Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Small Press 411: Coliloquy

Happy Wednesday!! Please welcome Lisa Rutherford of Coliloquy!

Bio: Lisa Rutherford is Coliloquy’s co-founder and CEO. She is delighted to be bringing her years of start-up experience “home” to her roots in writing. Previously, Lisa founded Elodie Partners and served as the President of virtual economy pioneer, Twofish (acquired by Live Gamer), and as a venture capitalist with In-Q-Tel, Vista Ventures, and Palo Alto Venture Partners. She ran her own freelance writing and marketing agency and worked in M&A at Broadview. Outside of Coliloquy, Lisa serves as an adviser to BulletTime Ventures, Boulder Digital Works, and several start-ups, as well as a mentor for the TechStars program. She was named an AlwaysON Top 25 Women to Watch in Tech. Lisa has an MBA from Stanford University, an MA from the University of Chicago, and a BA from the Penn State University Scholars Program. Lisa bought her first Sony PRS-500 in 2006 and has read over 600 ebooks across a rotation of devices. She currently carries a Kindle keyboard and swears by it for her crossword puzzle habit. Waynn never gave her a copy of Consider the Lobster, but she did download it based on his recommendation. Instead of children’s books, she’s been reading romance manuscripts and tech blogs to her baby. She missed Paul Carr and is glad Sarah lured him back.

Why does your press exist?

We believe that the eBook revolution should be about more than just electronic distribution and “enhancing” books with multimedia or social experiences. A tech-based reading infrastructure should also enable both business and artistic innovation within the book itself. Coliloquy exists to help authors write new types of stories, engage with readers in new and different ways, and open up revenue opportunities we never could have dreamed of even two years ago...all based on a cutting edge content management system.  

What’s your process of deciding to take on a project?

First and foremost, we are concerned with the quality of the story. Our editorial team reads and discusses submissions, just like any other publishing house. However, we also have a second layer of analysis: Is there something about this story or this author that makes particular sense for us to be the publisher? Usually, that means there is something fluid about the narrative structure (embedded choices, personalization, customization, live-updating, multiple readers, etc.), but we have also acquired traditional novels that are well-suited to different types of promotion models.  

What do you think is the biggest misconception surrounding small presses?

I wouldn’t call it a misconception, per se, but I hate it when small presses are confused with either scammy presses (taking advantage of authors with ridiculous fees and low quality services) or fake presses (set up by an author who wants to legitimize her self-published novel).   

What’s the biggest obstacle a small press author has to face?

Noise and distraction in the market. Until the large distributors fix their recommendations and discovery engines, it is hard for small presses to rise about the noise.  

What role does the small press fill other than being a stepping-stone to the “Big 6/5/4”?

Innovation and speed. There are so many things we can do that the big guys can’t, and we can do it much faster than they can.  

Do you think there will still be sales in print books? Or are sales more prominent in e-book?

I do believe that adult fiction will continue to move to electronic formats. But I am more skeptical of that trend in children’s publishing, only because there are so many benefits to print books that we haven’t been able to replicate with technology (the dexterity of lift-the-flap books, the awe of pop-ups, cuddle time while someone reads to you...)  

How much marketing do small presses do for their authors?

We work our asses off. :-)

 Is there much editing at a small press?

At Coliloquy, there is an enormous amount. We have amazing editors, led by industry veteran Melanie Murray Downing.  

Do you want your authors to do their own marketing?

We do not expect our authors to do their own marketing, but we have best results when the authors are engaged with our team. I have several examples of authors bringing opportunities to us through their connections, and we have always happily funded travel, expenses, etc. Anything to sell the book.  

How do your authors get noticed? What sort of marketing and publicity initiatives does your press generally offer?

From official press releases to guerrilla marketing and community engagement, and everything in between, we run the gamut of publicity initiatives to get our books sold.

In your view, does signing with a small press inhibit someone from signing with a bigger house later?

All but two of our 30 authors are also under contract with the Big 5/4/6 whatever the number is today.

Thanks so much, Lisa! 

What other questions do you have about Coliloquy? Were any of these answers surprising? Chime in! 

1 comment:

  1. The more of these that I read, the more small presses appeal to me. I'm so glad you decided to do this! It has definitely been informing.