Today I have the uttermost privilege of have my amazing publisher, Murielle Maupoint, CEO of Britain's Next Bestseller and Hope for Children on my blog. Murielle is both an inspiration in regards to her charity work and someone who, quite literally, makes dreams come true for authors. So, without further ado, I will simply say 'Hi Murielle', thank you and go straight to asking about Britain’s Next Bestseller. What was the inspiration behind it?
Very simply I was frustrated with the inequity in the publishing industry. There are thousands of amazing authors out there that don’t get a chance just because they are not a celebrity or aren’t already a successfully published author or their work doesn’t fit the tried and tested already on the shelves. It’s a catch 22. I wanted to take the power away from the editors, agents and publishers and put the power back in the hands of the authors and readers. Initially, BNBS was going to be based on a competition model with readers imply voting for books they wanted to see published however I quickly worked out that if you want to gauge true demand you have to get the consumer to put their money where their mouth is.
The crowd funding method BNBS uses sets it apart from the more traditional self-publishing routes. Was it difficult to convince those invested in the idea that this 50/50 partnership represented a new, innovative way to help authors get their work out there?
People often think that BNBS is a form of self-publishing, It’s not. It’s an innovative way to get the ‘crowd’ to prove demand for a particular title and therefore reduce the risks that typically stops mainstream publishers from taking on new titles. When we first put the idea out there using a simple landing page and some Google Ads we received around 400 submissions in the first month! Authors really liked the idea of proving their material had a market and splitting any profits of the book 50/50 with the publisher. BNBS is not for everyone – you have to be willing to put yourself ‘out there’ as an author. However, the qualities that help an author to be successful with BNBS are the same qualities an author needs to be successful within the publishing industry.
And of course, using this bespoke method, BNBS share both the risks and rewards, offering a massive 50% share of the net receipts. Are you finding this is attracting more and more authors, is it more the creative guidance and supportive atmosphere that seem to appeal, a combination of both or something else entirely?
Whilst the 50% share of net receipts is attractive, we believe that is not the main decision criteria for authors who choose to work with us. Authors choose to work with us because they like having an influence in their success and they love the personal nature of our service. We are possibly the only publisher in the world where authors end up making lifelong friendships like our authors do.
Ryan Mark had a fantastic campaign for Tremor. Andy Males is up for an online campaign award for his promotion of 26 Miles to the Moon, Julie Spiller had a unique smugglers theme to promote her novel The Cornubian…throughout all the varying methods of promotion, are then any words of advice you could offer those currently in the throws of their campaign or thinking of signing up with BNBS?
There are some basic rules to success in anything in life. Firstly it is knowing what you want and having a clear vision of that and secondly doing something consistently every day to achieve that goal. Success is made up of hundreds of tiny little achievements…
You must see so many manuscripts. Do you come across a few where you think ‘Wow, that could be a great television series or film’, or ‘that’s a series waiting to happen?’
When we put the idea out there for BNBS we really didn’t know what we would find. Every day I am in awe at the talent that exists and that is yet to be discovered by the world. This really excites me. I would say at least 60% of the books we have published through BNBS could make a great TV series or film. And we are about to sign the first contract for a screenwriter to have the option for turning one of our books into a screenplay to pitch to producers! How awesome is that!
Being a relatively new publishing company, what have been the greatest challenges moving further into the publishing world (if any)?
The greatest challenge is the attitude of the publishing and book selling industries. They are very old fashioned and fearful of anything that doesn’t fit the mold. The industry is having to change as technology and new innovators flood the sector. However it still doesn’t stop the industry being wary of anything that hasn’t been published the conventional way.
Social media plays a large part in any and all of the campaigns. Do you think it’s becoming easy or harder for authors without a literary agent to get their names and work out their, or is it becoming such that the whole social media zeitgeist is making it a fair playing field for anyone with a good idea and a story to tell?
It is definitely getting harder for anyone in any industry to get their message out there. There is so much social media traffic and we are constantly bombarded with information that its difficult for new messages to get through. This is why it’s important to build a following, be consistent and get supporters to help in creating success. Overall though social media has levelled out the playing field and offers a wonderful opportunity for unknown authors to quickly build a fan base.
You have seen thrillers, adventures, science fiction, fantasy, romance, creative and psychological development books, horror and young adult novels. Are there any genres that you really look forward to receiving or wish people would write more of?
I love the fact that BNBS is open to all genres. I simply love receiving the breadth of manuscripts that we get. Indeed I have fallen in love with books that we have supported that I would never have considered reading before. That is the beauty of BNBS – its open to all!
The BNBS website has come a long way since April 2014 when it launched. Whilst still in its Beta phases, what plans (if you can tell me!) do you have for it in the future?
We have massive plans for the future with innovation that will be a real game changer for the industry. Now we have proven that BNBS works – we need to secure the investment to support our expansion and vision for the future. Know any investors?
Talking of books, what is your favourite novel? You can have more than one!!
There are very few books I can read again and again apart from The Monk by Matthew Lewis (1796). This is a gothic classic. I just love the fact that he was so young (not even 20) when he wrote it and how quickly he wrote it (he completed the manuscript in less than 10 weeks) yet had so much insight into human nature and the plots he weaves together are simply scandalously stunning.
And who is your favourite author?
BNBS authors of course! I don’t particularly have a favourite author as my preference for what I read varies with different stages of my life. That being said I’ve probably read most of Wilbur Smith’s books and as previously stated, I love Matthew Lewis!
What book are you reading now?
On top of the steady stream of manuscripts we receive every week… I’ve been working my way through Kindle‘s ‘top’ lists. It’s a great way for me to see how the submissions we get align with what readers are enjoying commercially. So, in the last 2 weeks – The Humans by Matt Haig, Ian C. P. Irvine’s The Messiah Conspiracy and The Taste of Fear by Jeremy Bates.
You do a great deal for charity, both alongside BNBS and independently. Which causes and/or charities do you feel most passionately about?
I’m a great believer in that everyone can make a difference – even in the smallest of ways. I feel passionate about people and empowering them to unleash their innate talent and potential. The causes that really get under my skin are those around children, poverty, women’s rights and entrepreneurship. My vision is to make BNBS a top 10 publisher in the world raising vast sums that can do good around the world. It’s a win, win. By making authors’ dreams come true we can bring a little bit of heaven to readers and a mountain of support to those that are most in need.
Looking over the Live It Publishing site, I found myself really moved and engaged by many of your passionate posts. One of your quotes that resonated particularly with me was ‘It doesn’t take much to create change and it doesn’t have to cost anything.’ I have always felt that part, if not all, of the concept behind BNBS was the idea of being able to give back and support those who feel passionately about reading and writing, and that this was the opportunity to help nurture that ideal.
Totally. We are born to express ourselves authentically yet most of us are too afraid to. We are too afraid of what others think and of being rejected. Yet when we stop expressing ourselves we reject our self. My aim with BNBS is simply to help facilitate people to express themselves and to share their imagination and truth with the world.
I love the loglines on the Live it site ‘Live with passion, fulfill your purpose…’ If you had to create one for BNBS, what would it be?
Express your self!
What does the future hold for BNBS?
We are currently seeking backing from investors so we can redevelop the website, bring in new innovations that will really help to redefine the publishing industry and give us the manpower we need to expand both within the UK and internationally. There is still so much I want to do with BNBS… and of course expansion into other countries.
And finally, do you have any special message you would like to say to anyone feeling they have that bestseller inside them but haven’t sent it to you yet??
Just do it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain and even if you don’t land a publishing deal you will learn lots and make lifelong friends with BNBS, our authors and supporters.
And to finish off…
1. Favourite movie? Leon
2. Favourite colour? Black. Although I keep being told black is not a colour!
3. Favourite song? So many… my favourite lies within the realm of Nina Simone, Annie Lennox and David Bowie
4. Favourite food? Thai
5. Favourite Superhero? Catwoman
6. Favourite Doctor (as in Doctor Who though you can go all House if you wish!)? Sorry Doctor who? My gynaecologist is pretty awesome J
7. Favourite drink? Champagne and G&T… although not at the same time.
8. Favourite TV show? Don’t have a favourite TV show but did get into Heroes, Breaking Bad, Alias, The L Word and Homeland
9. Favourite place? Home closely followed by anywhere tropical with genuine people
10. Favourite word (swear or otherwise!)? Awesome!
Murielle, yourself, Jude, Helen and everyone at BNBS made mine and so many other dreams come true. Thank you for your that, your time and for all you do for all us authors!!!