“I see the publisher-author relationship as a partnership, with both sides working towards a common goal.”
Why did you become a book publisher? After unfortunately becoming entangled with a dishonest publisher, I decided there had to be a better way to do things. I wanted to prove that the publisher-author relationship works best with honesty and transparency as the foundation. My goal the first year was to republish my work and the work of family members. My goal the second year is to extend the invitation to a handful of authors I respect and admire. I see the publisher-author relationship as a partnership, with both sides working towards a common goal.
What do you like best about publishing? My favorite part is probably collaborating with authors on the final product, from cover art to formatting to video trailers. I think all authors probably have a vision as they write, a picture, if you will, of what the story looks like. As an author, I know I certainly do. I think it's important to work together to make that vision become a reality.
What do you publish? The best description is probably literary fiction. While some books fall into historical, southern, contemporary, or magical realism categories, they're all very character-driven works. I love books that make one think, that make one question the motivations of the characters, and perhaps of oneself. Those are the sorts of books I hope to publish.
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? While social networking is important, the most effective form of marketing, in my experience, has been paid advertising. Having said that, I want to emphasize the importance of research before paying for virtually any service in the book-publishing industry. A good advertising site should include not only a solid web presence, but also a continually growing list of subscribers.
How do you define a successful title? That's a great question. I don't think "successful" is necessarily synonymous with "best-selling." By that, I mean many great stories gain a solid foothold by sparking lively discussion and debate. While they might not top the best-seller lists, I would still consider them quite successful because in spite of their lower numbers, they're still adding to literary discussion.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. We've only recently published our first non-family-member book, and I'm very proud of it. Author Malcolm R. Campbell's "Conjure Woman's Cat" takes the reader into 1950s Florida where the Klan is alive and well. When a young girl of color is brutally attacked and killed by a group of white males, the local police don't have a suspect and don't particularly care to find one. Because of that prevailing attitude, Eulalie, a conjure woman, decides to take matters into her own hands. It's a thought-provoking book on multiple levels.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? My biggest challenge, without doubt, was extricating myself from my previous publisher. I feel in many ways as if that experience set me behind in achieving my goals, both financially and emotionally. On the flip side, had I not had such an experience, I may never have decided to form my own company.
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? Be very, very careful. Research every company with whom you do business, from cover art to formatting to editing to publishing. There are some really wonderful resources available for authors, but unfortunately there are always those entities who don't mind taking advantage of the inexperienced. Google is your friend; use it abundantly.
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? As strange as it may sound, in five years I want to look very similar to the way we look today. I want to remain very small, and very selective. I'm much more interested in doing a good job with the books we have than I am in growing our numbers.
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? My first hobby has always been reading (of course!). But I also love spending time with family, piddling around in my flowerbeds, and cheering at my sons' soccer games.
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