Publishers Partner Across the Pond to Launch New Imprint: Soho Press’s Laura Hruska Talks About Her Company’s New Venture with British-based Constable & Robinson
Extra: What is the toughest part of selling your titles?
Hruska: The hardest thing is to find that audience. In England, if you get a review for a book in six newspapers, you pretty much blanket the population. In this country, you can get wonderful reviews [in the six newspapers with the largest circulation], and that’s maybe 10 percent of the reading population. … That’s a handicap for a smaller independent. We compete [for] review attention with many other books. It would have been a shame to not get in a book section 20 years ago. Now, it’s very, very difficult. If you have a [publisher] that’s selling millions of copies of books competing for the same column, it’s difficult for the independents to get enough review attention. …
Extra: How was the initial list of books selected for Soho Constable? Did you factor the difference in taste of the readership between the two markets into your decision?
Hruska: Some of the authors have been published in the [United States, with Constable & Robinson’s former U.S. publisher partner, Carroll & Graf] with very good reviews, and some are first-timers. I didn’t look into the track record for many of them. I like the books, and, because of the hiatus with somebody dealing with these books [when Carroll & Graf was purchased by Perseus], it was unfair to look at the track record and extract numbers. I didn’t think it was fair.
I have noticed—because we have in the past, independent of this new Soho imprint, bought books from England—that there is a slightly different taste with our readers [compared to British readers]. … The protagonist must be good and pure for the [U.S.] customer to love the book. [British readers] prefer a more complex protagonist—slightly more real.
From the outset, when we settled this [deal] very shortly after BookExpo in June 2007, these book titles were fairly well set. For the second list, I have manuscripts sent over to read, and I can make comments. We varied the quantities on what I thought we could sell. These are guestimates.