“I hope to share wonderful writing with everyone, books that speaks to you as an individual, enriching your mind and nourishing your soul.”
Why did you become a book publisher? I've always had a deep love of the written word. For a long time, I thought that I would be a writer, until I took a few editing and small press publishing classes and realized that publishing was my true calling. I was lucky enough to find an established press who shared my ideals and recently became publisher for our parent company (Pen & Publish) and our two imprints, Open Books Press and Transformation Media Books. I'm also excited to say that I'll be adding a literary fiction and poetry imprint in order to publish more of my favorite type of writing. I hope to share wonderful writing with everyone, books that speak to you as an individual, enriching your mind and nourishing your soul.
What do you like best about publishing? My favorite part about book publishing is probably the feeling when I find a really good manuscript that I'm excited about. It's even better than reading an already-published book that I enjoy because I know that I can potentially be a part of putting it together and sharing it with the world. A close second is when we publish a new book—the feeling of months or years of work (on our part and the author's) finally coming to fruition.
What do you publish? Pen & Publish publishes work by and for schools and nonprofits. Open Books Press is our general children's and adult fiction and nonfiction imprint, and Transformation Media Books publishes work in the body/mind/spirit genres.
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? In terms of getting our name out there and receiving more submissions (and better submissions), New Pages has been excellent. We're also experimenting with various low-cost marketing solutions for getting the word out about our books, the best of which seems to be seeking reviews from interested publications and blogs.
How do you define a successful title? A title isn't successful only because of sales. It's great if a title sells well, but ultimately, we want to share our books with people who appreciate them, and I think we accomplish that.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. I'm really excited about an upcoming poetry book from someone who has always been a source of support and encouragement when I decided to go into publishing. I won't announce details yet since it will be one of the first books published under our new imprint.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? Being a small press with limited resources means doing a bit of everything yourself—marketing, reading submissions, designing covers, compositing books, communicating with authors, etc.—and I think that sometimes you have to realize when you need extra help and to be able to delegate certain tasks to someone else, even if you enjoy all the aspects of publishing. We currently have a small team of resourceful, bright interns who we're lucky to have.
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? Read, all that you can. This applies both to everything you can about the business (books and blogs), but also just reading current and past literature. You'll start to pick up on trends, realize when something is overdone and when there is more to be said on a certain subject, and you'll make better-informed decisions about what to publish and what not to publish. You'll be able to better market the books that you've published, and you'll know more about the business-side of things from researching.
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? I envision that our new imprint will be fully established within the next few years, and in 5 years we will have a great catalog of literary fiction and poetry books. Pen & Publish continues to seek more schools to create school anthologies, and it's always very rewarding to help students put together their own book and see how excited everyone is at the book launch. Open Books Press will continue to publish outstanding fiction and nonfiction, and Transformation Media Books will be publishing more titles which nourish the mind and soul.
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? When I get a free moment to myself, I'm often reading for fun. Literature is my life, and I enjoy that. When I need to get away from "the business" a little, I often watch Netflix, play Wii U, visit our favorite coffeeshop, and waste a bit of time online, as everyone is wont to do.
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