Achuka's Michael Thorn on how being a publisher is different from being a reviewer or an author - Nosy Crow Skip to content
Posted by Kate, January 22, 2012

Achuka’s Michael Thorn on how being a publisher is different from being a reviewer or an author

Michael Thorn is the founder of Achuka, a children’s book, and now more general book website begun in 1997. Achuka has been a review and news website, but Michael wants to be a digital publisher and so created ACHUKAbooks. Just last week, he published his first book: a digital edition of The Field Bill Nagelkerke. A writer and reviewer, Michael tweeted about how different the experience of being a publisher was from his other book-connected roles, and I asked him to do a guest blog about the experience of being a first-time publisher.

I should probably make it clear that Nosy Crow doesn’t have any connection at all with Achuka or ACHUKAbooks, but one of the good things about being a small independent publisher is that it is somehow easier to talk about the work of your “competitors” in the field than it is in a larger, more corporate organisation, and anyway, I rate Michael and thought his perspective could be interesting.

You can download The Field for free if you are quick!

Well, it’s only three weeks into being (albeit in a limited sense at present) a publisher, but already I’m feeling the difference in my relationship to the books I’m dealing with, compared with the way I relate to them as a mere reviewer and website commenter.

When I’m reading submissions for ACHUKAbooks, I continue to read with a reviewer’s eye and heart (I’m not after all going to publish something that I would review highly negatively), but I’m aware that there is another, and sometimes conflicting, dynamic going on.

I’ll be thinking, “Yes, not my kind of book, but definitely well put together and on a theme that I can see would be popular. Can I like this book sufficiently, as well as admire the way it’s been created, to shout out loudly and convincingly enough on its behalf?”

It all comes down to the question, “Do I want a list confined to just my own personal taste in reading?”.

Definitely not, and besides which it would be commercial folly, since the books I tend to love are not often bestsellers. On the other hand, I do have to be passionate about wanting to get the book out to readers, so in a sense I’m finding, with one or two titles under consideration, that the book itself is having to persuade me in the direction of acceptance based on the potential audience to which I can perceive it being pitched.

As a digital publisher with low production and overhead costs, it will be easier to have a multi-faceted list than in the print world, but there still needs to be coherence and an evident consistency of quality and standard, just as you would hope to develop with any brand.

Most interesting to me has been my relationship to our first published title, The Field by New Zealand author Bill Nagelkerke.

I predicted that publishing would be exciting and nerve-racking. I was not so prepared for how emotional it is. I’m anxiously watching The Field make its way in the world, almost as a parent looks out for their own child. I’m hoping people pay my first publishing child due attention, that they speak well of it, that it reaches an audience and achieves the success it deserves.

The first review on Amazon was lukewarm, but my internal response to it was anything but tepid. How could the reviewer not be more passionate about the book? It is not a book to be dismissed as a quick interesting read.

Once further ACHUKAbooks titles have been released, and The Field is no longer an only child, and I have to share my affections and attention with others in the brood, I imagine my publisher watchfulness and nurturing will feel just as parental, but more evenly-spread and less intense.

I hope so. Excuse me, it’s been a while since I checked how Bill was doing. It’s still early days, and I mustn’t leave him unattended for too long…

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