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publisher perspective

so the other day, while in the midst of requesting review copies and browsing NetGalley, i heard back from a publisher. he approved my galley and mentioned he'd seen my blog before. which blew my mind for two reasons. 1. it's still hard for me to believe that anyone other than my bestie Eriks read this rambling on books. 2. publishers look at YA review blogs. i had to know more. so i asked him. smart, huh?

meet Harrison Demchick from Bancroft Press.

I know you're the guy that approves my viewing of galleys, but what is it you do exactly?

I do a little bit of everything. Editing is what I consider my primary job, and usually that means working with the authors in taking the manuscripts we decide to publish from first draft to finished novel. It's a process that can take months, or even over a year, and it doesn't stop until we're all sure the book is the best it can be.

Bancroft Press is a small press, so I've also become very involved in marketing these books--because when you spend so much time with them, of course you want them to succeed. That's where NetGalley comes in, and also direct blog e-mails, and whatever particular strategies might be right for a given book. We got an incredible Washington Post review last month for one of our adult books, Ron Cooper's Purple Jesus, and that was the result of nearly ten months of persistent (or obnoxious) e-mails.

I handle all non-Amazon eBook distribution, I conduct research into film production companies that might be interested in our properties, and, really, I do everything that needs doing.
The most unusual thing I do is write screenplays--mostly screenplay adaptations of Bancroft books, which we then try to sell to the aforementioned production companies. I think we're the only publishing company to make screenwriting a major part of our approach.

How has the growth of digital galleys changed the scene for publishers?

It's made a huge difference, and very quickly, but it still depends heavily in the kind of book. For example, digital galleys haven't been an especially big help for a book we put out at the end of 2010, The Naperville White House, by Jerome Bartels. They were a minor help for Purple Jesus, earning it one really major blog review.

But for our young adult titles, starting with Karen Hart's Butterflies in May and absolutely exploding with Eden Unger Bowditch's The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black and Hannah Sternberg's Queens of All the Earth, it's been an incredible help. Digital galleys enable us to get review copies out faster and cheaper, and moreover, they create a demand and a buzz that would be extremely difficult to create on our own.

I do personally contact blogs to solicit copies for review, but the existence of digital galleys--and, moreover, digital galleys would-be reviewers can simply request--is a major boost in this effort. Digital galleys help us get our books to libraries and bookstores that might not otherwise see them. We're a small press, which puts us at a disadvantage in getting our books onto shelves, but in the world of digital galleys, we're on equal footing with the larger publishers.

What do you hope for in a reviewer?

Most basically, I want someone whose response, if positive, can help sell the book. From there, it depends on the sort of galley we're sending out.

Physical galleys usually go to big names, in the hope of getting some strong blurbs to put on the jacket of the final printed book. The Atomic Weight of Secrets, for example, has a great blurb from P. B. Kerr, bestselling author of the Children of the Lamp series. That immediately lends credibility to The Atomic Weight of Secrets, and helps get the book places it might not otherwise get.

Finished books and late galleys--too late to get blurbs--will go to review publications like Kirkus and, for young adult titles, VOYA, and if it's the right sort of book, we'll push it to the newspapers, too. Reviews in any of these major publications can really boost sales.

They'll also go to the blogs. The lit blog community is incredible, because they exist out of pure love of literature. They don't care if you're a big publisher or not--they just want to read something they like. But because these are physical galleys, I want to be sure the blogs I'm contacting have a decent following.

As for digital galleys, I'll usually approve requests for anyone who has a blog, any librarian, any bookseller, and any educator--anyone, in short, I think can help if they like the book. I decline requests from readers who post only on Amazon or Goodreads or similar sites, because anyone can do that. I'm looking for reviewers whose influence can be above the norm.

What's the best thing you've read lately?

I don't know if this is true of every editor, but for me, when you do so much reading during the day, it's just not what you feel like doing when you go home. So unfortunately, I don't get much reading in during my free time, except on vacations or long plane rides. The last time I had one of those, I got back into Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, which I've managed to read bits and pieces of since, and hopefully I'll be able to finish it before too long, because it's fantastic. But then, all the Marquez I've read has been.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for bloggers out there?

I don't think I'm in any position to tell the lit bloggers how to do what they do! I certainly couldn't do it. Somehow, the members of the lit blog community manage to keep active, engaging blogs--and read the books to review on them--while still handling work, school, families, and everything else that goes into the real world. I have no choice to assume there are more than twenty-four hours in their days. I'm in awe of that. If anything, I should get advice from them.

thanks to Harrison for being a bro and answering all my questions. a SPECIAL thanks to Harrison for giving props to the lit blog community. sometimes it's nice to hear how awesome we are.

links from the post:
Bancroft Press
Purple Jesus
The Naperville White House
Butterflies in May
The Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Mysterious Arrival of the Men in Black
Queens of All the Earth
Children of the Lamp series
Love in the Time of Cholera

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I've had contact with Harrison in the past, so it was fun to read this interview with him. Thanks!

  2. I saw your comment on Persnickety Snark's blog so I had to come by to read this post. Thank you for a most informative article. It's good to hear the publisher's perspective.

    I am a new follower.

  3. Lenore - glad you liked it! He's a pretty cool guy and had some neat things to say.

    Shirley - welcome! I'm glad you found it informative. I knew I was interested in what he had to say, so I figured that the other bloggers out there would also.

  4. seriously was interesting, especially the piece about screenwriting as a focus to generate money


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