Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Interviews With A Publisher, Literary Scout & Novelist

Interview With Publisher Colin Graham
1.      You founded Graham Publishing Group a little over a year ago. What made you decide to enter into this ever-changing industry? Well, it’s just that, the industry is changing. So many incredible authors in the past never were able to share their work. Looked over, pushed aside, and dismissed. This had nothing to do with the quality of work, rather the reality of the publishing industry. E publishing has changed the game. Having the opportunity to bring readers a book they might have otherwise never had the chance to experience thrills me. I have always had a great love for literature and the process that goes in-to creating a book. This relatively new industry of electronic publishing gives us a way to create and provide great books in a whole new way.
2.      What did you do before starting your company? For nearly ten years prior to founding Graham Publishing Group, I was an executive for one of the world’s largest motion picture providers, Regal Entertainment. I have always had a passion for storytelling, whether it be through literature or visually on film.

3.      Where do you see the book world heading? The book world is evolving at a tremendous rate. The world is in love with a great book, fascinating characters, creating an escape and an outlet for people. This will never change. It will only grow stronger, as we have seen throughout history. The way these books are brought to the world is changing quickly. Hard copy books will always be here I have no doubt; people love to fill their shelves with their favorite authors. However, technology has opened the door and evolved the book world. Readers have access to more variety, all at the click of a button, cheaper prices, and the conveniences of endless titles in single devices.
4.      What do you see as opportunities in e-publishing? E publishing is not a fad;  it is not going to fade away. The opportunities are endless. The publishing world is at a pivotal point. In the past if an author was published traditionally they wait time for a book to hit the shelves could be up to a year. Now, in a week’s time, an author can have their work available to the world, with an infinite amount of copies reaching a broad reader base. Independent authors who may have been overlooked by large traditional publishing houses now have an equal stake in the game. This industry is rising fast. The numbers do not lie. Reading devices and ebooks sales continue to climb. Established and Indy authors are adapting and flourishing.  The ability to publish a professional book with large distribution in a very quick time is now the norm.

5.      What are you looking for in the authors or books you agree to publish? Imagination, creativity. I want to see books that readers want to read. New and fresh ideas, or a fresh take on an old idea. This is not limited to fiction. I like to see non-fiction with strong powerful stories and valuable information. I what authors that are eager about their books and their possibilities. This is a fun process with limitless opportunity. I want an author to came in my office and say I have the next great novel. I want authors who are as passionate about their books as I am about publishing them.

Interview With Novelist Glenn Starkey

1.      What are the challenges of being a novelist today? The greatest challenge is writing a novel worth reading. Accomplish this and the rest is procedural in terms of marketing your book. You can obtain help from mentors, friends and even hire people to promote your project, but if you do not have a book worth reading, you have no foundation to build upon.

2.      What is your newest book? Why did you write it? I am presently completing my first “sci-fi” based book “Amazon Moon.” As an action-adventure and historical fiction novelist, I wanted to challenge myself with a new creative path of writing — a hard hitting action-adventure that ends with a science-fiction twist. While some authors choose to remain within a single genre, I want to be known as an author that can cover a spectrum of writings and always turn out a quality story regardless of the genre.

3.      What do you love most about being a published author? I love writing a novel and receiving comments from men and women readers around the world telling me how much they enjoyed the story. When they begin telling me how much they loved the characters, the action, the storyline, and so forth, it truly makes my day! I then realize how I achieved my goals of being an author, capturing a reader’s soul, and making them want to read “one more page” before stopping for the day. I had one reader state, “I hate you!” Just that alone stunned me then I smiled as I read, “…you made me miss so much sleep because I loved your book and couldn’t stop until the end.”

4.      Any advice for a struggling writer? Honesty with yourself about your writing skills and perseverance in your efforts is important. First, study the craft by reading a wide variety of books in different genres. Second, write and complete your book before worrying about advertising, marketing, book sales and promotions. Third, get your book read by at least ten non-related people so you have a feel for your writing ability—and don’t argue with their review of your work. Analyze their comments and find the norm of problems they presented to you…then fix the problems whether it is your poor writing skills or a weak storyline. Fourth, be prepared for a bad review down the road. It doesn’t mean you are a bad writer. Remember, not everyone likes the same things in life.

5.      Where do you see the book industry heading?  The first computers filled a room with their monstrous sizes and used IBM punch cards and reels of magnetic tape for their data. Fast-forward from that point and today your cellphone is a mini-computer with far more abilities. Your cellphone is a mini-computer. You can read a book or write one using your cellphone if you wish. Now look at the book industry. It has moved from ancient printing presses with all their labors to electronic distribution of books via “eBooks.” The evolutionary society we live in, courtesy of technological advancements, combined computers and the publishing industry so tightly that it leaves future developments a wide open race.  We have become a demanding society which expects technology to continually change—and do so swiftly. There should always be readers and a demand for well written books, but the medium we will be using is anyone’s guess. I am of the generation that still loves to “hold” a book in hand, but my grandson will be of the generation that relates more to an eBook than a hard or soft cover novel. Neither is best or wrong; it is simply how we have evolved and what we have learned during growth.

For anyone in search of a definitive answer about the future of the industry, they will be disappointed to learn there is no set answer. There will be more of a lean toward electronics such as eBooks, but the love of physically holding a book will remain for several more generations. I do firmly believe though that “big house” publishers will gradually lose their domination over the publishing industry. I believe “indie-authors” and “indie-publishing” are forces to be reckoned with.

For more information about Glenn Starkey and Solomon’s Men, Year of the Ram, and The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, please consult:

Interview With Literary Scout Eva Bacon

1.      Eva, what exactly do you do as a literary scout? My job is to seek out American books that are already in the publication process (i.e. already have an agent, and sometimes a publisher too) that might be interesting for publication abroad. Our clients are foreign publishers—one per territory, exclusively—who rely on us to act as their “eyes and ears” in the US publishing scene. Basically, we point them toward US books they might want to publish in their own countries. Time is an important factor in all this because other scouts are doing the same work for other publishers. We don’t want our clients to miss out on a hot new manuscript. So I talk with agents, editors and people in foreign rights a lot, look at what’s out there, track sales, trends. But first and foremost--just like most people in the industry--we read. A ton.

2.      What do you look for in the authors or books that you represent? Well, we don’t really “represent” any authors. We act more as “consultants” for our clients abroad. That means we can champion a book. Play matchmaker. Tell this editor in, say, Spain about a book that we think fits his list and taste. But we don’t represent it. And to guarantee our neutrality, we don’t have any financial stake in a deal happening or not.

3.      What do you love about being a part of the book publishing industry? Two things mostly: First, the people. In no other industry have I encountered so many interesting individuals. Nobody is in it for the money. (Starting salaries in publishing are notoriously low.) Instead, people are drawn to publishing by a shared interest in, and passion for, the written word. And second, the books. Not the emailing in the office, the pitching and all that jazz (although that can be fun, too). No. That solitary moment in the evening or weekend on your couch where you fall in love with a book. It’s like discovering a treasure. It’s all worth it for that moment.

4.      Where do you see the book industry is heading? For the longest time publishing has been a one-way street, with reviews and sales figures being pretty much the only feedback publishers got on what they’re putting out there. Now, with the internet, that is shifting. People in the industry are paying attention to Amazon and Goodreads reviews, website impressions, reader demographics. The data is out there and it’s talking. This will affect which books are published—and how. Amazon stands to gain from this trend, since they are gathering the most data.  Also, certainly the ratio of print vs. e-books will further shift, and for the first time authors can interact directly with their readership. As for publishing as a whole? Call me optimistic, but I say there’s life in the old dog yet.

5.      What advice can you give a struggling writer? Read. Good stuff, bad stuff (how NOT to write is a immensely worthy lesson). When looking for subject matter, it’s usually a good idea to venture outside the typical writer’s experiences. Although there are wonderful exceptions, I’d usually rather read about the day-to-day life of a lumberjack than that of an MFA student, or a disaffected intellectual who feels constrained by the suburbs. And have a routine in your writing. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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