So, despite all the predictions, Fahrenheit is a year old and thriving, and like most anniversaries it’s made us think a bit about where we are, where we’re going and how we fit in.
It’s been a rocky old year in many ways – it’s fair to say as we celebrate our first birthday that if nothing else, we definitely know who our real friends are now.
That said, it’s also been one of the most satisfying years to live through.
One of my most vivid memories was the exact moment when I realised I had fallen hopelessly in love with Fahrenheit. I was sitting in a bar pitching to an author, giving her the full ‘sign with us and I’ll publish your brains out’ schtick when I had a moment of absolutely clarity and realised that every single thing I was saying was true. That I wasn’t just trying to seduce a signature out of her but that I truly believed that the publishing house we were building was the coolest publishing house in the world. I’m not the slightest bit ashamed to say that the rush of love I felt in that moment for Fahrenheit, our authors and our supporters was so powerful that tears were running freely down my face.
I can sit here a year on and say with my hand on my heart that setting up Fahrenheit has been one of the best and most satisfying things I’ve ever done in my life.
In only 12 months we’ve published almost 40 titles and by mid-October every book we publish will be simultaneously published in both eBook & paperback editions.
And do you know what the best thing is? The best thing is that every single book on our list is a beauty, I’m proud of every single one of them and after more than 25 years in the business I genuinely don’t know any other publisher who can look themselves in the mirror every day and say that with a smile on their face.
We’re witnessing a welcome explosion in indie publishing. The recent consolidations and rationalisations implemented by the Big 5 publishing corporations resulted in a glut of experienced, well trained, publishing professionals suddenly finding themselves on the job market. While many have taken their chances and ‘gone freelance’ a fair number have put their redundancy money where their mouths are and set up a whole bunch of small presses.
In my 25+ years in the industry I can’t remember a more vibrant time in the indie publishing scene. This is great news for everyone, a strong independent publishing sector is good for readers, good for authors and good for publishing as a whole.
What I do find slightly depressing though is that so few of these new entrants to the market are rejoicing in the freedom their independent status gives them to shake things up and think differently. Many of these brave new publishing entrepreneurs seem to just be aping the traditional corporate playbook.
I’m honestly not sure where the joy is in that.
What’s the point in being independent if you don’t step out of line and disrupt the old order occasionally? It sometimes looks like a lot of our indie brothers & sisters are children playing dress-up with their parent’s clothes.
When we started Fahrenheit Press we knew we wanted to do things differently. If our 25 years in the industry taught us anything it was that too many books are being published with no real chance of ever finding an audience. Our challenge was to publish the awesome authors we knew were out there and turn a profit without selling our souls.
We didn’t have the resources to employ the “go big and hope for a hit” casino strategy beloved of so much Big 5 publishing but the alternative of piling headfirst into the genre wars and publishing lowest common denominator eBooks at £0.99 seemed like a soulless way to make a living - frankly it just wasn’t our idea of fun.
So we did what being independent gave us the freedom to do. We invented our own playbook and came up with a scalable business model that doesn’t rely on piling ‘em high and selling ‘em cheap or on winning the lottery.
Sure, we sell our books through traditional retail channels but we also invested heavily in Visibility & SEO technology right at the outset, both of which fuel our aggressive D2C strategy. Marketing directly to consumers not only helps us connect with our readers but it’s also helping us grow the most successful publisher owned subscription service in publishing.
To make our brand offering unique and engaging we took a calculated risk and built an edgy public face that’s designed to alienate just as many people as it attracts. The result is that our fans are real fans – they recognise Fahrenheit as a brand, they know what we stand for and most importantly they identify themselves as part of our gang.
We treat our readers like adults, when we succeed we shout loudly and when we fail we hold our hands up and laugh at what massive idiots we’ve been.
The strength of our brand enables us to run real world events bringing together our readers and authors – recently one of our fans travelled all the way from Spain to attend an event in London.
We’re also branching out into retail and have plans to launch a series of pop-up stores in Europe and the USA later in the year – play your cards right and you just might get to sit on a punk santa’s knee this holiday season.
We’ve got even bigger plans for 2017 which will bring together our two great loves music and books – wheels are in motion and the first Fahrenheit Festival is on the cards for summer 2017. We’re calling in some favours so a few of the names on the bill might just surprise you.
Fahrenheit are living proof that it’s possible to be disruptive, turn a profit and have a bucketful of fun.
So here’s our plea to our indie publishing comrades – stop being so damned sensible - undo that top button - you’re all getting old before your time - kick over a couple of tables and come make some trouble with us.
After all what’s the point in being the new boss if you’re just like the old boss?