As in most companies, the owner and operator is always the chief cook and bottle washer and with my publishing company, this is certainly no different. As Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, basically my duties entail me working as a liaison making sure all of the elements of each book come together with the best end-product possible.
The first task at hand as I begin working with an author is to assign them an editor. The editor and I work side by my side until the cover maker and graphic illustrators are needed to create the best possible book cover for the genre and storyline. I then move on to formatting the final galley, which by now has been approved by the author. Getting bids from several of our printers that I work with in the industry (Fidlar Doubleday is my favorite), is one of the last steps. Once the print costs are given to me the approved files are sent to the printer for the book to be printed.
If an author has chosen to do an e-Book, we then move to that area and once again, I work with another point person. If an author has chosen us to do their marketing and/or distribution, we enlist the help of our Digi-Tall Media staff and the last part of the process begins. Also if the author has hired to do marketing, our public relations end of the process comes in and creates a book review/press release, business cards, flyers, etc. Upon arrival of the books, book distributors along with Digi-Tall Media get ready to send out copies of the books to mainline bookstores so that the author’s book can be sold. Amazon is contacted by us and we get the books sold from there as well. All of our websites (4) sell the products and e-books are sold to as many places as possible. This number changes depending upon the genre.
By this time I am wishing I had more hours in the day because the task of publishing is often overwhelming. Usually multi-tasking is paramount and my staff finds peace when the process comes to a close. Thank goodness I and most of my staff are night owls or we would never get anything completed.
2. Why did you tackle the daunting task of starting a publishing company?
I tackled becoming a publisher because I love the entire process of book creation. The authors keep me on my toes with all the research needed before a book can be sent to the printer. It is important that all the facts in a book are accurate. Therefore, I try to aid my writers in that area so there won’t be any embarrassing moments after a book lands on the shelf. The one thing a publisher wants least is a book full of inaccurate information. Believe me we have had several of those NEAR embarrassing moments. Writers sometimes just have it in their heads if they think it then it must be true, so it is our job to gather the research and make sure the words fit the timeframe of a book. No easy task indeed.
I have fond memories of several firsts with my company. The first book we ever published was a book of poetry by author, Robanna Fason. Even though it didn’t end up a bestseller we still were very proud of how well it turned out. She was fortunate enough to have her first book land a television gig on HBO. The show featured Robanna’s children and it was a healing process for everyone involved. We still communicate to this day…many years later. From that point forward, you could say we have been at it ever since. Having fifty-eight titles under our belts is quite a feat for our mid-sized, fee-based, self publishing company.
4. What background do you have that qualifies you as a publisher and helped you to start your companies?
A little background that led me to where I am today is that after a young start in my 20s as an editor/reporter for a Houston magazine, as luck would have it, my next few positions over a span of ten years placed me with responsibilities for the inter/and/outer workings of publishing monthly newsletters and working in reporting and advertising for Embassy Suites Hotels, (Garfield world), Coke and Coors, and finally as an event coordinator/publisher position for Goldman Sachs.
Incredible as it may sound I met my husband, Thomas, on the internet. Probably the best place we could have met since I am rarely away from my computer for more than an hour at a time. I know you all can relate to that last statement. Thomas was working at a local newspaper, and I just knew this was a dream job, even if he didn’t. It didn’t take long and I too was working there and we had fun courting each other in marriage at the same workplace. I’ll never forget him telling me later in the evening that he would look way across the room to see if my ‘little pointy head’ was still at my cubicle. This position called for me to report personal announcements and interact with citizens of 15 cities. The clients that I worked with were ‘soon to be’ brides and their mothers, mothers telling me about their newborns and funeral homes in all of the same areas. It was in that seat where I worked six days a week that I gave birth to my second book, “Thorns of a Red Rose.” Thorns is a macabre suspense novel about a serial killer family who buries their victims in their own cemetery. Upon completion of my manuscript, I began the ‘oh so very famous search’ for the fastest and easiest way to get my book published. To my delight the first thing that came from my search was me landing side jobs as an editor for self-publishing houses. This of course was the first I had ever heard of them. After working for three publishers and a great deal of listening, the publisher I was working for at the time asked if I thought I could do more. Frankly, my answer to that question was, “You Betcha!”
The one thing that this publisher did was to leave me with a goal. He said more than twice, “You’ll always be able to sell services to authors because you have the passion for writing and writers too – but you’ll never land a bestseller. Now I’ll tell you this too…he never really said what he thought a bestseller was…instead, he would always stress how long he had been in the business and how hard it was to sell books. Every time he would bring this subject up my fire to succeed burned stronger. The day he got the call from me informing him that I was going to start Entry Way Publishing, this publisher was not shocked and was very helpful and said, “Always remember me, VicToria…” and that I’ve done.
Along the way, one book at a time, I’ve met new authors, new editors, new graphic illustrators, new printers, and have gained constant new knowledge of the book business. I am very proud to say that out of the fifty-eight books, there are 50 that I’m very attached to and love as much today as I did when they were first released. My experience with all of the people and this specifically applies to Linda T. Phillips – have been like working with family. Linda is one of the most talented people I have ever met and I feel lucky to be able to have her as my best friend and co-worker. One of these days, I’ll turn the business over to her and retire (lol)…until then we will continue to have magic moments together.
Another point I would like to share is that some of our authors have become editors with us and some of the editors have become illustrators, and some of the illustrators have become writers. Linda, who creates awesome covers and superb children’s illustrations, has now become my right hand gal for many years. We have been able to publish three of her books so far and two more are on the way. Through some rough periods, my team, Linda – RD – Krissy – Thomas – Debra – Billy – a few of the real close authors, and my family – always inspired me to never give up. Someone mentioned I was needed and my being validated kept me in business.
Each book I have worked on and each writer I have worked with have felt like magic coincidences. This type of work causes me to feel more alive and excited…the joy is as a publisher there’s not just one job to do and it’s over…I get to work with everyone – so there’s even more magic for me. Selfish as it sounds being a publisher/editor-in-chief is the best job in the world! With all certainty each of the books we’ve delivered to our customers have been handled with 100% tenacious passion and drive to be as close to perfect for them as possible.
- Writers are sometimes unable to see what/when/where/why/who. If we cannot help these writers to define these items in their manuscript, then it is a rejection.
- Dialogue within a chapter with no punctuation usually indicates laziness and/or presumption that their story is so good it won’t matter.
- If we get a chapter and within at least 7-12 pages and there is not enough description for us to be able to describe what a character or two looks like, the work could be rejected.
- Blatant spelling errors appear as a real red flag, as nowadays spell check is so easy to use. For words like ‘then’ and than’ – this type of spelling is usually more tolerated.
- Finally if the writer drifts from first person to third person or they change from past to present so often that no real grasp can be maintained, we will alert them as to this red flag. If they want help with the story we will try to help here.
6. Once an author’s manuscript is accepted, how long is it before the book will be for sale?
* Entry Way signs a one-year agreement with our authors but we also insert a clause that indicates that if within six months they are not happy with our progress, they can bow out and receive partial refunds if a negotiable agreement is not possible. But renegotiation is always encouraged.
- The book is usually for sale within six to nine months and then it takes another two-three months to get it listed on Amazon and on other retail sites as well. Book stores and distributors such as Baker and Taylor is another whole matter and time is not always a quick reality here. E-books can go up for sale as quickly as one week after manuscript approval.
7. What is the most ridiculous proposal you’ve received?
The funniest or most ridiculous proposal we have had came from a friend of mine from my past. She sent a children’s book in the form of a poem and thought so highly of it she wanted us to edit it, design a cover for it even though she was a really good artist herself. Also within her request she wanted us to publish, print, distribute and market it for her – all for free, of course. So while I was explaining we are a fee-based publisher, she said, “Well, I believe you could just take a higher royalty from the sales because there’s going to be a bunch of those.” Next, to test her passion for her own book, I asked the lady if she were willing to draw something for us. My point inside my mind is that every writer does feel their book is great.
While she would receive edits, formatting and drawings by someone else, she hesitantly considered the offer and said, “Okay, boss, I will think about it and ‘maybe’ draw something for your next children’s book.”
Now here’s where it gets funny…months later, the author wrote me an email asking, “What’s next, boss?” Since she had done nothing since our last contact – not even email me questions inquiring about how she could help us, etc., we were left speechless. A week after this we received another email letting us know she was pulling her from our reach.
Call me cynical, but here was someone willing to do absolutely nothing for herself and admittedly she did not know anything about the book business or how to become a published writer…turning us down. Personally, I see humor in this situation. Aren’t writers people who have a story that usually takes their heart and soul and forever to work on? Well if that’s the case and someone is offering you a barter/trade for talent-to-talent and you do nothing afterward and then you come in and fire someone who you have never really hired…well, I wish her luck but in my best opinion, no matter who ends up with this writer or story, they will have nothing but words and at my last glance – only mediocre ones at that.
8. What do I expect authors to do to help sales?
- We are looking for authors who are willing to buy books that our other authors have written. This is called ‘inner-core-support’. After all, if when your book is selling, you are not willing to buy at least one or two books from your own publisher’s house (or maybe even one of her books) then again, the writer proves ego, self-interest and lack of team spirit.
- When we get to the marketing stage we expect our authors to take the flyer we designed for them, along with order forms, business cards and press release and pass them on to as many sources as possible.
- Our authors should visit their local newspaper and ask them to have someone read and review the book. Or at least mail a copy of your book along with a letter asking them to read/review.
- If Entry Way authors study their competitors, we feel this could be very helpful. In fact they should find authors who have written similar books and contact them – offering your book by sending a flyer.
- Entry Way authors are encouraged to join the social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Myspace, Cambridge, etc. And to keep a close lookout for new ones. And yes, we will help our authors to conquer their social media fears or issues.
- Stay patient, stay focused, and find area bookstores that have reader’s classes and poetry nights. Attend these and get to know other area writers. You never know how large a marketing window this might open.
- Partake in author’s chats and online interviews, such as Dames of Dialogue.
9. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Turning manuscript words from our authors and providing them a quality book that they can hold and call their own. The day the books arrive is as an exciting day for me as it is the authors…drum roll…the box is opened and it’s no longer a figment of their imagination. Authors are sensitive beings and so this day marks a real notch into “who they are.” My thrill is being able to have this day be so special that I am able to validate that their creation deserved to be available for the world to see and/or read and/or pass on to others.
- We have Entry Way Writers where we focus on the writers more than we do the publisher, editors, cover makers, etc. Here is the site that a writer will be able to put all of their website links and their audio or videos if they have them.
- Digi-Tall Media is our company but it actually does the distribution of all our books as well as some books for writers published through other publishers. Digi-Tall also distributes cds, dvds, t-shirts, and other products.
- We also offer services of building websites for authors.
- We will help authors to get a firmer grasp on social media sites.
- We will help authors to setup PayPal accounts and walk them through making a deposit and a withdrawal and teach them how to use the inventory system, which PayPal has. It’s great.
- We carry books for writers in other areas of the world other than USA– through Digi-Tall so that these writers do not have to pay extensive delivery/shipping fees. This is cost efficient for them and rewarding for us too.
- Entry Way Canadais in its beginning stages and should come out in July as our Summer Sizzler.
- Our most current endeavor is our non-profit organization, “Need Validation.” This is a business whereby through Digi-Tall Media, we were able to go forward with developing the website name, an assumed business name, and Digi-Tall is doing the tasks of acquiring validation motivators, members and sponsors. The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony is scheduled for May 31st – for more information on this, please visit – http://www.needvalidation.com.
- Currently, I am developing online classes whereby I will teach courses that help writers to develop their skills. Focus will be on adding: sights, sounds, smells and colors to their existing manuscript, as well as a couple of my pet peeves, which the over usage of ‘I’ and too many pronouns. We love it when the results become clearer when they do a ‘read back’.
11. What should an author NOT do if they want you to publish their book?
- Send an email to any of our addresses and ask me to visit their blog or their website to ‘seek out’ ways to read their work. This will usually result in my sending an email letting them know we are unable to work unless they send us something they have picked out for us to see.
- If a writer is egotistical and believes that their writing is so great that it warrants us paying them even more attention than other writers normally do – this a red flag.
- Send me spam mail or forwards from friends or associates. No busy publisher has time to read forwards.
12. How has the publishing business changed since you first started?
“The Great E-Book World has arrived! Love is in the air!”
Readers are being inundated with information and authors are being validated, which is one of the things they needed most from the trade publishers. Writers have quickly jumped out with brave new attitudes and are self-publishing their one or two books themselves and taking on the title of ‘self-publisher’.
There’s fresh talent, the young ones still in high school and college are able to write and get quickly published. Digital real estate is popping up by the 1000s – e-Books have shown up and I’ve never been happier.
The richness of this new book movement is that even if some newspapers are no longer printing – they still offer us the news. Magazine writers are busier than they have ever been before. We have blog writers and social media everywhere. There are tools mixed with the newer famous author’s chats that make being a current-up-to-date publisher still the best job in the world.
I’m grateful to everyone I’ve ever worked with and am looking forward to working on four brand new books with brand new authors and a couple of books with current Entry Way authors who are feeling the excitement of seeing their new e-Books sell. Our plans are to build even more imprints in the sands of the internet and strengthen our online real estate. Entry Way wants to be a part of history making events…as we have in the past, we will in the future watch and try to stay ever vigilant and learn as much daily as possible so we are not left behind. Could I really ask for more?
Thank you to the gals of Dames of Dialogue for this golden opportunity to share who I am as a publisher with your audience. We also want to thank you for the reviews you have done for some of our authors.
VicToria Freudiger, Publisher of Entry Way Publishing can be reached at http://www.entrywaypublishing.com – firstname.lastname@example.org and http://www.digi-tall-media.com – email@example.com.