Author Interview: Cat Winters

Author Interview

Meet Cat Winters.

CatWinters2018_1.jpg

Social media links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/catwinters
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catwintersbooks/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catwintersbooks
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/catwinters/

The Interview.

Hi Cat! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you so much for hosting me! I’m the author of five novels for teens: In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Cure for Dreaming, The Steep and Thorny Way, Odd & True, and a new novel about Edgar Allan Poe’s teenage years, The Raven’s Tale, which debuted this past April. I’m also the author of two novels for adults, The Uninvited and Yesternight, and I contributed to the young adult horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. My work is heavily influenced by classic Gothic literature and strange, dark, and haunting history. I’m known for blending historical fiction with the supernatural.

What first attracted you to dark fiction? Is there a certain element that you enjoy more so than others?

In the second grade, when I was browsing the shelves of my elementary school’s library, I found a book about real-life houses that were purported to be haunted. The horrific accounts of hauntings and creepy photographs in those pages both terrified and fascinated me. Shortly afterward, I started believing that my own bedroom was haunted, and I became drawn to all sorts of stories about ghosts, including novels and short story collections I discovered through my school’s Scholastic book orders. Eventually, I started writing my own eerie stories and poems.

I’m not entirely sure why, but I love the rush of terror that accompanies a good, atmospheric ghost tale, even though I’m terribly afraid of being alone in the dark and would never sleep in a room reputed to be haunted. Psychological horror and suspenseful tales of haunted people and places are my preference for dark fiction. I’m not always a fan of gory horror, unless it’s done cleverly, like in Poe’s short stories.

Did any of your books (whether it was a certain character or plot point) surprise you after you had turned in your last round of edits prior to publishing?

Odd & True probably surprised me the most. It originally started as an adult novel that was very much historical fiction without any fantasy elements involved, beyond a main character’s belief in monster legends. Then it seemed to want to be a supernatural YA novel about monster-hunting sisters that also paid tribute to the power of storytelling. By the time I turned in the last edits, the novel had turned into a book about the pain of letting go of childhood magic and innocence, which I hadn’t initially realized would be a major element of the characters’ journeys. It’s actually one of my darkest and most personal works of fiction.

YA vs. Adult fiction. To you, how are they similar and different? Do you enjoy writing for one age group more than the other?

To me, the main difference between writing YA and writing adult fiction is the fact that protagonists in YA novels typically range in age from 15 to 18 years old, and protagonists in adult novels are usually older than 18. There are some books that blur the lines between YA and adult fiction, but truly the ages of the main characters are the key distinction. If the author is writing from the point of view of a character who currently is or recently was a teenager, then the book likely gets shelved as YA.

I don’t water anything down for my books for teens, and I certainly don’t hold back on exploring darker subjects. I honestly don’t prefer writing for one age group over the other. The stories themselves determine whether the novel should be YA or adult fiction, and I set out to write the strongest book that I can, no matter the target audience.

What was your first author event (be it a convention, signing, or school visit) like?

My first event as a debut author was the 2013 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, WA. While there, I quickly discovered the wonderful, infectious enthusiasm librarians bestow upon authors. My publisher, Abrams, invited me to sign free galleys for my debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and when I showed up at the Abrams booth, I was stunned to find a long line of excited librarians waiting to meet me. They made me feel like a rock star! I’m extremely grateful for the support of librarians, teachers, bloggers, booksellers, and anyone else who spreads their passion for reading to others.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

Once a week I meet up with local author friends to write in an indie coffeehouse. It’s one of my favorite parts of the week.

Do you have a writing schedule or just find yourself writing when inspiration strikes?

During my entire career as a published writer, I’ve been the parent of two kids, so writing has always been very much been based around their school schedules. When they’re in school, I write as much as possible. When they’re home, finding the time to fully immerse myself in my fictional worlds gets more challenging. Thankfully, I have a home office with a door I can close and a helpful husband who likes to cook. To help pay the bills, I take on freelance work and teach workshops, so even when the kids are away, I can’t always write whenever inspiration strikes. Like most writers, I’ve had to develop the skill and the discipline to sit down and write productively when time permits, and when I’m working to meet deadlines, I’m often writing deep into the night.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

I’d like to invite readers to visit my website, http://www.catwinters.com. I’ve posted special links and bonus material for all my books over there, and schools and libraries can find information about my author visits and downloadable teaching guides.

 

 

Thank you Cat for stopping by Bookish Looks!

Guest Post: “Small Business Thoughts for the Strange” with Haley Jenkins from Selcouth Station

Bookish Interview, Misc.

Meet Haley Jenkins.

Author Pic Full.jpg

Haley Jenkins holds a Creative Writing Master’s Degree from The University of Surrey and a Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Roehampton.

In 2016, Haley was awarded First Prize in the Elmbridge Literary Competition for her short story ‘Talisman’ and in 2014 won 3rd Prize in the Hopkins Poetry Prize. She has been published in two anthologies by Fincham Press – The Trouble with Parallel Universes (2014) and Screams & Silences (2015), as well as publications such as, Guttural MagazineTears in the Fencepainted spoken and The Journal of British & Irish Innovative Poetry. Her work has also appeared in online zines such as datableedzine, Rag Queen Periodical, epizootics and ez.Pzine (Pyre Publishing)Haley’s first poetry chapbook was published by Veer Books (August 2017). She runs Selcouth Station Press (https://www.selcouthstation.com/), which she founded in April 2017. You can follow Selcouth Station on Facebook, Twitter (@SelcouthStation) and Instagram!

 

 

The Guest Post.

Small Business Thoughts for the Strange   

I’ve given myself more labels than I have been labelled. This is the price paid by all of us who think inwardly a little too much. I’ve called myself fat, useless, mad, bad, fucked-up and a few words in made-up colours and languages Google can’t translate. But somewhere along the line between sitting in college corridors alone and shying away from any social engagement where I might have to talk to someone, I became proud of my strangeness. I didn’t fit the mould, I never would, so why not celebrate that?

 

Selcouth Station Press arrived out of a desire to meet people like me, who wanted to write but for whom the Big Five, agents and contracts route was too scary, too demanding and let’s face it: too pressuring. I wanted to hear new voices, strange voices, engage with people who wanted to be seen and not just looked at or sold. There is a difference. It wasn’t easy – what did I know about running a press? I had volunteered with Veer Books, so I knew a lot about creating the physical books and editing. But how much did a small business cost? How do you find printers? How do you find writers? How do you use Twitter? The answers are: not as much as you might think if you’re smart about it, search engines, social media and Tweeting for a business is about consistency and sharing.

 

An important element of running a small business online is sharing and not just on Twitter. It is about not just asking for help but being the one to give it and giving it as freely as you can. I’ve built up a wonderful network of people by celebrating and promoting each other’s work, sending long emails about life and just being there. Ask for advice, email the writer whose work you loved in that zine, message a podcast you’d like to be on. The worst they can do is say no. I once emailed a famous photographer for a college project and got a very snooty response, asking why I even bothered emailing him when the Internet held everything I needed to know. I still printed off that email and stuck it in my portfolio: it was proof I had been brave enough to try. Being brave isn’t about not feeling scared, socially awkward or a fake, it is about doing it anyway. And you know what is brilliant about it? You don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to.

 

Currently, Selcouth Station Press has three chapbooks to its name and we’re open for submissions on the theme of ‘Love’. After the next round of chapbooks, we’ll be looking into publishing solo collections. We regularly publish work online, including art work, interviews, guest blogs, fiction, poetry, flash fiction and reviews! We have two volunteer editors who joined me in the Spring, Sandra Partanen and Lorna Dicken, and we are open to collaborating with others. I am always happy to give insights and advice, you can message me at contact@selcouthstation.com.

Guest Post: Harsha Sheelam’s Self Publishing Tips

Guest Post

Meet Harsha Sheelam.

Author...JPG

Harsha Sheelam always had the passion for writing. In the year 2016, she practiced writing more extensively. This led to her recognition in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and digital content. She possesses versatility in writing stories, debatable topics, politics, social, fashion, entertainment, reviews, fashion and lifestyle. Today she is a children’ book author, she debuted in 2017 with the book ‘Beautiful Inside and Out’ which is a collection of short stories. She launched it with the aim of empowering young girls and boys. She has the dedication to her craft which makes the children believe that they are beautiful inside and out. Same year her juvenile fiction novel, ‘Good Exists in all that Exists’ released. As the title suggests, the book is based around the theme of ‘good overpowering the bad’. There is a hidden meaning for every action. The book does not fail to enhance the enchanted experience of the reader.
Beginning of a new year, in 2018 ‘The House of Terry Atterberry’ made it to book-selling portals. Terry’s tales champion hard work, perseverance, honesty and compassion. The riches that kids gain through this book are overcoming fear, not undermining people, understanding no one is perfect, knowing your true friends, and more. The book is a collection of 15 inspiring fables from the life of a fictional character.
Today, 3 books old, and anticipating more, this is Harsha Sheelam for you.

Social links:
www.sheelamharsha.com
www.facebook.com/harshasheelamm/
www.instagram.com/harshasheelam

 

Guest Post

How can a self-published author market their book?

Self-publishing is a DIY platform has provided a new path for aspiring writers. Many authors have ditched vanity press, or publishing houses who take about a year to get a book into the market.

Thanks to the advancement of creativity and technology, self-publishing is now available at fingertips without the involvement of an established publisher, known for zero loyalty towards royalty. In traditional publishing, the publisher bears the costs and reaps substantial share of profits by comparison, in self-publishing, the author bears all the costs, and is the sole proprietor for all the profits.

The author controls the design, cover, interior, marketing and public relations. Though it’s a fairly easy task to get the book out for readers, marketing is not a small man’s job. Marketing and promoting the book is the best way to get new readers looking at your work. Without it, you will only have a niche customer group that includes your family and friends.

The most effective ways to push the sales, generate traffic on your website, and make your book a success are-

Pre-Book Launch
Cover reveal– Cover reveal is preferably done before the launch of the book. Here the authors try to build curiosity among their readers and new audience. The bloggers write about the cover and make it very intriguing for the readers. The cover reveal is the best way of pre-marketing the book.
Post Book Launch
Early Stages
Book reviews– Book reviews are the most traditional way of reaching out to readers. No author is unaware about book reviews. There are many who earn a living just by doing book reviews, while others do it out of interest. The critical analysis of the book through the review is helpful to generate feedback and interest about the book. Book reviews should be taken up during the early stages of the book launch.
Facebook Groups– Numerous groups on social media, most preferably, Facebook, provides a platform of discussion for authors in every genre. With no doubt, these groups are the most efficient way to build public relations, not only within your country, but globally as well. A global audience is what every author should aim for and not feel restricted to one territory.
Book Tours– Book bloggers have made it simple for authors to market their books. Few of them provide their services at a cost while others are kind to do it for free. Book tours are blog posts about the author, synopsis of their books, cover design and content of the book. Few bloggers also write a small review for the book. On the whole, the book tours are a complete package for authors. Websites with a lot of traffic are highly recommended for book tours even if it comes at a cost.

 

Later Stages
Author Interview– Author interviews are conducted by authors, virtual assistants and book bloggers who like to feature and support authors on their blog or website. The interview questions give the readers an answer about your work and what it’s all about. Not only do the interviews provide the author a push, but also help them to gain new followers and readers. Every blog or website has their followers and readers, when they learn about the author through the interview; it only attracts new people to the author’s website.
Podcasts– Author interviews through podcast channels are yet another way to put yourself out there. Podcast industry is growing on a daily basis with many author interview channels being labeled as No.1 on iTunes, and iHeartRadio. The audio files are posted on many podcast featuring online portals and also downloaded by listeners. This is the most modern way of promotion for authors. Few podcasts I’m aware of are Reading with Jedlie and The Author’s Show which provide an interview and book reading platform.
Guest Writing– Inviting guests to your website to write a blog suitable for your readers draws attention of the guest’s readers as well. In this way, a new audience is generated. Writing guest posts for another blog or website helps to gain unique readers and generates traffic on your website. When you do this, be aware of the genre you want to write about and if the website accepts posts in that genre. Also, when you’re doing the same for your website, do not drift away from your said purpose, and the kind of audience you would like to have.
Blogs– Traffic can be increased on your website by writing daily blogs of all the things you find interesting and will ‘fit in’ with your website. Blogs help in interaction between the writer and the reader. Allowing comments, likes and shares helps to build social presence, and is an efficient way for maintaining public relations.

-Harsha Sheelam

 

Check out Harsha’s other guest post published on A New Look On Books here!

 

Guest Post: Harsha Sheelam’s A Story Exists in all that Exists

Guest Post

 

Meet Harsha Sheelam.

Author..

Harsha Sheelam always had the passion for writing. In the year 2016, she practiced writing more extensively. This led to her recognition in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and digital content. She possesses versatility in writing stories, debatable topics, politics, social, fashion, entertainment, reviews, fashion and lifestyle. Today she is a children’ book author, she debuted in 2017 with the book ‘Beautiful Inside and Out’ which is a collection of short stories. She launched it with the aim of empowering young girls and boys. She has the dedication to her craft which makes the children believe that they are beautiful inside and out. Same year her juvenile fiction novel, ‘Good Exists in all that Exists’ released. As the title suggests, the book is based around the theme of ‘good overpowering the bad’. There is a hidden meaning for every action. The book does not fail to enhance the enchanted experience of the reader.
Beginning of a new year, in 2018 ‘The House of Terry Atterberry’ made it to book-selling portals. Terry’s tales champion hard work, perseverance, honesty and compassion. The riches that kids gain through this book are overcoming fear, not undermining people, understanding no one is perfect, knowing your true friends, and more. The book is a collection of 15 inspiring fables from the life of a fictional character.
Today, 3 books old, and anticipating more, this is Harsha Sheelam for you.

Social links:
www.sheelamharsha.com
www.facebook.com/harshasheelamm/
www.instagram.com/harshasheelam

Guest Post

A story exists in all that exists- Harsha Sheelam
Everyone has a story. People from different walks of life have a journey and experience to share. My odyssey in the writing world was something that I never expected.
When I was 9, my mother read the essays I wrote in my answer sheet of the English exam. She was taken aback with all the crap I wrote. The piece had every grammatical error that the English language could list out. She was left so shocked that the next day she bought piles of books for me to read which ranged from stories to creative writing. I found it funny because I felt she took it too seriously, though I didn’t want to read them because every child is stubborn and has a natural tendency of not obeying their parent, yet I did at the constant nagging of my mother. And I’m so glad for it today.
A year later my grandfather read an essay which I wrote about him and he was thrilled with the way I put it down. He found it to be too perfect to be true. Since that day, he always encouraged me to write. Had it not been for him and my mother, I wouldn’t have been an author today.
Years later, in 2016, I began to write professionally for magazines, newspapers, and blogs. Luckily I wasn’t restricted to a particular genre and wrote about politics, social causes, fashion, entertainment, and travel. At that time, I felt independent and was glad to be hustling at the side which pursuing my graduate degree.
Writing gave me the peace of mind. It delivered me into a parallel universe where I was surrounded by good people living in a saintly world. It had a much needed positive impact on an idle brain, surrounded by negativity from people.
Back then I never thought that I could write books. That my imagination could be so large and I would be able to write for the most imaginative and creative minds – the children. When an opportunity came knocking I didn’t have second thoughts about it and took it up immediately.
The publishing process for my debut book, ‘Beautiful Inside and Out’, wasn’t easy after all. I had a tough time finding an illustrator and getting the work done before the termination of the contract with the publisher. Apart from minor obstacles in the publishing process, I have no qualms about how the book turned out to be. I wanted the stories to be contemporary which focus on modern day issues of bullying, body positivity, loving beyond color, race or religion, and others themes, simultaneously adding traditional morals from Aesop’s times.
My debut book gave me the tag of an author and embraced my love for creative expression. The goal in all my books is to make children believe that they are beautiful the way they are, and no one can make them think otherwise. With children being exposed to different forms of media, it becomes very relevant in the 21st century.
As I wrote more I understood that my writing style doesn’t involve a plot or brainstorming. The stories are where and how my imagination takes me while writing. Though I love this way of writing as there is no plan I have to stick to, there are minor challenges. When I was writing my novel, I’d go utmost of 2 days waiting for the next line in the story. A twist, tragedy or just a continuation of the story depended on how my mind explored my thoughts in the waiting period until I sat again to write.
Today, I am three books old with Beautiful Inside and Out, Good Exists in all that Exists, and The House of Terry Atterberry solely responsible for writing, financing, and marketing. I had never known better of the things I could do had it not been for these three babies a.k.a books.
Marketing is not easy and I understand the struggle of other writers and poets. Therefore, I decided to help aspiring poets and writers by providing a platform for them on my website www.sheelamharsha.com
I used to pine over marketing the books, but not anymore. I have tried to build avenues to reach a global audience through reviews, guest posts, and blogging. In this process, I was fortunate to be interviewed by authors and book bloggers.
Albert Camus rightfully said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

-Harsha Sheelam

Interview with Agent Sara Megibow

Author Interview

Meet Sara Megibow.

SaraMegibow_byKateTesterman

Sara Megibow is a literary agent with KT Literary in Highlands Ranch, CO. She has eleven years experience in publishing and specializes in working with authors who write middle grade and young adult fiction, romance novels and science fiction/ fantasy for the adult market. She represents New York Times bestselling authors including Margaret Rogerson (AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS), Jason Hough (THE DARWIN ELEVATOR), Roni Loren (THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY) and Jaleigh Johnson (THE DOOR TO THE LOST). Sara is LGBTQ+ Friendly and speaks around the country at publishing events. Member of AAR, SCBWI, RWA and SFWA.

Social Media Links:

Sara Megibow on Publishers Marketplace:
https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/SaraMegibow/

On Twitter @SaraMegibow

On Manuscript Wish List:
http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/sara-megibow/

KT Literary website:
http://www.ktliterary.com

KT Literary blog:
http://ktliterary.com/daphne/

 

Q: Tell us your story of how you got in to book publishing. First in five word or less and then however much you see fit.

A: Thanks for inviting me to this interview! How I got in to book publishing in five words or less =

Inspired By Authors And Bookstores!

Now, the slightly longer story…

I graduated from Northwestern University in 1996 with BAs in women’s studies, gender studies and American History. That was during the dot com boom and I spent the next decade as a corporate trainer, sales rep and process specialist at various tech companies. When those companies all went out of business, I decided to make a career change and pursue something I loved – namely book publishing.

As an agent, I’m an advocate for authors and I love my job! My husband is a musician and he was my inspiration for moving from tech to books – I wanted to be the kind of agent that his band needed in those early years.

 

Q: Can you tell us about any current projects in the works?

A. Of course! Thanks for asking!

I represent 39 clients right now. We had 37 book releases in 2017 and (so far) have 45 book releases scheduled for 2018. Margaret Rogerson’s AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS just debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and Spencer Ellsworth’s A RED PEACE has been nominated for the prestigious Compton Crook Award. We’re always very, very busy and excited about upcoming projects.

Here are some exciting tidbits to share:

Just today I saw the final cover for WHAT GOES UP by debut author Wen Baragrey. This is a sweet middle grade novel releasing next fall from Random House Children’s – I’m VERY excited about it!
http://www.wenbaragrey.com

Last Friday I found out the THE TIGER’S DAUGHTER by K Arsenault Rivera debuted on the SCIBA Indie Regional Bestseller list. How exciting! K is another debut author and THE TIGER’S DAUGHTER is a queer epic fantasy written primarily in second person. The book has earned starred reviews and gotten tons of attention and we couldn’t be more proud of this book launch!
http://www.karsenaultrivera.com

Coming in January 2018, New York Times bestselling author Roni Loren launches the first book in her new contemporary romance series. I met with Roni’s editor two weeks ago and we were glowing with happiness – booksellers are excited! Readers are excited! Reviewers are loving this book! I can’t wait to get THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY out to the world!
http://www.roniloren.com

For more agency/ author news, check out the KT Literary blog:
http://ktliterary.com/daphne/

 

Q. What does your average day look like?

A. The most common misconception about agents is that we spend all day reading. Alas, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I receive 75-100 queries (submissions) per day but reading them only takes me about 30 minutes. The other 7+ hours per day are spent serving my current clients.

My day is spent submitting books to editors, negotiating contracts, auditing royalty statements, making payments, shopping and negotiating audiobook deals and translation deals, shopping and closing Hollywood deals, managing publicity and promotions, tracking delivery dates and book release dates and answering emails.

Clients have all sorts of questions every day like “can I show my cover to the public yet?” and “what should I work on while I’m waiting?” and “what should I put on my website?” and “can the publisher send me to the Book Expo conference in NYC?” It’s not uncommon for me to spend 2-3 hours per day just answering client emails.

Organizing strategy for client profit is the most important part of my job. In addition to all the tasks above, I am constantly looking at formats, distribution, sales & marketing, publicity & promo and subsidiary rights with an eye toward how to make money for my clients. I also work closely with authors on their Next Big Book ideas – reading sample pages, talking about pitches and offering editorial advice as they write.

That’s the tip of the iceberg.

 

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring agents, publishers, and writers?

A. Support Local Independent Bookstores!

If you have indie bookstores near you, buy from them! If you don’t have indie bookstores near you, buy from them anyway and have the books shipped to you. If you only read ebooks for yourself that’s fine but remember to buy print books from your local indie bookstore as gifts, donations to your schools and libraries and classrooms, as house-warming presents, as holiday gifts, as thank you gifts, etc.

Support Local!

 

Q, Do you have a favorite/unfavorite part of the book publishing process?

That’s a trick question. 😉

I used to be a Six Sigma process specialist at GE so I DROOL to get my hands on most publishing processes to improve them.

That being said, the part of publishing that I find least effective (from a profit standpoint) is the sheer volume of work we expect from our publishing partners (editors, publicists, sub-agents, cover artists, sales reps, etc). Our teammates at publishing houses put in hundreds of hours keeping on top of mountain-sized piles of work and they do it for our books. Thank you all! We see you and we appreciate you!

Conversely, my favorite part of book publishing is walking into my (local independent) bookstore and buying client books. I spend thousands of dollars per year buying books. I just love the energy of a bookstore – people ogling covers and asking for recommendations and buying. Seeing client books on the shelves gives my agent-heart its wings.

 

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share or say?

A. I try to answer professional questions on twitter as time allows – come say hi @SaraMegibow

Also, I keep my travel and conference schedule updated here:
https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/SaraMegibow/

Thanks again for having me today and happy reading (and writing!) to all!

Guest Post: The Beginning of Ink Monster

Guest Post

About Danielle Modafferi
Director of Marketing and Acquisitions at Ink Monster Books

Danielle Modafferi Pic.png

Danielle Modafferi loves inventing words, exploring new destinations (both in reality and in her wild mind), and performing random acts of kindness. She earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and her BA in English Literature and French from the University of Pittsburgh. When Danielle isn’t publishing or daydreaming, you can usually find her in front of a classroom – she has been a high school teacher and a college professor intermittently over the past 12 years. In 2016, Danielle published her first novel, a YA Dark Fantasy titled The Girl in the Glass Box, under the pen name Andi Adams. She has a passion for travel and for her two dogs, Jackson and Liam, who are incidentally her biggest fans.

 

Ink Monster Media Links:
http://www.inkmonster.net
https://www.facebook.com/inkmonster.net

https://www.instagram.com/inkmonsterbooks/
https://www.pinterest.com/InkMonsterBooks/

 

Guest Post:

First of all, thank you so much, Rae, for hosting me and this guest post on your blog. Rae, for those of you who don’t know, has been a great supporter of Ink Monster and our authors and we are so grateful for her continued encouragement. We love all books, and all readers, and we are excited about bloggers who keep that enthusiasm alive! So thank you, Rae – keep up the great work!
Happy Reading,
❤ Dani

How did Ink Monster get started?

It’s kind of a crazy story. A few years ago, (well, more than a few I hate to admit), Aileen and I studied Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. On two separate sides of the country, Aileen (in LA) and I (in PA) both started our own publishing company. Aileen was writing and publishing under her Ink Monster company, and I was scouring through piles of submissions for new authors to take on under my company Firefly Hill Press.
After many discussions of both wanting to grow our businesses, we decided why are we doing this alone!?! So, we teamed up, which has allowed Aileen to focus a little more on continuing to pump out awesomely popular YA series (ie: The Alpha Girl Series and the upcoming Off Planet Series.) And I have been working more on the business end, alongside our other SHU alum, writer, editor and part-time internet wizard, Lola Dodge.

Fun fact: two more of our authors are also alums of the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill, Tricia Leedom and Mary Karlik. We didn’t intentionally set out to be so SHU-centric, but what can we say, the submissions we received from these authors were off-the-charts-amazing, so it’s working out for all of us. It’s kind of a cool story that most of us (sorry, Beth Merlin!) have the roots back to SHU. As for Ms. Merlin, Beth’s manuscript was pulled out of the slush pile back when I was operating alone under Firefly Hill Press! Her manuscript and her story as an author is one of true success, seeing as only 1% of unsolicited manuscripts ever find their way out of the slush pile into publication. We are so proud of all of the authors that we represent. Each one has her own voice and own niche. It really rounds out our group and our demographic.

Ink Monster at RWA.png

Why all women?

This was another feature of Ink Monster that we didn’t necessary set out to do (or be) intentionally – it kinda just happened. That’s not to say that we won’t take on male authors or male employees at some point in the future, it just hasn’t happened yet. And we’re pretty proud that we are kicking a$$ as strong, intelligent women in our field. We are an all-female executive team, we only rep female authors (at present), even our reps at our distribution company, InScribe, are all women!
It’s funny, though we didn’t set out with a women-only model, it does speak to our mission in terms of upholding the ideal that women are smart, independent, and fully capable of “being the heroines of our own stories.” With our literary model being to represent books that feature fierce female heroines who aren’t afraid to save themselves (damsels need not apply!), it seems apropos to perpetuate this idea in our business as well.

GIF: (http://gph.is/2bf5Urc)

What is your WHY?

Basically, we love books. We love writing. We all started out as writers, first and foremost, and we wanted to start a company that was more author-centric than traditional publishing companies have been. We hope to create a team atmosphere, where authors have a greater say in how their work is represented and cultivated.
We also want to be positive role models for women. We hope to write female characters who prove to be strong, though flawed, just like real women are. We want to show dynamic, dimensional people – not just stereotypes or fixtures that operate as mere after-thoughts.

Favorite part about publishing?

Without a doubt, it’d be fan engagement! All of our authors LOVE hearing from fans and those who take a moment to reach out to say hello. It’s nice to know that there are real people out there reading and loving the work that we are doing.
And for me, it’s experiencing the process of a book being brought to life. When I first see a book in its rough first draft, I love to see the potential of it. What it currently is and then what it can be in the future after LOTS of hard work, edits, and more hard work. And then, the best part is seeing the finished product: the one fans get excited about and respond positively to, the one that Amazon nominates for special features, and that we are recognized for by leaders in the field. It’s such a thrilling process for me as an Acquisitions Editor; bringing an author’s dream to life is truly indescribable!

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Least favorite part about publishing?

I would say that adhering to strict deadlines and maintain the calendar is certainly the most challenging part. It’s no secret that life gets in the way sometimes and we can’t always account for emergencies or blips in our calendar. When we have to plan releases and promos almost a year in advance, there is no way to foresee some of the things that life will throw our way in the interim.
Sometimes life happens and we have to scoot things around – we don’t want to, but since we never want to compromise the books we offer our fans, we must. But it’s hard because we know that can result in disappointing fans, which we never want to do. We just hope that our community of readers understands that our authors are people too. And while life is messy, writing and inspiration can be halted or at least slowed when things like illness or family emergencies get in the way. We just want everyone to know that if we move a release date, it’s usually for a very good reason. We never do that lightly because we understand the anticipation and excitement readers have for those next books.

What’s next for Ink Monster?

Well, we hope to keep growing and growing! We have slowed down a bit in our acquisitions department, so that we can concentrate on the authors we currently represent and can really cultivate a following and a brand for each author. We have so many releases planned straight through 2018 – so we anticipate being quite busy. All Ink Monster fans can look forward to some really awesome books coming your way – both as continuation of series that are currently out and also brand-new series. We hope you love them as much as we do!

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