Episode 61: Behind the Scenes of Traditional Publishing with Trafalgar Square Books' Rebecca Didier (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 61: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Trafalgar Square Books Managing Editor and Graphic Designer Rebecca Didier. You'll learn ...
Watch Rebecca Didier's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Rebecca Didier
Rebecca Didier has worked for Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, for 19 years. She currently serves as both Managing Editor and Graphic Designer, and her role in the small company spans acquisitions, editorial, design, and marketing. She has worked with top riders, trainers, and equine experts from around the globe to bring their books to print.
In addition, TSB publishes a specialized list of craft titles, and a limited number of canine and nature books. The book Naturally Curious: A Photographic Field Guide and Month-By-Month Journey Through the Fields, Woods, and Marshes of New England by naturalist Mary Holland and conceived of and edited by Rebecca, is a winner of the National Outdoor Book Award.
Rebecca has designed more than 200 book covers for the non-fiction, biography, memoir, and fiction genres, as well as packaging for videos, including the Telly-Award-Winning series 7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman, from the director of the international hit feature film Buck. She is co-author of the book Dressage with Mind, Body & Soul with world-renowned animal behaviorist Linda Tellington-Jones.
Rebecca writes and rides whenever she can, splitting her time between Boston and Vermont, and metal ponies and real ones.
Rebecca Didier Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: Tell us about Trafalgar Square Books.
Rebecca: We've made our name through publishing practical how-to texts that generally help people either ride better or interact with their horses in a clearer manner. We have a lot of horse care books. We've started to broaden our offerings by adding more biography, autobiography, and memoir. We publish 20 to 25 books a year, not just horse books, we have another a small arm of the company that focuses on other kinds of books.
Trafalgar Square Books published its first horse book in 1985. That book was Centered Riding by Sally Swift — a book that helped start an organization and revolutionized how to learn to ride and teach others to ride.
The staff members who work hard to bring TSB horse books and videos to life are horse people — owners, trainers, pleasure riders, and competitors. They’ve driven horses, jumped them, and ridden in Western, hunt seat, dressage, and saddle seat saddles.They’ve owned Morgans, Minis, Thoroughbreds, Hanoverians, Lusitanos, Appaloosas, and Quarter Horses. They aspire to do what’s best for the horses in their lives, just as they hope to provide high-quality, meaningful books and videos that help better the industry as a whole.
Carly: What would you say an author should consider before reaching out to a publisher?
Rebecca: An indie publisher will likely have submission guidelines on their website. The hope is that an author would do their research before actually sending something off. As the first door that you come through at Trafalgar, I really appreciate it if you've had a look at our submission guidelines.
The second thing is a pretty simple, honest, and clear cover letter email. It doesn't need to be clever. I get a lot of people who have overwritten to an extreme. It's just unnecessary. If you come in with a well-written, clear, simple message to me that has been edited with no grammatical mistakes or typos, and you haven't spelled my name wrong, then you've already got a foot in the door.
Carly: Talk to us about the expectations that Trafalgar Square has for their authors when it comes to marketing.
Rebecca: It is a fact that even a major publisher now will hesitate before signing an author who has absolutely no presence on social media or online. We're in an age where being promotable and able to self-promote is part of being a writer and an author.
From our perspective, we are willing to do quite a bit of hand-holding because we acknowledge that most individuals that we work with are professional horse people. They're riders, trainers, vets, horse communicators, horse care experts, therapists, or body workers, and they don't write for a living. They also don't necessarily do social media for a living. They may have very little experience because they're used to being in the barn with their hands on a horse, so as long as that is acknowledged when somebody comes to us, but they are prepared to do the work, then we can help get somebody started with a kind of bare bones platform.
As a small publisher, we do our very best to support all of the authors efforts, and then we have our own end of things. We handle sending out review copies. We'll tap all our connections within the industry. We produce support materials. We'll do some graphics for our authors, digital media media kits, and book trailers, We're prepared to market a book at a certain level, but it's always better when the author comes in and we can form a team. The most successful books have all the players with toes on the line ready to go.
Carly: What would you say are the the qualities or habits an author should develop in order to establish a quality author career?
Rebecca: I really love this question. I think it's really, really important for somebody who wants to be an author, establish a career as an author, and perhaps work with a publisher be willing to learn from others. A number of times, I've had to work with individuals who come to the table and they already know everything. That attitude, even if you've decided that you're going to self-publish, I think is injurious to your eventual success because you might know a little bit about publishing a book, and you might know a whole heck of a lot about horses or whatever your topic is, but others know more about publishing a book than you do. My advice is to be open to what those people can offer you. I just think that's so important.
Carly: Trafalgar Square Books offers a really awesome loyalty program. Talk to us about your loyalty program that helps support authors of horse books.
Rebecca: This is a topic that's important to our company. If you're on Twitter or Instagram, you've probably seen a big push to not box out indie bookstores. I highly recommend that whenever you buy a book you either buy it from your local bookstore or you go publisher direct.
There's also this really great website called bookshop.org. They donate a portion of all their proceeds directly to indie bookstores, so by buying from them you're supporting basically a big online portal for indie bookstores, rather than competing directly against them if you buy from Amazon.
At Trafalgar, we have a loyalty program where you get points called horse book bucks and they accrue. You can apply that amount to your next purchase or you can save them, so the more you buy from us the more you can eventually save from us. It's just one of our little ways to say thank you. We can also give you free shipping this way. It's good for the small business and it's good for the author.
Visit Trafalgar Square's online bookstore and order publisher-direct. They have a terrific loyalty program, so the more you buy, the more you save, and buying directly helps support small business and hard-working authors.
Connect with Rebecca Didier & Trafalgar Square
Rebecca creates all of Trafalgar Square's book trailers. Take a look: https://www.horseandriderbooks.com/trailers-author-videos/
New Podcast Interviews Each Week!
Make sure you never miss a show by subscribing on YouTube or Apple Podcasts. This podcast is made possible by listeners like you. I appreciate your support!
Thank you for joining us this week on the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast I hope you enjoy these Q&A sessions with wonderful equine authors who love all things horses and writing just like me.
If you are an author who writes about horses and would like to be spotlighted please let me know. Visit my contact page to fill out a request. I'd be happy to have you on the show, too.
Want a free guide to secrets of horse book authors? Gallop over to https://www.carlykadecreative.com/wisdom.html and join the Equestrian Author Spotlight email list to have the author advice resource delivered instantly to your inbox.
About Your Host Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning independent author, horse owner, creativity coach, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow writers start, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Carly's award-winning In the Reins equestrian romance book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride. The horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are.
These books are perfect for poolside reading, taking to the beach, or settling down with after a day of horseback riding.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!