Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Meet the NHP Staff: Publisher Melissa Darnell

Hello everyone! Now that NHP is finalizing its behind-the-scenes preparations for our opening, I thought it was time that I introduce myself so readers and writers out there can have an idea of just who is steering the ship, so to speak, at Netherfield House Press. I also thought I'd answer a few frequently asked questions.

Question: What's the story behind Netherfield House Press's beginning?
Answer: I started my humble career in publishing back in 2000 when I wrote a book about how successful directors lead their dance teams. Back then, there weren't any books like the one I'd researched and written. So I immediately knew I would need to publish this book myself if I wanted to get it out there to readers. As a lifelong fan of cheerleading and dance, I also loved the idea of starting a publishing company dedicated to publishing books just for these two then-underserved markets. So I started Darnell Spirit Productions.

It was a long, frustrating, and confusing process learning to start and run a publishing company, made tougher by the fact that back then there were no ebooks or short run printers. Print was the only format unless you wanted to publish a book for free online as a webpage. And of course the long established traditional publishers pretty much owned the publishing world, with printers geared to serving the "big print run" establishment. So getting decent printing prices at a good quality and wide distribution was nearly impossible without a huge investment.

But slowly and surely DSP still managed to grow, steadily adding titles each year, first written by myself, then eventually by others, until we wound up with a really great selection of nonfiction by some of the top experts in the cheerleading and dance worlds. We also were able to add ebooks in a few formats as the digital publishing world began to open up. But then last year I was faced with a dilemma...a fellow writer and friend of mine approached me with the enticing idea of publishing fiction. Yet we'd never published fiction before, and DSP wasn't really set up to expand in that direction too well. And there were so many other subjects in addition to cheerleading and dance that I wanted to help bring to the world of readers, but DSP was a niche publishing company. Stuck with the inability to grow outside of the box we'd created for ourselves, all progress came to a screeching halt while we reevaluated what to do next.

Then in January of 2010, we knew what we needed to do. It was time for a brand new publishing venture, one that would allow DSP's bestselling titles to continue to be available to readers along with a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction in a variety of subgenres and subjects. And all titles would be immediately offered in both print and digital formats to meet the needs of today's readers. Thus Netherfield House Press was born. And I'm really excited to say that our first two books to be released will be a mixture of new fiction and an updated version of one of DSP's bestselling titles, with more of both to come soon.

Question: Where did the name for Netherfield House Press come from?
Answer: Fans of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice will probably recognize Netherfield as the name of the house where Mr. Darcy, his best friend Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Bingley's sisters stayed. In the book and movies, Netherfield was always described and shown to be the best house in the neighborhood, with none other equal to it. It stood for class, refinement, and the highest ideals of society. As a publishing house, Netherfield House Press intends to do the bring to the small publishing world class, refinement, and the highest ideals for book publishing.

Question: Outside of DSP, what is your background in publishing?
Answer: In addition to running DSP for ten years, which included serving as acquisitions editor for 6 titles written by industry experts, I also served as a senior editor at Cobblestone Press (Romance Writers of America-approved publishing company) for three years and edited over 40 fiction titles there, and I edited numerous reviews for the Joyfully Reviewed romance book review site for a year. I also have a few novels published under a pen name.

Question: What is your favorite part of the publishing process?
Answer: Oh, that's a tough one. I actually have two favorite parts...acquisitions and book releases. There's something so exciting about looking for the next great book to publish, a little like panning for gold, that gets the heart racing and the adrenaline pumping. And then of course I feel intensely proud of every new book we publish, as if I had helped someone give birth for months instead of hours! It's an extremely rewarding job, and one that I hope I get to continue for several decades to come!

If you have additional questions you would like to ask, please feel free to do do in the comments below. Thanks!

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