Ahead of our conference Publishing 101: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Suzanne Kennedy, Sales & Marketing Manager at Floris Books, writes about Young Kelpies, and how it thoroughly ticks the ‘good’ side of publishing!
You see a gap in the market and you fill it. Right?
We launched the Young Kelpies list in August 2015 in recognition of the dearth of books specifically for Scottish reluctant readers and children in the 6-8 age range. At the risk of sounding incredibly earnest, the value of children seeing their locality, language, humour or background reflected back at them in a book is immeasurable. It’s about publishing books relevant to their readers.
So we introduced a Viking . . . obviously.
Then hot on Thorfinn the Nicest Viking’s heels came a footballer. Scotland Stars F.C (surely every 6-8 year old footballers dream series) is very firmly Scottish, set in a fictional Scottish town with our hero, the talented Calum Ferguson, trying to break into his new school’s football team.
So we were off: twelve books, in two series, within a year. The work which goes into producing each series is immense. From an authorial and editorial point of view these books need to carry the energy, fun and engagement for a full six books each. From a production point of view they are highly illustrated and finding the right person for the job (and keeping them to rigorous deadlines) is no mean feat.
Oh, and then marketing wade in deciding that it is essential to have added extras. Top trump-styley character cards and interactive end (or mid) matter, please.
High production values and their costs must be balanced against a competitive RRP. And gauging the perfect sell-in cycle is a science in itself. Bookshops tend to want the books drip fed, and for each series to build a following. But to create any impact on a shelf or table there needs to be quantity in the first place. Also, children don’t want to hang around for the next instalment. And if we publish too far apart they may have raced on in reading age.
We knew when we started it wouldn’t be simple but we also knew it could and should be done. We are filling a gap and filling it well. Thorfinn was shortlisted for the inaugral Scholastic Laugh Out Loud Awards and Scotland Stars F.C. author Danny Scott is in high demand with schools across the country (recognising the value in teaching literacy through football).
So what’s next for our Young Kelpies? Well, launching in a couple of weeks, we have Porridge the Tartan Cat with an avalanche of feral word play and harebrained schemes. Followed closely by The Museum Mystery Squad – Scooby Doo meets Nancy Drew in a Museum. And, if they are lucky, the children may be able to meet author, Mike Nicholson in their museum. That’s making it relevant.
Although if you see any of the Floris team muttering manically to themselves these (much-loved) books may well be the cause!