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Why Conquest is Different

Not all that long ago I sat in my office chair, I'm sure on the phone with my business colleague as I am most days, and tried wracking my brain on how I was going to make Conquest different. If you've been in the publishing space for even a millisecond's length of time, it is not hard to discern this is an exceptionally saturated business.

I had seen videos on Tiktok about how "publishing with an independent press isn't much different than self-publishing" and "why would you not self-publish and keep 70% or more of your revenue instead of tying yourself to someone who can't do much more than you only to get paid less".

This was when it hit me...those voices are not entirely wrong.

I'm not going to say there weren't a few days where I sat and wallowed in my feelings about how I had put forth all of this passion only to be recognized as a lesser option. Granted, a small, traditional publisher isn't for everyone, but it wasn't me or the business I felt was my authors. They deserved the WORLD and I woke up daily, and still do, with immediate thoughts of, "How am I going to put them on the map today."

After the last six weeks, this is what I've learned about myself and Conquest that sets us apart:

1. Distribution

Oh...the ugly "D" word. Ingram Spark and Amazon KDP are the world's largest and most revered book distributors. They are also the primary channels for both self and traditional publishers (outside of the Big Houses). In all of the chatter and research you hear about why authors go Big Five, one of those is because of the vast distribution channels.

Where Big Five is different is they are big enough they house their own distribution centers. Pause for a round of laughter here. Yeah...a small, traditional press isn't going to open its own distribution center, especially not in its first year of operations. So, I took that on the chin and I did what my Granny always told me...I educated myself.

Ingram and KDP do not reach everywhere. South Africa is one example. If I am sourcing Ingram and KDP already, I NEED the areas they can't touch.

Conquest now has reach through the following distribution channels (Outside of Ingram and KDP)

  • Takealot for print (Ingram can source ebook)

  • StreetLib for Ebook (same distribution network as Ingram but with a few more subscription and international online options)

  • Bookvault for Print (same distribution network as Ingram but marginally cheaper and better quality)

  • Nielsen Book for Print in the UK (also the requirement for other huge retailers in the UK like Waterstones [which Ingram says they source])

  • Plus 1-2 more

Now, we still load through Ingram since that is the predominant purchasing source for all things retail, library, and beyond. But having the others to fill in a few gaps is making a worldwide difference...literally.

2. Marketing

By far my least favorite topic and one that undoubtedly causes me the most stress, but outside of distribution, it is the one at the top of all aspiring authors' lists. Marketing can be expensive, and for a newer company, budgets are tight.

As I was causing myself lifelong heartburn trying to figure out how I was going to get Conquest to compete with some of the bigger publishers, I had to step back and reevaluate. I remembered, one of the reasons authors don't go the Big Five route is because they lose an unknown amount of creative and decision-making control with companies that large. So I asked myself, "Why would I do the same with their marketing?"

Conquest applies, what I like to call, an Oreo tactic. I know it sounds silly, but just hear me out. The majority of authors querying Conquest know what they want and what they don't want when it comes to Marketing. Some want to spend their effort and time in conferences and being submitted for awards. Others don't want to travel but prefer to have a healthy amount of professionally provided blurbs or hits from social media influencers.

All Conquest authors complete a Marketing and PR questionnaire when they are onboarded with us. Based on those responses and market research, Conquest will develop a marketing plan that both we and the author will fulfill together as a team. If they want to reach out to specific influencers, I say go for it! If they need Conquest to submit for certain advertising wants, we do it! Where is the filling of the Oreo you may ask? It's in our author communication.

If a Conquest author finds a marketing opportunity that was not included in their plan, all they have to do is message me, and we collaborate on how we are going to make that happen. Nothing is off the table, it may just have to be a small table.

Are you still with me? We're almost done now, I promise. I saved the best for last.

3. Editing

I don't know about any of you who are still with me, reading this rambling, but I don't see authors from large houses talking about how wonderful their editing experience was. I seriously doubt it's because of the quality, but I do think it's because of the lack of connection.

I tell my authors this all the time, editing for me is my creative catharsis. It is the one place where my creativity flourishes. Do I find a creative outlet in my writing? Absolutely. But it's nothing like what I find when I am editing.

All Conquest authors work hand in hand with their editor(s), openly and directly. It's a collaborative approach to taking talent and watching it water a story that sometimes only needs a little sunlight to bloom.

When authors query Conquest, I don't pick the most polished or well-written stories. That's not exactly what I'm looking for. Hell, I have an author who completely rewrote her manuscript after she signed her contract.

What I look for is this:

  • Organic & god-gifted talent. Can you paint me a picture with your words that pulls me out of my seat and transports me somewhere entirely?

  • A story concept that will move me. Will I scream profanities at my Kindle, or weep like someone ate my last protein bar, or will I find myself becoming flushed and overheated? I want to be emotionally put through the wringer.

  • Will I learn something from your characters' story? It doesn't necessarily have to be about themselves, but will I see them grow, love, lose someone, gain someone, find happiness, or discover that all is lost to them in the world? Those are the stories that stick with people like a flytrap and never leave.

Having authors be wary of some suggestions or recommendations, but then come to me afterward and say things like: I thought you were crazy, but I never thought I could love my story more. It tells me I did the right thing in creating this company.

Final Thoughts

If you noticed a shift in how we went from a "How Conquest is Different" post into a "This is Why We're Great" post. Ironically, that is similar to how I've found myself thinking over the last six weeks.

Conquest, as a smaller traditional publisher, may not provide HUGELY different options than what a self-publishing author could provide themselves. But what we are is a group of ambitious and passionate lovers of the craft who are taking talented authors with phenomenal stories to tell and putting them out into the world for as many people to experience it as we can find. They love their stores, they are involved in the process, and they are becoming better writers and entrepreneurs because of it.

If we do nothing else, we've at least done that. And to me, that is something worth being proud of.

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