian authors. The reason for this is that they’re here to promote their books. Authors and illustrators can go on tour here and promote their books in municipal and school libraries, and this is where a lot of our sales come from. Take this market away and it really is a struggle to make ends meet.
Are you a self-publisher? Do you charge any fees?
I’d certainly make a lot more money being a vanity press! But no, I don’t charge. I generally pay a $2000 advance against 10% royalties.
What’s the difference between Ford Street Publishing and a vanity press?
There’s no comparison. Ford Street pays its authors and illustrators, vanity press charges them.
Do you advise/or edit authors novels prior to publishing?
That’s a must. There’s always room for improvement. I think most level-headed authors know that, and some even expect it.
How many do you turn away?
Put it this way, I receive 350+ manuscripts a year, and I can only publish eight of them.
Do you have busier months than others?
The beginning of the year is usually the busiest, because that’s when I have to get serious about publishing schedules. And some people, as we know, don’t adhere to deadlines. Think of any friend who is never on time, and you’ll know what I’m saying here!
How close do you work with writers?
Pretty close. I know most of them personally now.
How many authors do you have?
I’ve published about twenty authors and illustrators. About half of them are first timers, the other half have published before.
How many books have you written personally?
Must be over 130 books and more than 140 short stories. You’re still a novice if you can count them lol.
Are they all the same genre?
I’ve written both non-fiction and fiction. The latter across all genres, but mostly fantasy and science fiction. Non-fiction includes eight books on martial arts, extreme sports, Egypt, etc.
The Jelindel Chronicles and The Quentaris Chronicles. I liked The Earthborn Wars, but they were published in the US, so most Australian readers wouldn’t know them.
Are they available on places like Amazon?
Quite a few are, although unless books are warehoused in the US, it’s hard to get them listed, unless of course it’s via POD or e-book on Kindle. On this note I have started uploading Ford Street’s books to Kindle. So far I have about seven titles. It’s a slow process because books have to be converted. Although amazon reports huge sales in their e-books, I suspect many of those are the best-sellers, not unknown authors. Interesting times ahead!
Any tips for aspiring writers?
Persistence is the key.
Explain a little about your latest book?
A question people often ask authors is “Are your characters based on people you know?” In this case, yes, Clara is based on a friend of mine. She’s one of those people who lives a charmed life. Everything comes easily to her.
She exists in her own perfect bubble where everything is beautiful and easy. Perhaps because of this, she misses out on some of the more interesting aspects of life. If you don’t take risks, your life will be easy, sure, but flat, with no ups and downs.
So I invented the character of Clara, and made her a gardener in a glasshouse – a perfect bubble where everything is perfectly controlled.
I find picture books hard to write. I’m more likely to be writing fantasy novels than picture books. And in all fantasy novels or movies (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc,) there’s a structure. Hero is reluctant to leave their cosy home, a mentor comes along and gives them a kick up the butt to get out there and get a life! So using the fantasy structure, I decided I needed a mentor to help out Clara on her own personal quest to a more interesting life, and to help her break free from her paranoia.
And so this is where the boy comes into The Glasshouse – to help guide our reluctant hero, Clara, or “free” her and help show her that life on the outside can be just as good, if not better, if you’re prepared to take a risk. Then I had to think of something for her to be growing in her glasshouse. Tomatoes were the obvious choice – it’s about the only thing I can grow at home! But last year two pumpins, a Kent and Queensland Blue, suddenly appeared. And I thought they’d be perfect for Clara to grow in her glasshouse. They’re bigger and rounder and just generally more interesting – think Cinderella and Halloween for kids.
Ford Street Publishing Pty Ltd
2 Ford Street
Clifton Hill, Vic 3068