Monday, October 15, 2012

Riptide Anniversary Reflections: “According to the Prophecy”




Thanks for joining us on the Riptide Publishing First Anniversary Blog Hop Bash! All month long, we’re bringing you guest posts and interviews from your favorite authors, artists, and Riptide staff. As a thank you for helping us celebrate, we’re also giving away $10 in Riptide store credit to one lucky commenter at every stop! Simply leave a comment below by 11:59pm on Sunday, October 21st to enter. Be sure to check out our complete tour schedule to find out where else you can enter to win—one Grand Prize winner drawn from commenters at all the stops will also win a Kindle that we’ll load with every book we publish in 2013!
Today we have a special anniversary post with Riptide’s co-founder, Rachel Haimowitz.


Anniversary Reflections: “According to the Prophecy”


It’s probably an understatement to say that the last year has been a wild ride for the staff and authors at Riptide—and hopefully the readers, too. Aleks and I never thought, when we first talked about bringing this little publishing company to life, that we’d be where we are in such a short time. Or maybe even that we’d ever be here. To think that in a single year we’ve signed some of the most popular authors in the genre, nurtured some of the most exciting new talent, and hired some of the most remarkable editors and artists . . . the mind boggles. Even more exciting is to be sending out royalty checks every month that authors can actually pay the rent with, and to do the same for staffers used to making pennies on the dollar for their skills. And, of course, to be publishing books we’re proud to put our Roosh on, and to hear so much encouraging feedback from so many readers excited by the books we put out.

Of course, we’ve a long ways to go, and many dreams yet to fulfill (gay romance on the New York Times bestseller list, anyone?). But anniversaries are a time not just for planning, but also for reflection and celebration, so I thought it’d be fun to take a little trip back to where we started, where we are now, and where we hope to be at this time next year.

Riptide officially opened to the public on October 1 of last year, and released its first books for download on November 1 (or October 30, if you pre-ordered).

·         We launched with 8 ebooks and 0 paperbacks.
·         As of right now, we have 47 ebooks and 13 paperbacks.
·         This time next year, we’ll have right around 100 ebooks and 50 paperbacks. You can bet there’ll be a party when we release that 100th title, too!

Our website has grown tremendously.

·         We sold 331 books onsite in our opening month.
·         As of right now, we’ve sold almost 8,000. And this represents only a small fraction of our overall sales, the majority of which are made via third-party vendors like Amazon and ARe.
·         This time next year, we project well over 20,000 books sold onsite, and hope to break 100,000 books sold overall. That day will definitely be call for a party. (What can I say—we’re always looking for an excuse to party round these parts!)

It’s also much cooler than it used to be.

·         When we launched, our website introduced an innovative and highly-praised tagging system that allowed us to share tremendous quantities of metadata with those who wanted to see it, but hide it from those who didn’t. That was about it.
·         Since then, we’ve made those tags clickable (and thus searchable), added Bonus Bucks frequent shopper rewards and store credit, introduced a %-off coupon function, added links to retailers carrying our paperback books, added a wishlist function, jazzed up our submissions and events pages, created several new ways to browse for titles, offered bundles and collections, added a shiny carousel and a News page, and created serials.
·         This time next year, we plan to have a ton more coupon options, gift certificates, print books and print/ebook bundles sold onsite, and even a send-to-Kindle option for your onsite purchases. (If there are any other features you’d like to see, please let us know in the comments!)

Our author roster has grown tremendously.

·         Prior to launch, we’d signed 9 brave, trusting, talented authors. I’d like to take a moment to call them out, if you don’t mind, because without them, Riptide would never have gotten off the ground, and I wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now. So thank you, thank you, thank you to Andrea Speed, Bryl R. Tyne, Cat Grant, Damon Suede, Kari Gregg, L.A. Witt, Peter Hansen, Rhi Etzweiler, and Storm Grant. Added to that count were also three of the four owners—myself, Aleksandr Voinov, and Brita Addams—for a grand total of 12.
·         As of right now, we’ve signed 39 (36 listed onsite, plus 3 to be announced shortly), including M/M superstars like Abigail Roux, Heidi Cullinan, Marie Sexton, Rowan Speedwell, Kim Dare, Ava March, Jane Davitt, Kirby Crow, Alexa Snow, and Alex Beecroft. We’ve also signed some unbelievably hot new talent, including Anne Tenino, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane, Lisa Henry, Sam Starbuck, and G.B. Gordon. Not to mention two hugely popular mainstream authors, Joey W. Hill and Katie Porter.  We have an amazing group—you can learn more about all of our authors here.
·         This time next year . . . who knows? Suffice it to say, we’re in talks with many other genre favorites, and we’re always eager to pick fresh new talent from the slush pile.

And so has our staff.
·     
    At time of launch, our team was 8 strong: four owners, one non-owner staffer, and three freelance cover artists. I was (and still am) the Managing Editor, which at that time basically meant I did developmental, line, and copyedits on every title we published, and also read submissions from invited authors. Having a business background, I also handled most of the business side of things: working with a biz lawyer to incorporate, working with an IP lawyer to draft our first contract, hiring freelancers as needed, and generally supervising the entire operation. Aleks served as a second set of eyes, reading subs, doing dev, line, and copyedits, and also proofreading. He also served primarily as the public face of the business, getting us out there, talking with interested authors, scouting new talent, etc. Tal built our beautiful website more or less from scratch (and is still improving it to this day). Chris Hawkins (a.k.a. Brita Addams) was our marketing guru, responsible for the huge splash our launch party made. She also helped to keep our books and was responsible for paying royalties. Lastly, LC Chase agreed to come on as our Art Director—which, it should be said, she did for ridiculously low wages while we found our feet. She took on a herculean task, and she continues to perform it flawlessly to this day. Fortunately, we pay her better now.
·         Now, we are a team of 25 and growing. Owners are down to three—Chris Hawkins retired to focus on her writing—and their jobs have all refined tremendously. I’ve essentially become the Publisher (still overseeing all the operations on both the business and editorial side, as well as planning growth). I hardly developmental edit anything anymore—no time, no time—but I still do at least one pass on every title that goes out the door. Aleks is still very much a public face of Riptide, and still one of our primary talent scouts. He’s the first eye on the submissions box and our contract negotiation expert. He’s also at the front lines of subsidiary rights exploration, securing deals with translators and audio producers to offer our titles on audiobook and in other languages. Tal is still improving the website and, as a brilliant developmental editor in her own right, is slowly taking some authors into her stable as the website work wanes.

To help fill in all the gaps created by growth, our “house staff” (the core team, who puts in multiple hours every week) is up to 7: me, Aleks Voinov, Tal Valante, and LC Chase, plus three new additions, including our first full-time employee: Stephanie Grober in marketing (our full-timer), Alex Whitehall in production editing and office support, and the luminous Sarah Frantz in acquisition editing. We’ve also brought on two file converters, an office assistant, an editorial intern, three more cover artists, five more developmental and line editors, two lawyers (one for IP, one for business matters), and an accountant. These staffers are all part of our regular rotation, but we also bring on additional freelancers on occasion, including cover artists, editors, and a variety of business consultants.
·         By this time next year, we’ll have added at least two more cover artists, two new proofreaders, a new marketing staffer, and a new copyeditor. We also anticipate bringing at least two more staffers into the full-time fold, possibly three. This is one of the most satisfying aspects of the business for us: being able to help people make a living doing the work they love the most.

And speaking of helping people make a living doing what they love the most, our authors’ monthly royalties have exploded.
·     
    After our opening month, the biggest royalty check we cut was for $112.06.
·         As of today, the biggest royalty check we’ve cut is $3,680.55. Keep in mind—that’s for just one month of sales—not a fiscal quarter or a six-month period, as many other houses pay. And also for just one book. This isn’t even an outlier; every month, we issue at least a few royalty checks for over $2,000.
·         As of this time next year, we fully expect to see several authors on our roster earning full and comfortable livings off their royalties with us. What will that look like month by month? Who knows. But we’ll be breaking our one-month record next month, with a single royalty check for over $5,000 going out to one fortunate author—again, for just one month’s worth of sales on just one book.

And so has our exposure.

·         During our launch party, we partnered with approximately thirty generous, kind, and hard-working bloggers who believed in our vision and wanted to help us share it—including our lovely host today (and #1 Cheerleader), Amara Devonte. Those bloggers hosted our Grand Opening Party and got the word out about Riptide in an explosive way, and we’ve never, ever stopped loving you for it.
·         In the intervening year, we’ve nearly tripled our roster of blogger partners who host tours and parties like our One Year Anniversary Bash. Our reviewer exposure has similarly skyrocketed. We’ve found our titles reviewed at sites like Dear Author and even Romance Times Book Reviews, and our authors featured at places like Smexy Books and even USA Today.
·         Next year? We’re aiming high. Booklist, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weeky, Kirkus. You name it, we’re going for it. LGBTQ fiction is making huge strides into the mainstream, and we plan to be at the forefront, waving the standard.
All told, I’d call that a wildly successful year. And the cherry on top of it is all the amazing support our titles have gotten from happy readers. Because while this is a business, and sales and employment and royalties and all that jazz are pretty important for our continued existence, ultimately nothing matters if we’re not making good books that people love. So on behalf of the entire Riptide staff, I want to thank you all—our brilliant authors, and our wonderfully supportive and enthusiastic readers who give us purpose and the equally wonderful, supportive, enthusiastic bloggers and reviewers who help to get the word out. As we like to joke around the office, it’s all going According to the Prophecy. And we have you all to thank for every single bit of that. I hope you’re enjoying the ride as much as we are J

Rachel Haimowitz: As an editor, Rachel has worked at Avalon Publishing, Pearson/NAF, and Upper Deck Entertainment. She began where most of us do (with copyediting and slush pile reading) and eventually advanced all the way through to acquisitions and editorial team management. When she left Manhattan publishing to freelance, she went on to developmental edit a number of projects, including two national bestsellers and a 2010 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year winner. She’s also worked as a ghostwriter and a copyeditor, and launched and operated a retail store for seven successful years before selling to focus on the world of publishing.
As an author, Rachel penned the bestselling M/M fantasy series Song of the Fallen (Counterpoint and Crescendo) and Belonging (Anchored and Where He Belongs). She’s been published with a number of romance presses, including Samhain Publishing and Storm Moon Press, and has written articles for venues ranging from the Huffington Post to Construction Source Magazine.
Rachel reads widely and acquires across multiple genres, but she has particular soft spots for speculative fiction of all stripes, realistic BDSM, historicals in underrepresented time periods (especially when they teach her something new), psychological horror and thrillers, stories that explore power dynamics (slavefic, rentboy stories, boss/employee, dubcon/noncon, etc.), and stories featuring two hyper-competent alpha males. She's especially hungry for apocalypse stories and frontier fiction with a large cast of characters (westerns, colonization stories, etc.).
​To learn more about Rachel-the-author, please visit her website at RachelHaimowitz.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging when she can at Fantasy Unbound. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at rachel@riptidepublishing.com.

Aleksandr Voinov: Aleksandr has been published for twenty years, both in print and ebook. He has ten years’ experience as a writing coach, book doctor, and writing teacher, and he works as a financial editor in the research department of a pan-European investment bank.
After co-authoring the M/M military cult classic Special Forces, Aleksandr embarked on a quest to write edgy, dark, sometimes literary M/M and gay fiction (much of which is romance/erotica)—the only way he can use his American Literature degree these days. He’s been published with Heyne/Random House, Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, Loose Id, Dreamspinner, Storm Moon Press, and others.
Aleks is particularly interested in acquiring well-researched historical fiction, military fiction, and trans* fiction across all genres.
You can find Aleks at his website, Aleksandrvoinov.com; his blog, Aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com, on Twitter, and on Goodreads.


45 comments:

  1. When Riptide started, last year, I was quite new to the genre but was already acquainted (and frustrated by) the issues that seem to be so common, poor editing, awful covers, etc. Riptide was a breath off fresh air and has raised the bar considerably.

    I've never been disappointed by a Riptide book; the covers are gorgeous, I'm not pulled out of the story by weird grammar, typos and a lack of punctuation. You've all worked so hard, I'm delighted that Riptide is such a success :D (Partly for selfish reasons - I need to feed my habit!)

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, and I'm so glad to hear how much you're enjoying what we do!

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  2. I can say that I have never been disappointed by work that has been put out by Riptide. Even with the couple that didn't quite float my boat story wise, I still had nothing to complain about when it came to quality. This is a far cry from what my experience in the genre had been before Riptide.

    The whole of Riptide takes pride in their work and it shows!!

    I look forward to many years of being pleasantly surprised ;)

    Kassandra

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    1. This is music to our ears :D Thank you for all your support!

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  3. I've had a blast watching Riptide grow over the last year. The quality of the work product and the support behind each and every title has set a gold standard that I hope other small publishers will take note of and strive to replicate. I look forward to another great year and many more titles joining my shelves.

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    1. It's our hope too that more publishers will realize the importance of a relentless focus on quality if we're ever to lift gay romance out of the "ghetto," so to speak. The day WILL come. The only question now is how soon.

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  4. I always expect gay romance to be on the NYT list. I bet Riptide can be just the folks to do it--congratulations!

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

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  5. I love the books that Riptide release - always such good quality. And it's interesting learning a little more about how the company operates.

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    Replies
    1. I love seeing data like this, so I'm glad to hear I didn't bore everyone to death :)

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  6. Happy Anniversary Riptide Publishing

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  7. Riptide is a Class Act. Quality - all-round quality - is their hallmark. In this day and age, it's comforting to know that I can buy a book from Riptide and know it's going to be a professionally created piece of work. (I would not have bought The Flesh Cartel had it not been from Riptide.) I don't read excerpts and try valiantly to avoid spoilers, so being able to just click buy because the blurb intrigues me and know I'll be getting something of quality is a huge plus in this day and age. Thank you to everyone at Riptide for that peace of mind! :) Oh! And the newsletter is the best around and the website a delight. :)

    evaine13(at)gmail.com

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    1. That is absolutely amazing to hear. It was the ambitious (or perhaps downright hubristic?) goal we set out with, and it's so rewarding and humbling and delightful to realize it's working on at least some level.

      And I shall pass on your newsletter/website praise to Stephanie in marketing and our web designer, Tal :) Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and support!

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  8. Happy Anniversary, Riptide!!!
    Keep growing and keep producing quality books :)

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  9. Happy Anniversary!

    gisu29(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  10. I admire you so much... I remember last year's marketing campaign. The website with the countdown, the great authors being your first clients, the party... It's just so uplifting success story that it (nearly) reads better then fiction :) I wish you all the best.

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    Replies
    1. Awwww :D Thank you so much for those very kind words and for coming along on this ride with us!

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  11. Happy Anniversary! Thanks for publishing great quality work. Your website is excellent.
    tmadamski(at)msn(dot)com

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  12. I just discovered Riptide last month and LOVE everything that you are doing, both as a reader and a book blogger. You put out amazing books and I love to visit your easy-to-navigate site. Happy anniversary!!! I hope that you have many, many more! smiles...

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    1. Thank you so very much! It's exciting to hear stories like yours--new readers discovering a Riptide book and then coming back for more :D I hope we can continue to entertain you for many years to come.

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  13. Wow! I am shocked how far you have come in such a short time! Then I'm not because I bought one of the first books from the opening of the site, Once a Marine. I now have 6 of your titles, from the site or from third party sites! Congrats on the anniversary!
    OceanAkers @ aol.com

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    1. Heh, we were kind of shocked too. I spent most of the time researching this post doing this: O.O

      Thank you so much for joining us at the start of this wild ride, and for staying with us as we went along. I hope to see you at next year's anniversary celebration too :D

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  14. I literally fell into Riptide through twitter courtesy of
    Aleksandr Voinov and KOBO. I am so happy to find something that worked well with my Android tablet that was not Kindle. I purchased all of Dark Soul and am looking at others to read now.
    The covers for you books are amazing, non cheesy. :) I am so happy to have found you.

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    1. Kobo has set up a really nice shop with tremendous functionality for readers (I LOVE that it links to Goodreads reviews) and a clear respect and appreciation for publishers and authors (which not all stores have, alas). We only got our titles there recently, but it's been a pleasure working with them, and it's great to hear you found us that way.

      If you love Dark Soul, try Skybound and Incursion, both also written by Aleksandr Voinov, and Santuario, written by G.B. Gordon. I think you'd enjoy all of those just as much.

      Thank you for partying along with us! :)

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  15. Congratulations to my hard working daughter and her partners on their one year anniversary.

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    1. Awww, thanks mom! :D *HUGS!*

      (^^^ My mom, u guise. LOOK HOW AWESOME SHE IS.)

      Delete
  16. Happy Birthday Riptide! Books make me very happy so I like you lots :) ...please count me in, Thank you.
    chellebee66(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. You are counted, and thank you for the birthday wishes! Books make us happy, too--and it makes us even happier to know you're enjoying what we do :) Thanks so much for celebrating with us!

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  17. Happy anniversary! Congrats on the success!

    bn100candg(at)Hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you so much! And thank you for partying with us all along the tour :)

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  18. Happy Anniversary! You guys are awesome to have accomplished so much in such short of time.

    Chris
    ceagles48218@yahoo.com

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  19. Happy Anniversary! You have had an amazing first year and I look forward to much more from you. Your authors are very talented and you have great editing, etc. Thanks so much for the great giveaway.
    June
    manning_J2004 at yahoo dot com

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  20. Happy First Year Anniversary, Riptide. I can't believe it has been a year since your grand entrance into the publishing world.

    I wish you many decades of fun and success.

    Congrats,
    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

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  21. Happy anniversary Riptide. I love your stuff. Keep going.

    Charlayne
    charlayned at swbell dot net

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  22. Happy Anniversary! Keep the great books coming.
    Maggie S
    maggie9418@aol.com

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  23. Wow.. It's amazing to see where riptide is now. So happy Riptide has grown so big! I LOVE almost all the books and Definitely will keep on being a loyal customer. lol..

    Happy Anniversary Riptide!!
    Hoping for many more years of service! xD

    Judi
    arella3173_loveless@yahoo(dot)com

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  24. What a fantastic one year for Riptide. Happy Anniverary and wishing you many more successful years.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

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  25. It's been a joy watching Riptide grow :) You guys really stand out.

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  26. One year already. Wow! And I still remember my first thought: So many beautiful covers! LOL

    goingtoreadnow (at) gmail (dot) com

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  27. This all sounds like a fairy tale... but one I knew from the start that would come true! ^^ Feeling very proud of you all! :D

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  28. In less than a year, you've become quite a sign of quality for me... I barely even read the summary and I already know it's gonna be good... Also, I really love that you take the time to promote your authors...Hopefully, I'll be one of them one day!
    MC
    contact at mchoule dot com

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