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So you wanna run a Web site that sells vampire books? January 19, 2010

Posted by Diana McCabe in Book lists, Fun stuff.
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Boy, who doesn’t dream of either writing the next great series in paranormal romance and/or running the coolest online bookstore for the genre. I was pinged a while back by the women who run FANGtasticFiction.com — which is focused on paranormal romance and urban fantasy books.

The whole world of Fangbooks started because Alison Sammes and her friend Rosie are both avid readers, particularly of the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres, and trying to actually find these books in Australia was (and still is) pretty diabolical. They wanted a site where folks could go, check out reviews and be able to buy the books. Nothing was out there, so they  started their own business. OK — so maybe you never wanna buy a book from ’em. But check out their site for ideas on what to read and the reviews. It’s nicely organized.

And here’s a little bit more from Alison on how they got their business off the ground!

Q. How long have you been in business?
A.
We’ve ‘officially’ been in business since June (we are a registered company), but the Web site only went live near the end of August (with a LOT of work between June and August).

Q. Is this your only job?
A. We both have ‘day jobs,’ but thankfully I only work four days a week, so we’ve got one day where I can run around doing all of the ‘day-time’ stuff. There are a LOT of late nights and weekends spent working on the site and business.  It is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun.  It really has just been overwhelming the support and encouragement that we’ve had from authors and publishers.  Maybe that’s normal in the world of paranormal romance & urban fantasy, but it has still completely blown us away!

Q. Did you ever stop to think you’d be going head to head with Amazon?
A. I don’t think we ever really saw ourselves as taking on the likes of Amazon.  We are both quite specific in our tastes and knew from the start that we really wanted to focus on paranormal romance and urban fantasy.  We think much of the appeal with us is that we try to make it easy to find books in the genres.  Most publishers only list books as ‘romance,’ ‘fantasy’ or ‘science fiction’ so we go through each months new and upcoming releases and manually separate them out into their appropriate genres (so if you see the odd book in the wrong spot let us know!). I’m sure there must be an easier way to do this, but we haven’t found it yet. This is also how we are able to go further than just say “oh, that’s paranormal” – chances are we’ve actually read the book or the series and we KNOW that it is about vampires despite what the blurb or the publisher may say (I point out the marketing for DIVINE MISDEMEANORS – you won’t find us hiding this one under teen paranormal!).

Q. Will the shop always be online or do you want a real bookstore?
A. We do have dreams of opening a little store one day with quiet fantasies of world domination, although with the way we’re growing, who knows, we might be able to expand to bricks and mortar soon! We love to be able to promote new authors and just some of the wonderful books out there, so I think we look at the idea of having a physical location that people can come to as really just an extension of that.  Everything has happened so quickly I don’t think we’ve truly realised that we are a business! In some ways selling books sometimes feels like it’s just the sideline and letting people know ABOUT the books seems to be our core focus! But the two do go hand in hand.

Q. Any thoughts of expanding?
A. We are based in Sydney, so we do have an Australian focus. But, I am about to relocate to New Zealand , so we’ll be expanding the business across two countries (and the thought of having a ‘multinational’ bookstore isn’t at all scary! Honest!). We had originally planned to just sell within Australia but that quickly expanded to the rest of the world.

Q. Toughest things about the biz so far?

A. Three of the hardest things we’ve found are:

— Trying to keep up- to-date with new releases, particularly from debuting authors.
–Trying to get books that aren’t being released in Australia. This  came as a bit of a shock to us. We knew that there was sometimes a delay in books being released in Aussie, but we never realized how many really great books just don’t make it over here!
–Trying to get books when publishers are tending to reduce the time when books are available, which is particularly annoying when promoting a series and the first few books are no longer available!

Q. Any other challenges?
A.
So as well as trying to stay up-to-date with what’s being released in Australia, we’re also trying to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the rest of the world. We recently added book reviews to the site, as well as our author & series reviews, simply because sometimes you just want to know what the book is like (and sometimes we’ve only read the one book, so a full author page is too much!) We’re also working with literature-map.com and will be adding this to our site soon (and we get to add more authors!) We’ve just joined Twitter (FANGBOOKS) , and I am debating whether to set up a Face Book page.

Of course in-between all of this we still find time to read books! And I obviously can talk about books and our site all day (and will if I don’t stop myself now)!

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