Tuesday, October 09, 2012

An Exciting New Venture - The Birth of a Publisher

Gary Bonn is part of a group of dedicated writers who took a courageous risk which I do believe will pay off in the future. I have closely followed their progress and am truly impressed by what they've achieved. 
Gary's here today to tell us about it:

Dancing in Fire
Some years ago I bumped into a group of writers. We set up WriterLot together in order to supply a growing following with something to read for free every day. (http://writerlot.net/writerlot.htm)
Stunned by the sheer quality of their work and the level of cooperation in the group, I was surprised to see them struggle to find agents and publishers.
Then several things struck me. The publishing industry was (with some exceptions) tightening up, publishing safe books only and not looking for the unique or adventurous. Authors were being paid less and, in some cases, contracts became draconian.

Over a couple of years I learned that this growing group of writers included professional copy editors, proof readers, designers, marketing professionals, web designers, artists and illustrators. Many members had experience of running businesses – indeed one had managed a £1.5m project over ten years.
More than that, as we edited each other’s work, it became clear that these were writers with not only considerable talent and skill, but who showed an astonishing level of commitment to each other.

‘Why don’t we dispense with the soul-destroying hunt for publication and do it ourselves?’

Sooner or later someone was going to say it – I just got in there first. What followed was a shock to all of us. Everyone went flat out with 101% commitment – some members regularly putting 70-90 hours a week into the project. Learning curves went vertical; endless barriers were pushed aside. Firedance Books Ltd was born.
I still can’t believe it – it just doesn’t seem possible that so many are prepared to give so much of their time and expertise for free in this cooperative effort. But it’s real and happening every day.

A core feature is the editorial process. One of us writes a book and polishes it until it’s gone as far as they can take it. It’s offered it to the group and, if it finds a champion he or she take it on as ‘Book Manager.’ The manager appoints two structural editors and does their own structural edit. The edits return to the manager and author who negotiate changes. This process is often repeated.
There follows two levels of copy editing and one of proof reading. Even in these stages structural changes may be suggested.
So at least seven skilled people have worked on that book and suggested improvements. Everyone involved recognises that it is still the author’s work and has signed a legally binding agreement that they have no rights to that (or any) book that they haven’t written themselves.
Following that, there’s the format checks for any file conversion for e-readers etc. The outcome is a more rigorous editorial system than many publishing houses can afford.
While all that is happening, the marketing, distribution, web design, and art departments coordinate to make that book look and sell well. The publishing and marketing worlds are quicksilver and change so fast that research must be on-going. The depth of that research takes my breath away.
So a dream has come true, an almost impossible dream. I have no idea where it will go – right now I’m still reeling from the fact that it’s happened at all.
We’ve turned out books at roughly one every two weeks since our first summer launch. They’re books we’re proud of, they sell well, each author is gaining a following, and most importantly – is still writing.

Are we looking for new members? Possibly. It’s something we’ve discussed, but there’s no policy in place and that would have to be thoroughly addressed first. Right now we have a lot of procedure to look over and tighten up; this is going to take some time. The point is there are many ways to bring your book to market. Don’t be caught in the trap of negativity and convention. This is a wide open and exciting market – and it’s time for innovation.

Visit www.firedancebooks.com or like us at facebook/firedancebooks. We look forward to meeting you there.

I was lucky enough to read Gary's exciting new book and, believe me, it is a great read - and one that's certainly different. 
Blurb taken from the Amazon page: 

Jason has spent the last six years living wild on beaches. Now he’s seventeen and a feral girl walks into his life.

A girl with no name.

He calls her Anna. She’s fun, she’s kind—and she’s the most dangerous person in the world.

The most unusual love story, and a truly strange war story… Expect Civilian Casualties turns how we see the world upside down.
My Review:
Take a deep breath because you may not let it out again until you reach the last page of Gary Bonn's debut novel of suspense and bone-crunching adventure, "Expect Civilian Casualties".
He dives straight into the story of one of the most beguiling heroes with the biggest heart I've ever encountered - tormented seventeen year old Jason who hasn't been to school since he was eleven, who survives by isolating himself on a secluded beach, and who just doesn't rationalize like most people.
But if Jason has special gifts they're nothing like those of a beautiful girl who joins him one day and who is wilder than he is. Their love is unique and more electrifying in the short time they're together than most people experience in a life-time.
When it becomes clear that the girl is not only a hunter, but is also being hunted, Jason becomes embroiled in a bitter war to save humanity. And the girl is on the wrong side.
Written in seemingly simple prose that wastes no words, the story evolves in a fast-moving plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. Bonn has the ability to move seamlessly from scene to action-packed scene with hardly a hint at what the outcome will be. And he's created an addictive protagonist that I miss dreadfully now I've finished the book which, like the author, deserves to do well.
Also for sale on Amazon.com


  1. That's a big step! Good luck, Gary.

  2. VERY proud of you, Gary, and all of you for doing this. Way to go! :)

  3. Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments. Firedance has made me realise that cooperation and friendship in combination with skill and commitment wins over everything else. Thank you Sue. I think I love you :)

  4. That's really the way the future is evolving in publishing, isn't it? There are just too many good writers being shut out of traditional publishing because they don't write novels that stick to the current marketable formula.

    And the premise of feral teens living on a beach sounds like a great story to explore.

  5. Firedance has been a fantastic adventure. It's consolidated us as friends, it's improved us as writers and we've been on a steep learning curve together about marketing, distribution, non-profit organisations... and of course, writing. It has been inspiring how much time people are putting in for free into other people's work... and the fact that we care so much is a huge benefit to the quality of the work and to our enduring battle for sales and recognition for each author. I am so thrilled by the success our writers have had so far, I can't tell you. I honestly wonder if I would be as thrilled by my own book out there as I have been for their's. It's like watching a god child grow up :)

  6. That's the nicest thing someone's said to me today, Gary ;-)
    Lu, it really is a great story
    Louise, I probably have no real inkling how much effort has been involved, but I really wish you all the best.

  7. Sounds like Firedance is yet another way writers are getting their work out in an innovative fashion!

    Thanks for the review.

  8. Fabulous, inspiring bunch of people- best of luck!

  9. Wow. AMAZING story. This is so inspiring. And the book sounds awesome. I'm definitely going to be picking it up. Thanks for the great review and I wish this group the best of luck!!

  10. this sounds really interesting--good luck!

  11. I think publishing in general is going to go down the innovative route, GE. Thanks Laura for commenting. Tamara, it's a great book. Thanks Lynn :-)

  12. What a great story! Thanks for sharing your experience, Gary. It's given me a feast for thought. :)

  13. This is huge. A friend of mine and I were looking at starting a publishing house on the premise of treating authors with respect and working hard together. The numbers for what we wanted to do and what we would make deemed this unreachable. I'm glad you found a way to make it work. This is an exciting time!

  14. What a fantastic and fascinating company/group! I wish them good luck and hope they continue to find success.

    His book sounds very interesting, and definitely different from any story line I've heard out there.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  15. I really like the concept behind Firedance Books. Sounds like a great way to go about publishing. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Susan.

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