We live in an age of instant gratification and, unfortunately, this has spread to the world of publishing. In the 21st century, many publishers want all their books to be instant hits – preferably with all foreign rights and media rights sold within six months of publication. The age of the blockbuster novel, whether aimed at children or adults, pushed out a gentler age of publishing, when novels and authors were allowed to develop a following – when libraries were almost on every street corner and when personal recommendation was the greatest advertisement for a book. Some people regard that as progress and the rapacious march of giant publishing corporations that swallow up small publishing houses as a good business model. Fair enough. When you are a giant publishing corporation, you have giant overheads, which have to be paid for somehow.
We don’t. (Have giant overheads or think all books must be blockbusters.)
We decided we would give some highly praised novels, discarded by major publishing companies, a second chance. Novels that should have been available for future generations of readers and not consigned to the ‘out of print’ pile after a year of good-but-not-exceptional sales. At the moment, we’re not interested in new, unpublished novels. We may get around to that but we’re sticking to second-chancers for the time being.
We decided that we would publish young adult’s and children’s books that were thrilling or funny. We decided that we would look for books that, in the process of telling a great story, would espouse some old-fashioned virtues such as honour, morality, consideration, kindness, generosity, humour, hard work and patience. We decided that we would not publish young adult’s and children’s books that were about teenage pregnancies, under-age sex, abortion, paedophilia, drug addiction, gang violence or terminal illness. There are plenty of large publishing companies who do that and who determine, by their choices, what they think children and young adults should be reading.
We decided that we would publish non-fiction that targeted much overlooked sections of the community, and we would get experienced people to write the books, based on their own experiences. We decided that we would not publish self-help books that were written by journalists, academics or scientists but we would get them written by people who actually live in the situation they are writing about. If you buy one of our self-help books, you will know that the person who is giving you advice knows what he or she is talking about because they’ve “been there, done that, and got the t-shirt”.
So, here we are…Iris Books…rebellious, going against the accepted business model for the industry, but determined to make a difference.