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City Owl Press Gets Seal of Approval from Romance Writers of America (RWA)

Thursday, August 30, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Christopher Locke
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City Owl Press co-founders Yelena Casale (left) and Tina Moss (right)

Romance Writers of America has officially approved IBPA member City Owl Press as a qualifying market. According to Tina Moss (City Owl Press’ Chief Operating Officer), “Approval as a qualifying market in RWA has been one of our goals since the inception of the company. It is important for us as a company, and industry professionals, to uphold the standards set forth by the RWA board.”

RWA standards state that a publisher must be “honest, fair, transparent, and professional.” When RWA (a nonprofit professional association whose mission is to advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers) approves a publisher, it solidifies that publisher as an established and celebrated member of the romance publishing industry.

“It means everything to us to finally have that approval after trying for several years to attain it,” said Tina. “When you see your company listed with the top names in the industry, it is a bit surreal, but deeply gratifying.” As explained by Tina, the process to attain that approval was rigorous, which is all the more reason why it is prestigious. “When you apply, you need to sign an agreement that you will never conduct any [non-traditional business model] practices, such as soliciting money from authors for book production and distribution. You need to state your experience, years in business, expertise, distribution plan, payment method to employees, and attest to professional content and copy editing. Most importantly, you must provide a copy of your contract to prove that you are author friendly.”

City Owl Press' new title, Blood and Magic

Being “author friendly” is one of the main driving forces behind the creation of City Owl Press. Tina Moss and Yelena Casale (City Owl Press’ Chief Marketing Officer) founded their publishing company in 2014 after years of frustration with the traditional publishing process. Both Tina and Yelena are authors themselves and experienced difficulties along the road to getting their novels published. This led them to creating City Owl Press with the motto “by authors, for authors.”

City Owl Press has several new titles coming up in their fall lineup, including a three book urban fantasy series by Melissa Sercia, starting with book one, Blood and Magic. Two of their veteran authors have box sets launching: Jennifer Rose McMahon has her time travel romance, The Pirate Queen series, and Joshua Bader has his urban fantasy, Modern Knights series. They also have a dark historical fantasy from an author duo, Sydney Ashcroft and Dani Nichols, coming out, Chasing Destiny. For more information about upcoming City Owl Press events, click here.

Three Questions with City Owl Press Co-Founder Tina Moss

IBPA: What inspired you to create a publishing company that specializes in romance and speculative fiction?

Tina Moss (TM): We love it! Beyond the positive trends in the market and the business acumen of acquiring these titles, we love to read them. We never wanted to take on something that we didn’t believe in or have a passion for, so we began with areas that we enjoyed as readers and researched the market from that point. For example, we appreciate Young Adult genres as well, but to promote those titles is a completely different strategy than Adult titles, and we knew we would not be able to do both. So, while we often get asked to acquire YA, we would not go into that market without a solid plan in place. And at this time, we are sticking with our current romance and speculative fiction markets, and carefully evaluating and narrowing down those internal genres as to what is selling in the market. But it all starts with readability and what we (and our editorial team) enjoy. And that’s great stories!

IBPA: You and Yelena Casale are both authors, so how did your career as authors prepare you for running an independent publishing company?

TM: Yelena and I have been writers our entire lives. When we decided to write together, we went through that path of traditional publishing. However, we both had been in the industry even prior to that time. Yelena has a Masters in Publishing from NYU and worked in different positions in the industry. I had worked on the academic side of publishing for years. We were experienced editors as well before we ever decided to pursue projects together and become authors. Yet, having that author experience prepared us most for what it would be like to be on the other side, and we learned that a real partnership between publishers and authors is the true key to success.

IBPA: Can you give three key lessons you’ve learned about running a successful independent publishing company?


  1. Don’t be afraid to dream big and pursue lofty goals. The team at Desert Breeze Publishing gave us that advice, when we asked the secret of their success. And it’s proven true. If you picture yourself small, then that’s how you’ll be. But if you envision big, then that’s what you’ll become.

  2. Treat everyone with kindness and respect. This industry is both very big, and at the same time, very small. And a bad reputation can easily kill a career. We may not be able to take on every author that queries us, but we always want them to walk away feeling respected and valued for their hard work and efforts.

  3. Adaptability is the name of the game. If you don’t change with the times and continue to learn and grow, your company will become stagnant, and ultimately, fail. Each day brings something new, and you have to stay current with the market.

IBPA: Thank you for these insightful answers, and congratulations again on receiving this important seal of approval from Romance Writers of America!

Learn more about City Owl Press here.

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James Laughren says...
Posted Friday, August 31, 2018
Kudos to City Owl Press. I'm not sure there are many entrepreneurial endeavors more difficult - frustrating, counter-intuitive, etc., etc. - than starting a publishing company. And yet you have done it, admirably. I wish you good things going forward. -- Jim Laughren, Crosstown Publishing

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