Odyssey Books publishes content for Young Adults, and specializes in fantasy and sci-fi titles. Michelle Lovi, founder and publisher of Odyssey Books, shares her insights about the publishing industry.
Staying afloat in the publishing industry is not an easy task. Publishers have to compete against a deluge of new titles, and they are pitted against incumbents with established brands and massive resources.
In the midst of such rigorous competition, several independent publishers are able to achieve international success. Media Context speaks to an editorial representative at Odyssey Books, a company that has made impressive strides in their industry.
About Odyssey Books Who is Odyssey Books’ target audience? Which range of genres does Odyssey Books focus on? Publishing Process How does Odyssey Books’ editorial team decide which manuscripts to publish? What would Odyssey Books like to see in its submissions? How does Odyssey Books market its products to its target audience? Does Odyssey Books consider submissions from international authors, or only the ones that are located within its region? Would Odyssey Books prefer to work with established authors or novices? Challenges Of The Publishing Process What are the main challenges that Odyssey Books’ editorial team experiences? What challenges did Odyssey Books face during the COVID-19 outbreak? Industry Trends What prominent opportunities can Odyssey Books observe in the publishing industry? How can Odyssey Books utilize these opportunities to remain competitive? Does Odyssey Books intend to collaborate with international partners in the future?
About Odyssey Books
Who is Odyssey Books’ target audience?
We don’t have a niche target audience as we publish in a range of genres for readers 10 years and up. But anyone looking for a good story – real or imagined – can find something of interest amongst our titles.
Which range of genres does Odyssey Books focus on?
We publish fiction and narrative non-fiction, but we have done especially well in the young adult space, especially with our fantasy and sci-fi titles. It’s a fun community to be part of and engage directly with our readers.
How does Odyssey Books’ editorial team decide which manuscripts to publish?
We have a team of readers who go through the submissions and share feedback, but the decision ultimately lies with me. There is no marketing team to drive acquisitions – all decisions are made on the merit of the manuscript and the vibe we get from the author. We see publishing as a partnership between publisher and author, so it’s important that the author comes across as a good fit to join us.
What would Odyssey Books like to see in its submissions?
What we’re looking for changes all the time, so anything goes really. But at the moment we’re especially interested in gritty literary fiction, suspense/thrillers, edgy pop culture, science fiction/fantasy with romantic twists, and stories in exotic settings.
How does Odyssey Books market its products to its target audience?
We have a variety of approaches to book marketing, depending on the individual book and its ideal readership, and we work closely with our authors to implement them. Obviously social media is a crucial tool in our strategies, especially with so many people turning to their social accounts more than ever before in an effort to stay connected with others.
Does Odyssey Books consider submissions from international authors, or only the ones that are located within its region?
We’ve published authors in Australia, New Zealand, US, UK, Canada, and South Africa. We’re excited to be able to reach an international audience as well as publish international voices.
Each year we discover new multicultural voices in our own communities and abroad, and are keen to work with authors from around the world – there are no global barriers in publishing, just new horizons and perspectives to explore!
Would Odyssey Books prefer to work with established authors or novices?
Debut authors and unsolicited manuscripts have always been welcome. It’s how we’re able to find fresh new talent when other publishers can be risk averse and stick to the more well-known names. New authors do need a lot of guidance, but we’re hoping to build long-term relationships with them and are invested in helping them build their platform and their readership.
It helps if you’ve done some research into book promotion and have at least the beginnings of an online presence that you’re willing to build on consistently, even if you’re a debut author. Established authors will already have an idea of the publishing process and should be eager to explore new opportunities to share their work with readers.
Challenges of the Publishing Process
What are the main challenges that Odyssey Books’ editorial team experiences?
Technology can be a challenge. We work with authors all over the world and rely heavily upon online services to manage our projects and communicate with our authors. Some are more technologically savvy than others, so we have to spend a lot of time helping them get acquainted with our systems.
What challenges did Odyssey Books face during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Probably the biggest hurdle we had to deal with was the cancellation of events and closure of bookstores. While many of our titles do well with a simple online release campaign, some of our authors also have a good local community or interest group behind them that would have been a huge support at a launch. We chose to delay some releases, and changed up our promotion strategy for a few others. We saw this occur across the whole industry, and then the market was flooded with books in September, so that had a significant effect on pre-holiday sales.
What prominent opportunities can Odyssey Books observe in the publishing industry?
When we first chatted a few years ago, I mentioned that audiobooks and podcasting would be a growth area in publishing. We’ve definitely seen this to be the case since then, and it’s still growing.
How can Odyssey Books utilize these opportunities to remain competitive?
We’re working with a number of producers and platforms to publish our titles in audio. It’s a slow process as we’re a small team, but we’re keen to make it a part of our regular program.
Does Odyssey Books intend to collaborate with international partners in the future?
The pandemic has changed the way the publishing industry collaborates. With many of the international book fairs going online, it has opened up opportunities for greater interaction between publishers and agents around the world. We hadn’t planned to attend Frankfurt for a few years, but since it was held virtually in 2020, we were able to be involved much sooner than we’d hoped and have started building relationships that we’ll be able to foster in coming years until we’re able to travel again.
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