Guest Post by Karen Sullivan
Last year Karen Sullivan decided to start her own publishing company, a very brave thing to do. You can read the guest post which Karen wrote for my blog at the beginning of her new venture:-
This lady is truly amazing and in the past year has come such a long way. I thought it would be nice if Karen could write another post about what she has achieved and what is in store for the next year. Prepare to be amazed.
Orenda Books … one year on
Karen Sullivan, Publisher
Just about a year ago, I wrote my first blog post for Sonya Alford, explaining the reasons why I’d decided to start my own independent publishing company, and outlining my expectations (dreams, really) for the future. It has been an exceptional year, full of drama and excitement, and every one of my authors has provided magical moments and experienced wonderful successes!
From Paul Hardisty appearing on the shortlist for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, and amassing over 150 five-star reviews online for The Abrupt Physics of Dying to Louise Beech bringing readers to tears and already appearing on countless ‘Books of the Year’ lists, just a couple of months after publication, my wonderful debut authors have created waves in a market that is flooded with books and great writing.
Another marvellous debut, David F. Ross achieved critical heaven with The Last Days of Disco, being hailed as the finest new Scottish voice, and compared to Irvine Welsh and John Niven (his heroes, and mine). And then there was the phenomenon that is Snowblind. Ragnar Jonasson’s debut crime thriller, set in the northernmost town of Iceland and lovingly translated by Quentin Bates, has been an international bestseller, prompting three reprints and an ongoing and welcome stream of excellent reviews! With the sequel, Nightblind, just out, it looks like the Dark Iceland series will continue to top the charts and wow readers with its wonderful amalgamation of the classic British mystery and some stunning Iceland noir!
It has been an honour to publish Gunnar Staalesen’s We Shall Inherit the Wind, translated by the inimitable Don Bartlett, and to see the wealth of serious and glowing review coverage it has received. Staalesen’s fame outside of the English language looks set to be repeated here, and at the beginning of at least three Varg Veum thrillers published by Orenda, and with a TV series in the making, this is astoundingly good news!
The incredible Kati Hiekkapelto has established herself as one of the foremost proponents of Nordic Noir, and The Defenceless, translated by David Hackston not only won Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2014, but it’s up for the Glass Key (previous winners include Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo, among others) next year, with the third of the Anna Fekete series to follow in Autumn 2016.
Each of these authors has books to look forward to next year. Claymore Straker returns in The Evolution of Fear, which finds Hardisty at his most thrilling best. The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas carries on David Ross’s heartwarming, hilarious Disco Days series, and Where Roses Never Die is, by all accounts, Staalesen’s finest EVER book. We’ve got more Ragnar Jonasson and Kati Hiekkapelto, and Louise Beech’s beautiful The Mountain in My Shoe will undoubtedly secure her place in the bestseller lists.
And there is more! Amanda Jennings’ exquisite In Her Wake has been tipped as Book of the Year already (!), and we’ve got two wonderful Detective Kubu thrillers by the South African crime-writing duo Michael Stanley: Deadly Harvest and A Death in the Family, both of which have received critical acclaim in the USA and South Africa. Ex-Met Police officer Matt Johnson brings us the nail-biting Wicked Game, and debut novelist Michael Grothaus’s Epiphany Jones will raise eyebrows, shock, entertain and move in one of the most staggering books I’ve read in some time. An important book, a timely, intelligent thriller, Jihadi: A Love Story is published in February, and Yusuf Toropov’s debut has already been called ‘Searing’ by Publishers Weekly. Watch that space! We’ve got Norwegian bestselling author Agnes Ravatn with her melancholic, dizzyingly wonderful The Bird Tribunal, translated by Rosie Hedger, and Michael J. Malone’s timely and page-turning thriller A Suitable Lie. It’s lucky 13 for Orenda next year, with even more great authors lined up for 2017, including Norwegian supremo Thomas Enger, a beautiful retelling of the Selkie legend by Su Bristow and a few more stunners that have yet to be announced.
So what has this year been like? It’s been full of joy! We are building authors at Orenda, and every little success en route has been the most satisfying and rewarding experience ever! Seeing the pure pleasure on an author’s face when he/she holds a first or a new book in their hands is just magical. Talk about mystical energy …
It’s also been nailbiting! I’ve had to learn how to promote books with zero experience, present to sales teams around the world, pitch to festival directors and the press, run a busy website, juggle cash flow, work closely with authors to make sure their books are absolutely perfect, and arrange author tours and events!
There is at present only one member of staff at Orenda, but none of this could have been possible without the help of West Camel – my second reader and editorial support team in one! – Liz Wilkins, who has worked tirelessly to create some of the most amazing blog tours ever, my husband Max, who is usually to be found buried under a pile of invoices and contracts, Mark Swan and James Nunn, who have created simply brilliant jackets, and the most exceptional group of supportive bloggers and reviewers in the entire world! We’ve also had so much help and support from non-Orenda authors, without which most of this would have been impossible. Most importantly, though, I have to thank my absolutely amazing authors. Not once has anyone ever complained about working round the clock to meet crazy deadlines, or write another guest blog, answer a Q&A, attend another event or festival, or make yet another series of changes to their books. This year of highlights has been constructed by pure enthusiasm and determination on the part of everyone associated with Orenda Books, and we take off our hats to you all!
Many, many people warned me that starting an independent publishing company would be a mistake, and a risk not worth taking. While we are only at the initial stages of what I hope will be a long and successful journey, and despite the fact that there are many hurdles ahead, with more to emerge, I wouldn’t change my decision for anything. It’s been magic! Indescribably elating. Blooming exhausting. But, more than anything, one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. To remind you, the word Orenda can be loosely translated as ‘The mystical power that drives human accomplishment’. There’s just got to be something in that …