Caffeine Nights Publishing: Interview with Darren Laws
Darren Laws is the founder, owner and managing director of Caffeine Nights Publishing, independent publisher of crime and horror fiction in paperback, ebook and app formats. Here Stephanie Cox interviews him.
Can you tell us about the origins of Caffeine Nights Publishing? How did it all begin?
Caffeine Nights began life as an online site in the late 1990s, 24/7 Caffeine Nights, publishing short stories and other works from unpublished authors. This stemmed from a writing group I founded in Maidstone Kent, when I realised there was a huge amount of unpublished quality writing. In 2007 we moved into Print-on-Demand and eBooks and I spent a few years researching the market before we published Nick Quantrill’s Broken Dreams in 2010.
What kind of literature do you publish and why did you choose to specialise in this field?
We specialise in crime and horror fiction, both genres that I love and have read avidly since I was young. James Herbert’s The Rats was my introduction into adult books at the age of 12.
What would you say has been your biggest success so far?
Every book is a success on one level. Publishing is an extremely competitive business and it’s great seeing many of our titles get in the various top 10 charts at Amazon. Caffeine Nights was shortlisted for The Bookseller Awards last year for Digital Strategy for our free app. That was special!
What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Every day in publishing is a challenge. From gaining the attention of the buyers in book stores to finding ways to market and advertise books on a tight budget.
What can you give to your authors that other, bigger publishers can’t?
A personal service! Caffeine Nights work with authors to help them develop a career. We realise that few authors become an overnight success and that there is a nurturing stage.
How does the ebook format benefit independent publishers?
Ebook are another sales channel and an important one. The advent and popularity of ebooks cannot be ignored as a significant factor in the democratisation of publishing.
What do you look for in a submission and what is it that shines through in the slush pile?
I don’t call it a slush pile, every submission has had a lot of effort from the author, regardless of how good or bad it is. Good submissions really do leap from the page and from the introductory email or letter from the author. Bad ones are sloppy, error prone and usually over-sold by the author who thinks they have written the greatest book ever. Arrogance always rings alarm bells.
What books are you particularly excited about publishing?
I wouldn’t publish any book I am not excited about. So the simple answer is all of them!
To read the full interview, head over to Stephanie’s blog: Words are my Craft.