Listed below:  Joanna Cotler - Carole Stuart - Honna Swenson - Nan Talese - Teresa Trujillo

Joanna Cotler/Harper Collins

“Thanks again. Will share this and WOW with many ... -Joanna”


Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW WomenOnWriting.com


Joanna Cotler

                    The Arts Trained Joanna for Publishing

Joanna Cotler's first career was as a dancer. She says that performing has served her well in her profession in the literary world. It's easy to see why she would say that. The evidence of a professional dancer's characteristics is throughout this interview: the involvement of heart, self-discipline, and demanding of oneself the best performance possible.
See her as someone that can follow the lead of external direction (from music to the structure of the publishing world) while contributing something unique from within herself.
     Learn as Joanna goes through the steps that not only made her successful, but can also help equip us for all we can achieve.

BERYL: First, Joanna, what is an imprint? What are the advantages for you and the author?

JOANNA: Having an imprint is an exceptional way to work and a great privilege for me and for my authors. What it is: a publishing line within a large publishing house usually defined by a single editor's point of view.
     The advantage for me is that I believe I attract and maintain healthy relationships with authors and artists because my books are distinguished by the imprint name and point of view. I have a boutique business-Joanna Cotler Books-nestled into a very healthy and supportive larger one-HarperCollins-with all the great support a large business has to offer.
     The advantages for my authors and artists: I can offer hands on experience on every title, along with the clout to back it because the house has chosen to support my line at the highest level, and because Joanna Cotler book and HarperCollins are thriving businesses run by stellar women, our CEO, Jane Friedman, and Susan Katz, President & Publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books.

Your descriptions contribute a great deal to aspiring authors that were unaware of imprints, equipping them to make better decisions in the future. Many benefit from imprints, but how would you describe what Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins means to you?


My imprint celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2006 and these ten years have been the most exciting time in a nearly 30 year career as an editor of children's books. To have been given the opportunity to publish what I think is great literature for children, to be able to express my own aesthetic, to make kids laugh with books like DIARY OF A FLY and TODAY I FEEL SILLY, or to be inspired by Patty MacLachlan whose words have been cherished by generations of readers, to be able to work with Sharon Creech on great books like LOVE THAT DOG and most recently, THE CASTLE CORONA-how privileged I feel. And to think that maybe books that I chose to publish will be around for generations?


That's great, Joanna. We not only congratulate you on your anniversary but because it's wonderful to know your work is still exciting to you. That you count your career as a privilege further explains your success. Tell us, how would you describe an editor's job?


To find talent and give it a home; to help an author or artist find their best self in their work; to create books; to sell books.


We appreciate that this focus is what you bring to the table. As writers, we have to appreciate that we must value 'the home' opened up to us; we want to have a like spirit and work ethic. Do you have anything you'd like to share with ones that would like to pursue an editing position? Or, someday having an imprint?


Whether you edit or aspire to having an imprint there is one thing that matters most of all: your relationships with your authors and artists. Cultivate those relationships as well as your own vision. Don't compromise. Only publish the best even if that means very few books.

Great points, worthy of repeated rumination! But it isn't all about people, diving into you work. Are all edit jobs equal? If not, why the difference?


If you mean does each book present different editorial challenges, yes, very much so, especially for a children's editor who might one day edit a several hundred word picture book, such as IS THERE REALLY A HUMAN RACE? by Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrated by Laura Cornell (a #1 New York Times bestseller this fall), and the next day a several 100,000 word novel, such as Clive Barker's ABARAT series (which also include more than 100 full color paintings). Vastly different experiences-keeps my life interesting.

Publisher/Barricade Books

Carole Stuart

20 Questions (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW Women On Writing .com

Carole is the publisher of Barricade Books. For thirteen years she and her late husband, Lyle, shared the mission of publishing consequential books, while passionate in their fight for free speech. Mrs. Stuart continues to carry on the undertaking that she and her husband devoted themselves to.
      Carole Stuart is a woman who carefully chooses not only what she says, but when and if she'll tell what's on her mind. So, enjoy this exceptional opportunity to hear from her.


BERYL:  Your late husband, Lyle Stuart, was referred to as "a renegade journalist and publisher whose picaresque life included clashes with Walter Winchell..." and "American independent publisher of controversial books." How did working with this extraordinary man influence your role as a publisher?

  I still look for controversial books. And we get them. We're publishing HONOR BETRAYED: SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE AMERICAN MILITARY which fits our controversial profile perfectly. I'm always looking for books like that. But we also publish other categories that we have become identified with: mafia, offbeat (BREEDING BETWEEN THE LINES, WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE but we also look for the more traditional "big book" like HIGH RISE LOW DOWN: who's who and what's what behind the coop and condo boards in Manhattan's top apartment houses.
     You need a mix to make it all work.

How does Barricade Books go about introducing their releases to the readers?

We are publicity driven. We are too small to advertise so we work with authors to promote books. We send out review copies to traditional media but each book is fine-tuned. If we're doing a THE SILENT DON by Scott Deitche whose CIGAR CITY MAFIA did very well in Florida - that's where we concentrate our launch.

      Some books may sell 90% regionally but do very little elsewhere.

Not every book is a national book but if it sells well, we are happy to sell it where the natural market is.

What is your pet peeve when receiving a query/submission?

Don't email a ms - don't send me a Disk. Don't send a ms that is single
spaced or printed on the front and back of a page.

     Your submission is your entry into my office. It your package looks like you took time to put it together I'll notice that.

     Always put a return envelope in. An address, email, phone number for contact.

How much promotion do you expect an author to do for herself?

A lot. This is the reality. Most authors are pretty smart these days and many hire their own publicity people. We then work together.

      It often works very well. As small as we are, we still have more books to handle than the one you are writing. The more an author does the better. But always in corrdination with us.

How does writing feed your soul versus publishing?

I write books that are very personally connected to me so I impart information I am familiar with. Publishing is exciting because I get to offer up books with new ideas and those that challenge existing ones. Very different experiences, but equally fulfilling.

What was the pivotal moment that told you that Barricade Books had arrived?

When we started to get agents submitting to us because of our reputation. And authors who had been published by major houses that were tired of not getting much attention. They like the personal touch.


Carole's closing comments: Even though there are too many books being published, keep writing. We need good ones.


Beryl's closing comments: Carole, what a perfect match you and Barricade Books are for Small Presses Create Buzz. Thank you for helping us appreciate just a few of the benefits for the author that signs with a small press. Meanwhile, we will continue to look for more good things to come from Barricade Books.


Co-Publisher/Fairwood Press

“Yay!  It looks great. ... So smooth from one topic to the next.  I really appreciate the opportunity..."


Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW WomenOnWriting.com

Honna Swenson 

                       of Fairwood Press - Versatile, Focused & Dedicated

he following discussion comes courtesy of Mary Rosenblum, one of Fairwood Press' authors. When she learned our theme was Small Presses Create Buzz, without hesitation, she suggested that we contact Honna Swenson. We quickly learned that she was one-half of a matched set; and Patrick, oh gasp, a guy --her husband, was the other half . What were we to do? We couldn't pass Honna up and decided to turn this into a double treat. Enjoy and benefit from what she has to say right here; in a few weeks, you'll learn more about Patrick and what he has to say, on our blog.
      While doing research we quickly learned Honna is part of a special family, with a unique dream, and a surprising first love since she was twelve. Check her Vital Stats for further information.
      We're happy to raise awareness of small presses. You'll be excited to learn what they offer authors, as well as readers. Now, let's get acquainted with Honna.


BERYL: You and your husband, Patrick, started Fairwood Press in 2000. What qualifications did you bring to the table?


HONNA: We were already editing and publishing a small-press magazine, Talebones, which debuted in 1995 with issue zero. We've published dark fiction, SF, poetry, articles and reviews from writers across the globe, and that has given us a lot of contacts for Fairwood Press projects. Both Patrick and I have sold short stories here and there and have taught writing classes together.


So, you had some idea what you were getting into, but surprises had to come up. What was the biggest problem you faced getting Fairwood Press up and running?


Once Patrick O' Leary approached us with a wonderful pitch, it took a few things to get our first title, Other Voices, Other Doors in print. Namely, we needed the capital. We started an S-corporation and gained a few investors. We had to research printing and distribution models as well, deciding on a strategy that worked best for us, which lead us to print-on-demand technology.


Obviously, this entailed a great deal of work. You must have felt you would be able to offer something unique. What advantages does Fairwood offer over the big houses?


We have a closer partnership with the author, a real one-on-one relationship. The author is given input on the cover art and design. Authors also don't have to wait nearly as long to see their work in print. We offer high royalty percentages to our authors.
      One successful collection of short stories brought one of our authors more money in royalties than he would have made by selling it to a big publisher.


You know you just elevated many authors' heart rates. They will want to know, do authors need to have an agent to submit to you?


No. Although most authors who we work with have agents, the authors tend to work directly with us without agent involvement.


What do you require for submissions, two or three chapters? Who does the reading of the submissions received?


We currently are not open to submissions. So far, we have picked our own projects. We tend to gravitate toward writers we've met through Talebones, whose work we know and admire. These days Patrick reads the bulk of the projects we acquire.


WOW, grinning: Well, there's a nice hint for some authors to think about. You already had some direction, but just how did you and Patrick decide to limit the genres you would accept? Did you decide to go with your favorite genre or did you consider other factors?


We're pretty open. We are drawn toward anything speculative. We started our imprint Darkwood Press specifically with the idea of publishing horror, but we haven't really started it yet. But, Fairwood has done SF, Fantasy, Horror, Poetry, Writing Reference, and even a few non-fiction books not related to writing or genre.


"I have read the interview and I thank you for being so careful in being true to what I said.  I hope this is helpful to your readers. ... Good luck and many thanks again.  -Nan" 
Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW WomenOnWriting.com
Nan Talese  

                 A Reader's Journey to Publishing

Unsung heroes are the foundation of any entity because they provide the spirit and drive that makes up what, in this instance, is the writing industry todayat its best. I say unsung in this case because in researching Nan Talese, I found precious little until I came across her receiving the Maxwell E Perkins Award. When the time came for Nan to accept her Lifetime Achievement award as an editor, she entered the history of American letters. There couldn't be an issue on The Big House without Mrs. Talese. Read on and you will concur.

What was it about the publishing world that attracted you?

: Reading.

Beryl, eyebrows raised and laughing:
Oh you are, not surprisingly, a woman of few and well-chosen words. So, how did your career journey begin? Who encouraged you?


My, then, soon-to-be husband Gay Talese suggested I should speak to an editor he knew at Random House because I was always reading. Gay has never ceased to encourage me.

What a blessing for you, because you didn't choose a career that made it easy for a woman to succeed. What difficulties did you encounter (A) because you were a woman? (B) How different are things today?

If there were women editors they were expected to edit cookbooks and mysteries. Having children was out of the question, so I had to make my own path, expecting to be stopped if I was going in the wrong direction. B) Very different, and in many ways more difficult. Women now have longer commutes to and from their offices-we lived only 10 blocks away from Random House so I went home at lunchtime until our daughters were in school. While there was no maternity leave then I think the pressures of a career are greater now so it is more difficult to balance husband, children, home and publishing.

Now that isn't what I expected to hear. This is definitely important for women desiring to become an editor. Of the various obstacles, what was a major one you faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

A major obstacle was arriving at a new publishing house and realizing I was in the wrong place. I left an office that was cordial, warm and well-mannered and for two and a half years worked in an atmosphere where people rarely spoke to me and certainly were not interested in the books I wanted to publish.
      I overcame it, I suppose, by a kind of stubbornness. I was determined not to be defeated and tried to fit in as best I could and contribute to the publishing program. I never gave up my appreciation of superb but less commercial writing and after a few years there were some successes and I was accepted.
      It seemed a painfully long time but I learned a great deal from the experience, which in the end helped me.

May we all be so stubborn!
      You have a reputation for being gracious, witty, and having a passion for your chosen profession. Yet, despite the hard beginning, all the work and tough decisions, you haven't lost those praiseworthy qualities. What is it about your mindset that keeps you from being consumed, losing who you are, despite the pressures?

The books and the authors are always the priority-that is after my husband and children. Knowing this is very centering and keeps one out of the trough of personal ambition.

That's great advice, obviously not easy because it takes diligence. However, you prove it is well worth the effort. . . What do you see as the major hurdle facing aspiring authors today?

Finding readers. We live in a disposable Kleenex culture and if a new author does not find an audience immediately his/her next book will have a harder time getting reviews and the new book into bookstores, and eventually a publisher for future work.



Teresa Trujillo

20 Questions (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW Women On Writing .com

Teresa Trujillo has been in the printing and publishing business for nearly thirty years. She is an organizer of the Orange County Writers Meetup Group and owns a book publishing company in Fullerton, California. Teresa is also our guest judge for  the WOW! Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest.  

WOW: How do manuscripts end up in the “slush pile?” And, emerge to be published?


Teresa: It is estimated that only 3% of the material submitted for publication actually is published. There are a lot of dead trees in the slush pile.

How has online networking influenced the publishing industry?

The publishing industry has been slow to fully adopt online and internet strategies. Big publishers like the business model that has worked for them for decades. Online networking has allowed authors to interact with more of their fan base. A strong author fan base translates to book sales. Authors are using the internet to communicate with book clubs, online chats, blogs, and other online communities.

There have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions in many
major publishing houses. How has this affected the industry?

There have been many changes in the publishing industry in the last 10 years. While there has been consolidation at the major publishing houses, technology has allowed smaller publishers to enter the market in increasing numbers. Alas, this has not increased the number of titles entering the marketplace, which stands at about 90,000 titles each year. Conversely, over 120,000 titles go out-of-print every year.

How many books have to sell before the publisher makes money?

This depends on the individual book. What I can tell you is that many publishers lose money on the majority of their catalog. The top 10%-30% of their catalog allows them to lose money, or make a long term investment on the rest of their offerings. One big blockbuster can pay for a stable of “also ran” titles. A “long term investment” may be a new author who they think will develop a following as their work matures. In 2004 the average book only sold 3,500 copies—and that was a year that JK Rawlings had Harry Potter in the bestseller list! The publisher will only make a few dollars over the production and marketing cost of the book—so it is plain to see that more titles lost money than made money.

Any suggestions for how a new author could get her first review?

Participate in writers’ workshops and contests. Many universities offer some type of writing workshop and review contests for new and emerging authors. There is a list of annual writing contests in the Writer’s Market. Don’t invest in contests with high entry fees. Anything over $25 is excessive.

How meaningful are reviews?

I think independent booksellers are more of a factor in the success of a new author than reviews. Independent booksellers actually know their customers’ reading preferences, and make individualized recommendations to readers who are more likely to follow the advice of a trusted bookseller than a reviewer. After all, the reviewer doesn’t really care if you purchase a book at all—and the bookseller wants to make sure you keep coming back to the store to buy their product. Which one is more invested in the relationship with a happy reader?
       Emerging authors are better served by developing relationships with independent booksellers than chasing elusive reviews. The independent’s can cause a groundswell of support for new works that will push sales in the larger markets. The biggest change in bookselling in the last two decades has been the decline in independent bookseller while the mega stores flourish. This is bad news for emerging authors.

What do you wish authors knew or would do before submitting their manuscripts? Or, what's your pet peeve regarding authors/manuscripts?

If I listed all of the things that make me crazy when I review a manuscript it would take a week to read. First and foremost—spell check! Incorrect grammar, spelling, and punctuation will distract the editor to the point that they will only see the blemishes and not the hard work. Next, submit the manuscript in the accepted format 10 or 12 point, Times Roman typestyle, double spaced. Nobody in the editorial department wants to see the author’s attempt to design the book. Don’t format headlines, subheads, and various devices that take emphasis away from the words on the page. Those devices will get entered on the page by the design team. Authors should never harass the publisher about their unsolicited manuscript. It only makes me less likely to want to read it and/or work with an author who may prove to be difficult in the long term. If a manuscript is truly good, and submitted to the right publisher, at the right time, in the perfect market conditions, and the hand of God points to your perfect manuscript—your prayer of publishing might be answered. The golden rule of publishing is “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Learn to play by the rules.

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