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Spotlight on Drollerie Press

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Drollerie Press came to my attention when two authors, Joely Sue Burkhart and Imogen Howson, emailed DearAuthor and wondered if we wouldn’t be interested in reading their books. The covers were gorgeous and I assumed that this was some small print independent publishing house. Upon further investigation, I learned that Drollerie Press is a new ebook publishing house that is offering transformative fiction in any genre. Jayne read Joely Sue Burkhart’s romance Survive My Fire and I read Imogen Howson’s young adult offering, Falling.

Both were interesting pieces of fiction that made us interested in more Drollerie Press offerings. One of the owners, Deena Fisher, emailed me with an offer to the Dear Author readership. Any purchase totaling $2.50 or more, the buyer will receive 15% off if they enter the words ” Dear Author ” (without quotation marks). The code is good through December 31st.

Ms. Fisher agreed to answer some questions about the vision and future of “Drollerie Press ”

Q. What is your niche in the publishing market?

Fisher: Mythic arts. Our goal is to showcase great writing in any genre that includes mythic elements presented in an original way. To use Joely Sue Burkhart’s story as an example, you told her you didn’t much care for dragons as I recall. That was my first response as well. Dragons are overdone. I’m tired of them. They hoard gold, they’re vain, they hate humans for their short lives or brutishness, they’re either sentient and wise beyond mortal ken or they’re incredibly helpful pets. Joely took the idea of dragon and turned it around. She imagined something unique and yet perfectly appropriate to the myth and she made them real for the reader. We find that kind of storytelling exciting and that’s what we want to provide for every genre.

Q: What makes an ebook publisher successful?

Fisher: Well, I may have a different answer 10 years from now, but I think any business enterprise is likely to succeed if the principals find a need and fill it well, manage their product (quality, freshness, reliability), stick out the tough times, provide great customer service, and watch their cash flow. E-book publishers have built an audience on erotica, which, if you’re going to get consumers to adopt something new is one very good way to go about it, and more publishers and wider offerings have resulted from that early boom, which is great. It’s a healthy field, but it seems to me that the rate of growth is slower now in the U.S. Quarterly earnings have quadrupled since 2002, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be much higher. To truly succeed, to grow into a major market, I believe we need to encourage a universal e-book reader format (such as the adoption of the IDPF approved format); simpler DRM, which I believe is the greater hurdle; and more attractive reading options (as an aside, did you know that 68 million dollars worth of e-books sold in Japan in 2006? And that cell phone reading is what’s pushing that explosively rising trend? AnimeNews ).
I think e-books will explode–they are exploding–but who will end up leading the explosion is the question.

Q:. Where do you see your publishing house in 5 years?

Fisher: Drollerie Press will have brand recognition outside the e-book world. We’ll have a large selection of good works available for sale in both e- and print formats and in every genre, with a solid collection of non-fiction, literary fiction, and poetry that work within our greater theme. When a reader picks up a book and sees our logo on it, they’ll know there’s a really good read inside. I see us as providing a great publishing experience for established authors and exciting opportunities for new authors. I see our covers as real works of art that are as unusual and exploratory as the words they cover. We’ll have branched out into related products like art prints, pillow books, and illustrated books for adults, for example, and we’ll have a strong and growing young adult category. I’d also like us to be able to be active in other ways, such as providing a couple of college scholarships one to a budding author and one for an artist, though that may have to wait for the 10 year plan.

How are you determining what content to offer?

Fisher: We accept based on a handful of criteria. First, is it mythic in nature?
Does it take a myth, legend or fairy tale and turn it on its head? Does it create a new legend from bits and pieces of old ones or the author’s fertile imagination? We’re not looking for faithful re-tellings, we’re looking for imaginative stories rooted in the mythic. For example, Cindy Lynn Speer’s retelling of Bluebeard is set in an alternate Spain, includes Kitsune, and reads like an historical romance, Imogen Howson’s Falling puts a mutated Rapunzel in an alternate future. Tala Bar’s heroine lives in ancient Israel, sees visions, and her idea of happy-ever-after doesn’t come with a man. Each is very different in style from the other but they’re all mythic in nature.

Second, does the author have a good grasp of the mechanics: punctuation, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and does the author know how to tell a good story?

Third, does it really work for us? It can’t just be mechanically adequate and based on a myth. The story has to grab the editor and shake him or her. It has to have its own intrinsic magic. I accepted Atlantis
1999 because it’s not just a good story; but the language is incredibly dense and intricate.

Why should a reader be buying from you?

Fisher: A reader should buy from us if he or she wants a good story that’s well-told. Though we find our stories at the heart of myth, legend, and fairy tale, that’s the sum of what we’re about.

Are there any things you’d like readers to know about Drollerie Press?

Fisher: We want them to love buying our books. If there’s a problem with the software, they have difficulty with the shopping cart, they want to buy it from a particular outlet, or in a particular format, they’d like things differently organized, they want to know when the next book is coming out, they’d like to read a particular kind of story, or anything else they’d like us to know or would like to know about us, we want to answer the questions, fix the problems, and make the whole experience rewarding. We hope they’ll drop us a note and let us know–good or bad–how they feel.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

19 Comments

  1. LinM
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 08:44:50

    The Drollerie Press website has NO EXCERPTS. Entries appear on the book pages labelled “Excerpt” but they are actually back-cover copy. Excerpts entice me – they lure me in – they convince me to read more. But back-cover copy is synonomous (in my mind) with advertising – it has just about as much embedded truth. So Drollerie Press has beautiful covers and adequate descriptions but this doesn’t sell the story. So (once again) DA convinces me to look at the Drollerie Press site – I go – I browse – I leave empty-handed.

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  2. Julie Leto
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 10:20:19

    LinM, you might want to try again. I just went in and found the excerpts. Definitely NOT back cover copy. I clicked the title, then got the bcc. Then I clicked excerpt.

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  3. Deena
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 11:22:40

    Lin, thanks for pointing that out. Obviously I need to make that clearer. I’ll change the link so it’s more obvious.

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  4. Ann Bruce
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 13:11:12

    Hmm, I think the DP web server needs to be upgraded.

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  5. LinM
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 13:19:48

    OK. I see that what I thought was a title was actually a clickable link and is now clearly indicated as a clickable link. But the layout still leaves me off-balance. I want to read the description and then read an excerpt. I don’t want to backtrack to find the excerpt link.

    It reminds me of my microwave which has a badly designed layout – I have to make my selections from the keypad – middle, up, down. My MIL’s microwave has a better interface – selections are made top, middle, bottom moving down the keypad. Everyone has to be told how to operate my microwave; my MIL’s is intuitive.

    Of course (at the moment) all I get is MySQL errors – must be the DA equivalent of the Slashdot effect.

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  6. Deena
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 13:47:06

    Sorry about the loading issues. I’m not sure what it was, but the tech guy has it fixed.

    Lin, do you mean you would prefer the excerpt posted below the listing, or that you’d prefer the link below the listing? Most of the excerpts are quite long–we usually excerpt between 5 and 10% or a full chapter, whichever works best for the story length.

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  7. LinM
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 18:21:53

    I want the excerpt links AFTER the descriptions. And even more – I want descriptions (along with cover page/title) on the main page.

    I feel like “Cranky” Lin but this is my reasoning:

    Imagine:
    a) you are visually impaired OR
    b) hardware/vision issues mean that your screen resolution is at most 640×480 (an iPhone would be worse)

    So: you are cranky and handicapped! (by your vision or your hardware or both)
    a) You select books based on title alone because the cover images are too small and there are no descriptions on the main page.
    b) You select a book – scroll through the description ignoring extraneous links along the way – the book sounds interesting BUT the excerpt link is at least one screen back.
    c) Lost Sale!!!!

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  8. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 18:35:07

    I will add, the covers are beautiful, but presented too small for them to be eye catching. I would have liked to have seen them more clearly to appreciate them. As I’m dyslexic, considering the size and lighter color of the text on the site it would be very helpful to have an option to enlarge the text to facilitate reading. (Thank you again Ja(y)nes for putting that feature here in the comments.)

    I love the story ideas and the concept behind them sounds intriguing. I’ll be back to explore on a less busy day.

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  9. Deena
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 19:29:43

    Julie, thanks for visiting the site. I hope you liked the excerpts you found.

    Thank you Lin and Sarah. I can see your points. I certainly don’t want you to feel cranky Lin. It’s a bit frustrating, of course, not to have thought of everything but we’ll certainly work on improving.

    Sarah, the covers are clickable links and open up quite large, and they’re also embedded on the excerpts pages.

    You’ve both given me a lot to think about and I appreciate it. We’ll do our best to improve your experience. I hope you’ll drop me a note if we don’t get it right.

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  10. TeddyPig
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 20:14:01

    Well I really agree the stories are good. I ones I selected were thought provoking and interesting.

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  11. TeddyPig
    Sep 23, 2007 @ 20:15:30

    “The ones” not “I ones”…

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  12. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 24, 2007 @ 08:23:21

    Deena, I clicked on them and found the excerpts font was larger, though still faint, (faint to me as high contrast makes it easier for me to read) but the cover didn’t enlarge. I did wonder, as the front page lost alignment too if it was just a function of the site not being compatible with Firefox (mac). However, no matter where I clicked or what page I was on, the covers never enlarged. (tried again this am) That’s not a complaint just an FYI. I’m a great clicker, just not a great scroller. I always assume the bottom of the screen is the bottom of the page. *wry grin*

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  13. Deena
    Sep 24, 2007 @ 12:55:06

    How frustrating, Sarah. Firefox (pc) is my primary browser, so I always write to it and tweak it for the others. I’ll definitely work on the contrast, but I’m wondering if you could experiment–after the click that made the excerpt larger, could you click on that cover as well? I’m definitely going to have to work on the necessary number of clicks.

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  14. Sarah McCarty
    Sep 24, 2007 @ 16:43:53

    Sure. I’ll go try it again.

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  15. Ann
    Sep 24, 2007 @ 18:08:51

    Hi Deena, I just tried one of your books and the cover on the excerpt page was much larger than the one on the book’s first page (for this test I looked at Survive My Fire). Just for curiosity I clicked on the book cover on the first page, and the larger image was huge! The only part of the image my moniter showed me was one of her eyes and a part of her forehead. :)
    P.S. I’ve bought a couple of your books and enjoyed them all.

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  16. Deena
    Sep 24, 2007 @ 18:44:01

    Teddy, thanks. I’m glad you liked them.

    Sarah, thanks for being my guinea pig!

    Ann, oops, that was the print resolution cover. It’s fixed now. That was a very big eye. I’m really glad to hear you’ve enjoyed our books. I hope you buy many more :)

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  17. Deena
    Sep 25, 2007 @ 10:23:18

    I just wanted to pop back in this morning to thank everyone for commenting–the bookstore is a bit different this morning, thanks to all of you.

    I also wanted to thank you, Jane, for featuring us. This opportunity to talk about who we are and what we’re about, to get honest feedback and other points of view is invaluable.

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  18. John B. Rosenman
    Sep 26, 2007 @ 10:30:37

    As a Drollerie Press author (ALIEN DREAMS), I really enjoyed this essay. Deena, you’ve given us the clearest description yet of what DP is about, especially concerning its unique niche. As for the future — who can say?
    I hope e-publishing will become more and more important because of the advantages it provides, though I probably will still remain addicted to old-style, brick and mortar bookstores.

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  19. News Roundup | Interact
    Jun 04, 2008 @ 07:36:34

    [...] Dear Author has posted an interview with Deena today, here. [...]

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