Louise Walters Books is an independent publishers based in Banbury. Founder Louise Walters answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Louise Walters Books.
I founded LWB in 2017 after self-publishing my second novel, A Life Between Us. I turned fifty in that year and decided I needed to get on with it… now or never! I enjoyed the process of publishing my own book and wanted to have a go at publishing other writers too. My number one aim at LWB is to publish great writing. My first consideration is always the standard of the writing.
2. Do you find that there are any benefits or downsides to being a publisher not based in London?
Not really. An indie publisher isn’t really of that London-centric, “Big 5”, dare I say it, middle-class, publishing scene… regardless of location.
3. How hard is it establishing a foothold in the publishing market as an independent publisher?
Very difficult. It’s my biggest challenge. I spend months working with the writers to bring out the best version of their novel we can muster, and that’s hard work, but it’s all to little avail if people don’t know the book exists. Far too many books are published and there are only so many readers… getting my titles on radars is the hardest challenge I face.
4. Do you find that your books sell mainly in the UK or do you get enquires from further afield?
Mostly in the UK, certainly in print. I sell ebooks also, mostly in the UK, followed by the USA/Canada, and Australia. I also receive orders at my website bookshop from all over the world, which is good to see.
5. How many new titles do you publish a year and what do you look for when selecting a title to publish?
Up to four per year. The pandemic has meant I had to adjust my schedule (like most publishers I think), so this year I am publishing three titles, and three in 2021. Then I’m taking a break from publishing in the latter half of 2021, to have a think about how to proceed.
I look for the best writing I can find. I can tell quickly if I don’t want to publish something. If I’m interested, I will read the whole thing twice. If I’m undecided it usually means I will publish it! And once I have decided, everything changes, my indecision is banished and I commit 100% to the project. It’s a lovely feeling to find those novels.
Sometimes my indecision can be tipped by one sentence… something striking or beautiful, hilarious, whatever, and I then feel I can put my trust in the writer. It’s all about trust, really.
6. What do you look for in a good story?
I look for excellent writing; characters who stay with me after reading; I look particularly for literary novels and novellas with good plots. And of course that one amazing sentence that tells me I should publish… when it comes to the writer, an engaged social media following is very useful for an indie press, because it helps enormously with publicity. I do look at that. I wouldn’t turn down a brilliant book just because the writer doesn’t “do” Twitter… but I would encourage them to give it a try. Twitter does “sell” books. Absolutely it does, if you get it right.
7. People may be curious to find out more about your submissions criteria. What would be the best way for someone to submit their manuscripts?
I am currently closed to submissions because my schedule is full for 2021, and, as mentioned, I’m taking a few months off publishing next year. I have a submissions page on my website which I’ll update once I’m open to submissions again. I’m not too fussy when it comes to subs. I don’t mind if a writer does or doesn’t address me by name (egotistical nonsense) and I don’t necessarily need a synopsis… although a well-written synopsis is useful. I ask for the first three chapters only and I’m not bothered about the query letter/email. It’s not very important. But do avoid spelling, grammar and punctuation errors…
8. Do you have any tips for those wanting to be published?
Quite simple really: keep writing and keep submitting. Act professionally, always, even if you don’t feel professional. Take rejection on the chin. It’s a fact of the writing life, and actually, as a publisher I face rejection too… foreign publishers who don’t want to buy rights; I don’t get picked for promotions or prize long listings. Publishing and writing are all about rejection, most of the time.
9. What are the best things about publishing, and the worst?
The best thing is finding brilliant projects to publish, and working editorially with my authors. I feel so fortunate to be doing this.
The worst thing is knowing I won’t get the readers my authors deserve. It’s incredibly frustrating.
10. How can people purchase your books?
“From all good bookshops”! Any of my titles can be ordered from any bookshop. They are also all available in ebook on most platforms, and as audio books. All my books are available at Internet retailers incuding, of course, Amazon. And I have a website bookshop where you can buy signed copies of all my titles with merch that isn’t available elsewhere.
You can follow Louise on Twitter