Quartet Press – The New Digital Age? (Updated, August, 2009)

We have been spending a little more time recently looking at independent publishers and small presses and in my viral travels today I learned that Kassia Krozser, proprietor and editor of Booksquare.com is involved in a new publisher called Quartet Press.
Here is Kassia talking about her new role at Quartet Press taken from a posting at their website:
“4. What’s your role at QP?

K2: It says editorial on my business card, but many of our roles overlap. We work in a highly collaborative sort of way, though getting Kirk to read romance novels has been a lifelong challenge for me. Unless you count Pynchon. I do. I love reading submissions, love it when I forget I’m working because I’m reading, love discovering new voices (I am huge, huge, huge about voice).

But I am also the world’s nosiest person, so I can’t keep myself from offering my marketing advice (which Kat very politely says she’s noting), my technical thoughts (which Kirk swears he’s considering) and my thoughts on all the stuff Don does (which he tells me are great suggestions, keep ‘em coming). Starting a new business is a lot of work. I feel lucky to be part of this.”

I spent a little time this evening looking at the Quartet Press website. Author’s should be aware that in times of recession, numerous new publishers spring up formed by ex-publishing house staff, redundant editors etc. While I certainly don’t mean to place Quartet in this ‘fly by night’ bracket, authors should be tentative about new independent publishers. There are already a few in the pipeline this fall following the digital/ebook/POD business models – notably, Liz Calder’s (ex Bloomsbury) boutique-styled Full Circle Editions and Colin Robinson and John Oakes who will soon be launching OR Books. All new publishers for a new ‘digital’ age.
I do like Quartet’s openness, but looking at the domain name and their website, what struck me was the sense I was browsing a blogsite rather than the corporate home of a new publisher. That of course may change, but its the feeling of liquidity and flexibility that could put both new and established authors off. Whether I am a new author or have built up a long standing in ebooks or print publishing in romance – I’m not sure I’m instilled with confidence in a publisher who gives off the air of a publisher borne of a half hour discussion over four bottles of bud in a NY bar.
As a writer, I need a little more re-assurance than candid online debate on their ‘terms of contract’ before I’m going to commit a book to them.
From Quartet Press website:

“Quartet Press is the love child of Kassia Krozser (our not-so-evil editorial genius and renowned proprietress of BookSquare.com); one Kirk Biglione (the techno-wizard behind the Quartet curtain, who in his spare time co-authors the fantastic Medialoper.com); Kat Meyer (Quartet’s Chief Marketeer and the wearied-but-optimistic veteran of more than a few regional, academic and trade book publishers); and the super secretive Mr. X, whose talents are simply too many to mention (don’t worry – you’ll hear more about him soon).”

I think Kassia and the others are strong in endeavor and experience (can’t speak for M. X!) but endeavor and experience also requires significant substance, and this was what I think was fundamentally missing from the website. What actually is their model of digital publishing? What are they offering authors? I suspect, but yes, I am only surmising on what I can go on, that the business publishing model is something similar to Drolliere Press, ebook led, but with the ultimate goal of print publication using POD means.

Their main genre is romance, but again with a new publisher, I’d tend to allow the business and market dictate where the publisher should explore and develop, though I do note their suggestion that they may expand beyond romantic genres. In honesty, if you look hard enough, you will find some form of romance in many general fiction novels.

But hey, what do I know, time will tell!

I think for authors this is a case of wait and see, but above all I want Kassia and her publishers to succeed. We desperately need independent publishers at the moment in a world of magnolia publishing corporations!

You can follow an on going discussion on Quartet Press at AbsoluteWrite here.

Also, this is an extract and link to the article in Publishers Weekly which Kat Meyer refers to in the comments section below.

[…]”Don Linn is leaving behind traditional publishing to head Quartet Press, a digital publishing start-up for which Linn, most recently senior v-p and publisher of Taunton Press, is the primary investor. Already in place at Quartet are Kassia Krozser of Booksquare.com; Kirk Biglione of Medialoper.com; and Kat Meyer who has a long background in book marketing and is v-p for sales and marketing. Quartet’s primary focus will be on developing e-books for most e-book devices and expects to launch its first list this fall with 25 titles under the Quench Romance imprint. Quench titles will cover all romance genres, ranging from contemporary to urban to erotica. Quartet will focus on romance for at least a year, but expects eventually to add other genres such as mysteries and science fiction.”[…]

Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly, 7/31/2009 – ‘Linn Leaves Taunton to Head Quartet Press’

Full PW Article.

Update: August 2009.

Former executive editor at Samhain Publishing, Angela James, has now joined Quartet Press as editorial director.

Angela James is a strong advocate for digital publishing and she has also previously worked at Elora’s Cave as a copy-editor. Much respected within the independent publishing world, James joins Quartet Press at a new and vibrant time for this recent start-up publisher and joins a strong team of experienced publishing staff.

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