Friday, August 6, 2010http://sixquestionsfor.blogspot.com/2010/08/six-questions-for-deb-harris-editor-in.html
"All Things That Matter Press, a no fee-royalty paying, POD small press, seeks to publish those books that help the author share their Self with the world. We all have something to say, and this is a press that wants to hear your voice. Our interests are on spiritual, self-growth, personal transformation, fiction and non-fiction books with a strong message. We understand that self expression occurs in poetry, collections of short stories, science fiction, thrillers and even novels with a bit of romance. If it is good, we will take a look. We are not actively seeking children and young adult books but if it WOWs us, we will consider this genre. Learn more here.
SQF: According to a report by Foner Books (http://fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm), ?[g]rowth stagnated for booksellers in 2008, and overall book sales barely moved according to the government.? In addition, I?ve read a number of articles concerning the difficulty authors are having securing book deals. In your opinion, what is the current state of the print book market?
DH: Brick and mortar venues are fast becoming a thing of the past. And, yes, e-books are the wave of the future, particularly now that there are options other than Kindle, which was certainly a ground-breaking concept. However, there are still plenty of people who prefer to hold a book in their hands, to be able to partake of the sensory pleasure of "feeling" what they're reading, to be able to slow the pace and just relax. As for the difficulty authors are having securing book deals, are you referring to established or new authors? Not having read the articles you're referring to, I'm going to assume (and hope the inevitable doesn't happen!) that you're talking about non-NY Times bestselling authors. There are several reasons an author doesn't get a contract offer, the primary one being their book falls short in some respect. Then there are the authors who, by sheer dint of will, it seems, do anything in their power--be exceedingly rude, demand contract revisions, tell you they have absolutely no intention of doing anything to market their work--to kill a potential deal. In the near term, there will still be a large market for print books. However, the traditional notion of going to a bookstore is being replaced with on-line purchases. Further, with new printing innovations, books are now being printed on site at stores. This is still in development, but a shadow of things to come.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?
DH: It has to GRAB me in the opening paragraphs and make me hungry to read the rest of the book. I need to forget that I'm reading and be drawn in.
Does it flow? Is the story smooth and seamless from beginning to end, or is it choppy and unruly in getting from A to Z? Is it confusing, or is it the kind of book I don't want to put down? A few rough spots can be corrected, but reading a bucking bronco isn't for me.
Then I look at the mechanics. Did the author take the time to check for spelling/punctuation errors? Granted, not everyone who has a great story to tell is adept at punctuation, which is why someone on our staff edits everything we publish, but at least try! Is the sentence structure clean and concise? Would it take me the rest of my natural life to edit the manuscript? If the answer to that last question is yes, then the manuscript doesn't have a chance, no matter how great the storyline. Also, has the author taken the time to read what 'we' are all about, or is it obvious we were just part of a mass mailing campaign? We like authors who have taken the time to read our web site and have a grasp of our philosophy.
SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?
DH: Oh, lots, actually. Some we tend to overlook, but others are the kiss of death. Not following submission guidelines is a major faux pas. If you're not interested enough to pay at least a little attention to what we're looking for and how we need it to be submitted, we're certainly not going to spend a lot of time on that submission. Don't send us a submission in a different format than we specify and then tell us to "deal with it" that way. Don't send it pasted into an email. (Ever try to read three chapters of a manuscript that way? It's not a lot of fun.)
Another is overkill. I really don't need an 18 page synopsis of a manuscript. Again, clean, concise--grab me.
Please don't tell me how many other publishers have rejected your manuscript. Every author accumulates rejections. Not all publishers are looking for the same type of book.
And please take just two minutes to address your query to ATTMP, rather than a generic "Dear Sir/Madam" salutation. It's a two-second thing, and the lack of that little nicety tells me the author probably hasn't paid a lot of attention to our submission guidelines, either. We post common submission mistakes on our blog.
SQF: Of the books your company publishes each year, how many are by previously unpublished authors?
DH: Probably between 80 and 90 percent or so. The reason we started All Things That Matter Press was to give new authors a fighting chance to get their books published.
SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?
DH: Skip the agent. We don't accept submissions through agents.
Have a marketing plan. Plan to work your butt off.
Don't give up! Just because one publisher (or a dozen) rejects your book, the next one could be the right niche for you.
Edit, Edit, Edit!
We like to have a relationship with our authors. There needs to be a synergy. If an author does not take the time to read the information on a publisher's web site, it shows in the emails and is a turn off.
SQF: What question do you wish I?d asked that I didn?t? And how would you answer it?
DH: I can only pick one, right? Well, gee. How about: What's the surest way not to get a contract with ATTMP? The answer: When we offer you one, you tell us you'd like to wait a couple of weeks to see what other offers you get.
Thank you, Deb. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 8/9--Six Questions for Anne Petty, Editor in Chief, Kitsune Books
E-Publishing Tips ? Submitting Your Manuscript the Right Way
With the last feature I wrote on e-Publishing a couple of questions came up a number of times. These questions came up both in the comments of the last article, and in my inbox. As always we?re here to help, and today we are answering your questions. The questions were:
Do you know of an e-Publisher that will publish poetry anthologies?
What should I do to get my manuscript ready to submit?
David Barber referred me to All Things that Matter Press as one e-Publisher that puts out great poetry eBooks (they do a lot more than that, but we?ll get to that). Phil, the CEO from All Things that Matter, was kind enough to answer my questions so that I could share his insight and answer the other question for you.
My original intention when I interviewed Phil was to use the information he provided me to create an article on the topic. In this case though, his answers are very well written, and I don?t think I could possibly say it any better than he did himself. With that said here are the results of my query with All Things that Matter Press.
The email Interview with Phil from All Things that Matter Press:
What is All Things That Matters Press, and what types of work do you publish?
ALL THINGS THAT MATTER PRESS is a new, small press. Our goal is to help authors, new and established, get their books published and into the marketplace. There are no fees or costs to the author. We look primarily for authors with a ?message? who have something they would like to say to the reading public. We are pretty much open on genre, and we have published poetry, science fiction, young adult, non-fiction, and even a romance. We do not want to see ?formula? type books or those that are just for mindless mass appeal. If the author has something really important to say about the world we all inhabit, we will take a look. We do not do children?s books, books with a strong religious bias (Christian lit), chick lit, or any books that promote violence, hatred or pornography. We really like spiritual self-growth/transformation titles and those stories (including poetry) that reach out to the soul and touch the heart.
What do you look for the most when a new author submits a manuscript to you for publishing?
What impresses us the most is if the author seems really excited about their book. Even if the manuscript is submitted elsewhere, they have taken the time to gear their letter to us. It is not that we want the author to tell us how great their book may be, but rather they present a tone that says ?I have something really important to say to the world and I have done my best to put it into words.? It is also crucial that the author follows the submission guidelines and appears to have read our web site. A turn off is when someone asks questions that are ?clearly? posted on our web page. We also have received emails that start out saying something like, ?Before I send my manuscript you need to answer these questions.? Well, while we do not at all mind answering questions, an attitude that our press may not be worthy of their submission is not the best way to start. So if an author sends a submission that shows excitement and clearly demonstrates they are attuned to who we are as a publisher, the door opens a bit wider.
What are your suggestions to those new authors when preparing their manuscript for submission?
You would be amazed at how many authors have not even done a simple spelling and grammar check. I saw a post on a web site where they were all upset that we wanted the manuscript to be edited prior to submission. Go to any publisher?s site and count the times you see the word ?edit.? Go to any book marketing site or read any article on how to submit a manuscript; lack of ?editing? is top on the list of major mistakes that an author makes. We even get queries with typos. If an author does not take the time to do editing of their own work then any publisher will question that author?s commitment to their project. Does this mean that the ms must be perfect? No. We edit all books that we publish for both mechanics and content (consistency, time lines, etc.). No editing is perfect as there are many way to say the same thing, and even grammar is not really an exact science. We always send a ?redlined? edit to the author for review and approval. Finally, it is important that a submission be sent in the format required by the publisher. Each publisher is different so if the author has not made the effort to follow simple submission formats they are not starting off on the right foot.
What do you look for in a query letter?
No errors and a sincere desire to get the book published. We need to know that the author ?backs? the book and that once published, they will not just sit back and hopes it sells. For both large and small presses, the author is the key to the books success. The work really begins once the title is in print and authors that appear aware of this fact stand a better chance of having their manuscript reviewed.
What percentage of manuscripts do you accept (approximately), and how many get rejected (and for what reasons)?
As a new publisher we do not have a solid set of numbers on this issue. At this point it is running at about a one third rejection rate. Reasons for rejection have included:
- The book did not seem complete or well thought out. A good idea that was not executed properly.
- Too short. We do not really do novellas or just one short story. We will do an anthology, but do not submit a 60 page manuscript. This happened with a couple of poetry submissions. They were great poems, but there were far too few of them.
- Not a genre we want to publish. That is why it is very important to read our web site.
- The author was more concerned with the mechanics than the project. Like we said, questions are great and they are encouraged. But if the author seems to be consumed by the mechanics of publishing the book at the expense of why the book should be published, it raises a red flag. There needs to a rapport between author and publisher. We are all learning and growing to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing market. We have to feel that we can work with an author, and vice versa, so there needs to be some level of chemistry or the project will not be a success.
What would you describe as the single most important element to getting accepted, and ultimately getting published with your company?
Aside from being passionate about the book and writing, potential ALL THINGS THAT MATTER PRESS authors need to know what we are about. We see the internet as the future of publishing and promoting. Read any of the trade literature and it is clear that from Random House to small presses, from chain retailers to the corner bookstore, publishing is changing. Book sale are way down, there are store and publisher layoffs, and many independent bookstores are closing. While this is bad news, what it really means is that there are new opportunities open to market books. There have been titles that have hit the NY Times bestseller list without ever being in a ?brick and mortar? store. All the sales have been on-line. To us, this is the future of publishing and marketing. So if we think that the author understands that they will have to have a web site, participate in social networking, blog, and to generally be ?out there? on the internet, they stand a much greater chance of being accepted. If an author?s primary concern is will they be in a Barnes & Noble bookstore, they would be better off seeking another publisher.
I'VE BEEN OFFERED A CONTRACT, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Once you have been offered and have accepted the contract, your book will go through the following process:
1-Your book goes through an editing process. A red lined edit is sent to the author for approval. Most editing is spelling/punctuation/grammar. The only time a suggested content comment is made is if something just does not make sense. It is then up to the author to make the change.
2-Once any changes and corrections are made, we create a pdf. mock-up. This galley is sent back to the author for final review and to correct last minute mistakes. Once approved, the galley is sent to Amazon to generate a proof copy-an actual book. We review the prof copy and if it is accurate, the book gets published.
3-During the review and edit process, the cover is designed. Authors are invited to submit ideas and even cover photos or artwork. While we maintain final approval over the cover, we want to ensure that the cover is acceptable to the author.
WHO MARKETS THE BOOK?
The author is pivotal to the success of the book. Every publisher, small and large, requires that the author take an active role in marketing. We have posted many blogs on this topic and have provided links to many marketing tools and sites. ATTMP does what it can to promote your book, but if you are not prepared to work for your own success, do not submit your book.
WHAT IS THE BREAKDOWN OF ROYALTY PAYMENTS?
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXAMPLE ONLY
$10.90(this includes printer)
The author receives 40% of the royalty listed above. Books sold through ATTMPress E-STORE generate greater royalty for everyone.
The above numbers are an example only and will vary with page count as there is a price per page from the printer.
The E-Store is a page generated by Amazon for use by the publisher. Books bought through the E-Store on the ATTMP web site generate higher royalties.
ARE WE A VANITY/SELF-PUBLISHING PRESS?
NO-We charge the authors nothing. The entire process from editing to book covers is done at our expense.
DOES ATTMPress HELP AUTHORS MARKET THEIR BOOKS?
As a small press we do the best we can to assist authors in marketing, but most of our efforts are aimed at promoting the publishing brand. However, in our promotions we often feature author books in things like videos and holiday promotions. Of course we announce each new title on our blog and throughout our social network contacts. We also have a very unique, ATTMPress author only, MARKETING GROUP. Here, authors work together to cross promote and share each others news and social media posts. The group is also the place we post files and articles pertaining to effective author marketing strategies. We periodically have GIVEAWAYS, BLOG TOURS, and promote our titles in special listings on social media.
Another unique offer for our authors only is our SHORTS PROGRAM. This is where authors get to publish their short stories and various holiday/seasonal shorts as a way to keep their name before readers, often in-between the preparation of new full-length titles.