Publishing professional Kimberly Walsh and freelance writer Colleen McKie have formed Fierce Ink Press, a new YA publishing co-operative and author collective for Atlantic Canadian writers, which they hope will bridge the gap between traditional publishing houses and self-publishing.
“For us it’s about finding that middle ground,” Walsh says. “We still have a strict submission policy, but … it’s more along the lines of us project-managing for the author who isn’t going with a traditional publisher.”
Walsh (a freelance communications strategist and former associate producer at CBC Books) and McKie (a freelance writer, development editor, and YA book blogger at Lavender Lines) will outsource services, including copy editing, proofreading, and cover design (some substantive editing and marketing assistance will be taken care of in-house). When selecting freelancers to work on specific titles, Walsh says they’ll take into consideration genre, writing, and editing styles.
The collective plans to sign only YA authors who are active on social media and who agree to promote the work of other Fierce Ink authors. “That’s not to say that the author needs to be on every single platform out there, we just need to know the author is committed to learning and investing the time in social media to do a bit of self-promotion and to connect with readers,” Walsh says. “I think that’s really crucial to success right now in this market.”
Fierce Ink will retain English-language distribution rights and handle printing. Digital distribution will be handled through Smashwords, which sells through Kobo, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Diesel. Unlike many self-publishing services, Fierce Ink doesn’t ask authors to pay any money up front. Instead, the company covers the full cost of production with the expectation that the author’s initial earnings will go toward repayment.
Walsh says they’ve opted to focus on YA because “it’s a genre that we love,” and adds that they’ve limited their scope to East Coast authors to keep the workload manageable. Though Walsh won’t yet confirm the authors who have signed on, she says the company will release four fiction titles in its first year, with each novel released digitally and as a limited-edition hardcover, bundled with a code for a free ebook edition and an autographed bookplate.
In September, the collective will test the waters by releasing the first title in a line of short, digital-only, creative non-fiction called Fierce Shorts. For this monthly series, Walsh says they’ve approached a number of well-known authors to recount a difficult experience from their teen years. Inspired by Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign for bullied queer youth, Fierce Shorts will “give back and pay it forward,” Walsh says, donating 20 per cent of royalties to a youth-oriented non-profit organization of the author’s choice. The author will receive 60 per cent of royalties.