Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Interview with Founder of Cynren Press, Holly Monteith

  1. What inspired you to launch Cynren Press?

I am a language lover, from all angles. Of course, I’ve always been an avid reader, but I was also the ’90s grunge girl carrying around a torn notebook in which I was constantly scribbling. I went on to study linguistics, writing, and communication through various degree programs, so my approach to learning and understanding more about language was comprehensive. After grad school, I naturally fell into an editorial career, first as a staff editor, then as a successful freelancer for more than a decade. I suppose I always wanted to work in publishing, even from a tender age, so once I had that experience and exposure, and a little extra cash, I hit the ground running with Cynren.

  1. How did you come up with the name?

I formed Cynren Press with the intention of focusing on history, memoir, biography—people-centered stuff—but more importantly, work that would unite us, show us our similarities, bring us together as humanity. I am also a personal devotee of British history. Cynren is Old English for “kindred,” so I thought it suited our mission, and my own personality, well.

  1. What marketing strategies will you employ to ensure your success?

We’re taking full advantage of the various marketing opportunities the IBPA has to offer, including cooperative advertising. Additionally, we’re submitting to all the major trade journals for reviews (we were delighted to get a great review in Foreword for one of our fall titles), and our books are both appearing on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly in September. Our books have appeared or will appear at industry trade shows, conferences, and book fairs; we’re on NetGalley and Edelweiss+; and we’ve sent thousands of announcements, releases, and ARCs to influencers with interest in the subject matter of each title. That’s just for starters; we add more customized marketing depending on the book. For example, one of our titles, about the Beatles, was advertised at the Fest for Beatles Fans.

  1. What are your first two books about?

In Fall 2018, we’re publishing two really killer books.

The first is A Boy Named Courage: A Surgeon’s Memoir of Apartheid by Himmet Dajee, MD, and Patrice Apodaca. Dr. Dajee was among the rather large Indian population of South Africa during the gruesome apartheid years. We often hear about the suffering of the native black population during that time, but it’s easy to forget that Indians have called South Africa home for decades (Gandhi was a lawyer in South Africa when he first began his movement). Dajee’s story, gorgeously crafted by journalist Apodaca, tells us about how apartheid affected brown people there and also is a wonderful glimpse into a culture and tradition, and its effects, both positive and negative, on youths of the time. Dajee ended up bucking both the system and his father’s rigid upbringing to become a celebrated heart surgeon in the United States. His story is quite extraordinary. We were delighted to have Denis Goldberg, the renowned anti-apartheid activist and comrade of Nelson Mandela, read and highly recommend the book for its importance.

The second book, very different but no less amazing for what it teaches us, is titled Diary of a Beatlemaniac: A Fab Insider’s Look at the Beatles Era and is written by Patricia Gallo-Stenman. It’s exactly what it says it is: a diary, written by a teenage Patricia (aka Patti) as she came of age in Philadelphia during the early years of the Beatles era. This is no ordinary diary, though. I could only wish my own teenage writer’s notebook had been filled with the insight Patti offers us, even at such a young age. Foreword Reviews hit the nail on the head when it said in its August/September review of the book that Diary of a Beatlemaniac has much to teach about how fandom can mold and form young people in positive ways. Though the diary has some of the silly poetry and scheming that you’d expect to find there (and for Beatles fans of the era, it’s quite fun!), Patti tells us how she became a teen columnist for a local newspaper, daringly met and then befriended Victor Spinetti (of Beatles movie fame) and Hy Lit (the famed Philly deejay), and grew up with the Beatles, eventually becoming the first woman in her family to attend college and moving on to a successful career in journalism. Printed in full color, it’s filled with photos and memorabilia, and it concludes with exclusive interviews with Spinetti and Hy Lit. It’s awesome.

  1. How many titles do you hope to publish in your first year?

We have six books under contract, five of which will be published by Spring 2019. The other is still being crafted quite carefully.

  1. What publishing experience informs your decisions?

I have a good amount of experience from my work history, and I fill in the gaps by asking lots of questions, reading industry journals, and hiring professionals when I need to—from whom I learn a great deal to take the press forward. We have as a goal to publish high-quality books, both in content and form, so we’re keeping it traditional and treading the tried road, but at the same time, we’re not afraid to take advantage of new opportunities to improve on the process as they arise.

  1. What advice do you have fir struggling writers?

Go indie! Small presses have a lot to offer, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t get a contract with the big guys. I think Cynren authors would all agree that they’ve received individual, concentrated attention because we value them for what they’ve done, and we’re honored to be able to publish their work. At the same time, small presses can provide the editorial, design, and marketing that self-publishing cannot, at least, without a hefty price tag.

  1. What do you see as the future of book publishing in five years?

I’m loving the indie movement, which I feel is gaining steam. I think many people believe the printed word to be on its way out, but the opposite is true. Printed books are still loved (and bought), and indie bookstores and presses are going strong. I think we’ll see that trend growing stronger over the next five years. I’m also seeing more in the way of accessibility, especially in the ebook industry. I think (I hope) that more publishers will consider accessibility when they publish ebooks so that those words can reach everyone.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

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