Adventures in e-publishing part 16 – interview with Shana Raywood

I’d like to welcome Shana Raywood, one of the founders of Immortal Ink Publishing, a small e-book publisher which put out its first title, The Forever Girl by Shana herself, writing under the pseudonym of Rebecca Hamilton. Since then, four more titles have made it on to the Immortal Ink list, Four inthe Morning by Christi Goddard, Mirrors of Anguish by R.P. Kraul, The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar bySteven Katriel (released June 2012) and Her Sweetest Downfall by Rebecca Hamilton (released July2012).

RM: Shana, how and why did Immortal Ink Publishing come about?

SR:  There were seeds of other projects with my partner and me. An online literary magazine, an site that features indie authors, even ideas of anthologies. We were bouncing around these ideas around the same time we decided to self publish our own novels. As we began looking into all that would be involved in doing so as professionally as possible, the idea to start our own small publishing house hit us. I’m sure that same idea hits many people, too. But we followed through with it. We looked for the best cover designers and the best editors. I studied marketing day and night, absorbing as much as I could. We learned all the legal ins and outs. Now, here we are.

Can you tell us a little about the scale of the organization at the moment?

We’re small, and we’d like to stay small for a while. It’s just us two co-owners at the moment, and we’re looking for a 3rd partner as the business sort of exploded right off the bat. Our editors and cover artists are all contracted, so we hire them as we need them and they are kind enough to give our jobs priority when we do.

How are you managing to find readers for Immortal Ink titles? Did you set yourselves any sales targets, and if so, how are you doing?

It’s easier for readers to find us. We talk a lot about the books and we find appropriate ARC reviewers for our titles, and other than that, the readers do the rest themselves. We believe strongly in marketing, but the keys to marketing are really just visibility and accurate advertising. So far, we’ve been exceeding all of our sales targets, as we try to be reasonable in our expectations, but at the same time we put in the effort to make our books as visible as possible–in that sense, we don’t have a target other than “as visible as possible”.

And how do you go about finding writers? What kind of books are you looking for? How do people submit, if they’re interested?

We are just now closing up open submissions, which we did in May this year. All the info for how to submit is on our site  We like unusual, character-based genre and literary fiction. The genres that excite us the most are Horror, Paranormal, and Literary Fiction, but a complete list can be viewed on our site as well.

Can you tell me a little about some of the books on your list? You have a new one coming out in June, I believe.

Four in the Morning, by Christi Goddard, is a witty gritty YA fantasy about a girl who does a favor for a boy and ends up a suspect in a murder. This one we released in May.
Also released in May was RP Kraul’s debut, Mirrors of Anguish, a literary vintage horror novel surrounding a young reporter, Jill, who is trying to figure out the connection between her late grandfather and the Indianhead Reservoir Killer before she becomes the serial killer’s next victim.

We’re also, as you know, super excited to be releasing Steven Katriel’s novella this June: The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar. Steven is a brilliant writer and  I fell in love with this gothic tale the first time I laid on it, years ago. I was thrilled Steven was interested in our publishing house. His novella is eerie, enchanting, engrossing. The surreal haunting of Alatiel is worthy of becoming a classic.

You describe yourselves on your website as an ebook publisher, but I notice that some of your titles at least are also available as paperbacks. Why is that?

We offer Print on Demand, which most people don’t equate with being a print publisher. We prefer ebooks ourselves but we want to make our books as readily available as we can. We haven’t yet decided on distributing to stores, but at the very least we like to offer the print option for readers who prefer their book media in that format.


The talk these days seems to be of the divide between legacy publishing and independent publishing. Where does IIP fit in to that?

To be honest, I’m not really interested in the divide. I’m sure it’s there, but where, I don’t know. Readers want great books. We want to give readers great books. That’s where we fit into the picture. Any other pictures out there we haven’t been paying attention to.

To put it another way, why should writers publish through you rather than just put out their books themselves?

I actually think self-publishing is great, so I won’t tell you why they should. HoweverI can tell you why some would. 

Some author’s don’t want to market, or don’t know how, or don’t have time to learn, or would rather spend their time writing book 2. Or they don’t know which editors they can trust. Or they don’t have the funds to get professional packaging (a nice cover, for example). Some authors can’t afford to hire an editor at all. Some authors can’t afford to pay someone to format their book, and their own efforts are sub-par. IIP offers a lot to their authors in terms of editing quality, product packaging, and marketing. We put in the time for a commission of their sales because we believe in their work. Which is another reason some authors like to find a publisher–it’s a vote of confidence that they need to hear before putting their work out there.

Do you charge authors? Do you pay an advance? Royalties?

Our authors never pay a cent for their work to be published, packaged, or marketing. We don’t pay any advances, but we do put a nice sum of money into preparing their book for publication. Authors receive 50% royalties. Beyond that, we also reinvest another 10-20% of the net profits on their book to further market their titles.

I’ll give some perspective. I hear a lot of indies tell me they only sell maybe 1-5 copies of their book a month. In the first month The Forever Girl was out, it sold 648 copies and more recently has been selling over 1000 copies a month. Christi sold about 175 copies in her first week with no effort on her part. Rudy has opted for a quieter marketing approach and he’s been selling 1-5 copies a day (not a month). 50% of 100-1000 copies a month is certainly more than 100% of 1-5 copies a month. That said, many authors could recreate what we are doing as well. It’s all a matter of whether they succeed in doing so or if they want to put the time into it. I believe any author with a well-written book and an engaging story can find their audience and sell thousands. Do they need us? Not at all. But some of them want us, and we’ve been lucky to find some amazing talent.

What are your ambitions for IIP?

We want our readers to be happy and our authors to achieve success.

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