The Rebel Magazine: Were you a keen reader from an early age?
Jasper Joffe: "The first series of books I loved, when I was six or seven, were The Great Brain books, which are about a precocious boy in 19th century Utah. I loved all his business schemes and wanted to be as clever as he was! I had a red table next to my bed covered in books (now I store them underneath) and it feels like I have read almost every night of my life before I go to sleep. It's a funny sort of ritual."
The Rebel: I understand you are looking for new writers to publish. What kind of writers are you signing up and which kind of writers are you showing the door to?
Joffe: "Yes, we're always looking for fantastic new writers at Joffe Books. We're signing high-quality mystery, thriller, and romance novelists. We tend not to be keen on sci-fi, short stories, and erotica. I look for strong characters, an interesting premise, pellucid prose, and a gripping story."
The Rebel: How much of the book do you need writers to send you? Is one chapter and a synopsis ok?
Joffe: "That used to be the case when you had to put your submission in an envelope. Now we ask for the whole book plus a short synopsis. It's really important that the author says in the email they send us what kind of book they've written (e.g. a thriller) and what it's about in a few sentences. (I've put some notes below from when I gave a talk about what not to do in a submission!)"
The Rebel: What are your 3 most successful Joffe books so far - what kind of sales figures are we talking?
Joffe: "Well, our best-selling books recently have been the four Calladine and Bayliss mysteries by Helen H. Durrant. They sold 50,000 copies last month alone!"
The Rebel: How do you edit your writer's work. Have there been any books you've left alone as they were perfect? Any bad reactions to your suggestions of what should be cut?
Joffe: "We employ editors and proofreaders, and I sometimes do some editing myself. A few writers don't need much editing, they've really honed everything, and it's hard to move a word. Most writers are happy to have careful editing done and they understand it can make a huge difference. It's really about seeing the book from the outside, how a reader will experience the book, and sometimes that can be hard for the writer to see. Eventually you feel, if you edit a lot of writer's work, that you know all their linguistic quirks and many of their thoughts, which is weird but good. But, of course, you have to respect and amplify the writer's intentions. We've never had a bad reaction (so far!)."
The Rebel: How do you define success?
Joffe: "In publishing? or life? In publishing I'm always pleased when we can help a writer earn a living from doing what they love. That's life-changing. It's exciting when a book is published, I get a real buzz out of that, and then thinking of all the people that read them (and the ones who leave reviews) makes me happy. Success, I think, personally, is about building something which reaches people, and learning new things. I feel that Joffe Books has done that."
The Rebel: Do you think Joffe books will keep going on getting bigger and better or do you think you'll get bored and start directing films or staging operas?
Joffe: "I do like ballet! I think one thing leads to another, but there's much yet to be done at Joffe Books before we start on the ballets."
Jasper Joffe's Tips For Submissions 1. Put something in the email. A blank email with an attachment isn’t so good.
2. Spell the company's/editor's name right, get their gender right, etc.
3. Read the submissions page, it will help! Do what it says, more or less.
4. Press send once.
5. PDFs: yuck! Word rules.
6. Tell us what the genre it is, what other books it resembles, who will read it, and tell the story in one paragraph.
7. Check your spelling/write in sentences.
8. Find out a bit about what the publishers do. Mention that.
9. Tell them why you’re great or just passionate, but not too much! (or any relevant achievements).
10. Keep it clear, short, simple.
Find out more at: www.joffebooks.com
See also: https://twitter.com/JoffeBooks
and: facebook https://www.facebook.com/joffebooks
"The Laughing Jasper" photograph at top of page is courtesy of Deba Banerjee