Industry Insights with Ivana Sanders
By Georgie Graham, Leyla Mehmet, Karoline Tübben and Aimee Whittle
This week, we are delighted to have had the opportunity to interview Ivana Sanders, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Aesthetic Press.
Please could you tell us about your publishing journey? How did you get into the industry, and how did it lead you to where you are now?
I started working in publishing as a hobby, doing book reviews for indie authors and for publishers on my social media platforms. From there I started to notice that my following was building. I was also learning about different freelance avenues in the #WritingCommunity, so I started offering a range of freelance services including creating book cover designs and book trailers. I also offered editing services and interviewed authors on Instagram Live. I also became a host for Horror Tree magazine and was a volunteer for #DVPit. I did most of this for fun as I really enjoy helping authors navigate the publishing industry.
I wanted to begin curating short stories from several authors to organise themed anthologies - which I loved! This was how I realised that I had developed both a large enough community and the necessary skills to run my own publishing company; from then Aesthetic Press was born!
Tell us a bit about Aesthetic Press. What was it like to set up your own publishing company?
Aesthetic Press is an independent digital-first, dark fiction publisher which focuses on curating a diverse collection of thriller, mystery, suspense and horror novels.
Setting up Aesthetic Press was really easy for me because I was already doing everything that Aesthetic Press does as a whole when I was previously offering freelance services. It was just about bringing it all together! Marketing is the biggest hurdle to overcome every day. Maintaining visibility and trying to stand out whilst being challenged by changing algorithms has been the toughest part of the job. I am continuously navigating how to best promote our authors globally. Recently, I attempted to launch an extension of Aesthetic Press; a book tour company called Forever Forbidden Tours. It didn't work out. Failures are as much part of the job as successes. I will try to launch Forever Forbidden Tours again in the future! Thankfully, the Aesthetic Press YouTube series that I hired a host for did launch successfully!
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
Unfortunately, working on my day job...haha! This includes:
Reading queries and participating in pitch events.
Creating marketing and promo posts, ads, and trailers for our released and soon to be released books.
Editing early drafts of the books we have recently signed.
Creating sample book covers for our authors to choose from.
Gathering hosts for our book tours.
Send out review copies for puff quotes (one-line reviews from other published authors that print on the front cover on new books).
Can you tell us about a project or title that you’re most excited about?
Aesthetic Press has already published many books that are the first books in a variety of series, so I am excited to publish the next instalments of our authors' series soon!
What has been the highlight of your publishing career so far?
Publishing books that are well received and helping to make authors' dreams come true! Entertaining our readers with books they love. What more could we want, right?
If you had one piece of advice for people looking to get into publishing, what would it be?
Patience. Lots of it.
It has taken me over eight years to get where I am and I still have many more goals I want to pursue and achieve. It all takes a lot of time. Publishing is an industry that involves a lot of slow growth. It is a journey, but a really fulfilling one.
Seek out new opportunities and don't be afraid be different. Try to think outside the box, and always try new things. Learn from your peers in your chosen genre because what works for one genre will not work for another. Know your audience. Build your digital presence. Work together and be kind. Make friends in the industry as it's all about who you know! Continue learning and growing. Expand where and when you can.