New Authors Welcome

Arena Books is one of the leading UK publishers of political science and other specialised titles. As we are a new but established company, not only do we utilise the latest technology in the production of specialist publications as an alternative to mass market runs, but we are able to limit costs in such a way as to produce titles which would be commercially unattractive or non-viable to the larger publishing house.

Furthermore, our titles are now published simultaneously in the UK and US, Ingrams (the world’s largest wholesale distributor of US book product) representing us in the US.

The benefits we offer

We were called into existence to fill a vital market gap in the publishing industry in view of the critical divide over recent years between the increase of serious academic works crying out for publication matched against a diminution of suitable publishing outlets. As we are a small company with limited overheads situated in an appropriate geographical location, not far from Cambridge, we are ideally placed for satisfying the needs of academic or other highly specialised authors.

As with most specialist academic publishers today, our titles are produced on a supported cost basis, fully refunded through a mix of sales via the conventional academic market and personal stock for supply to your course work outlets. The days are long gone when academic publishers of more esoteric works were prepared to carry all costs alone. This is not so much because the sector has become risk averse, but because sales expectations per run are limited to quantities which do not necessarily reflect the value or importance of the proposed books in themselves.

That is, books of extraordinary significance are being produced every year which whilst not justifying the criterion of normal commercial viability, do most certainly justify themselves in terms of the target readerships they seek to achieve in specific circles, whether nationally or internationally. And it has been made evident that the achievement of these target readerships bears little relationship to accepted marketing demands.

This situation, of course, crosses with the function of the “unpublished” academic paper, but it is the very function of such enterprises as Arena Books to fulfil the need for more enduring, more widely available, and better presented publications in the conventional sense. This is exactly what academics have been demanding in furthering their careers over the past decade or more. Clearly books which are published for public sale are more permanent and more convenient to use as study material than the bound dissertation in a faculty library – not to mention the fact that they give a greater aura to the reputation of the author.

Changes in the book trade

Another factor which is obliging publishers to produce on a supported cost basis is the revolution in the book trade over the past 5 or more years. Books are consumables in the same way as groceries, and the pattern of retailing the former is following in the wake of the latter. Multiples now dominate the book trade and the Net Book Agreement on pricing was dropped in 1995. Retailers are now demanding discounts which were inconceivable 15 years ago, and with the added costs of distribution and marketing, publishers’ margins are being squeezed to their limits. But at the end of the line are the authors themselves, and because they are not directly engaged in the business of the industry, unfortunately, they have fared worst of all.

There is, however, a silver lining in this discouraging scenario, since the better multiples (e.g. Waterstones, Blackwells, and latterly, Ottakars) comprise giant stores offering a greater number and variety of titles than bookshops in any previous era. Furthermore, they are attracting greater numbers of people into their stores, and in many areas are generating sales levels that are unprecedented. All this is good news for authors – offering even exceptional opportunities for those writing on the most esoteric topics.

What you need to do

If you have a book to publish then write to us first, sending a CV, and a detailed description of the book. The latter should comprise length (number of words and/or pages), your target readership, breakdown of contents, a description of the main thesis, and as to whether the book contains tables and illustrations.

If you send attachments describing your book, ensure that they are in Microsoft Word, and always use the title (or an abbreviation thereof) in the doc.title, and never use the generalised term “book.doc.” Do not send any hard copy or disks at this stage.

Usually we are in a position to decide as to whether we should like to proceed further within a period of 3 – 4 weeks. If we feel the book is viable for our publishing house we will request a hard copy together with a floppy disk or CD-ROM. Again, remember that the latter should have a title specific to your own work and not have a generalised heading such as, manuscript/typescript or book doc. Return postage should be remitted, and it is important you retain your own copy of the book in a safe electronic format.

If you have not kept apace with technology, and your prospective book has been produced on a typewriter, or is even in longhand, we will still be prepared to consider the proposed work. However, if we agreed to publish, an extra cost would be incurred, as we would need to transfer the book to disk before editing.

Please note our preferences with regard to the presentation of your work –

Do not worry if your existing text does not match the above criteria. If necessary, we can always make adjustments, and we are prepared to adopt a number of alternative styles.

On accepting your book, when an agreement has been made to publish, we shall then request that you send us a summary describing your target market. This should identify educational and age levels, and the different academic interest groups you aspire to attract both nationally and internationally. If the book is almost exclusively of academic interest, then try to prepare a list of faculties in the UK, or further afield, to which it would appeal.

Our marketing approach

Arena Books is geared to producing specialised academic and other titles which for different reasons (e.g. quantity turnover or esoteric subject matter) do not tend to attract the larger publishing houses. We are able to satisfy the expectations of such authors on a long-term basis.

But there are other authors, mostly of aspiring text books, whose expectations are for a mass-market turnover, but have not succeeded in finding a mainline publisher. This need not necessarily be a reflection on their work, but could be simply because of the intense competitive environment in a very profitable area of publishing.

The requirements of such authors we are also able to meet through our Test Launch publishing scheme. Under this arrangement we would publish your book in the normal way, in providing standard publishing services, but in addition, supplying you gratis with an agreed number of copies for re-sale to your own students and/or an intermediate retail outlet. You would then have the opportunity of promoting the book on a practical daily use basis.

As you would own the copyright you would retain the option of continuing to work with Arena Books on a long-term arrangement, or if eventually you received a substantial financial offer from a larger publishing conglomerate for the rights, you might be persuaded to take your book elsewhere. Hence the test launch scheme provides a useful service for introducing the potential mass market title to retail outlets which would otherwise be denied.

Whenever possible we like to organise book-launching functions for our publications – a rare event in today’s publishing world, except in the event of potential mass-market titles. These functions are usually held in South Kensington, central London.

Business arrangement with authors

As a company we have no standard form of contractual agreement with authors on our supported cost scheme, and indeed, none exists in the industry, although in the past some companies prepared lengthy legal agreements which they use as standard, but for the past few years these have become no longer legally acceptable.

Your agreement with Arena Books would therefore constitute an exchange of letters on matters already discussed between the two parties. The following points, however, should be borne in mind in any event:-

Cost-sharing

Your share of the cost would depend on a number of factors, but we do try to ensure that this is kept to a minimum. Our costs are certainly less than those of any other publisher known to us working in a similar sphere of activity, and in any event, such costs are refundable through pre-arrangements reached.

Charges are made in two instalments, firstly on the agreement between the two parties to proceed, and secondly, immediately prior to the delivery of free copies to the author for his private circulation some 5 months later. This latter event should not be confused with the publication date, for 8 months elapse (in usual circumstances) between acceptance to publish and the appearance of the title on bookseller’s shelves.

The completion of production is therefore made well before the publication date. This is to allow for review copies to be sent out in good time, for distributors to arrange advance sales, and for the long process of Nielson BookData, Whitakers, Bibliographic Data Services Ltd., Bowker, and other marketing agencies, to advance your title through the various stages of publicity in this country and abroad.

In addition ISBN numbers and bar codes would have to be obtained for your book, and of no small significance, an appropriate cover would need to be designed which attracts attention and helps increase sales in a retail environment. Finally, before the publication date, a legal deposit of your book would need to be made to the British Library in addition to 5 further copies to the Copyright Libraries Agency for presentation to the university legal deposit libraries of the United Kingdom and Ireland. All these formalities take time and have to be followed according to an exact procedure.

Arena Books is especially conscientious of the need to ensure that an effective description of your title goes onto the websites of the major booksellers in both this country and abroad where appropriate. In this task we work in conjunction with a number of relevant agencies, and we are vigilant in ensuring that they fulfil their function to our satisfaction. Consequently, we have been very satisfied with the website publicity of our titles since this medium is increasingly important in fighting for greater market share.

Selling on the internet is expanding daily, and most bookselling websites have a referencing engine breaking down books into subject categories. To assure you of our effectiveness within this medium, we invite you to contact any leading UK bookselling website to test the quality of our entries. For example, visit the Waterstones website, press the Power Search button and when the Advanced Search Books page appears, type in Arena Books in the Publisher box. Then press Search New and a list of our publications will appear with their cover images. Press on any publication you choose and a full description of the book will be displayed.

To access our showcase on the American market go to Barnes and Noble (the largest booksellers in the US), and having identified any of our titles from a UK bookselling website, you may then find full descriptions of any or all of our publications.

If you would like us to consider the publication of your manuscript we are confident that no publishing house would be more suited to your needs than Arena Books.

In approaching us, please address correspondence to:; James Farrell, Director, Arena Books, 6 Southgate Green, Bury St. Edmunds, England, IP33 2BL.