Ultra-Small Indie Publisher Defies The Odds

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This one-woman publishing show turned industry standard business models on their heads to bring first-class debut fiction to the reading public. Four years old and going strong, Brighid's Fire Books is set to release Yesterday's Falcon, a thrilling adventure set in King Arthur's Camelot.

If there were an entrepreneur's Hall of Fame, it would be full of stories of innovation. Not just the exciting new inventions that have changed the world but the business model innovations, the times when daring business adventurers turned their industry status quo on its head and made the new way of doing things work.

With the June 2006 release of its fourth fiction title, the Arthurian fantasy "Yesterday's Falcon" by first time novelist Tim Newman, Brighid's Fire Books has established itself as that kind of company.

Founder Dawn Rivers Baker came to publishing as a frustrated writer, unable to persuade anyone in the mainstream publishing business to even read it, let alone publish it. Even worse, from her point of view, was that the publishers told her to get an agent, while the agents said, ‘Come back and see me when you have a publisher.'

"I figured there must be an awful lot of good books out there by unknown writers stuck outside those inner circles, just like I was," says Baker. "It just seemed to me that the public should get to see some of those books."

Brighid's Fire Books specializes in debut fiction, publishing titles that Baker believes deserve to be brought to the reading public.

Without outside funding and with very little money of her own, Baker teamed up with independent bookseller Derek Stafford of LughnassadhBooks.com to start an annual fiction manuscript contest. Baker uses the contest to find worthwhile manuscripts to add to her catalog and the contest fees allow her to offer authors a modest advance.

"I didn't want to do this if I couldn't pay people," Baker says. "It's important to me that Brighid's Fire Books treat its authors well. Without them, I have no product. I don't want to forget that."

There is very little about this one-woman publisher that conforms to industry norms but its founder has conquered the odds and created an imprint that is haven to both reader and writer.

"Reading fiction should be an adventure," she says, "and it's hard to have much of an adventure when it's a chore to find new authors. I may never be Random House but I feel very good about what I'm doing."


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Dawn Rivers Baker