Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Interview with Fuzzbom Publishing

I am thrilled to welcome to the blog today Ian Kezsbom and Deborah Pasachoff from Fuzzbom Publishing.  Ian and Deborah are the publishers of Fuzzbom and the driving force behind its speculative fiction anthologies, Journeys of Wonder.  Ian also writes wonderfully high-concept middle grade and speculative fiction, while Deborah is a meticulously detailed editor.  I have been completely thrilled with my experience with Fuzzbom as my short story "Lighting the Sacred Way" was included in the most recent JoW (volume 2), and thus wanted to learn more about how Fuzzbom started and what their future plans are.

Deborah and Ian are quite focused on producing quality books and bring a drive and energy to their work that is both professional and exciting.  The level of editing, the quality of the cover art, the attention to detail, and their drive to market and promote are just top-notch.  I hope you will enjoy the interview with the masterminds behind this up-and-coming publisher as much as I have!

Welcome Ian and Deborah!

         1)  How did the idea for starting Fuzzbom originate?
Ian: Deborah and I have always loved books. For the past years (and still currently), I have been focusing on traditionally publishing my books for children (primarily middle grade). During all this time I noticed two things occurring. One was the rise of digital publishing, which in turn helped independent publishing grow. The second was that it was getting harder and harder to sell short stories for any significant amount of money. I had a bunch of adult short stories I had been shopping around, sometimes being offered only $2 or less for them. I had a bunch of writing partners with the same issue, and we approached them about creating our own compilation (which became “Journeys of Wonder”). Originally it was just something we were doing for fun, but it soon became apparent that we had something more in our hands.

Deborah: Fuzzbom itself is the film company that Ian and some friends started before he and I met. We decided to use the same name for our publishing company so that someday when all our creative ventures are super profitable, we can easily have them all under one umbrella. But the idea for publishing started as just the anthologies; it was only after creating the first one that we started to consider doing other projects. The anthologies were Ian's idea...we know so many great authors shopping short stories around, and we felt like we could offer a more lucrative outlet than most of the traditional magazines. 

2) How did you go about forming your team?
Ian: As I stated above, I initially approached other writers I knew and trusted who also had short stories they wanted to try and sell (in this case it was Lisa Gail Green and Leslie S. Rose). It wasn’t long before we realized that, between the four of us (including my wife), we created a powerful editing team.

Deborah: Initially, we just went to some authors whose work we respected to see if they would want to contribute stories. Then it became a huge collaboration to get things edited to the point we were happy with. For volumes two and three (which we started working on at the same time), we reached out a little further to include friends and industry contacts.

3) What were the surprises you faced in publishing your first book?
Ian: There were a few. One of the big ones was how much work went into it. It’s not that we ever expected it to be easy, but it ended up being much more difficult and time-consuming (and rewarding) than we ever expected. From the editorial aspect of getting the stories just right, to the technical aspect of creating the physical ebook from scratch, we faced new and harder challenges every step of the way.
Another big surprise was how much support we found in the independent publishing community. There are so many people who aren’t writers/publishers helping us to promote our books, giving honest reviews, and even giving advice, that it’s been fun making new “online” friends.

Deborah: We knew that there would be a ton of work to do this the way we wanted to. I think Ian was a little surprised by just how much technical work he had to do to get the ebook created. We are just lucky that between the two of us we have a really diversified skill set. I think everything in this process takes longer than you expect it will, and that's the biggest surprise.

4) What are the challenges that a startup publisher faces in today's market and what are the advantages this changing market presents?
Ian: As with any startup in any business, one of the major challenges is getting recognition. This is especially hard in this new market. There are a lot of independently published books out there all competing for the same virtual space. Even though that space might be unlimited, it’s still a challenge getting your books to a place a reader might find them.

Deborah: There are so many opportunities in today's market for startup/indie publishers. But I think the biggest challenge is that everyone seems to view that as meaning that there are no costs of entry into the industry. That's a two-fold problem: the first is that people don't always take us seriously, and the second is that there is unfortunately a lot of bad stuff out there by indie "publishers" who don't even take the time to edit the work before making an ebook. We also have to compete with companies out there that just do ebook formatting, even though we think we have a lot more to offer than they do. On the flip side, it is so great to have access to low cost ways of publishing like ebooks and print on demand.

5) What do you think Fuzzbom has to offer to readers that isn't already available elsewhere?
Ian: We’re hoping that we can offer affordable independent books that have as much time and care put into them as any traditionally published book. We’re very selective in the stories we choose to work on, and once we select something we put a lot of time into giving it the care both it and the eventual reader deserve. While there are a lot of well-written independent books out there, we hope that the care we put into anything under the Fuzzbom brand will be able to stand out in an already crowded market.

Deborah: We are excited to introduce readers to some great new writers. A lot of folks seem to only want to publish someone who has already made a name for themselves. Or else people will publish anything they can. But we want to make high quality books that help writers and readers find each other. I don't think that's something that doesn't exist yet, but I do think it's something that isn't prevalent enough.

6) What are your future plans for Fuzzbom?
Ian: We have some novels and non-fiction works that we’re in the early stages of production on, as well as plans for other short story anthologies (in addition to the “Journeys of Wonder” line).

Deborah: We plan to keep producing anthologies through “Journeys of Wonder”...probably around three volumes a year. Eventually we will also be able to offer volumes with all the stories of a similar genre, etc. We are also already talking with some authors about totally different projects, both fiction and non-fiction. In short, we're busy!


Thank you so much Ian and Deborah for taking the time to share your experience with us!

For the blog readers -- you'll want to be sure to check out the Journeys of Wonder blog where Ian and Deborah post regularly on their experience as independent publishers.  I think you will find it quite interesting and informative.

You can also find names and links to the rest of Journeys of Wonder staff here, including Lisa Gail Green and Leslie S. Rose, both talented writers and readers of this blog.

If you have questions for Ian or Deborah, please feel free to post them in the comments.