Small Press publishers are thriving, and can give authors the foot in the door they’ve been looking for. Katie from Aussie Owned and Read interviewed James Wymore, an Acquisitions Editor with Curiosity Quills Press (her publisher!) to talk about small press, New Adult, and Aussies!
What do you do as an Acquisitions Editor?
All the submissions to Curiosity Quills Press go to the Acquisitions Manager. He sorts them to make sure they are the type of book CQ handles. If it meets our criteria, he assigns himself or one of the four Acquisitions Editors to the query. We each have areas of specialty and interest we focus on. I tend to get all ages leaning away from romance and horror. I request the full manuscript and a one-page summary from the author. Then I read it. If I can’t get through it or it turns me off, I send them a rejection. Unlike most agents and publishers, we try hard to offer constructive advice with every letter. We know what it’s like to be ignored or get generic rejections, and we don’t want to be like THOSE people. If the book is interesting, but has a few problems, I will request a “rewrite and resubmit.” That’s not a rejection. It’s just a chance to make sure the author can fix those issues before we send them a contract. If the book is really great, I send them and acceptance and a contract. After that comes back, I hand them off to the production team who lead the author through editing, cover art, book blurbs, and all the fun stuff that goes with getting a book published.
What are some advantages of a small press publisher?
An agent and big publisher is the dream. However, even authors who get those coveted deals are often disappointed to find their book won’t see print for two years. Then it gets three months on bookstore shelves before they all pull it and the party is pretty much over. A smaller publisher not only gets your book to print faster, they usually put them out via on-line distributors. That means it will be available forever. It gives the publisher and the author time to build up fans. A good book will still be good in five years. If takes that long to get the momentum going for your book or career, it still happens. Not to mention, with a smaller publisher the people become friends. You get a lot of support and help from a small publisher that the “big guys” don’t waste on longshot newbies. A small publisher needs you to succeed. A big one doesn’t.
Do you believe NA is growing in popularity?
Yes, definitely. Like MG (middle grade), NA (new adult) books are helping people find the right books. With so many new books in every format coming out every year, we need a way for people to find what they are looking for. Sorting randomly through books is too cumbersome. People like to know they are the target audience. One concern I have with NA is it seems to be rapidly filling up with genre romance. I know authors with books that should be NA but they refuse to associate with that age group because they don’t want people thinking their book is romance. If NA is going to succeed like MG, I believe it will need to separate from genre distinction and be only an age distinction. If it becomes synonymous with, “genre romance for young adults,” it will probably just disappear.
Do you feel stories set in Australia would draw an international audience?
I have enjoyed stories set in Australia, personally. I would love to go there someday. However, what will draw people to a story are the characters and ideas. Setting exciting stories in Australia will attract people all over the world. It has to be an organic process, though. People will be turned off by any story if it feels forced. So an anthology of short stories set in Australia will not likely do it. A short story set in Australia and placed in a magazine with global reach will.
What sort of things are you looking for?
I love all types of speculative fiction; including urban, epic, and literary angles on sci-fi, fantasy, and all the punks. I like YA and Adult books that expand minds, preferably to the point of blowing them. Horror, thrillers, and paranormal can be great, too. A lot of agents and editors SAY they want experimental or different work, but I mean it. As long as the story is compelling– the stranger the better! I enjoy highly literary work and positive religious themes. Super heroes and secret societies are in. Regurgitated D&D games are out. I do not like romance, erotica, excessive profanity, satanism, anti-religious themes, anarchy, pointless gore, or anything which would be described by reasonable people as gratuitous. The only time the word “graphic” should come up is if it’s a graphic novel, and then I’ll like it. Make me cheer, not cringe. I love books with meaning. I want to see the world in a new way.
What is some advise you can give to someone interested in submitting to Curiosity Quills?
Before you submit, find out the difference between telling and showing. I get a lot of submissions with really great ideas I love, but the writing is flat. Sometimes people write first person in a way that is authentic to a real person talking. However, nobody wants to listen to somebody talking for hours on end. After you write the story, go back and replace every instance of was and were with an active verb. Also, make sure your query letter is fun and has some personality. Everybody at CQ calls themselves literary marauders because we reject the stuff-shirt business model of publishing. We are artists who love books and so we act like it!
Thank you so much James! If you are interested in submitting to Curiosity Quills visit their website and check out their submission guidelines – http://curiosityquills.com/submission-guidelines/author-submissions/